Oversigning: Breaking Down the Facts

Oversigning. The word may mean nothing to you, but it’s creating a lot of buzz in college football. It has become so popular, in fact, that SEC Commissioner Slive is pushing a legislation change to SEC rules. What does this have to do with Arkansas?

Arkansas is currently at the top of the list of “oversigning”. This is due in large part to Houston Nutt’s recruiting tendencies carrying over into the next coach. Ole Miss has risen from the VERY BOTTOM of average recruiting classes in SEC all the way to 5th place behind Arkansas.

In the last decade, Houston Nutt averages 28 players each signing class while Bobby Petrino averages only 24 players.

Nutt is so bad at oversigning, the rule currently in place is nicknamed the “Houston Nutt rule”.

Recently, Stewart Mandel of SI.com wrote an article calling out Petrino for his “oversigning numbers” claiming that “More than 40 percent of Petrino’s 2008-10 signees are no longer on the roster.” This statement is entirely misleading. Mandel received his statistical information from Matt Hinton of Yahoo!.com who recently wrote on Petrino as well.

Hinton writes that he doesn’t understand true reasonings behind all of Arkansas’ releases yet still blindly accuses Arkansas of oversigning solely due to purposeful roster attrition. Both used the past 5 years of recruiting classes and the current roster as statistical references. The problem? Nutt ran an entirely different team than Petrino does. Of course, there is going to be a major number of releases between coaches as playing styles and necessities have changed.

Numbers Breakdown

As we break down the numbers, we can see that the “oversigning” issue has more to do with “natural attrition” than making room for new players. Lets start with the most recent year and work backwards.


Seth Oxner– Started as Senior in 2009, jumped in depth chart by current Rimington Trophy Nominee, Travis Swanson. Graduated last weekend. Requested release due to playing time.

Lance Ray–  Contributed to team this year on Special Teams, mainly as a kickoff returner. Was arrested in late January for Possession of Controlled Substance. Left off Pre-Spring Depth Chart and released.

Cam Feldt–  Worked with scout team last year. Release reasons unknown, had great potential.

Austin Moss–  Worked with scout team last year. Release reasons unknown.

Eddie Camara– Came in to open competition with Zach Hocker in 2009. Never made it to starting status. Hocker has position locked up. Requested release due to playing time.

Ryan Calendar– 5th string TE on Depth Chart. Scholarship unrenewed. Requested Release.


David GordonRequested Release (Transferred to Ok St.). Arrested for possession that spring.

Jelani SmithRequested Release. Jerry Franklin locked up position.

Jim YoungbloodRequested release so he could play QB elsewhere

Carlton SaltersRequested release to pursue career in MLB


Nathan DickRequested Release to play QB elsewhere (transferred to UCA)

Khiry Battlereleased for violation of team rules during offseason

Crosby Tuckrequested release due to injury (transferred)

As you can tell, there are very few players who actually made it to the team and followed through with time on campus. A large number of those mentioned on the “oversigning” news never made it to campus for various reasons, so how are those athletes included in the numbers? Many of these athletes are named on Rivals.com (the website used to gather information for both Mandel and Hinton) regardless of whether or not they actually made it to campus.

Players listed that didn’t make it to campus

Mitch Bailey

Neal Barlow  (Neal may be considered here in a sense.  He made it to campus but fought a foot injury for which he eventually received a medical hardship scholarship which does not count against Arkansas’ 85 scholarship limit.)

Brian Christopher

Shauntez Bruce

Britton Forester

Rickey Hughey

Kevin Lowery

Robert Thomas (returned to commit this season after 2 years in juco) Originally Class of 2009

Turell Williams

Calvin Barnett

LaCraig Brown

Courtney Gaston


Instead of complaining about the current system, why don’t we fix it? Currently teams are allowed to give 1-year scholarships to all players with a chance to sign another year, barring eligibility. This allows teams to shed players who haven’t lived up to expectations. Teams like Arkansas are playing as the rules allow. This isn’t to say that other schools are not trying to take advantage of the system.

Many propositions exist, such as upping the required scholarship term limit from 1 year. This way, schools will have to be more careful with how they hand out scholarships. However, until then, people need to stop blindly pointing fingers and find out a solution.


Release – When an athlete asks to be released from the program entirely NOT their scholarship. This has nothing to do directly with scholarship renewal.

P.S. This is the most comprehensive list I could come up with. If I have made a mistake on someone then let me know.

Follow me on twitter @hogtrough

Article written by

Arkansas born and bred. Season Ticket Holder for 12 Years. I am an Arkansas Alum that received an undergraduate and graduate degree for Information Systems.

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