Two and a Half Men

By Ramzy Nasrallah on January 29, 2013 at 3:00p
RIBS RIBS RIBS RIBSRIBSRIBS ERBODYEating the Big Ten's lunch in the foreseeable future: Brady Hoke, Urban Meyer and whoever is sneaky-good for a spell.

Remember that fun little narrative that gestated for about eight whole seconds before birthing itself all over Urban Meyer's introductory press conference?

You know – the one about the NEW TEN YEAR WAR set to take place between Ohio State and Michigan while the rest of the Big Ten is forced to lower its collective ceiling for either Orlando or America's gentleman's club capitol Tampa on New Year's Day? 

The one where following Lloyd Carr and Rich Rodriguez veering Michigan football into Bump Elliott territory, the Wolverines' resurgence under Brady Hoke meets and occasionally barely exceeds what Ohio State re-established ten years ago and is set to maintain with its new reinvigorated world-beater running things?

Yeah, funny thing about that little narrative: It's happening. And based on how both coaches are recruiting and the rest of the B1G isn't, the new War might actually be ahead of schedule.

National Signing Day is one week from tomorrow. Per its usual grand finale fare, a few genuinely torn players will decide and sign their college decisions in blood. There might even be a few surprise twists. Perhaps someone at Illinois will get fired for failing to put toner in the fax machine.

The final five percent-or-less of the nation's recruiting board will shake out and the 2013 recruiting season will finally bow, but on a macro level in the Big Ten there will be no surprises.

The majority of highly sought-after players going to play in the Big Ten will be heading to two schools. Again.

Last season, coming off of arguably the worst year – holistically – in Ohio State football history, Meyer exploited the two whole months he had to recruit and came away with 13 of the Rivals 250 prospects. Hoke grabbed nine of those players for Michigan as he continued to rebuild from Rodriguez's failed experiment.

The rest of Big Ten's current programs landed seven in total. So Ohio State – with a fresh postseason ban, NCAA sanctions and coming off a full year of bad news – still almost doubled what the rest of the conference without any of those anchors, save for Michigan, was able to lure.

If you're wondering, Maryland and Rutgers landed two each. We will always (almost) have Paris, Stefon Diggs. *sigh*

The 2013 recruiting derby, with one week left to go, shows the Buckeyes and Wolverines each carrying 13 of the Rivals 250. The rest of the current teams share 16. Penn State and Indiana have half of them.

Michigan got six of those players to commit during a single weekend. That's how you recruit. Hoke has always been quite decent at turning programs around. Meyer is pretty okay too.

If you like watching trench battles, you'll love what's coming.

Don't like Rivals? Use 247 or Scout rankings instead. If you're feeling squirrely, you can even use ESPN's. It all shakes out about the same. Regardless, they're a solid indicator of what's to come.

You still don't buy into recruiting rankings or two-year trends? Bad news: This isn't a just two-year trend (well, for Michigan it is – but it's not going to atrophy anytime soon). 

Michael Bird at SBNation compared Ohio State/Michigan recruiting to the rest of the conference over the past dozen years, looking specifically at four and five-star players (including Nebraska for the entire period, not just its B1G tenure).

He found that the disparity between Ohio State/Michigan and the rest of the league was at its greatest last season. This year, with one week still left before Signing Day, it's trending toward being even greater.

And that's where the new Ten Year War accelerates to the point where it's ahead of schedule: It's not just that Meyer and Hoke are recruiting far better than everyone else in the Big Ten. Everyone else in the Big Ten is also recruiting worse.

There are reasons why Michigan State had 10 four-star players in its most recent senior class and is on pace to sign just three (one in the Rivals 250) in 2013: One of them is handling moderate success better. Replace promoted/departed assistants with better assistants is a good start.

The majority of highly sought-after players going to play in the Big Ten will be heading to two schools. Again.There's only one remedy for the rest of the B1G to stopping the new War from happening: Be better. Try harder. Aim higher than 8-4 with five wins coming against schedule fillers booked for the sole purpose of nudging the program into bowl eligibility.

Only half of the conference currently attempts this, with just Ohio State and Michigan following through with the right investment in assistants and infrastructure.

Little periods of success have consequences. Northwestern is at the precipice. Nebraska is at a crossroads, as are Iowa, Michigan State and Wisconsin. Indiana, Illinois and Minnesota are building, albeit largely with sleepers and projects.

And Purdue just hired Jim Bollman and John Shoop. The Buckeyes and Wolverines are probably safe.

They're all going to have to do better than this. Penn State will eventually be back and Bill O'Brien is currently overachieving, even measuring for how completely checked out his predecessor was. It won't be enough anytime soon.

You can blame migrating populations, the college football arms race, inflated rankings, getting fat/happy/overly-content on BTN paychecks and Rotel recipes. Those details don't change what's already happening.

In aggregate the recruiting indicators and trends are clear: Two programs will rule the conference in the foreseeable future – the familiar boss and the resurgent one. As the recently fired Danny Hope once famously said: Get used to it.


Comments Show All Comments

BUCKfutter's picture

might be the greatest title of any article ever. hilarious

the kids are playing their tail off, and the coaches are screwing it up! - JLS

blueinsconsin's picture

Great write up.  Awesome

Not here to troll...Go Blue

LouGroza's picture

So if ttun goes 8-5 again next season will this sentiment still hold true and the theme of "They're Back" continue? Or at that point, due to the coaching disparity, will it be seperated into a King, a couple of Queens and the rest of the court?

BucksfanXC's picture

I'm not sure we would have been undefeated with Michigan's schedule this year. They played Bama, South Carolina in the bowl, at Nebraska and us in Columbus. UofM will be better next year and if they keep getting top 10 classes, Hell top 5, they'll get better and better every year.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

BuckeyeMike2002's picture

The Buckeyes wouldn't have been undefeated with Michigan's schedule. Alabama would have beaten us. South Carolina wouldn't have gotten off the hook. They had the chickens on the ropes and didn't close the deal. If Hoke can beat Meyer up in AA next year then maybe the war is back. Meyer has a great track record of getting amazing talent and then getting them to play their tale off. Hoke has a solid recruiting record but they don't play as hard as they did under LLLLLLLLoyd Car.

Q: What is the difference between the Michigan Football Team and a bag of crap. A: The Bag.

btalbert25's picture

It wasn't as if Lloyd Carr had terrible teams every year that Tressel won The Game.  He had an undefeated squad, and a couple that were much better and favored over the Buckeyes.  The war won't be back on simply because of good recruiting classes.  The games may be more interesting and easier to hype sure, but until Hoke shows he can beat Urban, there's no reason to assume the war is back. 
I think everyone remembers the Rich Rod years a little too much and not enough about how good a lot of Lloyd's teams were.  Past history tells me Urban DOMINATES rivalry games.  Until I see evidence of this stopping, I'm not sure the War is back on.  I think there will definitely be 2 teams dominating the B1G though.

acBuckeye's picture

I'm with you BT. I think OSU will rule the conference again for quite a while, with scUM playing second fiddle. Then everyone else after that.
I also think (maybe over-thinking this a bit) that with Hoke being a coach that prefers running a traditional pro-style offensive attack, OSU's defense will be able to stop that on a regular basis. Meyer's D shut down Tressel's pro-style attack, it shut down Sparty, and it really contained Wisky's vaunted rushing attack, Ball's good numbers aside. If scUM always has a pure dropback passer in the pocket, I like our chances with Meyer's history of producing ridiculous D-line talent to get consistent pressure, and of course, stuffing the run.

blueinsconsin's picture

The easier schedule helps a lot too, but that can also hide some weaknesses

Not here to troll...Go Blue

hail2victors9's picture

First, Michigan isn't back. They're trending upward even though they finished 8-5.  With the favorable schedule next year, at worst, I see them going 9-3, but I'm hoping for better.
Michigan is back after the following: they win the B1G, make it to the Rose Bowl or equivalent (or better), beat OSU every other year, and have a wide receiver that wears #1.

Those who stay will be CHAMPIONS!

~Bo Schembechler

DetroitBuckeye's picture

I think that the third team is either Nebraska or Michigan State.  It's too early to tell with the coach that Wisconsin has if they will still be going to rose bowls regularly or not.  Also Northwestern might have reached their ceiling as a program.  Nebraska IMO is the x-factor for the b1g.

Doc's picture

I'm sorry.  I'm not convinced that Flounder is on par with Urban.  Yes, Hokey can recruit.  Boy, can he, but I don't think we will see it manifest itself on the field.  I think he will be 'Ol 9 & 3 Jabba when all is said and done.  Ohio State is the B1G, everyone else is fighting to be second in line.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

sarasotabcg's picture

Hey, calling Tampa America's gentleman's club capital isn't accurate at all. That fine city to the north of me is so much more.
Sure, a large number of Tampa's finest spend their working days in Vegas and come home to Tampa to unwind, and maybe a number of ladies who grace the pages of certain magazines call Tampa home, and maybe Tampa is home to a large number of websites of ill-repute, and maybe you can spend time with just about any of them for the right price, but Tampa's such a nice family town.

DetroitBuckeye's picture

Agreed, St. pete is quite underrated as well.  Most people who speak ill of Tampa have never been to Channelside or even Ybor.

toad1204's picture

Saw the title on twitter was expecting Charlie Sheen drinking bourbon.  Sad there was no bourbon reference, but the picture more than made up for it.   As a side note, Tampa sounds great this time of year.

Nothing like dancing on the field in 02... 

AndyVance's picture

Allow me to be of some assistance. Last night after supper, while having drinks with colleages and clients, I enjoyed both Knob Creek and Woodford Reserve. Two fine bourbons, very smooth. I think I prefer the Woodford, but the Knob Creek was quite nice.

factor11's picture

I just had Angel's Envy for the first time last night, finished in port wine barrels, it is up there with the best bourbon I've ever had.

AndyVance's picture

Thanks for the tip! Cheers!

Poison nuts's picture

Knob Creek is very smooth....

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

Citrus's picture

I like to buy local, Watershed bourbon for me.

Enzo's picture

Try Basil Hayden's. Very smooth. Just a splash of water to unlock it.
I might actually prefer it to the 15 year Pappy.
If you like single malt scotch, The Balvenie 15 yr is my go to.

German Buckeye's picture

I for one have no issues with heading back to glory days of a "10 year war" scenario.  If OSU and UM keep improving (and winning) then it just raises the perception of the BIG in the media's eyes.  Only good can come from that. 

Poison nuts's picture really is the gentlemens club capital of the world. If only I had all that money back, I would be a much wealthier man today...
Edit: sorry Sarasota, but I spent many, many, MANY nights in Tampa when I was a young man. It has a lot of strip clubs! It is also is a great city these days with much more to offer than that...

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

Catch 5's picture

Here's an article I came across that is a very informative (if numbers-heavy) with respect to who is getting the higher-ranked talent, and you can really see the descrepency between the "haves" and "have nots".
While I will agree with many that individual rankings do not always tell the tale, on the whole the teams that get those players with regularity are at a significant advantage.  Check it out.

Make their asses quit! - Nick Saban

buckeye4life050233's picture

That's a good article thanks for the post.  I love numbers even though they don't always provide 100% accuracy they are very close.

gwalther's picture

Forget Paris. And forget Diggs. Next man up.

Class of 2008

onetwentyeight's picture

There will BE no new Ten Year War b/c we are not going to lose against Michigan in the next 10 years. For there to be another Ten Year War we'd have to lose some games to them. 
Urban Meyer is not letting that happen. I hope we crush them every single year from now to eternity. 

Hovenaut's picture

Second this.....all day.

Bucksfan's picture

lol, I hope so.  Thing is, even if it's a lopsided decade, these two teams are going to meet in November (and maybe again in December) with both teams sporting double-digits in the W column every year.  In a rivalry that is not necessarily a stranger to that scenario, it's still pretty crazy for it to happen every year for 10+ years.

hail2victors9's picture

Name your wager, sir.  Any dollar amount or crazy/embarrassing public display you can think up.  I will blindly accept any bet from you that Michigan will win at least one game vs OSU in the next 10 years.

Those who stay will be CHAMPIONS!

~Bo Schembechler

Enzo's picture

Going 10-0 is highly improbable. I'd sooner bet on a Kardashian winning a spelling bee.

DetroitBuckeye's picture

Agreed even Chizik got one against Saban.

45has2's picture

Mons Venus, baby! Joe Redner has a bigger economic impact on Tampa than the Buccaneers. A fact presented and quantified by the Trib when The Bucs wanted a new stadium. (And they got it.) When I lived in and flew out of Tampa the first question anyone ever asked me about Tampa was: Have you ever been to Mons Venus? Book your conventions early and often.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

causeicouldntgo43's picture

2 and a half men - brilliant Ramzy. Thanks for quantifying the recruting disparity - had no idea it was so.......disparate. Rest of the B1G has a long way to go - no wonder Bert left for pig-sooooy-ville.

meddler's picture

MSU Fan: "Le'Veon Bell was a 2-star, therefore we aren't going anywhere."

Location: Ann Arbor

meddler's picture

Hey, look here! Michael Bird posted an article yesterday saying almost the same exact thing:

Location: Ann Arbor

Jason Priestas's picture

Meh. I liked that link better when it was, you know, referenced by Ramzy in the middle of the story you're commenting on.

meddler's picture

Totally missed that.

Location: Ann Arbor

osubuckeye4life's picture

I wouldn't make a wager that Flounder will not win at least one game against Urbz in 10 years. That is a long time.
Granted, I would wager that one of the coaches will be elsewhere in 10 years.