The Ohio State Roster and Stefon Diggs

Written February 10th, 2012 by Eric

WR/DB Stefon Diggs (Photo by Tin Nguyen/The Gazette)

Just yesterday the official Ohio State Athletics website posted an updated depth chart for the Buckeyes.  There were some big changes, though many were fully expected.  Of particular note were the losses of Jamaal Berry (cut for off-field issues) and David Durham (transfer to Pittsburgh).

But the question that still lingers is the one of Oversigning.  Ohio State fans and media have been justifiably wringing their hands since the moment that Urban Meyer started recruiting like crazy.  It’s not unusual around this time for Buckeye fans to worry about oversigning, particularly considering how badly they view the practice.  To see the Buckeyes commit such an act would be incredibly shameful for nearly everyone.

Accounting for scholarships, though, is a tricky business.  Whether a player has maintained their scholarship over the course of time, particularly if they’ve remained a walk-on, is hard to figure out.  It’s also difficult to keep track of which walk-ons have managed to pick up scholarships during the course of time.  Plus, the constant addition and subtraction of players through transfer and recruiting just adds another level of complication.

With the Buckeyes still hunting after one additional recruit, we have been told by Urban Meyer that there are currently 81 scholarship players on the team.  Those numbers would leave one available scholarship in the 2012 recruiting class if his accounting is correct.  Of course, there’s still a player out there that Meyer thinks could fill that spot.

Stefon Diggs, a Wide Receiver/Defensive Back recruit out of Maryland, is scheduled to announce his college destination this evening.  Where he is going, currently a battle between Maryland, Ohio State, and Florida, has been a hotly contested topic of conversation on Twitter and college football recruiting boards across the country.  Diggs would be a huge addition to any recruiting class, and would be the kind of significant playmaker that could see the field quickly in a big way.

As a public service, I have independently worked through the current scholarship situation for the Ohio State Buckeyes.  You may recall that Bucknuts has already provided this service – but there is a horrifically glaring error in their analysis.  Much like the motto of Oversigning.com, Bucknuts seems to think that 15+15+28+25 = 81.  I’ll wait while you grab a calculator.

If you do the math, that actually adds up to 83 (see..you can tell by just adding the 8 and 5 of the last two numbers…well, you don’t care about the details).  In other words, Bucknuts attempted to verify Urban Meyer’s numbers, counted up all of the individual classes, and then assumed what they were trying to prove.  If only the world actually worked that way.

So did the Buckeyes actually oversign?  Here’s my current list of scholarships by their year of playable eligibility as currently announced, and advanced a year.  In other words, if you read through the current Roster, advance all of the Freshmen to Sophomores (except the early attendees), Sophomores to Juniors, etc.  If you do that, you get the following table.

I have included Melvin Fellows and Scott McVey in this analysis.  They currently remain on the roster, but it has been well understood that they will be granted a Medical Hardship this year - effectively ending their OSU playing careers.  If you remove them from the numbers, as Bucknuts did, you end up with 83.  For those keeping score, that’s two scholarships more than Urban Meyer has claimed.

Does that mean the Buckeyes have oversigned?  By the definition that is supported by Oversigning.com, we have indeed.  We currently stand at more scholarships than we are allowed to have for the following year after national signing day.  That means that some players are going to have to be removed in some way in order to get the Buckeyes to the necessary 82 scholarships OSU has to be at by August.

And these numbers don’t even include Stefon Diggs – if he decides to become a Buckeye.

There’s one factor left to be taken into account.  Even before signing day, we knew about the Medical Hardships for both Fellows and McVey, meaning that it was well known that those were available scholarships before the new recruits signed on.  It was also announced that the Buckeyes would have between 3-5 transfers that had yet to be announced.  David Durham may have been included in those numbers.  Even if he was that puts OSU at between 79 and 81 players on scholarship after those transfers work out, well within safe territory.

Urban Meyer does things by the book. Period.

It’s critical to note that the coaching staff knows about these transfers, whether we as fans have been made aware of them or not.  Urban Meyer is not a liar, despite what Florida fans might think right now.  If he knows he currently has 81 scholarship players, I have no reason to disbelieve him.   That’s especially true considering his feelings regarding oversigning, as our own Dave wrote about several weeks ago.

Do not forget as well that the Big Ten has much more substantial oversight on scholarships than many other conferences.  They allow a team to sign up to 3 players above their 85 (or in OSU’s case, 82) scholarship limit, with specific documentation as to the exact circumstances that will be used to reach the appropriate scholarship limit.  There’s no reason not to believe the Big Ten will bring the hammer down for any improprieties they discover, should they exist, in that documentation.

With the recent change in coaching staff, the Buckeyes are going through a serious transition phase.  In other places where a significant change in coaching has occurred, especially when that has meant a big change in playing style, transfers to other schools become much more common than is usual in your average season.  It is to be expected that several players will decide that they’re not cut out to play for Urban Meyer and that another school might be a better place for them to finish their career.  Taylor Graham, a pocket-passer style quarterback, is one such player that has already made the decision to transfer to Hawaii due to his belief that he will never see the field for Meyer who prefers dual-threat quarterbacks.

The result of all this is that to claim Meyer has oversigned this year is an example of the Straw Man fallacy.  While the numbers do seem to suggest that the Buckeyes are currently “over”, they have at least known for a while that several players on the list are planning on transferring and those transfers have simply not been announced.  Oversigning puts coaches in a position where they have to force players to yield a scholarshipe against the player’s best self interest.  If a coach already knows the scholarships will be available, even if the transfer has yet to be made officially public, it is not oversigning – unless the coach is using force to coerce action in his current players.

And that’s the real crime of oversigning: players are ultimately forced to yield their scholarship when it is not in their best interest to do so, but is solely for the betterment of the team as a whole – which comes in the guise of scholarships to new and better recruits.  Forcing a player to give up their scholarship, failing to honor the commitments and promises you have made, rather than allowing them to decide for themselves is the real evil of oversigning.  To fail to recognize the difference is to fail to understand the heart of the problem.

Morality cannot be viewed in a black box.  An action cannot be judged while being disassociated from the conditions that caused it.  It is just as important to identify the reasons a thing happens as it is to identify the action itself.  If it someday comes to light that any player during Meyer’s tenure has actually been forced out to open space for another recruit, then I will be the first to accuse him of engaging in inappropriate recruiting.  Until that time however I will judge him by what I see him do.  At this moment, he has done nothing more than recruit scholarships that are not publicly free.  If others wish to accuse him of oversigning on the basis of a lack of publicly available knowledge, that’s up to them.

If Stefon Diggs selects the Buckeyes this evening, expect the oversigning questions to become louder – not only from the national media, but from Buckeye fans themselves.  The best check of the system possible is to ask the tough questions and expect answers.  It would be great if Meyer can provide an answer now, but until the player announces it himself FERPA may tie Meyer’s hands.  We will just have to wait to find out the whole story.

29 Comments

  1. Jeff BrownNo Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Very well said. We as Buckeye fans have always cringed at the thought of oversigning like the SEC does, year in and year out. This is not a practice I want our institution to adopt.I wish the NCAA and people across the nation paid more attention to this and would crack down on the habitual violators. I too will take Urban at his word at this point until I know differently of any behind the seens defections.I would love as much as anybody to see Stefon Diggs wearing Scarlet & Gray next year but only within the standards of recruiting we have followed for many years.

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    EricNo Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 9:52 am

    +1

    Exactly my thoughts Jeff. Maintain the standards of recruiting as a principle.

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  2. KenNo Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Interesting take on this, Eric. Seems like this topic is not some much black-an-white as shades-of-gray. Based on the dynamics of the behind the scenes decisions by players with new staff/philosophy coming in, I guess we’ll find out when the time comes.

    I’d think with our recent history with the NCAA, Urban will be really watching the numbers very closely,regardless of how he feels against oversigning.

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  3. BrianNo Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 9:09 am

    It looks like it’s going to be Maryland.

    http://www.sbnation.com/college-football-recruiting/2012/2/10/2789070/stefon-diggs-announce-friday-6-maryland-florida-ohio-state

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    EricNo Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 9:18 am

    I imagine posts like this are going to be dropping all day.

    Let me just say this: Until such time that the name of his chosen school comes out of Stefon Diggs’ mouth, I won’t believe any of it one way or another.

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    JimNo Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 9:24 am

    +1,000

    Wake me in the morning and let me know what happened. Until then, relax and enjoy your Friday.

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  4. JimNo Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 9:23 am

    It’s nice to lay out the facts, but the “Ohio State cheats” line of reasoning from opposing fans has and always will be out there, regardless of the facts.

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  5. NickNo Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Good article and well presented argument. If the oversigning questions do get louder for OSU, hopefully it will at least raise awareness.

    I don’t understand why I’m in the minority of people who are not overreacting. In only a very extreme case could you possibly a first year coach to be oversigning. If Meyer were to sign 28 next year, then ok, that’s most likely a problem. I guess it’s the reality of the times now that we think we have to know if someone is guilty before the facts have even materialized, much less become public knowledge.

    Meyer has a record of being against oversigning. Obviously the Big Ten does not allow it. Let’s all just take a deep breath and at least wait until such a time as it is reasonably possible to actually oversign.

    Thanks again for a good definition and breakdown of oversigning.

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  6. KenNo Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    off topic, but speaking of Ohio State football; I see where, for the 2012 season, we are paying Univ of Buffalo a cool $1MM to come to Columbus to get their asses handed to them.

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    EricNo Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Yup, I saw that too. Wasn’t it for 2013 though?

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    KenNo Gravatar
    February 11th, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    My mistake. Yes, it is for 2013. I doubt I’ll be making the road trip, though.

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  7. Catch 5No Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    You have correctly identified the evil, but not the cause. Banning oversigning would do nothing to stop coaches from cutting underperforming players from the roster (if they are in fact doing that to start with). Case in point: go back to December. OSU had room for 19 new signees before the sanctions, which reduced them to 16. Since Christmas, OSU has lost between 7 and 10 players, all the while bringing in some phenominal new talent. Now, I’m not accusing Meyer of cutting anybody, but I also don’t see Saban cutting guys who leave Bama over the summer. If you truly feel that Saban is doing so, then to be intellectually honest, you must view the losses at OSU the same way – and banning oversigning would not stop it.

    Also, who’s to say Saban doesn’t know who is working on transferring now and had oversigned to account for it? Btw, they haven’t lost anyone to attrition yet.

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    EricNo Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Didn’t read the whole thing, did you?

    The ultimate difference, and the most critical factor, is the use of force/coercion. Until such time that I have evidence that Urban Meyer is doing that, I trust that he’s doing things the right way – on the basis of what evidence he has provided through his words and actions.

    As for Saban, as you individually point out, he has demonstrated this year alone that he cares not for the student athletes. This article alone is enough to condemn his actions. There’s far more than that over the last several years, but I’m not gonna go dig it all up for you. I’m sure plenty of other people will provide case evidence.

    You wish to speak of intellectual honesty and yet you attacked a straw man, whereas I have merely established the evidence and my criteria for what is and isn’t appropriate in signing players. So, who’s being intellectually honest?

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    Catch 5No Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Yes, I read the whole thing.
    “The ultimate difference, and the most critical factor, is the use of force/coercion”
    Exactly, and I agreed, but attributing this factor to oversigning, or only to oversigning teams is where you miss the mark. Oversigning teams can manage their rosters without forcing kids off the team, and other teams can kick kids off without oversigning. Thus, banning oversigning will not stop the evil that you identified. I pointed out the recent defections from OSU as my proof. I’ll reiterate: Let’s assume that the NCAA adopted the B10′s oversigning rule, or banned it altogether, and Saban suffered the attrition that OSU is currently experiencing over the month and a half before NSD. Would you and others not accuse him of clearing the roster for new and better talent? Of course you would – it fits into the Saban persona that many have created.

    See, you recognize that Meyer has oversigned per the definition given by oversigning.com, but grant him the benifit of the doubt that he knows who is leaving and who isn’t. Can you not afford the same to Saban (and others), who BTW has been on the job for much longer than Meyer? Is it not also reasonable to assume that Saban knows who is planning on transfering from Alabama this year? Let’s say that Bama has 6 or 8 kids leave over the summer. Would that be worse than the 10 that have left (reportedly) OSU since Christmas? The only difference is that Meyer benefits from the player announcing his plans before NSD, whereas Bama’s players can finish the school year without everyone knowing he wants to go somewhere else.

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    EricNo Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Except that you willfully ignore the evidence against Saban. There can be no “benefit of the doubt” given because the evidence weighs so strongly against him already. It is well documented (at oversigning.com) that Saban has initiated the use of force to clear his bench for a wealth of incoming talent.

    If in the case that oversigning is impossible (i.e. the NCAA restricts teams to no more signees than is allowed to get them to 85) and there continue to be transfers, the question remains whether those transfers were done because the player initiated it or Saban did. Plain and simple. I would still judge him based on whether or not he used force to clear players out. The situation remains unchanged.

    You willfully ignore two other factors as well:
    1) With a new coaching staff, transfers become much more common. Michigan under Rich Rodriguez is a great example, with players bailing out of their own volition because they didn’t mesh well with Rich Rod’s system. This occurs at every school every time a new coach enters.
    2) Urban Meyer had plentiful opportunities to oversign while HC of Florida, but never did. In fact, it is documented (in the link provided above in the article, as well as others) that his health issues were a result of trying to fight/beat the rampant oversigning that was going on in the SEC while he continued following the rules.

    Therefore, it is not unreasonable to grant Urban Meyer the benefit of the doubt this year. As I said at the end of the article

    Morality cannot be viewed in a black box. An action cannot be judged while being disassociated from the conditions that caused it. It is just as important to identify the reasons a thing happens as it is to identify the action itself. If it someday comes to light that any player during Meyer’s tenure has actually been forced out to open space for another recruit, then I will be the first to accuse him of engaging in inappropriate recruiting.

    To accuse Meyer of oversigning because players are leaving ignores the conditions under which they’re leaving. If they’re leaving because Meyer is forcing them out, *then* it’s oversigning. But considering that the players leaving seem to be doing so of their own volition, it is inappropriate to accuse Meyer of the crime.

    Saban, however, has been well documented (as I’ve mentioned) of using coercion to drive players out of his program against their wishes, and against their best self interest. I will continue to judge his actions individually, but he has thus far demonstrated that he is unwilling or unable to even follow the new rules set forth by the SEC without ruining some poor kids lives.

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    Catch 5No Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    “It is well documented (at oversigning.com) that Saban has initiated the use of force to clear his bench for a wealth of incoming talent.”

    Please link some articles where it is clear that Saban used force to clear anybody. Using oversigning.com as a reliable source of honesty is a very dangerous thing. While there is some useful information to be found there, to read their spin as fact or consider it a credible source is a fatal error (journalisticly speaking)

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    Catch 5No Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    “…the question remains whether those transfers were done because the player initiated it or Saban did…I would still judge him based on whether or not he used force to clear players out. The situation remains unchanged.”

    My point exactly. Banning oversigning does not solve the problem. Why not back an idea that does? (the 4-year scholarship option is a good one)

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    Catch 5No Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    “If they’re leaving because Meyer is forcing them out, *then* it’s oversigning. But considering that the players leaving seem to be doing so of their own volition, it is inappropriate to accuse Meyer of the crime.”

    No, if Meyer is forcing them out, then it is forced attrition and is wrong. Oversigning is simply signing more recruits than you have room for on NSD, and can be done witout forced attrition. Meyer has oversigned this year. Whether or not he has used forced attrition is known only by him and the recruits.

    How do you know these players are leaving of their own volition and those from Bama (or other oversigning schools) aren’t?

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    Catch 5No Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    “Saban, however, has been well documented (as I’ve mentioned) of using coercion to drive players out of his program against their wishes, and against their best self interest. I will continue to judge his actions individually, but he has thus far demonstrated that he is unwilling or unable to even follow the new rules set forth by the SEC without ruining some poor kids lives.”

    I’ve already addressed the reliability of your source of this documentation.
    How, exactly did he ruin some poor kids life? He informed them that they would need to greyshirt in order to sign with Alabama. They didn’t want to do that so they opened back up their recruitment and signed with other schools. The fans and residents of Kentucky and Arkansas would take great issue with the notion that signing a scholarship with their schools equates to ruining their lives.

    Also, from where I sit, a greyshirt is a pretty good idea for a kid coming off knee surgery who has not been conditioning all summer because of it. By delaying enrollment and coming in with the next class, they get the full spring practice period and summer S&C programs before their freshmen years. Neither guy would be playing this year anyway, so why not let them keep that year, enter next year with a better chance to compete for time (due to the extra practice periods) and still have five to play four? Truth of the matter is that they were probably better off accepting Saban’s offer, but since the SEC would not let them sign, they got nervous and bolted. Were they able to sign an LOI but still greyshirt, they probably would have. Of course, that is just my opinion.

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  8. JeffNo Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    It is reasonable to assume that Saban knows who is planning to transfer as well as Urban this year. The problem is they both have records of past recruiting and the fact is Saban is one of the worst offenders of oversigning and greyshirting or cutting a scholarship. Urban has no record of doing so. Saban has made no bones about it that he runs his program like a business and could care less about his word to his recruits.

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  9. Catch 5No Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Jeff, can you name any players from Alabama that have been cut? With such a reputation that Saban has, surely there is a plethora of them out there. Yes, Saban oversigns. But I have never seen anybody accuse him of simply cutting him or not renewing his scholarship. Every player that I have seen quotes from have nothing but positive things to say about Saban and Bama. The closest I have seen is Chuck Kirshner (sp?) in the famous WSJ article about Saban and medical scholarships. While Mr Kirshner says he felt he was pressured to take the medical because they wanted his scholarship for someone else (and if he was injured and unable to contribute because of it, why wouldn’t they?), he also admits that in the end he agreed with the medical determination and signed off on the medical. I’m interested if there is anyone else that you are aware of, or if your opinion has been formed from everyone simply saying that he does it.

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  10. Catch 5No Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    “1) With a new coaching staff, transfers become much more common. Michigan under Rich Rodriguez is a great example, with players bailing out of their own volition because they didn’t mesh well with Rich Rod’s system. This occurs at every school every time a new coach enters.”

    So does it make it right to clear the roster every time a coaching change occurs? BTW, all those comparisons of how many LOIs Bama has signed include Saban’s start there. Ever seen that explained at oversigning.com? Have they ever pointed out that when Saban took over, they were coming off of NCAA penalties that reduced their scholarships to 75 per year – meaning he started his tenure with 10 more open spots than everyone else. Wonder if that played a role in how many he could sign his first few years?

    “2) Urban Meyer had plentiful opportunities to oversign while HC of Florida, but never did. In fact, it is documented (in the link provided above in the article, as well as others) that his health issues were a result of trying to fight/beat the rampant oversigning that was going on in the SEC while he continued following the rules.”

    Well, by oversigning.com’s definition he has oversigned this year. I have not accused him of wrongdoing, however. I simply have pointed out that you should be – if you were being intellectually honest (removing your fan bias from the equation). Either that or allowing the same benefit to coaches that regularly oversign.

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  11. EricNo Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    And with Stefon Diggs selecting Maryland, his part of this discussion becomes academic.

    Best of luck with the Terrapins, Stefon.

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  12. olbuzzNo Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    Wasn’t Chad Hagan a medical. Pretty sure one of last yrs LB recruits who came in as a risk had given up. Willingly ? Maybe that was included. Do those kids somehow retain funding ? Surely Meyer isn’t so simple

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    EricNo Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    There are rumors that Chad Hagan will earn a medical hardship, but nothing has been confirmed yet.

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  13. JeffNo Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    It is a fact that almost all the regular oversigners are mostly from the SEC and the South in general. Most everybody in the nation wonders why year after year this practice is allowed by the same programs by the NCAA. Do you think there is a corelation to these programs becoming more dominant over the last 10 years or so? They routinely gobble up as many players as they can and then decide which players would be best for their program but also prevent these kids from signing with another program. This is not defendable. Les Miles and Saban are the two most prolofic oversigners and it is just wrong. Until the NCAA grows a pair and regualtes this more closely and also moves some of the bowl games to be played in other parts of the country other than the south we will more than likely continue to see the dominance we have over the last 6 years.

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    Catch 5No Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    Wrong. While SEC teams do routinely oversign, they are not the only ones. Lots of programs across the country oversign every year. They just aren’t as successful on the field so they don’t get criticized for it. That should show you where the criticism really comes from. Truth is that if the SEC hadn’t won the last 6 championships, there wouldn’t be near the outcry over it.

    Wow, reading your description it seems that SEC coaches force kids only so they can kick them off the team at a later date. All the while, keeping them from playing elsewhere. And what do the bowl game have to do with anything? Bowl locations are located for one thing: places where fans will want to travel to watch their team. Sorry, but nobody wants to spend their winter vacation in Michigan or Ohio in December.

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  14. JeffNo Gravatar
    February 10th, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    Bowl games will more than likely never get moved. I don’t agree with you as to why. I would travel anywhere my team would be playing.But what you may see, and I truley hope so is if you have a 4 team playoff they sites will be detemined by the best rankings. Take a look at this years Super Bowl. Traditionally they are played in warm climates but this years Super Bowl was one of the best ever from my understanding and it was played in the Midwest. SEC teams have notoriously not wanted to travel anywhere out of conference to play a ranked team. It is also a fact that when they do they are basically a .500 conference. My point being that there are major recruiting advantages these oversigning teams have enjoyed along with basically playing bowl games on their home turf. That is BS. And yes there are a few other programs that have oversigned but the majority is still in the SEC and South.

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  15. ScottNo Gravatar
    February 11th, 2012 at 10:44 am

    I am sort of happy Mr. Diggs selected Maryland. The last player we signed who could not make his decision on signing day and seemed to enjoy all of the media attention while he made the college football world wait turned out to be a cancer who cost our program a post season bowl, our head coach, and dignity. There’s no “I” in team. I prefer taking young men who are willing to put the program before themselves. I think Mr. Diggs would have been another self-centered ego which is bad for the team. I hope I am wrong, Mr. Diggs. Good luck in MD.

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