Class sizes: 2007—25; 2008—32; 2009—27; 2010—29 for a total of 113.
113 kids is 28 over the limit, which equates to having a whole separate recruiting class signed to your school. Plus, the Tide have taken the least amount of JUCOs of these top offenders—on average, one per class—so there's no sense arguing that the possible roster numbers are inflated.
The Tide are the most high-profile school guilty of oversigning players for four reasons: 1) because of the impassioned defense of the practice by the Alabama fanbase; 2) because of the well-publicized number of shady transfers and team dismissals; 3) because of Nick Saban's colorful reaction to inquiries regarding oversigning (namely, browbeating reporters into submission, which, in his defense, he does for all inquiries), and 4) because they've been the most successful school to do so.
Questionable transfers aside, Alabama fans argue for Saban's ethics either by saying that everyone oversigns past the 25-man limit, or that it's negative effects are counterbalanced by the benefit of having a loaded roster.
In any given class, Alabama's oversigning might be excusable. Yes, everyone signs past the 25-man limit...sometimes. But the numbers can't lie—over the past three years, Bama hasn't taken a class off and stayed below the limit.
On the contrary, they're averaging over 28 recruits per year, and I'm not stupid enough to believe they'll go lightly in 2011.
That defense also misses the point of what a scholarship is supposed to do. Scholarships should not be revokable on a hair trigger. They're there to provide players with the chance for an education provided they follow the rules.
Saban's is the Pete Carroll method of creating competition at every position taken to its logical extreme. Competition is good; muscling underperforming players out of a program is unethical.
Alabama's talent has gotten better, because its recruiting has gotten better. But that shouldn't mean the players that were in the program before have to hold onto their scholarships like life jackets as the hotshots hit campus.
Unless Alabama stays below the 25-man limit in 2011, Tide fans will have to at least own up to the trend, even if they fall short of admitting it's an unethical practice.