Meyer Never Meant to Challenge B1G Coaches Publicly
By Brandon Castel
Headlines sell newspapers. They also create page views.
Urban Meyer is good for both.
In today’s world of shrinking advertisement revenue – and more grimly, shrinking newsrooms – those things matter more than ever before.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Outspoken and direct, Meyer is about as effective at making headlines as he is winning football games, and he’s won a lot of them. He has also made a lot of headlines since taking over as the head football coach at Ohio State back in November of 2011.
Most recently, he made them for challenging other Big Ten football coaches to improve their recruiting after a listless showing in 2013 team rankings. Only Meyer says it was never his intention to publicly shame his new colleagues.
“Some knucklehead writes a headline that says I challenge (the other Big Ten coaches). Of course I’m not going to do that,” Meyer said during an appearance on the Buckeye Cruise for Cancer Sunday evening.
“Read the quotes, that was never said. I'm not going to go challenge coaches, but you can see what’s happened in the game of football. There’s a great conference right now and we all know that. That’s the way it is. Now go change it.”
A two-time BCS champion at Florida, Meyer was already a superstar by the time he took the OSU job back in his home state. He spent a year talking about college football on ESPN and he is rarely shy about his opinions.
It was during an appearance on the Bishop and Rothman Show on 97.1 The Fan in Columbus earlier this month where Meyer was asked if he had concerns about the rest of the Big Ten coming in well below the SEC in the overall recruiting rankings.
“It's not only important, it's essential. It has to happen,” Meyer said of the Big Ten’s need to recruit at the same level as the SEC.
“I don’t know enough about what goes on in the other programs. I know I have a lot of respect for the tradition and their historical success, but we do need to, as a conference, keep pushing that envelope to be better.”
Meyer went on to say that their No. 1 priority at the Big Ten meeting on Feb. 11 should be recruiting and how the conference can improve what it’s doing to get on the same level as the SEC – a conference which has won the last seven BCS titles dating back to Meyer’s victory over Ohio State in 2007.
“When you see 11 of the SEC teams are in the Top 25 in recruiting, that is something that we need to continue to work on and improve,” Meyer concluded.
Photo by Dan Harker
Ohio State and Michigan were both among the top five classes in the country, but they were the only Big Ten schools in the top 15 of the team rankings on Rivals.com. Nebraska (17) was the only other school from the conference in the Top 25 of the Rivals team rankings.
The next highest team was Maryland at 33, followed by Michigan State at 39.
“What happens for some reason is you’ll do an interview and someone will say, ‘coach, the SEC had 12 teams in the top 25 and the Big Ten had two or three. What do you think’,” Meyer said Sunday.
“I said, ‘We have to work a little harder and get a little better. The Big Ten has to push the envelope and be more aggressive’.”
In fairness to Beau Bishop, a friend of The-Ozone and the host on 97.1 The Fan who conducted most of the interview with Meyer two weeks ago, he wasn’t the one who turned this into Urban Meyer calling out the rest of the Big Ten coaches.
That burden fell on headline writers and eager journalists who, like many fans, prefer a storyline that involves Meyer as the new sheriff of the Big Ten telling everyone else how to go about their business.
“Once again, you have to sell papers,” Meyer said.
“They’re not easy to sell. Saying the coaches really get along, they do a good job and their graduation rates are great, people aren’t buying. I call it the Howard Stern approach. Shock it up a little bit.”
In spite of some of the headlines Meyer has made during his brief tenure in the Big Ten, Ohio State’s second-year coach insists he has a great relationship with the other coaches in the conference.
They have had open discussion about ways to improve on the way things are currently being done, and of course Meyer is in a unique position as the only head coach in the current Big Ten with a BCS National Championship on his resume.
“Go change it,” Meyer said of the current perception of the Big Ten.
“How do we do that? Play some more night games. Every once in a while we might need to play a night game in November. Go recruit your tail off. Get fast and go win a game.”
Meyer believes that is how the Big Ten can track down the top conference in college football, and one he called home during his six years in Gainesville.
“That’s the only way to do it,” he added.
“I don’t know any other way. We’re doing our best. I like where we’re headed right now.”
Now if only the rest of the Big Ten would follow his lead.
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