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"Bad things? What bad things?"
"The limits were well intended, meant to take into consideration the natural attrition rate of football rosters. But in practice, they turned out to be flawed. When you allow a coach to sign 30 athletes a year, but hold the total limit to 95, and mix that with all his other pressures, you get him doing the kind of thing we're seeing now. Wielding the old hatchet. Cutting players—the euphemism is 'not renewing their scholarships.' 'Encouraging' players to leave by generally making their lives miserable.
"Oklahoma had to cut 10 or 12 one year, but had the decency to help get them scholarships elsewhere. It doesn't always work so cordially. One school is now facing a lawsuit from a player who asked the ultimate 'why'—'why me?' Why, indeed. If you seduce a young man into coming to your place over eight or 10 others, and he does his best and keeps his academic nose clean, the least you can do is see to it that he gets his education. Don Fambrough of Kansas wonders if we have the right to cut 'em. He means the moral right. We make the evaluations that bring them in, not the kids. We should be willing to swallow our mistakes. The last thing we need for college football is to revive the days of the tramp athlete.
"But, in the final analysis, the fault is neither the coach's nor the player's—it is the NCAA's. Thirty/95 is simply a mathematical mistake."
"I thought you were against increasing the limit to 120."
"Oh, I am, Scribe, I am. I'm against any increase. Ninety-five is plenty. The proof is everywhere. The very best teams seldom recruit the 30 they are allowed every year and almost never reach the 95. USC, for example, recruited only 15 players this winter and has only 87 on scholarship. LSU has never recruited 30 in a single year. Even the schools you'd think would try to load up quickly in order to gain ground have found that being forced to be 'selective' has made them very selective.
"Wisconsin had only 84 players on scholarship last year, and won't reach 90 this year. Oregon State recruited only 23. Jim Dickey of Kansas State says that even with the availability of all those athletes who used to wind up on the bench at Nebraska and Oklahoma, he still finds it difficult to get quality after the first 16 or 17 recruits. He won't have more than 80 on scholarship this year."
"Then what should be the formula?"
"Dick Crum of North Carolina says we should recruit only the number of kids we graduate each year—hold it to that. I like the idea, but it's not practical. Twenty-five a year, however, would be ample, with the stipulation that if you recruit fewer one year you can make up the difference the next, as long as you never exceed 30. Then I would slightly modify the outer limit. Keep 95 as the roster maximum, but adopt the Football Coaches Association's recommendation that as many as five academic scholarships be made available for players who have reached their senior seasons and are no longer considered squad material. That would allow them to get their degrees—and, at the same time, eliminate the need or the opportunity to run off anybody."
"You mentioned academic troubles. Are you blaming 30/95 for what happened in the Pac-10? Fraudulent grades and transcripts? Half the membership on probation? The Rose Bowl in chaos?"