In today’s AJC, Michael Carvell has a very interesting interview with Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley on the topic of roster management under the new SEC rules, specifically oversiging. In it, Dooley discusses the challenge of building depth and staying compliant under the new rules.
And credit Dooley for speaking his mind and challenging the conventional wisdom that holds oversigning as a horrible practice:
I think over-signing is good for the student-athlete. Let me give you some hypotheticals: Let’s say a a guy gets hurt his senior year, and there’s a good chance he won’t play his freshman year of college. He has got to do surgery and rehab. What could we do in the past? In the past, we could sign him, grayshirt him and put him in next year’s class. That allowed him to come to the type of school he wanted to come to, whereas now those kind of guys have to go to a different school. So that’s the first scenario. The second scenario is let’s take a guy who academically not eligible. That situation happened to me this December. You look at their mid-year grades and you see that they’re going to be an academic risk, or there’s a good chance that they won’t qualify. Well, then you have to make a decision. Because in the past, you could sign them and if he didn’t qualify, place him in a junior college, help him get into a junior college and give him the motivation to come back to your school one day. Now you can’t sign him, or you’re not willing to take that risk because you can’t be short on your roster. So now they’re more on their own, and they don’t get to sign with the school that they want to go to. So there’s a lot of good things about over-signing that gives more opportunities for good players. When you eliminate that, now you’re providing less opportunities for them."
Certainly, many aspects of oversigning can be harmful to the student athlete. The note about being at the mercy of image-conscious school presidents is also very interesting.