Update: As per ESPN.com, Ohio State AD Gene Smith responded to Bielema’s comments noted below:
“I am disappointed that negative references have been made about our football coaches, and particularly head coach Urban Meyer regarding recruiting. In our league appropriate protocol, if you have concerns, is to share those concerns with your Athletic Director (AD). Then your AD will make the determination on the appropriate communication from that point forward. The ADs in our league are professionals and communicate with each other extremely well. Urban Meyer and his staff have had a compliance conscience since they have arrived.”
I wanted to write a follow up on my piece earlier this week addressing the dirty recruiting tactics practiced by new Ohio State coach Urban Meyer. After addressing questions and concerns across the interwebs, it seems college football fans are split on the issue at hand- Is Urban Meyer stealing recruits okay in the war that is college football recruiting?
The answer isn’t all that simple, especially because what he’s doing isn’t exactly illegal. Is it ethical? Probably not, but as we know these sort of shenanigans have been going on in college football well before it became an issue for the media. Even with Meyer, everybody knows he was doing the same thing at Florida, as I’ve said time and again. The difference today is we have social media outlets to track the flipping of prospects.
Urban Meyer finally addressed the media about all the accusations and well, he’s made himself quite clear where he stands amidst the fire around the Big Ten:
“You’re pissed because we went after a committed guy?” Meyer asked rhetorically at the same Ohio high school coaches clinic Friday. “Guess what, we got nine guys [his coaching staff] who better go do it again. Do it a little harder next time.”
Let the recruiting wars continue folks. We found out this week what Michigan
State’s stance on Meyer’s recruiting practices was with coach Mark Dantonio labeling it “unethical.” How about Bret Bielema of Wisconsin? After Meyer’s recruiting tactics have come under fire, he came out and asserted a couple of times he’s got beef with Ohio State recruiting. So much so, that he’s labeled Meyer’s practices as “illegal” and will take the issue to his athletic director, Barry Alvarez in hopes of him addressing it to Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany.
“There’s a few things that happened early on that I made people be aware of, that I didn’t want to see in this league, that I had seen take place in other leagues,” Bielema said during his signing day press conference on Wednesday. “Other recruiting tactics, other recruiting practices, that are illegal.
Wahh Wahh Wahh…can somebody get Bret some anxiety medicine? I think taking it to Delany is crossing the line. I have simply been alluding to the fact that Meyer’s practices aren’t right. Resolving that is more a matter of implementing an unspoken rule, not one that requires ink.
Michigan head coach Brady Hoke has a different opinion on Meyer altogether. He’s completely fine the way Meyer is going about his recruiting business.
“Well, it’s competitive. That’s what it is,” Hoke told Matt Barnes of NBC4 in Columbus when asked about the burgeoning recruiting controversy. “There’s no NCAA legislation about [recruiting a player committed to another school]. I think, at times, we’ve had guys who have left us late in the recruiting [process]. But, you know, it’s part of it. For us, you want to do a great job of holding on to them and all those things. It’s recruiting. It’s competitive.”
What gentlemen’s agreement? Hoke seems to be fine with going after recruits after they’ve verbally committed, so I guess the entire Big Ten conference doesn’t feel the way Dantonio and Bielema do. And why would Hoke? Michigan’s star recruit Kyle Kalis was previously committed to Ohio State until Tressel was fired. What else is Hoke going to say when he flipped a high profile recruit before Meyer did?
What’s the lesson here, folks? Big Ten coaches need to do their work before and after hitting the recruiting trail because that little verbal commitment doesn’t have much weight until National Signing Day. Until coaches realize that, Meyer’s tactics will be fair game.
As much as it irks me these sorts of practices are permitted, we must remember this: Until the NCAA requires a prospective commit to submit his LOI to the university he has verbally committed to, recruiting will remain a “no holds barred” business. It doesn’t make it right, but it is what it is. Besides, these kids change their mind more so than a 14 year old girl learning how to apply blue eye shadow without looking like a clown. Meyer’s made clear that it’s game on until signing day and that’s the bottom line until somebody with higher authority says so.