Yeah, I know the headline's awful. Sorry.
Alabama may have been proclaimed the signing day victor by Rivals.com, but Houston Nutt and Ole Miss took home a title of their own.
In 2009, no one else was as prolific at signing new players as the Rebels were. They got an amazing 38 recruits, the most of any team in the country. If you're wondering, the limit for number of new scholarship players per year is 25.
So how could Nutt bring in 13 more players than is the limit? The answer is he can't, but there are methods that he can use (that every coach does, when necessary) to get under the limit by the fall deadline. Please note that I am not intimately familiar with the Ole Miss roster and recruiting history, so I can't give you specific names and numbers that will make this year's class possible.
One way to make room is bringing kids in early. If a recruit enrolls in December, he can count towards the previous year's class. Ole Miss only had one such early entry, and I don't know which year he's counting towards, so Nutt still has at least 12 guys to worry about.
Another possibility is gray shirting. Everyone knows about red shirting, but gray shirting is a common loophole that schools use to hold on to players if they're over the limit. The player either pays his way to school the first fall semester or goes to a junior college of some sort. He is not officially on the team, does not lose a year of eligibility, and will count towards the next year's count when he enrolls for the next spring's classes.
The other possibility is that players in the current class simply can't get in academically. Nearly every schools runs into this problem; even Florida with its 16-member class (the smallest in the conference) still has a player with work left to do to be academically eligible according to Urban Meyer.
Nutt may be assuming that some percentage of his massive haul won't get into school and will have to go to a JUCO. Anyone who goes that route obviously doesn't count against this year's class, but Nutt will then have to re-recruit the guys to make sure that once they get their grades up they don't head elsewhere.
Though Ole Miss have the largest class in the nation, the Rebels are hardly alone in signing more than 25 players. Seven of the twelve SEC schools had 27 or more sign on the dotted line. Combined, the SEC members signed the most players of any conference at 304, 34 more than the second place, 13-school MAC.
For in-depth Ole Miss recruiting coverage, head over to SEC Power Poll voter The Red Solo Cup.