SEC Notebook: 28 is enough? Maybe not

A rule change being floated at the SEC meetings deserves serious scrutiny. The SEC presidents will vote today on a proposal to reduce the number of football signees from its current unlimited amount to only 28 per year. The plan will likely be proposed at the NCAA convention this summer but may be put into effect by the conference regardless of whether other schools agree to the rule.

No school can give scholarships to more than 25 players in any year, so most don't choose to sign an outrageous number like Ole Miss's 37 player signing class this year. Keeping that kind of excess from happening again is likely a good idea. It's not good for the conference to have members openly acknowledging they're serving as JUCO booking agents.

While the rule would be well intentioned, 28 is too small a number for coaches to work with if they're looking to sign a full 25-man class. Aside from the obvious risks that come with kids who are close calls academically, what about players who have the chance to be selected in the baseball draft? What about kids who encounter legal problems or personal tragedies that affect their situations after signing day? A South Carolina signee is currently in limbo after getting arrested last week for posession of marijuana with intent to sell. Would it be fair for the Gamecock staff to have to weigh that they've already used a slot they can't get back for him as they decide whether to keep him as a signee?

Thirty signing slots would achieve the goal of the proposed rule, but give coaches enough flexibility to make sure they have all 25 spots filled if they have enough room for that size class in a season. Commissioner Mike Slive indicated the SEC might unilaterally declare the 28-man rule if it didn't make it through the NCAA process. That's a bad idea, as it would put conference teams at a disadvantage just for a small PR benefit.

SPEAKING OF DISADVANTAGES

A current unilateral SEC rule is also being discussed. The SEC has a policy in place that prohibits assistant coaches from attending coaching clinics in their state unless they are there as a speaker. The ACC has no such policy, which puts Florida, Georgia and South Carolina in the unpleasant position of not being able to have assistants at clinics connecting with high school coaches while their rivals (two, in Florida's case) are there all the time.

Georgia is pushing for a change in the policy, making this one of the rare times they and Florida are in full agreement on something. Urban Meyer told the Athens Banner-Herald "you hate to have an ACC school get there and an SEC school can't" in explaining his support for the Bulldog proposal. The question is whether the other nine schools without a direct ACC competitor will keep the policy in place since it only damages teams they're trying to beat anyway.

MEDIA GUIDES SOON TO BE COLLECTORS ITEMS

One of the small pleasures that help college football fans get through the long summers is about to disappear. Media guides are suddenly considered obsolete thanks to the internet. The SEC is looking at the possibility of doing away with printed copies of the guides altogether as a cost saving device.

Despite the "media" part of their name, the guides have been primarily targeted at recruits and fans for a long time. Now the thought is that a sharp looking website is more effective for that kind of communication, and if reporters need information they can look it up there, too. Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin all announced Thursday that they would no longer print any guides, and lots of other schools and possibly conferences are expected to follow suit. If you're a Gator booster, it's possible you might go to your mailbox and find a CD-ROM or a postcard with a web address instead of a guide this summer.


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