If you're a regular reader of this site, you've probably been noticing the glut of recruiting news in the past several weeks. In addition to the pleasant gray boxes of success, Alex has been absolutely killing it with his interviews of potential recruits. "Recruits" being a pretty apt term for the future army of hell-beasts that are primed and ready to pillage and burn their way through the Big Ten at the behest of their Dark Lord, Morgoth Bauglir Urban Meyer.
It's a strange feeling watching Ohio State's recruiting approach shift from Hey-Can-I-Maybe-Talk-To-You-About-Ohio-State-Football-For-A-Little-Bit? to RRRAAAAAAAA PLAY FOR US OR SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES, but this is what works for Urban Meyer: a high octane assault fueled by an infinite supply of Red Bull and a thousand badgering texts aimed at eventually wearing down the various blue chip Laura Winslows of high school football.
There might be something visceral in you that rejects this, something that sees it as an extension of the more unsavory practices of SEC schools or possibly a precursor to oversigning or shady greyshirting. After all, this is the guy whose unending text messaging led the SEC to institute a rule restricting it. So I'd be lying if I said that I didn't have some of the same worries you might be harboring about how Urban goes about his craft. But you know what?
There's been a lot of hand wringing about this. Tommy Schutt and Se'Von Pittman decommitting from Penn State and Michigan State, respectively, is frustrating for both of those teams to be sure, and has angered some people who have this preconceived notion of Big Ten recruiting being more formalized and less backstabby than the rest of college football.
Which, of course, is ridiculous. Recruiting is the lifeblood of college football, and it's the very first indicator that separates the haves from the have-nots. Even the most innocent and babyfaced of coaches become cold-blooded Machiavellis when it comes to securing the players they need to sustain their program; pretending that the Big Ten is somehow a magical glen of sharing and caring when it comes to five star quarterbacks is both hilarious and outright wrong.
Another thing that needs to be pointed out is that these recruits usually aren't choosing a college based on the same criteria that most of us would. Most of us who went to Ohio State went for the atmosphere, the sports, and, if you were a gigantic nerd, the history/teaching programs. Pittman and Schutt want to come to Ohio State to play for Urban Meyer, not because they heard about Burritos Noches on North Campus and are pumped about using their swipes for late night Mexican food. Football players commit to a program, not the school, and saying that Ohio State shouldn't be in the running for these guys despite such a huge change in coaching staff comes from a mixture of sour grapes and fear.
And Urban Meyer loves the smell of fear.
While we have been trying to figure out who is going to be the linebackers coach and who is going to wash socks and who is going to make sure that Meyer's breath is minty fresh in the morning, Urban went ahead and made two of his most important hires as of yet; Brian Voltolini and Mark Pantoni. Voltolini will be the new director of football operations, and Pantoni will be the new director of player personnel. These guys are critical to how Meyer recruits. Pantoni has been the coordinator for Meyer's "Friday Night Lights" program at Florida, a camp that attracts high school players from all around the country, and is considered to be an excellent evaluator of talent. Voltolini will run the more administrative side of things, ensuring that everything is run smoothly. In tandem, they may be the most critical cogs in what may become the one of the best recruiting machines in the country.
We used to spend a decent amount of time talking about Evil Jim Tressel, the mythical entity that would emerge once in a blue moon, usually during a Northwestern game, and put up 50 or more points against a team as an apparent punishment for a fluke loss five years prior. But now I'm starting to think that Evil Jim Tressel was never truly evil, at least in the cutthroat sense that we all secretly desired and wrote mash notes to under our covers at night.
Urban Meyer fits that description. He is an unrelenting perpetual recruiting machine that is now in the process of assembling the component parts of what should be a ridiculous football Voltron that will hopefully rule over the rest of the Big Ten for years to come. Soak in the wails and lamentations of the have nots. They will sustain us through the long offseason, as more and more young hearts and minds join the scarlet horde that is OSU football.