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Breaking Down the Buzz: Wisconsin

By Tom Fornelli | College Football Writer

breaking down the buzz wisconsin
Wisconsin just isn't used to losing to Illinois at anything. (USATSI)

Each Monday, Wednesday and Friday the Eye on College Football examines what current hot topic the fans of one BCS team are obsessing over -- rationally or not -- in Breaking Down the Buzz. Today's team: the Wisconsin Badgers.

What they're talking about is ... losing a recruit, and possibly two, to Illinois. Last week rumors began circulating that four-star offensive tackle Gabe Megginson and four-star athlete David Edwards, both of whom are from Illinois and are being recruited by Wisconsin, were leaning toward Illinois. One of them, Megginson, made it official over the weekend when he committed to the Illini.

As you can imagine, this was a bit of a surprise to Wisconsin fans. Over the years Wisconsin, and other teams, haven't had much of a problem coming into Illinois and prying the state's top players away from its major conference schools, Illinois and Northwestern. Now, suddenly, Wisconsin was losing a four-star offensive lineman to an Illinois team that's won only one Big Ten game in the last two seasons? Maybe even two!?

What they're saying is ... exactly what you'd expect them to say. I'm going to leave speculation on Edwards' future alone since he hasn't made a decision yet, and instead focus on the reaction to Megginson's decision. One of my favorite message board themes is how, after spending months talking about a high school player and how badly their team needs him, the moment that player chooses to go somewhere else WE NEVER WANTED HIM ANYWAY. GOOD RIDDANCE.

So when Badger247's Evan Flood reported that Megginson's reasons for choosing Illinois centered around Illinois being his state school, and there being less competition on the roster at his position -- in other words, earlier playing time -- posters responded predictably.

-- "No longer want. You either want to compete around other great players and get better or you don't."

-- "Do you really want anybody that is afraid of competition?"

-- "Less competition at his position? He wants to play on the O-line? Next."

-- "Agreed. If his reasoning for not coming here is too much competition then I don't want him. Never heard of a player say that they didn't want to go to a school because of too much competition unless its a RB going into a 3 RB class (which is understandable)."

Now, to be fair, there was at least one poster who felt the need to point out that a high school recruit taking the depth of their position on a school's roster under consideration is something that happens all the time.

-- "We get plenty of guys who are looking for less competition than they would have elsewhere."

What kind of responses did this post get?

-- "Ya. I think the issue here is the guy clearly has multiple better options but [instead] picked the "easier route". But in the same token I understand wanting to play early. Every kid wants to play. I'd want to play too. The bench is not fun."

-- "To me, there is a difference between wanting early playing time and being afraid of the competition. Everybody wants to play, and play early. But outright shying away from competition is slightly different to me, especially when you make it one of 2 deciding factors."

So by not going to Wisconsin, which has been to three of the last four Rose Bowls, and instead choosing an Illinois team that's gone 1-15 in Big Ten play the last two years, Megginson is taking the "easier route."

And, then there's the second poster, who has decided without any further information that Megginson chose Illinois because he's "afraid" to compete, not just because he'll be on the field quicker.

What we think is ... we're surprised Megginson chose Illinois too, but that's no reason to insult the kid. I mean, it's not like Wisconsin is the only team Megginson didn't pick. The kid had offers from Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State, Nebraska, Virginia Tech, Louisville and Miami just to name a few. Normally kids like that don't end up going to Illinois.

That being said, Megginson is from a town called Jacksonville, Illinois. It's a two-hour drive west of Champaign. Maybe, just maybe, he chose Illinois because it's close to home and his family is always nearby.

 
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