One hot summer’s day a Fox was strolling through an orchard till he came to a bunch of Grapes just ripening on a vine which had been trained over a lofty branch. “Just the thing to quench my thirst,” quoth he. Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and a jump, and just missed the bunch. Turning round again with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no greater success. Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: “I am sure they are sour.”- Aesop’s Fable The Fox and the Grapes
All Urban Meyer has done since agreeing to become Ohio State’s head coach is recruit. Whether assistant coaches or players, Meyer hit the ground running and never looked back. Not surprisingly, the coaches and schools that Meyer lured those recruits away from aren’t pleased with him. Some just happen to be more vocal about it-
The Wisconsin head coach was asked Wednesday if he thought Meyer would change recruiting in the Big Ten and Bielema offered up a lot more than a simple answer.
“I hope it doesn’t change. I think the potential for change is there,” Bielema said. “There are a few things that happened early on that I made people aware of that I didn’t want to see in this league, that I had seen take place in other leagues. Other recruiting tactics, other recruiting practices that are illegal.
“I was very up front and was very pointed to the fact, actually reached out to Coach Meyer and shared my thoughts and concerns with him. The situation got rectified.”
Obviously avoiding specifics, Bielema clearly isn’t 100 percent happy with Meyer’s tactics at Ohio State, where he put together a top five recruiting class in just a couple of months.
What tactics exactly are we talking about? Talking with a player who had verbally committed somewhere but still had an interest in Ohio State? Something more?
With all of the eyes on Ohio State, and their probationary status why in the world would Bielema squash an “illegal” violation? Doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Rob Oller had a conversation with Gerry DiNardo, former Indiana coach and now Big Ten Network analyst that was interesting-
“If Mark and Jim had a gentleman’s agreement then I have no problem with that,” DiNardo said, referring to Narduzzi’s comments that MSU coach Mark Dantonio and former OSU coach Jim Tressel agreed not to contact each other’s recruits once the players had committed verbally.
But to insist that such an agreement should occur across the conference is unrealistic, DiNardo added.
“My first year in the Big Ten (at Indiana), some coaches said, ‘Hey, by the way, for you new guys, we’ve all agreed not to call prospects in May.’ I’m at Indiana, and I’m not making a phone call to recruits in May? Just because it came down to Lloyd Carr and John Cooper did not want to make phone calls in May? The heck with that. I said, “I have enough bosses on campus, I don’t need 10 more.’ ”
I doubt that any such agreement existed between Tressel and Bielema, and certainly not between Tressel and Carr or Rodriguez.
Perhaps, aside from losing Dodson to the Buckeyes, coach Bielema is realizing that the recruiting game in the Big Ten just got a bit tougher. I don’t know exactly what Urban Meyer says or doesn’t say that makes a difference in recruiting. I do know that he has been effective wherever he has been. I also know that for Ohio State fans, any illusion of moral high ground at Ohio State should be shattered by now.
That isn’t to say the Buckeyes shouldn’t strive for things to be done the right way. They need to report and police themselves more strictly than ever before. As a fan though, you are fooling yourself if you think college football, even at your beloved Ohio State doesn’t hide in the gray areas of right and wrong.
So the Buckeyes now have a fantastic recruiter in Urban Meyer. The truth is, no matter how great a class is ranked on paper, without instruction, motivation and preparation they will not rise above mediocrity. The proof will be in the product on the field.
[Related: Urban Meyer Lands the #3 Recruiting Class in the Country]