With all the excitement Urban is creating with recruits popping up on the radar almost daily now, something that came to mind this morning is how many can we really take in, with NCAA rules, Big Ten rules, scholarship reductions, and our current roster in mind?
The NCAA rules are easy to address, but just to refresh your memory:
“There shall be an annual limit of 25 on the number of initial counters and an annual limit of 85 on the total number of counters (including initial counters) in football at each institution (Bylaw 15.02.3.1).”
With counters being your roster total, and initial counters being new signees (counting for the first time, or “initially”).
So that means that you can sign only 25 per year, by NCAA rules? Not so fast my friend.
“In bowl subdivision football, there shall be an annual limit of 28 on the number of prospective student-athletes who may sign a National Letter of Intent or an institutional offer of financial aid from the initial signing date of the regular signing period of the National Letter of Intent through May 31 (bylaw 22.214.171.124).”
I won’t get into the whole gray shirting business business as I don’t think we will be taking that approach in this class, but it is certainly something that is within the letter of the NCAA law if we wanted to take that approach (and when used for the purposes of getting someone academically ready, such as Cardale Jones, maybe not such a bad thing if it gives a kid an opportunity).
That leads into the Big Ten rules. I couldn’t find the Big Ten handbook online like the NCAA manual, but thankfully Big Ten associate commissioner Chad Hawley likes to talk. According to him, schools in our conference are allowed three over the 85-man limit, not the annual 25-man limit. The SI article has probably the better of the two descriptions of the rule by Hawley. Also, according to Hawley:
"If you've oversigned, you're going to have to report back to the conference," Hawley said. "Come the fall, you're going to have to explain how you came into compliance."
Looking now at our roster, there are of course the past signings you take into account, but keep in mind there has been attrition.
Ohio State Football Signees by [Year: Total (Who Left - Remaining)]
2011: 23 (My Name is Cash, Price - 21)
2010: 18 (Graham, Louis, McVey, Turner gone - 14)
2009: 25 (Bell, Carter, Fellows, Jackson, Longo, Newsome - 19)
Total Scholarship Players Returning: 21 + 14 + 19 = 54
That gives you 54 kids who had signed on for scholarships. This includes Cardale Jones (who technically counts towards this year’s class, we’ll get to that). This is with Fellows, McVey, and Hagan not counting towards next year’s number due to medical hardship, and other attrition as noted. While the argument could be made that some kids could be nudged out if they aren’t “worth” the scholarship, that is not likely to happen. I don’t see Urban having a long talk with Archie’s kid anytime soon. As compared to the SEC crowd, our kids only seem to exit the program because of health reasons, being home sick, or natural attrition. And thankfully not because of things like home invation and robbery.
From here, we add in the six early enrollees, since we know for certain they will count towards next year’s roster, and into the Big Ten equation. This brings us to 60. Now take away one since, remember, Cardale was one of them already per the OSU athletics site (but wouldn’t count until this year’s class since he went to Juco first).
Now, we can finally look at the NCAA scholarship reductions. Instead of five scholarships total over the next three years, the Buckeyes will lose three scholarships each season. So instead of our total being 85, we are now at 82. The question is if this applies to oversigning rules. I would say yes, and go with that math, as it would make the most sense (if we can only sign 82, then we run into the same problems we would at 85).
Whew. Okay, so then, 82 - 59 = 23. That means for people not enrolled and on the OSU FB roster, there are 23 scholarships available for a full ride in the sport of football as we have 23 roster spots currently open.
From Jeremy's recent recruiting board, 2012 has 19 verbals from kids who can’t wait to be Buckeyes. Of course, six of those kids really couldn’t wait (so we already counted them), meaning we essentially have 13 verbals, with the opportunity for ten more (19 - 6 = 13 verbals, with 23 total spots available, 23 - 13 = 10). Keep in mind that with regards to how kids are traditionally counted, this would all mean a 29 man class since it would be these 19 kids plus the ten "remaining" spots.
That would tell me that we have ten more scholarships to offer kids, given everyone who has given a verbal pledge follows through with signing a Letter of Intent (I'm looking at you, De'Van). Of course kids come and go in the recruiting game, its their right, and we wish them the best regardless. Meyer has played the game of telling kids a scholarship is not available for them when a "better" player comes along in the past. In particular, I remember a gentleman named Linval Joseph that my undergrad was lucky enough to get in just such a situation late in the game. I can not say who he was passed up for, but it is worth noting that three star Linval made it to the NFL, while four and five star DT's UF recruited that year (like Torrey Davis) didn't make it past Gainesville. Which is just to say, recruiting is an inexact science, so lets take it for what it's worth and practice some cautious optimisim when Urbz pulls in a top class (or pessimism, with other programs).
Wrapping it Up
Remember that with regards to the single season signing limit, the firm number for the Big Ten is really predicated off roster spots available, not by the 25 man rule limit. Since we only have 23 spots on the roster available, we could only sign 26 by Big Ten rules, and even then we have have a good reason for that oversigning. I doubt we will go past the 23, as oversigning is contrary to the Big Ten culture. Of course, with legal issues and who knows what else floating around, there is the chance the number could increase and if OSU sits on the information (for any number of reasons) the attrition does not necessarily have to occur prior to signing day (how I might think to internalize any >29 man class). Of course, I could be completely off base (my “B’s” in math may be coming back to haunt me). This my best guess though, after looking at the rules, our roster, and the situation we have found ourselves in thanks to Samuel O'Reilly having invented the electric tattooing machine in 1891.
Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I've been wondering of late how many of these new great recruits we could take in, and this is my best attempt at coming to some firm number. The best I could do based off another site did not appear accurate given it lists some players like Griffin as walk ons, when we can see from above that he should be a scholarship player. I won't pretend to know enough to prognosticate, but it certainly opens up the door to kids like O'Connor, for whom I originally thought there may not be a spot available, even if we win the lottery with other great kids. Not to say we'll even take all those kids, given we also want to save schollies for next year's great class. This does however give all the more reason to look forwards to an exciting wrap up to this recruitment period, and many more to come under Meyer!