Football The Rivalry

Buckeyes Don’t Plan on Changing What They Do in Michigan Just Because Jim Harbaugh’s Around

Kerry Coombs

The Buckeyes are no strangers to having success in the state of Michigan, whether it’s between the white stripes of the football field or the yellow lines on the highways of the recruiting trail.

Ohio State has won six of the last eight times they’ve been in Ann Arbor and they have yet to lose in East Lansing this century. But while they don’t play in the state of Michigan every year, they certainly recruit there on an annual basis.

Urban Meyer has tasked cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs with being OSU’s lead recruiter in the state of Michigan, and he has certainly had some success over the years.

In 2014 the Buckeyes signed cornerback Damon Webb, ranked the No. 2 player in the state. They did the same thing in 2015 with running back Mike Weber, also ranked the No. 2 player in the state. Then earlier this month they signed offensive tackle Michael Jordan, who is ranked the No. 3 player in the state.

Clearly, things have been pretty good for the Buckeyes in the state up north, but could the good times be on their way out? With Michigan State enjoying success like they haven’t had for decades, and Jim Harbaugh now in charge in Ann Arbor, will Ohio State be able to continue to come in and steal one or two of the state’s best every year?

Harbaugh’s growing presence and unorthodox style of recruiting has certainly made waves. Sleepovers, tree climbing, all of it madness with a distinct methodology. Recruiting against it on an almost daily basis, does Coombs have any thoughts on Harbaugh’s methods, and has he changed anything he does to combat the Wolverines’ new boss?

“A, no. B, no,” Coombs deadpanned. “The reality is I haven’t felt any impact on the kids that I recruit. Everybody’s got their own styles and their own methodologies and Coach Meyer’s is very, very clear and I think fantastic. So our approach to the recruitment of players in Ohio and all the surrounding states is probably going to stay the same because it works for us, it’s who we are, and I haven’t noticed among the kids that I recruit any change or difference or expectation on their part that we would somehow become something different than the Ohio State Buckeyes.”

Coombs will continue to do what he does, and given the success that it has led to, why would he change anything now? But just because there are no plans to change doesn’t mean that he and the rest of the Ohio State coaching staff don’t pay attention to what’s going on with the two schools up north.

“Any time you’re recruiting against people, which is what we do, especially when you go into another state to recruit against people, you’re going to have to evaluate how they do their business,” he said. “And the guys that have been at the green team have done things a certain way and now those guys at the team up north have changed some of their habits, although I would tell you that the previous staff, those were good recruiters.

“So you have to battle in different ways, but the main thing with us is to not concern ourselves as much with our opponents as with the kids that we’re recruiting and what we sell. And when you have a great product like we have, I don’t think it matters as much the style or substance of how somebody else is recruiting.”

In other words, Ohio State has confidence in what they are offering.

“Know thy enemy” is a popular saying, and the Buckeyes certainly practice that preaching. But more importantly, they know themselves, and that’s what their recruiting is based on, and will continue to be based on, regardless of any head coach in the state up north.

“I know that we’re going to go in there and we’re going to recruit the very best players in that state and we’re going to come out with some of them every year and we’re confident in that,” Coombs said.

“We’ve done very well there and we’re going to continue to do very well there.”