Friday Night Lights Might As Well Be Christmas in July For Ohio State

By Patrick Maks on July 25, 2014 at 1:05p
19 Comments

Even though it'd been days since Raekwon McMillan and Johnnie Dixon officially pledged their allegiances to Ohio State on a pair of cold afternoons in December, Urban Meyer wore a smile so wide and so bright you’d have thought he just became a father for the first time.

But this moment was big, too. And Meyer knew it.

“It makes the food taste better,” he said.

“It gains momentum in recruiting. It's awesome. It makes everyone feel great.”

Because the Buckeyes had landed two of the nation’s best recruits. They’d taken a step toward securing the future of a program that’s yearning to win conference and national championships again.

And at a place like Ohio State, the path toward a true place among college football’s elite again begins and ends with recruiting.

SI.com’s Pete Thamel put it like this in a Sept. 2013 story:

“At every meeting throughout the day, the din of vibrating cellphones provided background noise. Recruiting never stops at Ohio State, as coaches would see a call pop up -- either from a high school coach or a player -- and duck out of the meeting room to answer it.

When assistants would get a player on the phone, they'd hand him off to Meyer, who frequently stopped meetings to have a chat with a prospect. He ended one call memorably: "Don't bet against the Buckeyes this year." Then he stopped himself and smiled, "Well, actually, don't bet at all."

From flaunting NBA megastar and avid Buckeyes fan LeBron James to the carefully curated choice of words Meyer and assistants use when talking to the media to social media to night games to fireworks to alternative jerseys, recruiting is everything and everything is recruiting. 

It never ends.

“I think recruiting is a 365-day process at Ohio State,” cornerbacks coach and special teams coordinator Kerry Coombs said in September.

“There's not a day that goes by that we don't talk about, focus on and participate in some recruiting active ties here … I won't say it's unique, but I would say there are very few programs anywhere that recruit as hard or as often as we do.”

Friday Nights Lights is a loud and clear reminder of that. 

While Ohio State gears up for Big Ten media days, fall camp and a tricky season opener against Navy Aug. 30 in Baltimore, recruiting takes a backseat to nothing and no one.

Not now, not during the season, not during the spring.

Thanks to social media and a powerful and ever-bloating niche following it, recruiting is nonstop, 24/7 warfare. To take a day off is to fall a step behind. 

And the Buckeyes, of course, have long been armed with the means to fight. But it starts with Meyer and his insatiable hunger, the kind that “makes the food taste better.” He's Ohio State's biggest weapon. 

“I frankly think our head coach is one of the best recruiters that I've ever seen anywhere and he is constantly a source of information for us,” Coombs said.

Friday Night Lights is Meyer's invention, after all. It's his baby. That's why he shipped it from Gainesville up to Columbus. It works.

It urges the nation’s best recruits to make a pilgrimage to Ohio Stadium, where Meyer and his staff can sink their teeth into kids before the grind of the regular season gets underway.

It’s meant to set a foundation. It’s meant to leave an impression. It’s meant to wow you.

Friday Night Lights is a statement and a reminder of how Meyer and his staff so wholeheartedly put everything they have into recruiting.

Because in a college football where everything's an arms race, they have no other choice. 

19 Comments

Comments

Braxton2Devin's picture

Wish that we could've gotten Josh Sweat up here for FNL

+3 HS
osu07asu10's picture

I'd highly encourage people to go check out FNL.

Went last year with a buddy and it is a neat opportunity to see a lot of talent from across the nation. Last year's event squared EGW against Damon Webb in a few epic 1v1 battles (EGW as a WR).

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

+2 HS
BierStube's picture

I am ready for a little Christmas in July ... so is this guy!

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

+1 HS
ELJTSA76's picture

Wouldn't it be cool if LeBron drove down from Akron to hang with Meyer at FNL for the day? It is open to the public. 

Any word on who the guest coaches will be this year?  I know it has been mostly former players the past couple years. 

+1 HS
BucksFan2000's picture

He's doing his annual trip to China though.

Stinson's picture

I'd expect some offers to come tonight to some of these guys. Gotta strike while the iron's hot. 

But is anyone likely to commit tonight if Urb throws them an offer? Have been out of the recruiting loop. Would love to see us snag some good ones, though. 

"The height of human desire is what wins, whether it's on Normandy Beach or in Ohio Stadium." -Wayne Woodrow Hayes

Squirrel Master's picture

I believe the word is that at least one recruit from the 2016 class is a possible commit and I think there is another that is likely too, I just can't recall if he is a 2015 recruit or 2016.

Wouldn't mind seeing Conrad and Gibson commit together. Lock up the future TE and QB.

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

+1 HS
BassDropper's picture

Conrad plays QB?

DIRECTIONER

Riggins's picture

When assistants would get a player on the phone, they'd hand him off to Meyer, who frequently stopped meetings to have a chat with a prospect.

I hope those were just staff-only meetings. I don't know why, but that would rub me the wrong way especially if I was a senior or a captain and the coach stopped a team meeting to chat with some kid who may or may not be on campus for 2 years. Some guys might view it as a welcomed 5-minute break during the meeting, but it just wouldn't sit right with me. We're here, working on getting better right now, and we've gotta interrupt that to inflate the ego of this guy who isn't even on the team.

+1 HS
hodge's picture

Loved your opening paragraph.  Very well-written article!

PortlandBuckeye45's picture

To bad this is not being televised at all. Or some sort of web tv

causeicouldntgo43's picture

"Excuse me President Drake, I need to take this call"

+1 HS
JakeStevensIsSwag's picture

who's on commitment watch?

Buckeye fan from PA

Marshall Trucker's picture

Good write up. It got me fired up. I've been trying to stay mellow as long as possible but it's getting harder and harder. I'm ready for some Buckeye football.

whiskeyjuice's picture

Having a hard time concentrating on anything other than Buckeye football and recruiting.............

"Championships are not won on Saturdays in November. Championships are won on Tuesdays in August." -- Kerry Combs

Larryp713's picture

How I wish I was there...

Respectfully,

Larryp713