[Editor’s Note: From now until Big Ten Media Days, we’ll be reaching into The-Ozone’s 23 years worth of archives and each day we will be posting a story from yesteryear. Big moments, small moments, big games, bigger games, and the random recruiting updates about guys you haven’t thought about in a decade or two.]
February 10, 2012 | A few days after Bret Bielema and Mark Dantonio had their say about Urban Meyer’s recruiting, Meyer responded. This column concerning that response comes from Tony Gerdeman and predicts that poking the Urban Meyer bear probably isn’t such a good idea for any opposing Big Ten coach. (Mark Dantonio admittedly fared pretty well though.) — TG
Urban Meyer hasn’t even coached a game at Ohio State yet, and he is already chalking up victories almost daily.
His first victory came early in his start with the Buckeyes. Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon and his coach Brady Hoke didn’t understand how Meyer could be out recruiting while others were still in Columbus preparing for a bowl game.
“Unfair,” they cried. How could Ohio State have two separate coaching staffs, they oafishly wondered.
The answer, of course, was that they didn’t have two separate staffs, merely NCAA-approved extra staff.
Brandon and Hoke eventually backed down, but not because they agreed with it. Rather, they had no other choice. Meyer had won.
Then, more recently, with Meyer flipping recruits like burgers at lunch hour, a couple more people began to speak out.
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said certain recruiting tactics by Meyer were unethical. Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema went one step further, going so far as to call Meyer’s tactics “illegal”.
Both coaches backed off of their statements, and found no backers amongst their fellow coaches or administrators.
But that doesn’t mean Urban Meyer has forgiven, and he has certainly not forgotten.
Prior to having his bravado castrated by his athletic director Barry Alvarez, Bielema said that he made it known to Meyer that his tactics won’t fly in the Big Ten.
“I called Urban and we spoke about it,” he said. “We talked about it, and he said it would stop and it did. I’ll let our commissioner deal with anything else.”
Speaking to “The Bull and Fox Show” on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland on Thursday, Meyer wasn’t shy when it came to telling people how he felt about Bielema’s accusations.
“I was very angry,” he said.
“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.”
He also took the time to correct Bielema’s assertion that he called Meyer.
“And then I saw, ‘Well, we made a phone call.’ There was no phone call made. I heard that there was some grumbling—I’m the one that made the phone call.
“So I was very angry that first of all that would even be brought up. And there were fellow Big Ten coaches that were very angry as well. And the commissioner was very angry.”
“But we moved on.”
Yes, he has clearly moved on, all the way to November 17th of next football season.
Oh, and if you were wondering how that phone call went, Meyer no doubt spoke first, as the other end of the phone was likely a vessel of heavy breathing.
“I know who you are,” Meyer probably started. “I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money.
“But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.
“If you back off now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”
Speculatively and metaphorically speaking, of course.
Then, voice crackling like a like a teenager at his first school dance, would come the reply.
Urban Meyer came to the Big Ten hoping for a change from the cutthroat life that he left behind in the SEC. While he may have gotten that, he now finds himself surrounded by coaches who have been together so long that their cycles are now completely in sync.
He would have been happy to pass the time, just sitting on the porch, admiring his white picket fence, but they couldn’t let that happen. They just wouldn’t leave well enough alone. They had to keep pushing him.
And now nobody is going to be safe.
He is bringing football smallpox to the Big Ten, and ain’t nobody here been inoculated.
This isn’t Jim Tressel’s Ohio State. Conflicts aren’t going to be settled over some lemonade on the back patio.
This is now Urban Meyer’s Ohio State. Grudges will be held like the memories that came with them. There is no forgetting. Forgetting is for the weak.
‘Unethical?’ ‘Illegal?’ Unforgivable.
These guys weren’t just poking the bear, they were taking swings, hoping to reach clear to the bone.
There is no way the words of Bielema or Dantonio will be forgotten. They will be talked about like they’ve been forgotten, but they won’t be.
You don’t challenge the integrity of a coach, and then claim contextual innocence when he comes right back at you.
Generally coaches don’t have conflicts like this through the media, and if Meyer isn’t backing down from this, it would be safe to assume that there won’t be much of anything that he’ll back down from.
It would be unfair to call Ohio State a “sleeping giant” under Tressel, but it would definitely be fair to call it a “gentle giant”.
I have to believe that there will be nothing gentle going forward.
This is new dawn for the Big Ten, and the alarm clock is a 2 x 4 to the skull just begging somebody to hit snooze.
But at least they’ll see it coming. It’s better than the knife in the back that Meyer received.