Meyer on Committed Kids: They Recruited Us
By Brandon Castel
It has been quite a while since Urban Meyer commented publicly on the controversial criticism surrounding his early recruiting tactics at Ohio State.
That doesn’t mean he’s forgotten them.
Photo by Dan Harker
After Meyer took over the head coaching job at Ohio State in November, he immediately went to work on salvaging the Buckeyes’ 2012 recruiting class—which had been put in an indefinite holding period following Jim Tressel’s forced resignation in May.
When Meyer and his new staff landed a top-flight recruiting class in February—less than two months after he took the job—a number of his new colleagues in the Big Ten were quick to cry foul.
“When you see comments about recruiting kids that were committed, most of those kids recruited us,” Meyer said recently during his appearance on the Dan Dakich radio show in Indianapolis.
“When someone says, ‘you recruited a kid,’ well that kid recruited us. He said, ‘I want to come to Ohio State.’”
That included Canton McKinley defensive end Se’Von Pittman, who flipped his commitment from Michigan State to OSU after Meyer took over. It also included offensive tackles Kyle Dodson (Cleveland Heights) and Taylor Decker (Vandalia Butler).
It was Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema who made the most noise about Meyer’s vociferous entrance to the B1G after Wisconsin lost Dodson to the Buckeyes on National Signing Day.
“I can tell you this,” Bielema said back in February.
“We at the Big Ten don’t want to be like the SEC—in any way, shape or form.”
Bielema, whose teams have won more games than any other Big Ten team in his six seasons in Madison, went as far as to call Meyer’s recruiting tactics “borderline illegal”—something Ohio State’s new head coach took exception to.
“I was very angry,” Meyer said back in February .
“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.”
That was nearly five months ago; before the Big Ten meetings in Chicago and before Meyer’s first spring practice at Ohio State. So what brings it back into the spotlight now?
Nothing, other than the fact Meyer was asked about it, again, by Dakich during his interview last week.
“They were from Ohio and always wanted to go to Ohio State, but because of the issues they decided they were going to go somewhere else,” Meyer said of Pittman and Dodson.
“I never came out publicly because I don’t want to get into that.”
Meyer was obviously flustered by the accusations from Bielema—and possibly the insinuations made by Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio and defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi.
He expressed that frustration during a coaches clinic in Columbus, telling his assistants, ‘do it again, and do it harder next time’ when it came to recruiting committed players. In Meyer’s mind, he had an obligation to his new program to at least make a phone call, even though most of the kids in question had already made first contact.
“If they’re interested, absolutely (you recruit them)—especially from your home state,” Meyer said.
“Is it gratifying to take a guy from another school? Not at all.”
Meyer also landed a handful of former Penn State commits after the Jerry Sandusky scandal rocked Happy Valley last fall. Ohio State had its own scandal to deal with—stemming from Tressel’s tenure in Columbus—but it didn’t stop them from landing one of the top recruiting classes in the country.
“There was a speed bump here and everybody knows that, and we’re moving on,” Meyer said.
“We did take a little bit of a hit when that came out and we weren’t able to go to a bowl, but we overcame that with great effort and great work. We were honest.”
Since then, Meyer has received nothing but love around the country as he represents Ohio State on the recruiting trail in states like California, Texas, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and more.
“Off the charts; it’s been fantastic,” Meyer said.
“It’s who you represent and how you represent them. We represent a great athletic and academic institution—one of the best in America. One of the best combinations in America, a program that’s always done it right.”
Meyer plans to continue that, even if he ruffles a few feathers in the process.
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