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SEC Adopts New Oversigning, Roster Management Rules

For some coaches -- and more than a few fans -- oversigning is as much a part of SEC football as tailgating and fight songs. Not that only SEC schools are the only ones that sign more than the allowed number of players -- far from it. But the conference has a reputation as a rogue conference on the issue, and even some coaches suggested at this week's SEC meetings in Destin that the league might be weaker without what has become euphemistically known as "roster management."

Now, the conference has decided to do something about it. The conference's presidents and chancellors set aside their coaches' objections and adopted a package of changes to the SEC's signing rules. The proposals include, but are not limited to:

  • Limiting teams to sign 25 players to letters of intent, since only 25 can enroll each year anyway. That lowers the cap in the SEC -- since taken nationwide -- from 28;
  • Getting rid of the "Jeremiah Masoli rule," which led to Houston Nutt's dogged pursuit of a quarterback that helped his team lose to Jacksonville State. (Nutt is renowned for his creative approach to roster management.) Graduate students can no longer transfer to an SEC school and play immediately;
  • Monitoring medical hardship scholarships. Some critics have charged that players might be transferred to those scholarships, which are supposed to be reserved for players who can no longer safely play the game, to open up spots for other players.

The SEC is considering proposal national legislation containing some of the same proposals, as it did with the 28-player cap. It could be interesting to see who would line up with and against the proposals, though some conferences (like the Big 10) have strict enough rules that they would probably welcome the changes.

Of course, how much difference the rules make will depend on how closely the coaches and schools follow them. But it's a step in the right direction for those opposed to oversigning after the SEC has been going the other way for several years now.