From Florida president Bernie Machen‘s perspective, the SEC’s ability to find loopholes in the 28-player LOI ceiling is frustrating. For the second year in a row, two SEC schools have oversigned their class, as Arkansas and South Carolina both exceeded the limit this signing period with 30 and 31 LOIs, respectively.
One of those loopholes for coaches has been grayshirting players, an act Machen finds, at times, “morally reprehensible”. “The universities, with full knowledge of what they are doing, extend more athletic scholarships than they have,” Machen has stated.
“We have never grayshirted a guy here who when he decided to come here didn’t know the circumstances that we were going to take him at the University of Alabama,” Saban said in an article from the Tuscaloosa News. “The reason is sometimes academic, the reason is sometimes physical development and maturity, but never has a player not known (he might be grayshirted). We have never not done it up front, so the player comes here with the idea that ‘I’m going to start school in January.’”
Grayshirting a player has become a controversial topic with the likes of former LSU lineman Elliot Porter being shown the door (kind of) by Les Miles after having his scholarship revoked. And while Miles’ actions fit more along the lines of Machen’s “morally reprehensible” tirade, Saban insists he offers a holier approach.
“We have never gotten rid of a player because of his physical ability,” Saban said. “Any player that has left this program prematurely has created his own exit route.”