Paul Finebaum is not one of them.
Yeah, cool, he hosts a pretty damned entertaining radio show and is the king of breaking controversial news and starting virulent yet passionate debate among the varied SEC fanbases. But, beyond the role of "facilitator," Paul Finebaum leaves much to be desired and is often the victim of his own ignorance. For example, take this his opinion of our signing class which he uttered on his signing day radio show:
"Houston (Nutt) shredded the academic integrity of the SEC (ED: What "academic integrity?") and of Ole Miss by signing anyone and everyone who could spell their own name, knowing good and well that most would not qualify!"
Most? Really? I don't mean to get caught up in nitpicky semantics or anything here, but "most" of our class would be nineteen. NINE. TEEN. No, Paul, "most" of our class will be in Oxford this fall sporting pads and an Ole Miss jersey. Yes we're helping out our State's absurd JUCO network and going to hopefully continue to foster our fruitful relationship with Hargrave with some non-qualifiers and sign-and-places but, for the most part, this class is nowhere close to the unmitigated disaster that you and many other people are portraying it as.
But, don't take my word for it. Nope, I think the internet's most analytical college football blogger, Dr. Saturday, will do the trick just fine.
Click here for his piece on signing day's largest classes and how they measure up to each school's available roster space. Take special note of the following snippet:
These numbers are always murky enough that they fall into the category of "best guess," but Alabama, North Carolina, Auburn and UCLA -- and probably some other schools that weren't part of the very small group I delved into -- are all far enough over the line here that, if the season started today, I'm confident they'd have to straight up cut some kids with whom they had a mutual commitment.
But the season doesn't start today, of course, and as Butch Davis knows from experience, natural attrition over the next six months will render the "oversigning" debate absolutely uncontroversial. I'm trying very hard not to call anyone a snake-oil salesman -- as Hazel writes to me: "None of the players signed will ever be told that they don’t fit. Everything is carefully organized to make sure we remain within NCAA rules." I think that's true. Rebel fans I know have a detailed, player-by-player account of how Ole Miss' latest class is going to work itself out, which will probably turn out to be pretty close to reality.
As you can see, of the many BCS teams who oversigned this year, we return the fewest players outside of Mississippi State. We needed to oversign more than most. Hell, Alabama is going to need to make room for 10 players which is only one player fewer than will need to make room for. Once again, Dr. Saturday does his research, crunches the numbers, and presents the method to the madness as he best sees it.
But, of course, that's not the style of the Paul Finebaums of the world. Finebaum delivers the kind of "shoot from the hip now and ask questions, ummm, never" style of journalism that the unwashed masses of sidewalk SEC fans just gobble up. He spends most of his mornings writing columns which don't need a title more complex than "Lane Kiffen is a dick" and most of his afternoons fielding calls from people whose opinions aren't much more complex than "Lane Kiffen is a dick."*
But yeah, Paul, fuck "math" and "analysis" and "reasoning." Houston Nutt and staff are clueless and managed to ignorantly and obliviously stumble into this horrible plight like the kids who found Jumanji.
"Oh my God we just wanted to play and we thought it'd be fun and now there are elephants and monkeys and bald Alabamans all running around and screaming and OH DEAR GOD WE OVERFUCKINGSIGNED FUUUUUUCCCKKKKKK!"
To suggest that we dropped scholarships like propaganda leaflets out of the backs of bombers throughout the Southeast is asinine. People oversign. Sure, nobody really ever oversigns to the extent that we did and everyone from the fans to the coaches had to be somewhat surprised by this outcome but, all things considered, this was a very unusual recruiting situation for we Rebels.
How often does an Army All-American like Craig Drummond just fall into your lap a few weeks before signing day?
How often do you expect a guy like Tim Simon or Joel Kight to commit elsewhere and, as your backup plan, bring in a guy like Willie Ferrell or Mike Marry, only to have all of them commit to you? To boot, all of this happens right after D.T. Shackleford ups and leaves Tennessee on what seems like a whim.
How often is your #1 QB prospect pigeonholed into walking-on because he's got a 'tude and Auburn let a taller, faster one slip out of their hands?
At the beginning of the year, recruits wanted nothing to do with us. We were the SEC's laughing stock. After going from that to the conference's 2nd fiddle media darling (behind Tim Tebow, naturally) in less than one calendar year, a lot of kids actually wanted something to do with us and, yes, the new found attention made this more difficult than it had to be.
What I see as having happened is this: we went after a few guys as "contingency plans." Our #1 targets at certain positions (*cough* Patterson *cough*) were wavering, giving conflicting reports, and confusing the hell out of everybody involved. In order not to sacrifice the overall depth of the team, we offered several scholarships to players at various positions as to avoid undersigning. I'm sure we anticipated a few of these #1 targets to commit to us on signing day, but not all of them but one. Furthermore, instability caused by recent coaching changes at several SEC schools moved several commitments around and we seemed to be the "plan B" for a lot of prospects.
Did the coaches plan to oversign? Of course they did. Hurricane Orgeron's attrition rate was JUCO worthy. Did they mean to oversign by this much? Certainly not, but it's all alright though, people. Yes, it's odd and yes, it's comical, but if having too many kids really itching to join our football team is the biggest problem we're having right now, then the Rebels are in excellent shape. Our coaches know what they're doing.
*At least he deserves credit for knowing his audience.