While the controversy surrounding the 2011 suspensions of the Ohio State football players who sold autographs and other memorabilia has been the media’s focus leading up to its Sugar Bowl match-up with Arkansas, OSU has another problem lurking in the shadows.

They are projected to be over the NCAA’s salary cap for 2011.

Ohio State is thought to be the first team to exceed the cap since the mid-80s SMU teams, but some have seen this day as inevitable.

“Most of the big programs don’t have this problem,” said NCAA capologist Jeff Maxwell. “Sure USC had some issues with Reggie Bush, but would you rather spend four years in Los Angeles as the toast of the town, head to the SEC where you never have to see the inside of a classroom, or go to Ohio? While Columbus may only be the third or fourth most depressing place in Ohio, it’s still Ohio. The Buckeyes have to pay these kids a premium.”

Even if the suspended Buckeyes elect to enter the 2011 NFL Draft, the team will have to do some additional work to get under the cap. That could include enrolling lower ranked recruits that require smaller signing bonuses or encouraging more players to enter the draft.

“This was bound to happen sooner or later,” said College Football analyst Mark May. “Landing 5-star recruits year after year requires a lot of resources. And it paid off in multiple Big Ten titles and trips to the BCS. But 2011 will be a rebuilding year as they clear some of these salaries off their books.”

Ohio State has refused to publicly comment on the report, citing privacy rules that prohibited them from releasing their players’ salaries.

Giles Tellum