Mike Slive has endorsed four proposals regarding roster management for the SEC Meetings. All of them are well-intentioned yet misguided, and hopefully the SEC will vote these proposals down. None of them border on catastrophic or anything, but none seem like a particularly good idea.
Also, let's be entirely clear, nothing short of the adoption of the Big Ten rules will make "oversigning" advocates go away. If Mike Slive, or anyone in the SEC, thinks passing these rules will quiet oversigning.com or any of their allies in the media, they are completely deluded. You cannot appease unreasonable people. It is foolish to even contemplate it.
These proposals should not be evaluated on the basis of public relations, because they are 100% guaranteed to fail as a PR tool. So, the questions with each proposal is: who is this intended to help? Will this actually accomplish that goal?
PROPOSAL #1: LIMIT A SIGNING CLASS TO 25
This proposal exists for one reason and one reason only, to appease oversigning advocates. Because oversigning advocates cannot and will not be appeased by anything short of total capitulation, this rule is destined to fail. It will not make oversigning.com happy. Think I'm making that up? Here's their take on the proposals:
This is nothing more than more window dressing, unfortunately. Slive and the SEC are still hung up on the annual signing numbers and the 25 limit for an incoming class. The root of the oversigning problem is the 85 limit, not the 25 annual limit. What good is a limit set at 25 when a school only has 16 scholarship spaces available??? It is worthless at stopping oversigning.
We're not whistling Dixie here. Only total and complete capitulation will satisfy them. Anything short of that is waste of time.
What this rule will do is harm student-athletes who are academically at-risk. In the current system, an academically at-risk player commits to a school and if he qualifies, he plays for them. If he doesn't, the school helps place him in a JUCO. The player is not bound by his commitment, but he spends the next two years working on his grades. In two year, if those grades improve, he gets a second crack at going to a four-year school, though at the cost of two years of eligibility. What this system does is that it gives programs an incentive to get involved with academically at-risk players. Sure, its for selfish reasons, but can we really say the kid is worse off for having more people interested in his academic success?
If this rule is passed, schools won't even offer those academically at-risk kids. They won't waste their time on those who might have to go to JUCO, as the incentive to be involved in that player's academic improvement has been taken away. Sure, the very best players will still get offers, regardless of grades, which means one less scholarship for borderline players with good grades. What you've effectively done is pushed back Signing Day for a percentage of kids, as they wait for grades to come in. That's just what the world needs - a longer recruiting period.
This rule is well-intentioned, but it's just an awful, awful idea. It'll hurt student athletes, extend the recruiting period, and do nothing to silence your critics. I hope it doesn't get a single vote. It's also time to stop ceding the argument on JUCO's. JUCO's help kids. The SEC shouldn't be apologizing for this and it certainly shouldn't be ashamed of it. If football is supposed to be a tool to help kids a college education who wouldn't otherwise get it, then this proposal runs completely counter to that ideal.
PROPOSAL #2 : Athletes who attend summer school on athletic aid count against the fall numbers
Call it the Elliot Porter Rule. It's not a bad idea, and I have nothing against it on its face, but we can all see how schools are going to circumvent it: no more athletic aid for any incoming freshmen for summer practices. That seems somewhat draconian and for all of the hand-wringing about Porter, it is a rule that does nothing to help student-athletes. It's a rule about limiting the activities of the programs, which will in turn have an adverse consequence for student athletes. It's not an awful idea, but it will probably live up to the Rule of Unintended Consequences. All you've done is moved "Cut Day" to early summer.
PROPOSAL #3: SEC offices have oversight on medical scholarships
Call it the Nick Saban Rule. I'm not inherently against someone other than the program itself signing off on medical hardship, and I like making the trainers, a doctor, and the AD sign off on the decision. It makes more people accountable. I'm not thrilled about ceding authority to the SEC offices, who don't exactly have a sterling reputation for fair play, but as long as they are acting as a second opinion and not as a veto authority, I'm okay with it. Football is a dangerous game and we shouldn't take injuries lightly. We also shouldn't use these medical exemptions as a way to circumvent the rules. However, I think this is the rule that seems most likely to do what it intends to do. It's not a perfect rule, but what rule is?
PROPOSAL #4: Keep early enrollees from receiving financial aid until they attend class
Another horrible idea which punishes student-athletes and does nothing but extends recruiting - an inherently bad idea. The best thing about early financial aid is that once a player signs, his recruitment is over. It ends all of the shenanigans which go along with recruiting. It locks a player, and a program, in. I've never heard anyone complain about this program, as it benefits everyone involved. Eliminating this program in some misguided idea to do - what, exactly? It's not just a bad idea with looming bad consequences, it's an idea in which I can't even see the benefit of it.
So well done, Mike Slive. You've managed to make four proposals which, if passed, would likely make recruiting longer and even more corrupt, all in the name of reform. To quote H.I. McDonough, "They say he's a nice man, so... I don't know... maybe his advisors are all screwed up."