Ohio is a great state and I'll always be somewhat biased of the great high school football our state has to offer. Growing up I got to play with two awesome RBs Tyrell Sutton and Delone Carter and against some great players in Northeastern Ohio such as Rick Stanzi, Mario Manningham, Mercilus Whitney, iIhmaa'ily Kitchen, and our very own Chris Wells and John Simon to name a few. As far as talent wise Ohio could be considered a consistent Top 5 talent producing state in the nation and its easy when you look at power houses like St. Eds, St. Ignatius, Glenville, Trotwood, Massilon, Mckinley, St. X, Elder, Moeller, Centerville, and Whitmer (for Genestar) that constantly produce D1 talent year after year.
Last year and this year especially it seemed like there had been a major shift in recruiting Ohio with the middle of the pack D1 prospects as far as recruiting which has caught my attention. Now I'm not saying OSU is losing talent to the other teams aside from a handful we offered to TSUN, ND, and the occasional Bama, but the rest of our conference is. In the 2000s, it seemed that Tressel and now currently Meyer put a wall up around Ohio generally got their first pick on prospects then took the wall down and let the rest of the Big Ten raid the talent pool with a few guys slipping out to other conferences. Now other conferences are starting to invade the fertile grounds of Ohio much more and take talent that was once thought to go to the Big Ten.
As of the last two years the out of conference teams that have done pretty well in Ohio are Kentucky (8-2014', 3-2013'), Louisville (5-14'), West Virginia(1-14', 3- 13'), Duke (3-14'), Tennessee (2-14', 2-13'), Boston College (4-14', 2-13'), Pitt (2-14', 4-13'). Now I know that losing these players is not a concern for us directly with our recruiting class but it is for the rest of our conference. Teams like Mich St., Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota could be seeing some big hits in talent over the next few years if they continue to lose recruiting battles. Michigan State, for example a few years ago when they were winning 10 games a season had roughly around 30 guys on their roster from Ohio, turning mid major Ohio talent names like Greg Jones, Le'Veon Bell, and Jerel Worthy into All-Americans and now NFL players.
Now I know there are many different views on this issue of not wanting other Big Ten teams to do well recruiting or could care less. I personally take the stance I want the Big Ten to do well recruiting and get good prospects as long as it doesn't drastically effect our class. What worries me is our strength of schedule will suffer specifically in conference if the Big Ten fails to recruit Ohio. This could mean once the playoffs start and it depends on a voters to select one of the four teams a one loss SEC team would probably be given preference without second thought over a one loss Buckeye team if we slip up a game like we almost did a couple times last year.
Looking back last year, everyone in our conference didn't do awful recruiting. Ohio State brought in arguably the best recruiting class I've seen, TSUN, Penn State, and Northwestern did well. Nebraska and surprisingly even Indiana didn't do too bad. I'm still hoping teams like Mich St, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin battle back in the next few years. Taking a look at our nemesis the SEC, they have bottom teams like Ole' Miss cleaning up house recruiting. Now I, like many others was convinced that their success had to do with giving money or extra benefits around until I met a high school coach from Miss 3 weeks ago and had several good conversations with him about football. Just to summarize: he was a coach of the Mississippi State runner up 2nd biggest division last year, he didn't really follow college football but he said if he had to pick a team it was southern miss, said he sent a few players to Ole' Miss as well as other D1 programs, said Hugh Freeze was a class act who wouldn't pay players to come there just sold a good program. Now if teams like Ole' Miss can do it, so can the rest of our conference, and it starts in Ohio.
The Big Ten needs to take back the fertile recruiting grounds of Ohio and turn the conference perception in football around. Recruit Ohio, bring in talent, and win bowl games. Now I'm not saying go SEC on me and route for every team in the conference but when a Big Ten team does well recruiting be happy for them, because when we beat them on Saturday with better talent and a more competitive football image of the Big Ten we'll be the ones smiling when it comes time for voting and we're in the playoffs competing for a national championship. Go Bucks!