No, Michigan Fans, Urban Meyer Has Not Abandoned Ohio High Schools
By Tony Gerdeman
One of my duties around here is to keep tabs on Michigan football and their various goings on throughout the year. I manage this in a variety of ways, be it Twitter, beat writers, emails, blogs or message boards.
Collectively, they keep me up to date as to the general health and well-being of the Wolverine football program. Twitter is a tremendous tool in this regard. I even follow a few Michigan fans, because I'm always interested in discussing the state of their beloved program.
Beat writers are great because they actually talk to coaches and players and can provide insight and information that you can't get anywhere else. By this time next month, I will have backlogs of Michigan pieces to read from spring practice.
I don't read the blogs as much as I used to. You can only tell me things are just fine under Rich Rodriguez so many times before I have to move on. But they are still very useful as a clearinghouse of information.
I also trade emails back and forth with Michigan people, which is nice because it essentially allows for an extended conversation. This gives me a level of back and forth that is unique, yet informative.
Message boards, however, might be the most enjoyable way to keep up with Michigan football. If Twitter, newspapers and blogs tell me the general health of the program, then message boards give me its temperature—except we're not talking about an oral thermometer here.
But really, Wolverine message boards are no different than any others. After all, there isn't a single entirely sane message board anywhere on the internet.
One of the recent memes that I've seen pop up on Michigan boards is that Urban Meyer has "abandoned" Ohio high school football because of the number of Ohio kids that are committing to the Wolverines.
After all, the thinking goes, if Meyer didn't want the Ohio kids that committed to Michigan, then he must not want any Ohio kids.
And, of course, this is ridiculously wrong.
When a fox steals a couple of hens from a hen house, does he then go back to his fox den and tell the other foxes, "I just grabbed three chickens! Farmer Brown has completely abandoned the hen house!"
Of course he doesn't, because that hen house is still Farmer Brown's livelihood. The same deal goes for Ohio State and in-state football recruiting. It will always be the most important thing to Ohio State's on-field success.
Just look at the assistant coaching staff that Meyer has built. Luke Fickell, Ed Warinner, Tim Hinton, Kerry Coombs, Mike Vrabel and Zach Smith are all Ohioans. Not only do they understand Ohio State, but they also understand Ohio high school football. There is no abandoning here.
Hinton actually spent 14 years as an Ohio high school football coach, and was the vice president of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association in 2003. Even the first sentence of Hinton's official Ohio State bio makes mention that he "has coached in or recruited the state of Ohio for 30 years". Do you expect him to abandon Ohio high schools?
If you want a little more proof, there's Meyer's newest hire, Kerry Coombs. Coombs graduated from Cincinnati Colerain high school and eventually became a legendary coach there. He has never coached anywhere but the state of Ohio.
Here's a quote from Coombs that Ohio State uses in his official bio: "This team is full of Ohio kids wanting to win a national championship for their state school. It's hard for me to imagine having a better opportunity than this."
Coombs also talked to the media at Ohio State's Pro Day, and fired off this gem: “If there is a kid in Cincinnati that is the caliber of player that can play for Ohio State to help us win a national championship, he's going to be recruited relentlessly. And he will be a Buckeye.”
Yeah, Ohio is getting so abandoned.
If anything, it will be recruited even more, since the Cincinnati area was never one of Jim Tressel's major concerns.
"I wanted Ohio guys," Meyer said this past Tuesday when talking about building his staff. "I want guys that understand this place. I want guys that understand the high school football, that understand Ohio State."
But if you need more than a coaching staff and their own words to move you, there is also the simple fact that Urban Meyer currently has four commits from the state of Ohio in the 2013 recruiting class. Only once in Jim Tressel's tenure (2009) did he have more in-state commits in a single class at the same point, and I don't ever recall Tressel being accused of abandoning Ohio.
There is no doubt that Meyer and his staff are a bit behind where they'll be at this time next year on in-state kids. After all, this is their first year together, and they have yet to hold a camp as a staff. Meyer signed a class last year that had 15 kids committed prior to his arrival, so obviously he would like to have more of his signature on this next class.
Offers may be a little slower to go out this year simply because he would like to see in-state kids perform at camp. Major staffs like Michigan, however, have already seen these kids in person, so they are more confident in their offers.
Granted, that doesn't mean Brady Hoke is plucking player after player that Ohio State would have wanted, but there's very little doubt that Meyer would have at least liked to have seen these kids at camp.
There is also the not-so-little detail that this will be a smaller recruiting class for the Buckeyes, so they have to be even more selective with their choosing.
Michigan now has six Ohioans committed to them, but the fact remains that only one of them had an offer to play football at Ohio State.
Could they have earned offers in time? Possibly, but from what the Ohio State coaches had seen to that point, they hadn't seen enough to be moved to offer.
For some reason this point always angers Michigan fans. I don't know why they need Urban Meyer's validation so badly.
Actually, I'm kidding about that. I know exactly why they need Meyer's validation—because it's the only way for them to get Buckeye fans to shut up about it.
Don't worry, Michigan fans, Ohio State is going to lose some coveted in-state kids in the near future. There's simply no way around it. You will have your comeuppance.
However, it won't be because Urban Meyer abandoned Ohio high schools. It will simply be because some kids in Ohio just want to play football at Michigan.
Give your school a little bit of credit. Granted, Michigan will never have success without Ohio's involvement, but it can certainly do it without Ohio State's.
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