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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Roster management: Coaches have their say, now it's up to presidents

DESTIN, Fla. - SEC football coaches emerged from their final meetings on Wednesday in apparent agreement on roster management issues. Now the question is whether their bosses will go along.

The SEC is looking at a number of proposals to curb some issues such as over-signing, gray-shirting and medical disqualifications. Coaches, in favor of roster flexibility, made their case to their athletics directors in a meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

Now the issue will be decided by presidents and chancellors, who will vote on Friday.

“Friday afternoon we’ll find out what the league would like to do with these issues. … It’s always spirited dialogue,” commissioner Mike Slive said. “There’s nothing about the SEC that’s not spirited, I can tell you that.”

The most controversial proposal is to limit each signing class to 25 recruits. The current limit is 28, and Alabama head coach Nick Saban made his position quite clear.

“What’s the problem with 28?” Saban said. “You all are creating a bad problem for everybody, because you’re going to mess up the kids getting opportunities by doing what you’re doing. You think you’re helping them, but you’re really gonna hurt them. You take one case where somebody didn’t get the right opportunity but you need to take the other 100 cases where somebody got the opportunity because of it.”

South Carolina's Steve Spurrier put it a bit more nicely.

“We’re in favor of over-signing. We’ve never had a problem of too many qualifying and not having room,” Spurrier said. “All the coaches are in favor of the 28 and so forth. The presidents I don’t think are, but that’s OK.”

Spurrier said the coaches voted 12-0 to keep the limit at 28 and not drop it to 25. But he didn’t know if that would sway the presidents and chancellors.

“I don’t know. They’ll make the final call,” Spurrier said.

Georgia's Mark Richt had been among the vocal opponents of over-signing, and letting players go at the last minute. He didn’t come out and say he was in favor of over-signing now, and wouldn't get into the voting, but said after the meeting that the coaches “agreed almost unanimously” on the roster management issues.

“I think there was some education,” he said. “You get your proposals to look over a week ago. You read them then and you’re like, Hmm. Then yesterday morning, I got here and for about an hour I read them again and I’m trying to make total sense of everything, and it’s hard to get the entire gist of it. Then you start discussing these things getting lived out, it starts to make sense and you understand it better.”

Richt also said the roster management issue did indeed get as much attention behind the scenes as it was getting in the media.

“I’d say in our head coaches meeting, when it came to proposals, that was the one that had the most discussion to it,” Richt said. “I thought it was a very good discussion. I thought we had some good ideas that we presented. But we don’t want anything – there’s more conversation and more process to be done before everything gets spewed out all over the airwaves. It’s better that we don’t say anything at this point, and see where it goes.”

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