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Making the numbers work

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Washington currently has 26 verbal commitments for the 2010 class. The coaches will sign as many as 30 total players in February so how do the numbers begin to work withing the 25/85 rule?

Assuming Washington signs 30 players and four of the players enroll early...Cooper, Montana, Burnett, and Callier that means the class will still be one over the allowable limit of 25. That means somebody is going to have to enroll in the winter rather than the fall.

Three players being recruited currently fit that criteria. Melvin Davis the big running back from Narbonne, and Chris Young the S/LB from Auburn may not be ready to qualify in the fall because of academic reasons. John Timu a safety from LA is another winter candidate because he suffered a major knee injury this past season.

The next step in the 25/85 rule is getting the roster down to 85 players by the start of fall drills. The only way that happens is with some serious attrition. The first player to leave was MLB Kurt Mangum who announced he was transfering to Howard University in Washington D.C. after spending two years at UW.

Washington still needs to trim 7-8 active players off the roster depending on what happens with the eligibility of EJ Savannah. Kids leave for various reasons without prodding from the coaches. The average natural attrition for a program is around 4-5 kids per year. Every season there are kids who don't make grades, lose interest in playing football, suffer injuries that force retirement, or simply just get in trouble for violating team rules from time to time.

If you look at the current roster without naming names there are at least three kids who can probably qualify for what is called a medical scholarship due to serious or repetitive injury. The kids leave the active roster of the football team by retiring early but they get to retain their scholarships at UW. A good example of that from last season is Craig Noble who was diagnosed with a heart condition.

Once you get past that you enter the area where the coaches suggest a player may be better off elsewhere if he wants to continue to play football. In most cases after that suggestion is made there are places such as the Big Sky Conference and Central Washington where a player can drop down a level or two and get some playing time and still be on an athletic scholarship.

I don't want to name names but there are some obvious candidates on the current roster who fit into that criteria. One look at the roster will tell you who they are. They are the kids who have been here a few years and have not cracked the two deeps or special teams. They are the kids who did not get may reps in practices last fall. The lack of reps in practice is usually the biggest red flag.

On any college football roster there are five types of players. The starters, the backups, the special team contributors, the redshirts, and finally the kids who have been in the program for awhile that are none of the above. If you aren't one of the top four and room has to be made for the next class chances are that they are going to strongly suggest that you finish your career elsewhere.

With only 85 scholarships available there are always tough decisions to make in any football program. coaches are under the pressure to win now and the only way they have a chance of doing it is upgrading the talent on the present roster. For Steve Sarkisian and his staff  that means replacing one third of his roster in a single off season. I expect Sark to be around for many years in the future but this recruiting class is the one that is going to determine his and the programs destiny.

What follows is a link from an SEC forum where a former player talks about his experiences as a member of a BCS football team. This is a snippet of a pretty interesting thread that a friend of mine turned me on toHe describes it as we all love to eat the Sausage which is college football but most of us are blind to how the Sausage is Made.

"There are three kinds of people on the team Pengun91, starters, back-ups, and contributors. Pengun91 you do not fit into any of those categories. You are not a starter, or a backup, and you don't contribute on special teams. If playing football is important to you, then it is not going to happen here. The people ahead of you are better than you. The people in your grade are better than you, and the people we are recruiting are better than you. Again, if playing football is important to you its not going to happen here. If you need any help with paper work or anything let me know."

I was pissed about this. They recruited me and now they wanted me gone so that they have another scholarship spot. That was really a low point in my life. I couldn't do anything, but keep working and getting better. I knew I was better than what he was talking about and I did prove myself the next year.
The thing that bothers me even more is that coach had the same talk with a freshman. He had literally been there for less than a semester, not counting the summer, and they had already given up on him.

That talk was a real eye opener for the business I was in.