Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Numbers

After the dismissal of Clinton Durst, a lot of the response ran along the same lines: We have 85 scholarships to hand out and a bunch of guys just walked away from the team. Can we really not afford to give one of them to our best special teams player?

That got me wondering: how many scholarships does Auburn actually have available? I know from last year's infamous Brian Cook vs. Tuscaloosa Torch and Pitchfork Society imbroglio that these things can be difficult to pin down, but I haven't even seen a guesstimate on the part of any MSM types. So, I figure, it's time to pull out my own calculator and take my own guess.

The Numbers

Looking at how many scholarships are still occupied, by recruiting class*:

2005: Billings, Coleman, McCain, McFadden, McKenzie, Odom, Savage, Trott.
Total: 8

2006: Berry, Blanc, Caudle, Clayton, Eddins, Etheridge, Fannin, Goggans, Hawthorne, Isom, Ricks, Roseman, Shoemaker, Stevens, Tate, Zachery.
Total: 16

2007: Burns, Bynes, Byrum, Carr, Carter, Cooper, Coulahan, Douglas, Greene, Herring, McNeil, Pugh, Slade, Slusher, Woods, Ziemba.
Total: 16

2008: D. Adams, H. Adams, Barnes, Bell, Cole, Dellenbach, Henderson, Hood, Jemison, "Lipscomb," Lykes, Pierre-Louis, Pybus, Savage, E. Smith, V. Smith, Thompson, Todd, Trotter, Wadley, Winter.
Total: 21.

Walk-ons and transfers currently on scholarship: Do we know of any? I don't remember any reports of walk-ons getting the bump, I can't think of any notable transfers, and I've gone over the roster pretty closely without seeing any likely candidates. Someone please alert me if I've missed any possibilities, but I don't see anyone who ever sees the field--like, at all--other than Morgan Hull and Clayton Crofoot, neither of which did enough, I imagine, to warrant Tubby handing over one of the 85. If I'm wrong, someone correct me, but I'm setting this total at 0 for now.

Subtractions: Since in theory a fifth-year senior will have already graduated and will no longer need his scholarship for academic purposes, it's common (I'm told) to not renew a non-contributing player's scholarship for a fifth year. It's not something I'm particularly comfortable with if the player hasn't graduated, but Oh Well. Auburn does have one such candidate, rising senior offensive lineman Rudy Odom, who has made one appearance, against Tennessee Tech last year, in his Auburn career. I'm guessing after the Durst decision that Chizik views this as an available scholarship if he needs it, so this number is -1.

The math: 8 + 16 + 16 + 21 - 1 = 60. Unless a player already on the roster has been offered a scholarship I'm not aware of, Auburn will be able to take on a full class of 25 signees this season if they so choose.


Dropping Durst was even more idiotic than it seemed at first. First things first: Auburn is not particularly pressed for scholarships at this time. It would be one thing if Chizik had only 16 or 17 scholarships available and giving one to Durst meant not offering one to the likes of Blake or Rollison or Hotshot Recruit X. But that's not the case. We're talking about recruit No. 24 or No. 25, guys who will-- like all of Auburn's recruits--have their fair shot at contributing and becoming a key member of the program. But they will also be recruits whose guru-established odds will be stacked against them. It's very, very possible that Chizik has decided to give up Durst in order to sign the next James Swinton.

Second, remember that Chizik would not have been offering Durst one of the four-year rides he's handing out on the recruiting trail. Durst was already a junior last year and will graduate soon, so his scholarship would have only lasted a year. The only recruiting class he would have affected would have been the current one, and it appears it's going to be filled to the brim anyway.

So ... one year of Durst and the chance to recruit a stud next year, or four years of recruit No. 25? It seems like an impossibly easy choice, and Chizik took Option B anyway.

Offering this many recruits right now seems like a mistake. You can see it already: Auburn's recruiting class of 2010 is just not going to be very big. Look at the class of '06: precisely two of those 16 guys (Tate and Ricks) skipped a redshirt and will be seniors this year; nearly all of the remaining 14 contribute in some fashion and will be offered a fifth year for 2010; and none look like NFL flight risks. Take the eight departing seniors, add Chris Todd and maybe two or three guys of the '06 class who won't be renewed for a fifth year, and that's only 11 or 12 open slots before accounting for random attrition. Sure, Auburn lost, what, 8 or 9 guys to random attrition in 2008 ... but what are the odds of there being that much turnover two years in a row? In all likelihood, Auburn is going to only have 17 or 18 scholarships to offer in 2010, and that's even before we get into this grayshirting talk, which would cut that number even further.

So I have to ask: why rob Peter to pay Paul? Next year the ugliness of the coaching turnover will be well behind us, the Malzahn/Taylor/Luper/Roof/Rocker engine will be at full steam, and recruits will theoretically have been able to see the benefits of the Spread Eagle 2.0 in action. It's the Class of 2010, not '09, that's going to be Chizik and crew's real chance at making a statement in the recruiting wars. So why shrink that one in order to pack in as many, uh, "sleeper" recruits as possible into the current one?

A big class, with as many Tubby commits as possible plus a few extra ... sure. That makes sense. But a full 25? I know I am but a lowly Auburn Blogger who is not the head coach of a multi-million dollar football program and must surely not know what he is talking about, but I don't get it.

(A quick aside: I'm assuming Auburn is going to get to 25 by hook or crook, or that I'm miscounting the scholarships available, because leaving a scholarship open after telling Durst to buzz off would be beyond stupid.)

(A second quick aside: if Chizik's answer to this problem is to follow Nick Saban's and Butch Davis's lead, yours truly is going to be one very unhappy camper. This isn't likely to be an issue ... but, for the record, not happy.)

Just so we're clear: I'm not unhappy about any particular recruit being offered (how would I know whether any individual guy is worth the gamble or not?) or upset over any of Chizik's other non-Clinton Durst-related recruiting choices. By doing things like "convincing Trooper Taylor to come to Auburn" and "hiring Ted Roof" he's earned the benefit of the doubt. I'm just confused, is all.

I can't wait for Signing Day. Because every time I think about recruiting for this long, I want to take a bath and rinse the crazy off of me, and it's happening a depressing amount lately.

*I don't see any Tez Doolittle-style sixth-year seniors on the roster, so no one's left over from the 2004 class.


Anonymous said...

FYI, You have 5 to play 4 so Durst still has 2 years of elgibility left.

Jerry Hinnen said...

That might be the case, but given his graduation plans I'd have been surprised if Durst really wanted to stick around another year. Besides, by the end of next season Shoemaker will have gotten his four years in and Chizik could open up his scholarship instead. Either way, we're looking at one year of a punting scholarship vs. 4 years committed to someone else.

Anonymous said...

I'm sooo tired of all this recruiting crap...let's just get it over...suit'em up and play ball. This recruiting hype has gotten WAY out of control.

easyedwin said...

Sad to say, but recruiting only gets bigger each year. Durst proved his worth in '08 MSU and UT games.........I scratch my head and say "C'mon, Man!"

themanfromearth said...

That was a very interesting post and makes you wonder if the coaching staff is putting that much thought into it, themselves.

Anonymous said...

Love your blog Jerry (been reading it for a few years), but your being a bit whiny on this subject. If you want to be competitive at Auburn (or any other school not named Florida, LSU or Southern Cal) then you have to play a numbers game. the object of the game is to sign 25 players a year. That means you can't give every player 4 years. I'm no insider so this is just my very distant speculation, but to test what I'm saying keep a close eye on the Bailey Woods' and Darrell Roseman's and Dax Dellenbach's currently on scholy and see if they are still around next year. I predict we will be signing close to 25 in 2010. The whole point of this is to trade a non productive upperclassman (known quanity) for a long shot superstar. As for Durst, he wasn't told to take a hike, he was told to get in line just like everyone else. I have no problem with that. If Durst wants to take his ball and go home, that's on him.