The Curious Case Of Johnny Townsend

Written February 7th, 2013 by MaliBuckeye

What Once Was

Wednesday was a memorable day for Ohio State fans, as the program again finished National Letter of Intent Day with a class ranked in the top three in the nation, with some calling it the very best for the 2013 recruiting cycle.

It was a memorable day for Orlando’s Johnny Townsend as well, although for different reasons. What he expected to be a day of celebration for his achievements was put on hold; parties and press announcements held up for a bit as things sorted themselves out.

Townsend was supposed to be a part of Ohio State’s record setting class, but as of this article he has not yet submitted his signed letter of intent. In fact, as of late Wednesday night, rumors were swirling that he would join Florida’s 2013 class on Thursday.

The reasons for that are difficult to pin down. Early reports were that he was having second thoughts, or that Ohio State had rescinded the offer at the last minute. However, comments from his family indicated that this last possibility was not true, and that he instead had the paperwork for a full, four year tenure at Ohio State.

There was even speculation that he had decided to attend the University of Alabama, where he was offered the opportunity to gray-shirt prior to verballing to Coach Meyer; to be a part of the team at his own expense until a scholarship was made available for him, typically within a year. Again, at this point it seems that this report was also inaccurate.

What happened on Wednesday? And how does Townsend’s situation reflect an under-reported aspect of the recruiting process?

First, it should be acknowledged that much of what will follow is speculation; per NCAA rules, coaches are not allowed to talk about student athletes until they’ve officially signed their letters of intent. When Coach Meyer was asked about Townsend’s situation, his comments alluded to this fact as well as his being concerned that this class didn’t fill the need at punter as of yet. Also, Townsend’s family has been private about the situation, even going as far as saying that Johnny will not have an elaborate signing day ceremony, but will instead fax the letter into his chosen university from the athletic director’s office at his high school.

Alabama’s Coach Saban also didn’t comment on Townsend, but talked about how they didn’t anticipate any additional members of this class unless it was someone “special”. A reference to Johnny’s skillset as a specialist? Perhaps… but until this resolves, we may never know.

Coach Saban did say, though, that there were a number of athletes that he’d like to have as a part of this group, but that the numbers simply didn’t allow for him to recruit and sign all of them. This may be why Townsend was offered a gray-shirt opportunity in the first place, but it is a phrase that is quite interesting if you dig a bit deeper. We’ll come back to that in a minute.

The most common “explanation” (again, speculative) that I’ve been able to come up with is similar to what the OZone’s Brandon Castel posits in their forums: Ohio State was unprepared, from a numbers perspective, to have Wilson AND Clark AND Bell commit today; Urban Meyer and his staff really hit a home run, but it created an interesting conundrum. Having those three in the fold put the scholarship number at 24, one away from the NCAA cap of 25, but it also put them at 82 total scholarships, their limit due to sanctions. Since the B1G requires prior approval to go over the maximum number (82, in this case), and since OSU had not considered this possibility, they were not willing or able to honor Townsend’s offer at this time. UPDATE: Brandon also posits that this set of circumstances may have been in play for a while now, and that Ohio State has been communicating this possibility to Johnny for some time.

While it may seem petty that the Buckeyes might have willing to trade one student’s commitment of several months for that of another, presumably “better” athlete or position of need, that seems to be what has happened. Given what the Townsend family said earlier, though, it’s not as if the offer has been taken away completely.

What’s more likely is that Ohio State was hoping that Townsend will wait (NLOID is only the first day that these can be signed- remember Pryor went several weeks beyond for his decision to attend the University of Ohio State), and that a spot will open up this spring. This might happen via a current Buckeye not being cleared after off-season surgery, choosing to transfer, or not having their scholarship extended for a 5th year. It’s also possible that another member of the 2013 class may not end up in Columbus; stranger things have certainly happened, although we hope that that will not be the case.

Buckeye?

Essentially, it seems as if Ohio State is now offering Johnny Townsend the opportunity to gray-shirt, similar to what Coach Saban extended at Alabama. I’m the first to say that the timing of this situation is less than ideal (unless, as Castel indicates, the University had been in touch with the Townsends about this from day one), and I certainly hope that Johnny will make a decision that benefits his academic and athletic career, either at Ohio State or elsewhere.

But again, this is an incredibly unfortunate situation, and is certainly different than the previous administration’s methodology for recruiting. Often, Coach Tressel had extra scholarships left over after a recruit went elsewhere (Seantrel Henderson, for instance); these were given to deserving seniors or preferred walk ons as a reflection of their hard work.

Under Coach Meyer, OSU has gained a stellar class- the second in a row- but the philosophy of “recruit through the whistle” can result in situations like the one that Johnny Townsend found himself in yesterday.  The “cost of doing business” and “grown man football” rings hollow when you’re a high school senior who misses your moment in the spotlight after months of planning.  I’m hopeful that the staff is working just as diligently to make this right as they did to recruit the student athletes who closed out this class. If that turns out to not be the case, I’ll be the first one to call it out as wrong.

However, there is a distinction between the “Why” of these two gray-shirt offers that again highlights a significant difference between schools who compete in the B1G and those who compete in the SEC, and it comes back to Coach Saban’s comments about the numbers.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s my belief that Townsend’s opportunity at Ohio State is running up against the B1G’s philosophy that teams shouldn’t offer more scholarships than they have available. Actually, the rule is that they may offer three more than they have openings for, but need to have the Conference’s approval to do so after outlining how the total numbers will be reached. When Coach Saban refers to the numbers not allowing him to sign everyone he’d like to, he’s referring to something different altogether.

The Southeastern Conference guidelines indicate that no team may sign more than 25 student athletes per year (as per NCAA rules). There are ways around this, of course, with “back counting” as Texas A&M is managing to do with their enormous 2013 class. But the 25 per year, while a step in the right direction, still creates the problem that we’re seeing some of today.

Again, using Coach Saban as an example- According to the staff at Oversigning.com, we know the following about Alabama’s roster numbers. First, they were at the 85 athlete limit last year, as they had at least one gray-shirt in their 2012 class.  Second, we know that they had 9 seniors and three juniors leave at the end of their national title season. For the sake of argument, let’s say that they had 15 openings- there’s probably three or so that we don’t know about because I don’t follow SEC recruiting closely.

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What’s interesting, though, is that Alabama managed to “win” the “recruiting title” for the third straight year with a great class that included 26 student athletes. If we consider for a moment that they might be able to back-count one of those to stay within the NCAA and SEC regulated 25, that’s still 10 student athletes more than they have opening for, if you use our calculated 15 spots available. Those 10 student athletes may find themselves in similar situations to the ones we mentioned at Ohio State; recovering, considering a transfer, looking to graduate early, may not make it through the enrollment process. While there’s often been accusations that Alabama and other “oversigners” push players out of the program to re-stock after NLOID, that’s not the heart of what I want to point out.

Instead, I want to highlight a philosophical difference between these two similar situations. Ohio State was at their maximum scholarship limit and did not have an opening on NLOID, and either wasn’t able to honor an offer to Townsend due to B1G guidelines or chose not to on other principals. Alabama was at their maximum scholarship limit and did not have an opening on NLOID, and signed more athletes than they had spots for anyway.

We pointed out the impact of this during the build up to the 2012 National Title, and were not surprised at all that this phenomenon (oversigning) was as under-reported leading up to this year’s championship game as the truth about Manti T’eo’s girlfriend. Instead, the narrative was about the depth and quality of players that Alabama had, with no discussion of the practices that allowed these to be stockpiled.

Again, this is not as much a critique of other programs as it is a commentary regarding the nature of high profile sports in comparison to the mission and goal of an academic institution. You know, my favorite soap box. Every student athlete should be treated honestly and fairly, and the possibility of ten or so students at Alabama in similar situations to Townsend; finding their careers sidetracked due to a “numbers problem” seems to be far outside of what a University should be about.

Ultimately, it’s my hope that Johnny Townsend can find the opportunity to be a part of the institution of his choosing under the circumstances that best fit him. Life as a college student is incredible, let alone if you’re a student athlete at a major BCS program… and it’s a shame that the “business” of modern sports has already begun to take away some of those memorable experiences.

UPDATE: On Thursday, Townsend signed for a full scholarship with Florida, becoming the 29th member of their 2013 class. The Orlando Sentinelhas the following quote-

Townsend… was committed since August to go to Ohio State, but given other opportunities, he decided he wanted to play football closer to family, said his father Clay Townsend on Thursday afternoon.

Best of luck, Johnny!

36 Comments

  1. DaxStaxNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    If, the definition of oversigning by oversigning dot come is authoritative and oversigning really means, “…the act of accepting more signed letters of intent on National Signing Day th[a]n you have room for under the 85 scholarship limit” then the entire implication of the concept as it pertains to Alabama is flawed.

    This is why: a one-year scholarship covers the full tuition for one academic year (at least two semesters or three terms according to the ncaa.org). Not every player executes their full annual scholarship (e.g. players who leave after the fall semester). Over time, this opens up the opportunity for coaches to divide their 85 number between the fall and spring semesters (e.g. 55 scholarships signed-off in the fall and 30 signed-off in the spring). This means that the number of scholarships fluctuate; not at the end of every year, by the July 1 deadline that coaches have to inform players that their scholarships will or will not be renewed, but by the end of every semester/term.

    The bottom line is that if the idea of oversigning hangs on the balance of its definition, which it should, then smart coaches like Saban properly partition their classes so that they never oversign because ultimately, it is up to them to determine how many players they will renew at the end of their ONE term or not AND if their scholarships are partitioned between two semesters or three terms properly, then the coach is not ethically or morally obligated to renew anyone. His message to the players who CHOOSE to sign at Alabama is clear, “Be the best and you will play.”

    Saban doesn’t do 4-year scholarships. We all got to observe the entitlement mentality of Auburn last year, flush with 4-year scholarship spending. Can you really compare the work ethic of an athlete who knows that they are at risk every year to one who realizes that as long as they stay on the straight and arrow, they will be guaranteed a free education, despite their effort on the field?

    In any event, it is impossible to oversign if a program has enough scholarships ready to expire at the end of a semester/term. The real number of available scholarships are the ones set to expire plus the unknown players who may leave, get grayshirted, or become med schollys.

    Maybe I’ve missed something, but after doing the research, I just don’t see how a program can be accused of oversigning if they manage their scholarships properly by dividing them between the semesters/terms. Every player that I know of at Alabama is only guaranteed a year and every recruit accepts that when they sign their LOI.

    Therefore, not only is your article BIAS, you and everyone else that complains about oversigning, don’t really know WTF you’re talking about because CNS does not “know” and doesn’t have to know how many scholarships he is going to renew on July 1 by February 6 and therein lies the difference between a program that offers 4-year deals and one that doesn’t.

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    I think the word you were looking for is “BiasED”. And yes, everything that everyone writes everywhere is just that.

    Saban doesn’t do 4 year scholarships? Interesting- this article seems to indicate that it’s at least a consideration of his.

    “We’re going to offer four-year scholarships,” Saban said. “Our whole conference is going to do it, all the schools, I think.

    “And we’re happy to do it.”

    I agree with a lot of what you say re: entitlement and see that as a HUGE cultural problem in our country, but here are my questions: 1) If you were a junior at Alabama who’d been busting your butt in the classroom and on the field, should you be “set free” to open up a space for a kid who’d never set foot on the practice field on campus (a new recruit)? 2) If so, how does that resonate with the mission of an academic institution supported by federal and state taxpayer dollars (in addition to student fees, private donations, and outside revenue from TV and other opportunities)?

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    DaxStaxNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    You are right, Bias’ED’, and forgive me for my emotional tirade at the end (I just re-read my post). However, not ‘everything’ that ‘everyone’ writes is biased. For example, I did the research to determine the accuracy of the accusation that Saban Oversigns and the empirical evidence proves that he does not.

    The real issue, and therefore my bias, would suggest that I believe multi-year scholarships should NOT exist. Your bias would suggest that not only should mult-year scholarships exist, but that all scholarships should be 4-years. And, that’s this issue, not a nonsensical and perceptively jealous tirade on Saban and Alabama football that falsely accuses a coach of being sinister. That’s called slanting/spinning an issue and just because the vast majority of Saban/Alabama football haters do it doesn’t make it right, moral, ethical or true. Are you a journalist that aspires to report news like Fox, CNN, or MSNBC or as an independent journalist are you going to hold yourself to a higher standard?

    Now, to your questions. I can relate to them because I was on the verge of being recruited to play D1 football before my neck injury and I did play D1 Lacrosse.

    1) If I was a junior at Alabama who’d been busting my butt and I wasn’t the best or likely going to play then I would want the coach to tell me. Odds are that if this is my junior year then I am a RS junior because if I was good enough before now, I would have seen the field as a true freshman and this wouldn’t be an issue. Therefore, if I am a RS Junior then I have already had 4-years of a scholarship and should be finished with school by July 1 or close to it.

    2) A fourth year RS junior shouldn’t have an impact, they should be done with school, whether the rules change or not. A fourth year RS junior is under the same scrutiny with one and multi-year contracts to play a 5th year and it is completely up to the coaching staff.

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    Well, if you want to get philosophical- you have a bias that your knowledge is worth sharing. That’s being biased. :)

    To be honest, I’ve got no beef with Saban/Alabama- if you’ll do a bit of digging on our site, you’ll see that my “oversigning” concerns transcend any one program. Alabama is at the top of the world now, and as such is a visible source for criticism (right or wrong).

    I see your point about “being done with school”, but would challenge that with some of the reality that comes with the academic courseload for many athletes. As someone who’s worked in academic support at a large SEC institution, I can tell you that for every Craig Krenzel (OSU, degree in microbiology) or Shane Battier (Duke, degree in theology) there are tons of kids who are majoring in “staying eligible”. For football and basketball programs, particularly ones that are “high profile”, academics fall second (or lower) to the student’s academic career. Personally, as I’ve said many times, I wish there would be a way that we’d be done with the “student athlete” myth, or let kids major in Football the way they do in Vocal Performance.

    At any rate, there’s no guarantee that someone who’s been at a University for four years is near degree completion if they’ve been funneled to classes that fit best with their athletic pursuits. Robert Smith (now at ESPN) left Ohio State early in part because the University wouldn’t be flexible with his class schedule and allow him to take the classes that he needed to pursue his career. At my former institution, basketball players would “hunker down” in class through late October, then try to get by through the rest of the semester with their traveling/practice schedule. Spring semester classes were a joke, as they expected to make a deep run in March (and often would). They then spent the summer playing “catch up” with their coursework in order to meet the NCAA requirements. Again, not the ideal schedule for someone seeking to “go pro in something other than sports”.

    So, our hypothetical student suddenly is asked to find another place to go, somewhat behind in their degree program (if that’s even an ideal), with classes that often don’t transfer OR is asked to stay where they started and possibly pay out of state tuition to catch up/finish up an education that may not have been a priority to begin with.

    Again, it’s why I wish we could just be honest and separate the football and basketball minor leagues from the academic institutions that they’re currently linked to. The issue of recruiting and roster management is only one place where my frustration manifests.

    Where did you play lacrosse? Love the sport, and am hoping that the B1G can start taking it seriously with the additions of Maryland and Rutgers.

    Thanks for coming by- hope you’ll stick around.

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    DaxStaxNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    I love communicating with sensical people that I can disagree with, who have different views from my own, who don’t get offended by our differences, and are willing to have hot debates. I pride myself on calling myself out when I am wrong as soon as I see it. Having disagreements with people forces me to check myself to internally inquire upon the accuracy of my own integrity and the logic of my thinking. Rather than be politically correct and be socially acceptable, I think that we should all openly express our discourse with each other and redefine social intercourse. That’s what freedom is at its core, the ability to fight each other with words to each other’s faces so that we do not have to bare arms against our neighbors. Most Americans no longer know how to manage their freedom and fall prey to the communist/socialist propaganda called ‘political correctness’.

    My point in that tirade was to acknowledge that I appreciate you no matter what we could ever disagree on and that I hope discussions we have could serve as an example for others to be willing to “disagree and be friends”. If, I was in Ohio instead of Hawaii, I’d invite you out for a beer and would hope to see the NCG b/n tOSU and Bama sometime in the near future.

    I went to Fork Union Military Academy for high-school, the Virginia Military Institute for college, and served 4-years in the Marine Corps b/n 02-06. I own a business that builds and designs certain web and mobile apps for profit. I’ll be sure to stick around your articles and give you feedback when I can.

    In reference to your points, there are life lessons to be learned about managing time and money that the hypothetical kids in your scenario need to learn how to deal with. By not making these kids go through those growing pains will NOT teach them about the real world. We need to stop babying young adults in the US, it leads to the entitlement mentality. You know what I had to do to get three years of free education via the post-9/11 GI Bill?

    In the real world, people get fired at 19 1/2 years into a job. Do you wanna blame the employer or be prepared to be fired at anytime? It’s a dog-eat-dog world and I haven’t seen Jesus return so what is the issue? Morals, ethics, and the law? The key to success and survival is not fighting for fair, it is fighting around what is unfair and not letting it stop you from trying to make a difference, which is to say to incorporate a state of being in your own life that supports the ‘fair’ ideal as you see it.

    People have to manage work with social life. Don’t segregate athletics from school, it’ll take that life lesson away from the people who need to learn it. Life is a balancing act. I see you getting angry at perceived injustices that are NOT real. All education is good, life is about learning whether it is a priority or not.

    I like talking about sports, but I most enjoy igniting a conversation about the things each of us CAN DO individually, despite the distractions, to hold each other accountable for the standards each of us set on ourselves, each other, and the world. We could achieve better alignment, even if we disagree, if we addressed our issues from this end than “picking a side”. Its how our forefathers intended it. Look-up how they talked to each other to draft the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Talk about varying views, REAL dissent, and constructive collaboration. Things that we are all taught to avoid in today’s society.

    [Reply]

    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    Hmmmm… “Sensible”. You must be new here. :)

    OSU has had some strong ties with Fork Union- Carlos Hyde, Eddie George, Cardale Jones all went there for a year. Good school.

    And, yeah- entitlement is a problem culturally (but that’s another blog altogether). However, this is all tied into the huge dollars that sports are bringing in as well… Coaches getting paid big bucks think success in wins and losses, and if some of the people who risk to help earn those dollars aren’t getting it done, then away they go. Just because it’s the way things are don’t mean it’s the way it should be.

    But- I’m still trying to figure out the answer.

    Thank you for your service.

    OKBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    That you believe that a player who does everything that heis asked of and then is asked to leave because a better player was recruited, utilizing the “it is only a one year commitment” argument is BIAS and YOU don’t know WTF YOU are talking about. The only way your argument works is if every player, every year, can be re-recruited because they too have the option to leave. The way you describe it, the school owns the player for 5 years (4 of which they can play) and the player can not leave unless the coach leaves or under prohibitive penalty, but when the schookl wants to kick one to the side of the road, they are free todo so. No one is saying Alabama is cheating, because the rles currently allow this stupidity to exist. BUT, we are saying that if they will not change the rules to the way we do it, which is the RIGHT WAY, there is a problem. It’s kind of like the “All Steroid Olympics” sketch you would see on SNL. Here it is, the SEC, where everyone buys players, pays players (many of whom can’t read), kicks them to the curb whenever they want (Oh, and in doing so, the transfer rules are still prohibitivly punitive, even when the school ENDS the so-called one year arangement), AND allows hem to cheat with performance enhancing drugs. Doesn’t soundmuch like a group of people I think any average school would ever want to associate themselvesd with. Remind me again who the so-called BIAS is with?

    [Reply]

    OKBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    Sorry for the typo’s, typing fast on my phone is sketchy.

    [Reply]

    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    I told you you should have joined Team Android, broseph.

    [Reply]

  2. BCSBuckNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    @Dax, lots of nice words, but you are wrong, in a couple of ways.

    1. Most schools no longer offer 1 yr scholarships, they offer 4 year scholarships.

    2. Even though in the past scholarships were for one year, they were not revoked merely for performance issues, they were revoked for egregiosu behavior issues. Essentially you are positing a strawman, an environment that does not exist in the real world, as a justification for the heinous practices of Saban. He does not ‘renew’ their scholarships each year, he forces transfers and medical hardships on players that underperform. Your representation above is an exercise in legalistic word twisting that doesn’t accurately represent the immoral behavior that Saban is doing. No one says that Saban is breaking the rules. He is acting immorally by breaking the promises he made, both explicitly and implicitly, when he offered the shcolarship in the first place.

    [Reply]

    L D RNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Thanks BCSBucks,learned more on oversigning and the snake they call saban than I have the past 3 years on this subject

    [Reply]

    DaxStaxNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    By utilizing the same number system to address your points, I will begin with:

    1. Most schools DO NOT offer 4-year scholarships, they were banned until this year. “Earlier this year, the NCAA held a vote on whether to end its ban on multiyear scholarships, which had been in place since 1973. Of the 330 schools that cast a ballot, 205 voted against four-year scholarships…To be clear, this new NCAA measure doesn’t require any school to give four-year scholarships—it merely gives them the option to do so.” http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2012/05/ncaa_scholarship_rules_it_s_morally_indefensible_that_athletic_scholarships_can_be_yanked_after_one_year_for_any_reason_.html

    2. Same source as above, “If you buy that star athletes are compensated with a valuable education, consider this complicating fact: An athletic scholarship is not a four-year educational guarantee. What few college sports fans—and not enough college recruits—realize is that a university can yank that scholarship after one, two, or three years without cause. Coach doesn’t like you? He’s free to cut you loose. Sitting the bench? You could lose your free ride to a new recruit.”

    Essentially, YOU are positing a strawman because the article referenced above lists the FACTS. The MAJORITY of schools voted against multi-year scholarships and the 1-year is the norm. Saban and Alabama are not the minority on this issue. The word “renew” comes from the NCAA:

    “Question: Is an athletic scholarship guaranteed for four years?

    At a minimum, an athletic scholarship must be a one academic year agreement. [New Revision:] ‘In Division I, institutions are permitted to offer multiyear scholarships.’ Athletic scholarships may be renewed and the school must notify the student-athlete in writing by July 1 whether the athletic scholarship will be renewed for the next academic year. Individual schools have appeal policies for scholarships that are reduced or not renewed. In most cases, the coach decides who gets a scholarship, what it covers and whether it will be renewed.”

    http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/nli/nli/document+library/athletic+scholarship

    And, like with your ERRONEOUS and FALSE statements above, NOT BACKED UP BY FACTS, you cannot produce the evidence that PROVES he “forces transfers and medical hardships on players that under-perform.”

    However, I can give you this http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=6593311

    So, when you want to support your claims and have an intelligent discussion about this issue, or any other, then by all means, bring it on. Otherwise, don’t be so deceptive about the facts. You can start by substantiating your claim that Saban broke promises by listing: 1) what the promises were, 2) who he broke them to, 3) what promises he broke, and 4) an authoritative source that can support your “claim”.

    All of you can call a bird a fish, it won’t change the fact that birds don’t have gills.

    [Reply]

    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    What about fish with feathers, though?
    FWF

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    DaxStaxNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    That’s a good picture, but you needed to find a bird with gills, I never said you couldn’t find a fish with feathers (g).

    “All squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares.”

    [Reply]

    RyanNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/7528614/some-big-ten-offering-4-year-scholarships

    http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2012/02/auburn_says_it_gave_football_r.html

    Looks like even though it isn’t required, most of the Big Ten is giving out 4 year schollies, and Florida and Auburn from the SEC are doing the same. They can still yank them for reasons that aren’t performance based, like not attending class, grades dropping or quitting the team. I think this will probably be the trend, as long as star athletes start demanding it.

    [Reply]

  3. Catch 5No Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Where do you get that Bama had a greyshirt last year? They played the 2012 season with at most 80 scholarship players and are currently only 6 over with known returning players. They signed 25 this year and had room to backcount at least one player so they could actually sign one more under the SEC rule if they wanted.

    When Saban says he doesn’t have room he *gasp* actually means he doesn’t have room. Is it really too far a leap for you to accept that Saban can know who is going to transfer/graduate/go on medical over the summer? If a player wants to transfer, it makes sense to do so after classes are over – why then should he be forced to announce his intentions before then? If a player is graduating, Saban would certainly know about that, and some guys are on medical hardships long before it is announced (if ever) to the media – why shouldn’t Bama be allowed to replace these players on NSD?

    [Reply]

    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    “Only 6 over”. Gotcha.

    I’m just using others’ data re: the grayshirt, and am more than willing to be corrected. However, I believe that Alabama has signed 101 folks over the past four years… that’s some amazing attrition if they were still 5 under throughout the season.

    Again, it’s a conference difference. The B1G says that you can be “only 3 over”, and they have to know the stuff you talk about: Who’s graduating, who’s transferring, who’s going on medical to ensure that it’s as legitimate as you’re saying Coach Saban is being.

    I wonder why Vanderbilt and (historically) Florida and Georgia don’t have these types of problems…

    [Reply]

    RyanNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    Actually, the SEC just passed a new rule where they can’t oversign anymore. It is actually more strict than the B1G, where you can oversign 3 with advanced notification.

    The idea that Saban would grayshirt someone is hilarious. Yes he saves a scholly this year, but that means that he would have to give the guy a scholly next year, effectively costing him a scholly. Preferred walk on… also funny, unless you perform like crazy, he would have to give up a scholly to a new player to give one to a ‘preferred walk on’.

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Well, “more strict” is a matter of opinion. The B1G allows a team to go over either the 25 number OR the 85 number by three with prior permission. The SEC guidelines won’t allow you to go over the 25 number each year, but say nothing as to the 85 number.

    That’s how we find ourselves today with Alabama having, as one earlier writer put it “only 6 over” (within the 25 limit, but looking at 91 total), whereas a B1G school would, at most, only find themselves ever at 88.

    And, for the record, Eric and Charles are the numbers people on this site… how did I end up in a math conversation? :D

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    Catch 5No Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    Alabama’s last four classes: 25, 26, 23, 26 = 100
    Ohio State’s last four: 24, 24, 24, 19 = 92

    Now adjust for:
    -Players that don’t qualify (Bama averages about 1/yr, OSU usually has none)-(4)
    -JuCo tranfers that only have 2 yrs of eligibility remaining meaning they are replaced sooner. A team that signs one JuCo every year will sign two more players than a team that signs none over 4 years. (Bama has signed an average of 2 JuCos/yr. OSU has signed few if any. (4)
    -Players that signed twice, like Deion Belue who signed in 2010 but didn’t qualify. He went to JuCo and re-signed in 2012 as a JuCo. Counting as two players in your comparison even though he only contributes for 2 years. (Belue is the only 1 to sign twice in the last 4 years) (1)
    -One of Bama’s players died before ever playing (1)
    -OSU has operated under an NCAA-mandated reduction of 3 scholarships over the last two years. This really only reduced the amount they could have signed by (3).

    So, after adjusting for these factors, the 8 player advantage is more than canceled out over the last 4 years. In fact, by my count OSU has an advantage of 5 signees (and were still under their limit by 6 this season if I recall correctly).

    The 3 over that the B10 allows is not the same as the 6 over I referenced for Bama. Bama’s number does not factor in the known (by the staff) attrition that has not yet been announced to the public such as 4th Yr Jrs who are graduating and not returning (Bama has had a couple every year for the last few years) and players wanting to transfer after the academic year is over. The B10 rule allows for these to be taken into consideration before they consider the team oversigned. A better description of the B10 rule would be that they restrict the use of greyshirts (conditional or otherwise).

    What problems do you refer to re: Ga and Fl? They suffer attrition just like everyone. In fact, the average attrition percentages of OSU, Ga, and Fl for the 2008 and 2009 signing classes is almost identical to that of Bama, LSU, and S. Carolina. If the latter 3 are cutting players because they are oversigned, why are the former 3?

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    Thanks for joining the conversation.

    I’m not sure of any problems with GA and FL, although I admittedly don’t follow SEC recruiting as much as some do. I do know, however, that both schools’ presidents and ADs have come out against oversigning, so there may be additional pressure against the practice at those schools.

    An honest question: If it’s something that shouldn’t be seen as an issue, why don’t more schools do it? I’ve not heard of any schools in the PAC having this issue, and we know that the B1G even has guidelines to limit the practice.

    RE: Jucos and the like- Ohio State has one incoming this year (Corey Smith, from Akron), but you’re right that it’s not a “Regular” part of the University’s strategy. I wonder how much the new juco rules will have on the future of this conversation- it sounds as if they are being extremely strict, particularly about coursework towards graduation. It would be interesting, too, to see if the juco rules might actually leak “up” and lead to more academic stricture regarding matriculation at four year institutions.

    Finally- Are you comfortable with schools recruiting folks who might not qualify? As for me, I really have a problem with that- even at Ohio State. It highlights the difference between the “University” and the “Athletic Department”- at a time where all schools are bragging about their admit rates and incoming classes being the best and brightest, it seems odd to know that some schools will turn away academically high achieving students while doing everything they can to help a kid get in.

    Although, come to think of it, that might lead us into both a conversation about the purpose of higher education AND the state of public education in America… again, something for another blog to address.

    Thanks again.

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    Catch 5No Gravatar
    February 8th, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Your first question: More schools do…do it (gah at the grammer). The difference is that schools in the Pac, B12, ACC, etc aren’t dominating football right now so nobody cares – it is only highlighted in the SEC. That and a guy with an axe to grind started a popular blog dedicated to exposing it…but only in the SEC, and Alabama (and LSU) in particular.

    Your second: The main argument against oversigning is because is supposedly screws the kids over, right? Let’s then look at JuCo and potential non-qualifying in that same light. Does it hurt or help a kid to be offered an LOI to a major program even if he isn’t going to qualify? Ask guys like Nick Fairly, who signed with Auburn but failed to qualify. He used that as a major motivator to focus on his grades so that he could qualify. He did so after a stint at JuCo and was a major reason for the Tiger’s championship ’10 season and was then drafted in the 1st round. To answer your question, no. I don’t see the harm in it. Any situation where a kid is given an opportunity to better himself is good by me and arguments against it (not saying you, but elsewhere) to me are hypocritical when offered in the same argument against oversigning.

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  4. KenNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Well, if this hasn’t been entertaining reading this afternoon! Since I’m likely much older than most, if not all of you, I may be out of ‘it’. For example, is ‘BIAS’ an acronym for something? I know the ‘WTF’ is an acronym. Is ‘CNS’ an acronym for Cute Nick Saban?

    On a somewhat different tack, it seems there is a missing-the-point situation here. IMO, the article cites scholarship offers as an example of a tool that plays into the overarching responsibility of a university to fulfill its mission/obligation as an educational institution. I say this IMO, not IMHO, because there is nothing humble in my opinion about this. There is not one law that I’m aware of, that requires universities to have athletic programs. Would we be having this back and forth if a university decided to rescind or greyshirt a student on an academic scholarship?

    No, I don’t think so either.

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Well, those “back and forths” do happen at an academic level, but that’s another website that I write for (for teh nerds!!).

    It’s not really the same, though- if a student comes to Ohio State on a scholarship for their awesomeness in, say, English they can keep that as long as they meet requirements (GPA, publication, teaching internship, whatever). There aren’t cases of students who have met their scholarship requirements having those discontinued solely to make room for a “better” incoming English major.

    If academic departments have to 1) think of a higher purpose than just immediate gratification and “success” and 2) manage their scholarship amounts and numbers, why shouldn’t the most “visible” part of the University be held to the same standard?

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    KenNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    1. Good stuff, thank you for fleshing this out for me in 1st ¶
    2. Regarding 2nd ¶: exactly!

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  5. RyanNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    It looks like he didn’t actually get a scholly from Florida, he simply chose in-state tuition over out-of-state. Even if he wanted to be a Buckeye it would have been expensive. Personally, I went out of state for grad school (The University of Florida) and paid nearly $1200/cr while everyone else was paying just over $300, that’s another $13,000 per semester for five classes. Even if he only had to do that for one year, it would take one heck of a relationship with the coaches to overcome that.

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    Great catch- I was told it was a scholarship situation. Otherwise, I wonder if there was a LOI signed- do you need to do that for a “gray-shirt” or “preferred walk on” position.

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    Catch 5No Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    As I understand it, if a player signs an LOI, he must be given a scholarship upon full-time enrollment. Thus, a walk-on would actually be prohibited from signing, but a grayshirt could or could not as the LOI is good for one calendar year and grayshirts enroll in Jan (11 months after signing).

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    Good clarification.

    Interestingly enough, everything I’m reading about Townsend indicates that he chose a guaranteed scholarship at Florida over a gray-shirt at Alabama and a potential gray-shirt at Ohio State (started as a full ride, ended up as a “wait and see”).

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  6. BuckeyeBeauNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    First, thank you MaliBuckeye for writing this and raising the oversigning issue again. Thank you for braving the … we’ll politely say … the “discussion points” raised by the oversigning apologists.

    Second, if I may summarize, everyone is now in agreement that Saban oversigned by at least 6, as many as 10. We will now watch another “March to 85.”

    I have much more to say; see next Comment.

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  7. BuckeyeBeauNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    Hmm… for the second time on this site, what i typed has disappeared into the ether.

    I’ll state it all over again without links. Apparently BBC does not allow or appreciate or favor or whatever linking.

    Since no one else is going to say it, I will: Urban Meyer failed morally and ethically yesterday in his choice between Townsend and Elliott.

    Brandon Castel over at theOzone dot net (and no, this time I will not link it) stated (and this time I will painstakingly type it out): “Meyer said they never pulled a scholarship offer from a committed kid but they had to pull some back from targets who where uncommitted.” Ozone at 15 : 28 :38 02/06/13.

    Admittedly this is Castel’s gloss on something Meyer supposedly said.

    But taking it at face value, the choice between Townsend and Elliott was not difficult. In my opinion, Elliott’s dalliance with Missouri and his apparent “need” to have a press conference converted him into an “uncommitted” target. Consequently, the scholarship should have gone to Townsend who was committed; not Elliott who was uncommitted.

    In my view, vis a vis Mr. Townsend and his family, Meyer failed both morally and ethically.

    To Meyer’s credit, he did not oversign. Whether by choice or by compulsion is unknown. How these balance out I do not know.

    Finally, I must say that my “issue” is about a level playing field. I have opinions about whether CFB should become a minor-league NFL. But I am more concerned that the SEC and B1G have a level playing field. The SEC dominance will not end until the oversigning problem is solved. Either the SEC must stop or the B1G must start.

    Let’s see if this will post.

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    Thanks for the patience… no idea what happened with your other posts. If you want to email us about the details (Browser, etc) I’ll look into it.

    Or, we could just blame it on Ty Willingham and call it good.

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    I feel your concern, although it sounds as if Townsend was on board all along with the possibility that his scholarship offer might become a gray-shirt if the numbers didn’t work out. If true that both parties were OK with that, and with the possibility that what happened yesterday and today might indeed come to pass, I don’t have a problem with it.

    I’m not willing to comment on Elliott’s situation, other than to say that it’s my belief that the decision wasn’t in question in anyone at Ohio State’s mind, or even in the mind of those around him. It’s my belief (and solely that) that the Missouri situation was out of respect for his community, and his struggle on signing day was about how to communicate that he was was leaving “home”.

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    BuckeyeBeauNo Gravatar
    February 8th, 2013 at 7:11 am

    I agree with you. If Townsend knew all along that his scholarship was dependent on there being room in the class, then I am okay with it. I have my doubts about whether that was the case, but whatever. This is all speculation.

    Please understand that I get how tough recruiting is and I get that difficult decisions have to be made. When a talent like Bell comes along, you don’t say “no.” CFB is a “win-or-get-fired” business. But as said, unless it was made plain long in advance to Townsend that his scholarship was dependent, then, to me, the choice was clear: Townsend.

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  8. BamaGradinTnNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    I hope all the Buckeye fans out there noticed Meyer’s remarks today about his planned discussions with other B1G coaches about the need to recruit more like the SEC!

    For those who make the accusation that Saban pushes out players who underperform in order to clear spots on the roster, let me take a moment to introduce you to Tyler Love.

    Tyler Love was one of the most overrated, overhyped, unmotivated players that Saban ever recruited. Love was a 5 star Rivals rated offensive tackle from Mountain Brook, AL. Love signed in February, 2008, the same class that game us Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, Terrence Cody, Mark Barron, Dont’a Hightower, and Courtney Upshaw.

    Love redshirted as a freshman and decide to forego his final year of eligibility at the end of the 2011-2012 school year. In four years at Alabama, Love received a college degree, two national championship rings, but at no time ever played a meaningful snap. In his entire career. By some accounts, Love enjoyed the fraternity parties at Bama.

    http://alabama.247sports.com/Article/Love-leaving-with-degree-rings-65216

    Tyler Love would have been the perfect candidate to be “processed out” by Saban. Yet Saban allowed him to keep his scholarship and stay on the team. Heck, Saban would have even kept him a fifth year and let him have a year of graduate school, but Love was ready to get on with the rest of his life. Love is basically walking proof that those who allege that Saban processes out weaker, non-performing players really don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

    In the last four years, Alabama has had three QBs transfer…Star Jackson, Philip Sims, and now Philip Ely. Most QBs want to play, not stand on a sideline wearing a baseball cap. So transfers shouldn’t be surprising.

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    February 7th, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    Great story- thanks for bringing it to our attention.

    From what I can gather “recruit more like the SEC” is about building relationships with coaches and high schools outside of the midwest, something that Ohio State has always been able to do. It may also be a shot at schools not spending money on recruiting budgets similar to USC, OSU, TTUN, Alabama, et. al… especially since all of those programs have the same BTN funding that OSU and TTUN do.

    [Reply]

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