Joe Ovies at 850 offers a great take on the whole scholarship numbers issue raised last week by the N&O as it pertained to UNC football.
Until Nick Saban battled Alabama reporters over his own fuzzy math, Steve Spurrier cleaned house at South Carolina, and now the recent N&O story, the over-recruiting topic was largely discussed only by the hardcore recruiting freaks on messageboards. Now it has gone relatively mainstream, and too many casual fans will get duped into misinformation about how this all goes down. Bottomline is that the majority of cases where a player loses his scholarship is justifiable, agreed upon or inevitable. There are plenty of cases where incoming recruits fail to qualify or delay their enrollment for a semester (often called “greyshirting”). Scholarships also open up when players transfer for various reasons, they decide to go pro early, or were suspended for whatever reason and the coaching staff decided not to bring the player back. None of these factors are shady. In fact, it’s just the nature of college football and everybody’s favorite team goes through this process.
So where do rival fans start showing their ignorance about the topic? When they start throwing around the word “waived” as if the coaching staff yanked the scholarship from under them and left them on the streets to go hungry. In most cases, the 4th-year junior who had a chance to graduate isn’t really upset when his 5th year is not renewed. These guys probably weren’t playing much anyway, realized playing professionally is off the table, and will go into some other line of work. There are instances where sophomores and juniors won’t have their scholarships renewed, but it doesn’t happen often and typically the kid knows where he stands if his performance isn’t up to par. It’s no different from an academic scholarship failing to renew because the student failed to maintain a certain GPA.
At the end of the day, the act of over-recruiting is easily twisted by those who want to paint a program with a broad brush. There are certainly cases around the ACC of players being upset (Ray Ray McElrathbey is the most obvious), but there isn’t a rash of cases where a coach screws a player over a scholarship. Take the school-colored glasses off for a minute and think about it objectively. Recruiting is largely based on trust. Butch Davis, or any other coach, would be doing himself a huge disservice if he made a habit of “waiving” players and alienating the high school coach who opened up a pipeline of talent.
The fact that such moves could destroy Davis' ability to recruit effectively is reason enough for the UNC coach not to simply toss players aside. I also think you would have to believe Butch Davis is a cold, heartless monster who does not give a crap about his players to think he would engage in this type of behavior. Maybe he is but I have not seen evidence as such and will wait for the dust to settle to see if anything shady goes down. Ovies makes the point that most of the times when players end up not having their scholarship renewed(and it is a one year contract that must be renewed not a four year committment) it is usually the correct move for all involved. It is naive to think that there are instances where the parting is not amicable but for the most part the circumstances dictate much of this working out without too much trouble.
And regardless of what happens, there is no way anyone in the general public can say for sure how specific cases were handled. Rival fan bases can feel free to chatter on the message boards that Player X was cut from the team to make room for a five start stud. However without any evidence such as Player X making that accusation, you are basically left with rumor. Such rumors, for the most part, are usually not true.
The bottom line is I think Davis knows what he is doing and as I said previously, he has a complicated and difficult task when it comes to managing the roster. So far it appears he has done an excellent job and one thing that is not talked about is the extent to which Davis and his staff have moved different players around trying to find a spot they can be productive in. That is more noteworthy and has produced bigger dividends than worrying about whether he is cutting players off for arbitrary reasons.