When Urban Meyer was named Head Coach at the Ohio State University everybody thought he would be successful. I'm not sure they thought he would be successful this quickly. Meyer has always been a top notch recruiter and his recruiting has ruffled some feathers in the B1G. Meyer flipped Wisconsin verbal commit OL Kyle Dodson and Michigan State verbal commit Se'Von Pittman. Those weren't the only recruits. Meyer finished his class with four signees who had first given their verbal to Penn State and four more (including Dodson and Pittman) that had first given their verbal commitments elsewhere.
What do the B1G coaches think of Urban Meyer coming in and taking their recruits?
"Jim Tressel and Mark Dantonio would never call or talk to each other's commitments. People coach Dantonio knows well don't come in and take players away. When you do, you lose friendships over that."- Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State DC
"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," Bielema said during his media day. "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."- Bret Bielema, Wisconsin HC
It looks like Urban Meyer is already making some friends in the Big Ten and ruffling some feathers. One revelation is the "coaches agreement" where some say there was an upspoken rule that coaches would not try to flip a recruit if he was verbally committed to a B1G school. Looks like that's out the window.
The big question for me is if Urban Meyer and his recruiting tactics (whether illegal or not) are going to wake up a B1G that's been sleep walking. The Big Ten was once a force in college football but recently it has fallen well behind the SEC and even the Big 12. The last National Championship from the Big Ten was in 2002. The SEC has won 7 titles since then and the Big 12 and Pac-12 each have one. Prior to that, it was Michigan who won the last title in 1997 and before that Penn State in 1986. That's one championship every eight years or so. While that's respectable for a lower tier BCS conference, I know it's not what the proud fans of the Big Ten schools want to see.
Last year the Big Ten finished with just one school in the final AP Top 25 (Wisconsin at 11-3 finished at #10). In 2010, Ohio State (#5 at 12-1) and Wisconsin (#7 at 11-2) finished in the Top 25. In 2009, Ohio State (#5 at 11-2) and Iowa (#7 at 11-2) finished in the Top 25. In 2008, Penn State (#8 at 11-2) and Ohio State (#9 at 10-3) finished in the Top 25. We have to go all the way back to 2006 until we find a Big Ten team that finished in the Top 4 in the final poll.
Whether you are a B1G fan or not, the conference has fallen off the map and they have not been a big factor of recent in the world of college football. Brady Hoke was hired by Michigan last year and it looks like he might have them back on the map. Rich Rodriguez was supposed to be the man to do this but Hoke could be the man to bring Michigan back to being consistently relevant in college football. While Hoke is the man for Michigan, it looks like Urban Meyer might be the man for the Big Ten Conference.
The Urban Meyer hire at Ohio State looks like it's going to pay dividends not just for the school but also for the conference. Meyer is going to push some of these coaches, who have been sleepwalking, in ways they haven't been pushed before. He's also going to provide a Darth Vader type villian that coaches and schools just have to beat. He will keep coaches working long nights in the office drawing up game plans, he will make them take that extra recruiting trip to keep that recruit that Urban is constantly texting and he will make them more competitive in the end. Urban Meyer isn't hiding behind his sweater vest. Keep an eye on him because he's probably texting or visiting your top recruit right now! The gentleman's agreement is over, now it's survival of the fittest. Maybe, just maybe, Urban Meyer has woken up the Big Ten. Will it have an impact on the field over the long-run?