It has been an interesting and downright difficult few weeks in Columbus. The good news is that the 2018 season kicks off in just a few short days and everything should be completely back to normal when Urban Meyer returns to the sidelines on Sept. 22 against Tulane.
In the meantime, the Ohio State coaching staff has done everything in its power to keep business going as usual in Meyer's absence. Interim head coach Ryan Day, Greg Schiano, Kevin Wilson, Mickey Marotti and the entire staff have been keeping things in line all the while prepping for the opener against Oregon State.
On Monday, upon speaking with the media for the first time as interim head coach, Day touched on the team's character as they've battled through the adversity while focusing on the moment. He also praised the fellow coaches—describing them as "the best staff in America"—for the hard work and support they've offered as he fills in for the interim.
Most are well aware of the demands that Urban Meyer puts on his assistants. Whether it be strategizing, executing, or recruiting, the Ohio State assistant coaches are likely challenged more than most others in America. And over the last four weeks, amid all of the chaos, the Buckeyes' 2019 an 2020 recruiting have remained almost 100 percent intact.
Adversity often can lead to some difficulty on the trail, and in the early stages of the recent fiasco many were wondering about the the potential impact on the recruiting front. As things have settled down and the dust has mostly settled, the Buckeyes find themselves virtually in the same spot as they were before the Zach Smith news broke back in July.
The No. 12 ranked 2019 class has the third-highest average rating per commitment in the nation behind only Alabama and Georgia. And while the class did have a decommitment last week – which we will get to in a second – players like Garrett Wilson and Harry Miller have done a commendable job of waiting out the process while saying all of the right things.
As for 2020, guys like Jack Miller, Paris Johnson Jr., and Luke Wypler lead the way for the nation's No. 3 ranked class. Each of the six pledges – Darvon Hubbard, Lejond Cavazos, and Jake Wray included – have remained firm as the facts of the investigation came to light and Meyer's fate was announced amid thousands of tears from the national media.
The lone blemish of late would be the decommitment of four-star linebacker Kane Patterson. The Nashville native had selected the Buckeyes over the likes of Alabama, Clemson, and Tennessee, but now he's back on the market and seems destined to end up with Dabo Swinney or Jeremy Pruitt.
Patterson is a solid prospect that some schools actually think can play running back, but the need at linebacker really isn't all that pressing for Ohio State. I think there's a pretty decent shot the Buckeyes don't even look to add another player at the position unless they identify some inside backer who climbs up the staff's board.
This isn't a sour grapes type of thing at all, and simply put: it would have been significantly worse had it been a decommitment at a different position. As things stand, Cade Stover is the only true linebacker pledge, but Craig Young and Steele Chambers both seem to be solid candidates to play the position at the next level.
"There's been open communication with all of them. And because of that, they've all stuck together."
During yesterday's media availability, The Athletic's Ari Wasserman asked Day about the impact this has had on the recruiting front. He went on to say that the staff has been in constant contact with the current crop of commitments but also admitted that there were some questions they couldn't answer. Day also highlighted the relationships that the staff has built with the recruits and the quality of the young men.
There's bound to still be some lingering questions and one has to think that the pledges and their families are all eager to speak with Meyer once the dust settles. A lot of people are still watching St. Thomas Aquinas defensive back Jordan Battle as the Hurricanes and Gators continue to push for the local star. That may end up being one of the more important conversations Meyer has upon his return.
But so far it would appear as though Ohio State has weathered the storm.