The state of Ohio is the seventh most populous state in the nation, filled with more than 11.5 million people. And it seems like every last one of them is a Buckeye fan. The state covers 44,825 square miles, but it’s those 80 square miles in the southwest corner of the state and its nearly 300,000 citizens where the chasm exists.
You can look far and wide in every area of the state and you’ll quickly realize Buckeye Nation is flourishing at every turn, even in Toledo, where Ann Arbor is less than an hour’s drive. Cincinnati, though, has always been the outcast when it comes to Ohio State fandom. And as a result, it hasn’t always been an automatic victory for the Buckeyes when a Cincinnati-area kid was set to announce his college decision.
The Universities of Cincinnati, Louisville and Kentucky all have large footprints in Cincinnati, as well as Notre Dame due to the high concentration of Catholics residing in the Queen City.
Jordan Hicks (Texas), Ben Martin (Tennessee), Spencer Ware (LSU) and Dwayne Stanford (Oregon) are recent examples of Cincinnati kids who were recruited heavily by Ohio State but opted to go elsewhere. Countless Moeller, St. Xavier and Elder players have spurned the Buckeyes too, choosing instead to attend Notre Dame.
“There does seem to be some sort of disconnect,” Ohio State cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs, a longtime high school coach at powerhouse Cincinnati Colerain, said. “Coach Meyer is working really hard to bridge whatever gap there might be.”
In the past there have been high-profile Buckeyes from Cincinnati – Carlos Snow, Greg Frey and DeVier Posey to name a few – but the list is far smaller than the state’s other major metro areas. And unlike Cleveland, Akron or Youngstown, where a scholarship offer can signal a slam dunk for a commitment, coaches must grind all the way to signing day when recruiting Cincinnati prospects.
In recent years, it’s gotten even more difficult with UC racking up 10-win seasons and BCS bowl bids. The switch from Conference USA to the Big East was a boon for Cincinnati football. Now the school is pining to join the ACC.
Four years ago the unthinkable happened. The Bearcats went undefeated during the regular season, while Ohio State lost twice. Brian Kelly left Cincinnati to become the head coach at Notre Dame, strengthening the Fighting Irish’s grip on Greater Cincinnati recruits.
In his first two recruiting classes, Meyer has bagged Adolphus Washington and Jalin Marshall, while Sam Hubbard committed for the class of 2014. Washington and Andrew Norwell are both Cincinnatians that start for the Buckeyes.