Meyer Answers Critics, Defends Recruiting Tactics
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Urban Meyer will see his fellow Big Ten head coaches in Chicago today for a prescheduled meeting, but Ohio State’s coach had a little message for them before he left Columbus.
Speaking to a packed house at the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association Clinic Friday morning, Meyer made a not-so-subtle retort to some of the criticism he has received over his first signing class with the Buckeyes.
“ ‘Well we’re pissed because you went after guys who were committed,’ ” Meyer said, referencing the comments by Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio and Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema.
“Yep, and you know what, I’ve got nine guys who better go do it again. Do it a little harder next time. Do it a little harder.”
Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell and the rest of Meyer’s staff were sitting in the front of the room as Meyer addressed high school coaches from all across the state of Ohio.
Former OSU assistant head coach Darrell Hazell—now the head coach at Kent State—was also on hand for the event.
It kicked off with Michigan coach Brady Hoke, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald and new Illinois head coach Tim Beckman speaking on Thursday night, after which Hoke said he said believes committed recruits are fair game until they sign on the dotted line.
Dantonio and Bielema, of course, do not agree.
“They've got a new coach, and it's different,” Dantonio told the Detroit News.
“I would say it's pretty unethical, in the end.”
Michigan State lost a verbal commitment from defensive end Se’Von Pittman after Meyer took the Ohio State job back in November. As Tony Gerdeman explains, the Buckeyes’ new coach was quick to credit the former head coach, now his defensive coordinator, Luke Fickell for putting Ohio State in position to land the Canton McKinley product’s signature.
“Se'Von Pittman had a relationship with Luke Fickell,” Meyer explained on Signing Day.
“I think we helped it when I made that phone call. He recruited us after a little bit. The phone call went something like this. 'Are you interested?'
'Come on down for a visit.'
“I get a phone call the next few days, 'Come on up, we got good news for you.'
“Can't say I had a lot to do with that other than, 'Hey, let's go.' He always wanted to be an Ohio State Buckeye.”
The story is rather similar for Cleveland Heights offensive tackle Kyle Dodson, who had decided he was not going to sign with the Badgers long before he made his commitment to Ohio State on National Signing Day.
Both Pittman and Dodson are Ohio kids who had a high interest in the Buckeyes before Jim Tressel was forced to resign in May. They quickly made decisions to commit to their home state school after it hired a respected head coach, but Bielema hinted that Meyer’s tactics were practically “illegal.” He also stated that the Big Ten doesn’t want to be like the SEC “in any way, shape or form.”
Speaking of the SEC, that conference has won the last six BCS national championships—including two by Meyer while he was at Florida. The Big Ten has just four national titles in the last quarter century, two of them belong to Nebraska, a team that has been a member of the conference for less than a year.
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