CHICAGO – Urban Meyer’s affinity for recruiting is well-documented, but you probably haven’t heard this story before.
After stepping down from his post at Florida in 2010, Meyer took a broadcasting gig with ESPN. That February, the network asked him to aid in its coverage of National Signing Day.
Pretty straightforward, right? Having one of the nation’s best recruiters talk about recruiting on its biggest day of the year is a no-brainer.
But what Meyer saw that day bothered him.
“My year out of football, they had me go do signing day and it was awful,” he said Tuesday at Big Ten Media Days. “I sat for eight hours watching kids and talking about how they’ll project in the NFL. They’re 18-year-old kids. They actually probably believe that. But you can’t fight city halls, America loves that.
“The dot-coms (recruiting services websites), we have a bunch at Ohio State – great guys – but is that the best thing for a 17 year old to give an interview about how I’m gonna choose these hats? I’d rather you not take a hat and throw it on the ground. That was a lot to that school.”
It’s part of a larger problem that deals with what happens at the intersection of reality and expectations and how the hoopla of the recruiting process can lead to entitled players who expect to be superstars the moment they arrive on campus.
To combat it, coaches have started a process dubbed “de-recruiting” to deflate unruly and overweight egos.
There was a time, Meyer said, where he thought it was spiraling out of control.
“I did for a while,” he said. “I remember for a while it was like, wow, enough.”
But Meyer, a staunch opponent of recruiting deregulation, maintains he hasn’t faced such an issue in Ohio State's most-recent (and top-ranked) recruiting classes.
“The ones we’ve got the last couple of years, Raekwon McMillan, zero entitlement,” he said. “Johnnie Dixon, zero. Vonn Bell, zero. Joey Bosa, zero.”
Chasing Michigan State?
The fate of the Big Ten Championship might be decided in a much-anticipated night game between Ohio State and Michigan State on Nov. 8 in East Lansing.
“I ain’t eyeing it right now, I’m just taking it one game at a time but when the time comes, I’m gonna be it eyeing it hard,” Braxton Miller said Monday. “Harder than ever.”
Of course, the Spartans knocked off the Buckeyes to capture the league's crown last season in Indianapolis. In the process, they snapped Meyer and Co.'s 24-game winning streak and a likely berth to the BCS National Championship.
Which means it’s reasonable to think Ohio State – which ended the year with back-to-back losses – would be in a position of trying to chase the defending conference champions.
No such case, Miller said.
“We ain't chasing them. We just came up short, we were thinking about a bigger picture at the time. We’re gonna correct it this year,” he said. “It was a good game, though. They’re a good team.”
Should Michigan Be a Night Game?
Ohio State players welcomed the notion of playing their annual bout against Michigan under the lights Tuesday, but weren’t sure how to logistically go about it.
Senior quarterback Braxton Miller said it’s a game worth playing at night.
“I feel like it should be,” he said. “If it’s gonna be a night game, it’s gotta be earlier in the season. Because at the end of the season like Nov. 30 last year it was cold. Oh my goodness. Freezing. It’s not good.”
Michael Bennett offered a similar sentiment.
“It would be freezing,” he said with a smile. “That game would be nuts if it was, but they have to be careful because a lot of people, like fans, are going to be frozen solid in the stands.
“That’s what you’ve got to take into account up in the north. Night games in late November are probably risky.”
Jeff Heuerman said part of the aura surrounding “The Game” is the time it’s played.
“I think part of what makes the Michigan-Ohio State tradition is it’s always played early. That’s kind of how I’ve known it to be,” he said. “It would kind of change the whole feel of the game a little bit I would say … I’ve always known it to be a day game. Who knows what the future holds? Something could change. I’m not against it. I think it’d be kinda cool. Probably won’t happen when I’m here.”