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Why All The Whining About (Potentially) Playing By Football’s Near-Standard Rules?

The SEC’s battle over oversigning is drawing more attention this morning.  From ESPN to Sports Illustrated to… you name it.  Everyone’s talking about the Coaches versus the Presidents down South.

By now you know very well that coaches don’t want to pass on the practice.  Prior to the SEC meetings, their talking points centered around how a new oversigning cap would hurt the quality of play in the SEC.  This week at the meetings, the talking points grew to include: “You’re hurting the kids!”

The fact that the talking points keep changing leaves us thinking that — for the most part — the real issue is simply this: SEC coaches don’t want to give up one of their roster-building tools.  Fair enough.

From Nick Saban and Steve Spurrier to Bobby Petrino and self-proclaimed “poster boy” Houston Nutt, these men have a vested interest in this and they’re trying to protect their way of doing business.

But why are others defending the practice?  Is it simply a case of “My coach says it, therefore I back him?” 

Saban attacked the media pretty good yesterday accusing them of driving the oversigning bus.  The media has certainly taken part in this sideshow, but it’s hardly controlled the issue.  Actually, it’s the fans — and in some cases leaders — of other conferences who’ve suggested and flat-out stated that the SEC is playing pretty loose with the oversigning loopholes.  If not for that fact, no one in the media would have ridden this topic very far at all.

But doesn’t it stand out to anyone that the SEC’s coaches are fighting to keep playing by a different set of rules?  They aren’t denying that they have an advantage.  They aren’t trying to explain away that advantage.  They’ve actually been playing up the potential loss of that advantage as some sort of doomsday scenario.

Do SEC followers really want to win by playing under a different set of rules? 

If so, then I guess most folks in favor of the SEC coaches on this one are also pro-Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire when it comes to getting into the Cooperstown.  Hey, baseball wasn’t testing for steroids when they were setting records so technically they were just taking advantage of a loophole in the system, like oversigning.  And we all loved watching them hit those home runs, just as we love signing 30 star players to our teams each February.  If a couple of guys took advantage of baseball’s “look the other way” policy/loophole to give themselves a leg up on their competition, so what?  Right?

We at MrSEC.com believe — as some league coaches do — that the conference should adopt a more hardline approach to its 28-man cap on signees per year.  No backcounting, no loopholes, just 28 signees per year.  We are not, however, in favor of going with a 25-man cap.

But if the league’s presidents vote to do just that — and amazingly that appears to be a real possibility tomorrow — there shouldn’t be too much wailing and weeping.  The SEC would still be playing by a set of rules easier than the Big Ten’s.  And most likely, other leagues would follow the SEC’s move.  (If not, the NCAA would likely create a new uniform code for everyone).

If the worst that happens is the SEC moves closer to the national norm on oversigning, it’s hard for us to see how there can be so much straight-faced whining from people associated with America’s most successful football conference.  Usually people complain when someone else plays by another set of rules… not when they themselves are forced to simply abide by the accepted standards of their industry. 

To be honest, we find it a little bit arrogant to say, “Yeah, we’ve got an advantage and we don’t want to give it up.”

 




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