One of the biggest issues in my eyes in separating the balance of power in college football is inconsistent rules across conferences regarding oversigning.
While the SEC has changed up their practices of late with regards to this issue, there is still quite a difference between them and the rest of college football.
Coaches such as Nick Saban and others, have turned this ability to oversign into a way to essentially hold try outs for players, and push those who don’t cut it either out the door or into medical scholarships where the player doesn’t ever play. Les Miles at LSU even had a player a few years ago enrolled in school, living in the dorms, and then told there was no scholarship available for him (Elliot Porter).
The reduction in scholarship limits from 95 to 85 several years ago did a great deal, at least initially, in spreading talent around. It enabled the non-BCS conferences to scoop up some of the talent that there was no longer room for.
While that has worked for the most part, the oversigning issue has certainly proven to counteract that.
Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA, is one who gets it. He sees the NCAA rule book like the vast majority of us, a bloated and somewhat outdated set of rules. He’s attempting to streamline it, and I’m confident he will.
One thing I would propose to help with oversigning is actually RAISING the scholarship max to 90 or 95, and placing a hard cap on annual classes at 25. Of course petitioning the NCAA would be allowable in extreme cases (coaching changes, etc). Essentially, this would do little to the parity, as with the oversigning going on, the extra 5-10 scholarships per team would be less than some of the school have now (legal because they push them out or on medical).
It would also increase the quality of college football teams, as it would allow for better depth. The NFL spends countless hours investigating, evaluating, and talking to the couple dozen potential draftees each year, who are adults. In CFB, you get to spend a limited amount of time evaluating 15, 16 and 17 year olds, many of whom you haven’t a clue how their body will develop, and try to decide if they will mature both mentally and physically into productive players on your team. Out of a class of 25, you are lucky if you get 16-18 who pan out to be significant contributors. Add in career ending injuries, academic issues, etc., it can be difficult to field a quality 2-deep roster by week 10-12 of a season.
There isn’t a system that will please everyone. The smaller schools will look at this as reduction of quality players they can add to their rosters (although I’ll argue there would be negligible difference). Some would argue that who is going to pay for the additional scholarships. Unlike the Athletic Department at Michigan, where they write a check to the University for their scholarship athletes tuition, many, if not most, do not.
At the end of the day, this would prove to be one of the fairest systems to level a playing field, currently tilting towards schools where oversigning isn’t as controlled as others.