College Football's Oversigning Pandemic: What It Is and How To Stop It

Reid BrooksAnalyst IMay 24, 2010

AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 27:  Cheerleaders for the Auburn Tigers peform before the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 27, 2009 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Some absolutely great information trickled my way today regarding one of the more questionable practices in college football; the numbers for the past four years are in and they do not paint a pretty picture.

Many college football teams do not really recruit with the best interest of their players at heart; they recruit with little intent of pushing their players forward in life with a quality education and a wonderful experience in college as part of a football team.

Most athletes never turn professional, so college football's focus on the athlete should have his education and well-being primarily in mind.

The numbers from oversigning send a strong message that many programs are not really taking that message to heart, with SEC schools dominating the list of biggest offenders.

For example, Auburn, the team with the worst over-recruiting numbers from the last four years, signed 119 players.

There simply is no way a program can bring in that many guys with the intention of grooming them as athletes and people; Auburn never intended to give a lot of those players a chance.

And what inevitably ends up happening is that these schools have to back out of scholarship commitments to their student athletes.

Also in the top 10 worst offenders were: Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas State, South Carolina, West Virginia, LSU and Iowa State.

Last year's national champions, the Alabama Crimson Tide, are terrible when it comes to the practice, having signed 113 players in that four-year span.

There has to be some very real debate about what the real purpose of college athletics is within the NCAA, and then some stringent regulation of these programs who are unfairly hustling student athletes into signing up without the intent of developing them as players.

Many of those players end up transferring, obviously, and have a disadvantage in relearning a system elsewhere (where they could have just started).

On the flip side of the spectrum, schools that are renowned for academic excellence tend to be doing very well; that is likely because of the good education that their student athletes are getting and with scholarships and other incentives.

The Big Ten and the ACC seem to be doing far better than other conferences, on the whole. Northwestern only signed 74 players over the same four years (clearly retaining a lot of players).

USC and Ohio State were second and fourth respectively, proving that a big school can have a lot of success without engaging in such a questionable practice.

And in fairness to the SEC, at least Vanderbilt isn't participating in it. They ranked third, having only signed 77 players in the same time period that Auburn needed 119.

The list does make it seem that the more academic schools are doing a better job of retention and that they are avoiding oversigning.

The NCAA is going to need to step in at some point to limit this practice, if it is going to be stopped, but ultimately it is an issue of what a school's attitude is towards athletics.

Should college football be purely about building a championship team at the expense of the development of student athletes, or should the player's treatment and opportunities be on the forefront?

Many universities need to be asking themselves those questions, and it will only become a major issue if alumni and college football fans push for it to be.

Take a look at the complete list to see where your school ended up, and I'd like to give a special thanks to the guys at for compiling the data: