Meyer Admits Bielema Comments Made Him ‘Beyond Angry’
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Urban Meyer is ready to put it all behind him, but Ohio State’s first-year head coach admitted Thursday he was pretty fired up when he heard the comments by some of his Big Ten peers last week.
“I was very angry,” Meyer said during his appearance on “The Bull and the Fox” show on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland.
“Whenever you use those terms, something like ‘illegal,’ that couldn’t be further from the truth. That doesn’t happen here, and if it did, we would make a change with whoever did it.”
It was Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema who referred to Meyer’s recruiting tactics as venturing into “illegal” territory last week. Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio also made a comment about “unethical” recruiting practices, although he later backed off them saying that it was not directed at Meyer or the Buckeyes.
“The timing of my comments was a reflection of an occurring matter on Signing Day and had nothing to do with Urban Meyer and Ohio State,” Dantonio said last Friday, two days after National Signing Day.
“My comments regarding ‘unethical’ behavior were general in nature, according to my current coaching philosophy, and not directed toward any particular institution.”
Bielema also attempted to back off his comments, but it was far too late, especially considering he had mentioned Meyer by name when referring to the “illegal” activity. Bielema also claimed to have since rectified the matter with Ohio State’s coach, but Meyer said Thursday that he ws the one who made the call, not the other way around.
“I was very angry that would even be brought up, and there were fellow Big Ten coaches who were angry as well,” Meyer said on his radio appearance in Cleveland.
“And the commissioner was very angry, so there was a lot of…to have that make the presses, especially when it’s inaccurate, legally you’re not allowed to do that. That’s slander. To use someone’s name in terms like that is very wrong, but we moved on.”
Meyer initially fired back at Bielema, although not through the press, last week during his appearance at the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association clinic in Columbus.
With the comments still fresh from days earlier, Meyer was not about to start apologizing for the fact he had landed one of the top recruiting classes in the country, in part by scooping up a handful of players who had been committed elsewhere.
“ ‘Well we’re pissed because you went after guys who were committed,’ ” Meyer said as part of his presentation in front of 1,000 high school football coaches at the Easton Hilton.
“Yep, and you know what, I’ve got nine guys who better go do it again. Do it a little harder next time.”
Bielema seemed to be upset over the fact that Ohio State landed a Signing Day commitment from Kyle Dodson, a Cleveland Heights offensive tackle who initially verbaled to the Badgers last year.
That was in June, just after the Buckeyes had dismissed former head coach Jim Tressel. Meyer had to overcome that obstacle, along with an unpleasant surprise in December when the NCAA infractions committee handed down its ruling.
Meyer reiterated Thursday that he did not believe Ohio State would receive a bowl ban based on the research he did and the precedent that had been set.
“When it hit, it was awful. That was about 2-3 weeks of paranoia. Constant communication, telling them exactly what that meant,” Meyer said.
“Like any story, it just started to grow. We were eliminated for three years, 20 scholarships. It was nonsense. It was just crazy what was going on, so we had to get control of that.”
Once he did, Meyer was able to finish his 2012 class as strong as any program in the country. He is still waiting on one more potential member, and reports indicate that Olney (Md.) Good Counsel wide receiver Stefon Diggs will finally make his college choice Friday. He is picking between Ohio State, Florida, Maryland and Auburn.
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