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The Scholarship Numbers Game

Where exactly is Butch Davis going to put all those recruits?

NC State fans have a name for it.  They call it the "waiver wire" and pretty much openly accuse Butch Davis of screwing kids by taking away scholarships from less talented players and giving them to new recruits.  I am not sure it is that cutthroat but the N&O picks up on the fact that UNC needs roughly 13 spots to open up from players currently slotted for a scholarship to fit all 24 recruits who have given verbals.

The Tar Heels will lose 12 scholarship seniors after they complete the 2008 season vs. West Virginia at the Meineke Bowl on Dec. 27. But coach Butch Davis and his staff have already secured 24 verbal commitments for next season -- and they're still recruiting.

Football Bowl Subdivision teams are allowed a maximum of 85 scholarship players on the roster and can sign a limit of 25 athletes each year. So how does the equation work?

"It may seem like a large number of extra players right now, but it's hard to judge ... because at the end of the season, guys might leave, some of [the recruits] might not qualify; it's just a fact of football," said Allen Wallace, editor of SuperPrep magazine. "... It's incredibly complicated, managing a football team in that regard. You have to weigh a lot of different factors -- injuries, transfers, borderline academic problems."

Davis is also still recruiting and that number of commits could grow but at the same time might lessen depending on who actually signs their LOI.  The question is how does it get resolved?  Roy Williams is quoted as saying these things tend to work out as they did for him in 2004-05 when he had JameSon Curry, JR Smith, Marvin Williams and Quentin Thomas on tap with ten spots already filled.  Had all four come in UNC would have exceeded the limit by one.  Instead Smith went to the NBA and Curry was convicted of selling drugs working the problem out for Roy.

In all likelihood something similar could happen here.  Players will quit, transfer, Hakeem Nicks might go to the NFL, some recruits won't qualify, some recruits will enroll down the road.  It is definitely a huge puzzle and as Allen Wallace points out hugely complicated.  The real debate in this whether a coach can or should cut a current player off in favor of giving his scholarship to a new recruit?  This seems to be the beef Wolfpack fans have with Davis thus their use of the term "waiver wire" which is used in professional sports to cut a player a team no longer wants.

Scholarships are one year contracts and must be renewed for every player each season.  Granted when a player receives an offer to play at a school, the general understanding is that player is getting a four year ride.  So if a coach decides to boot a player off scholarship, it appears unseemly in nature.  There is a absence of loyalty on the part of the coach, especially if a player has worked hard for the team despite not playing or being the 84th best player on the team.  In my mind there are no easy answers and Davis says his goal is to put together the best roster possible.  What we don't know if how he might get to that goal and that is not even getting into the possibility Davis might rescind scholarship offers to lower rated players when the time comes to make sure everyone fits.

Needless to say it can be a messy business rife with decisions I do not envy in the least.