The Hurry-Up: Ohio State Not Worried About Winning Recruiting Crown Over Alabama As National Championship Game Approaches

By Zack Carpenter on January 4, 2021 at 6:30 pm
Ryan Day

The Hurry-Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.

“Not really interested” in recruiting crown

When Ohio State won its last national championship at the end of the 2014 season, the program did so on the back of rosters made up of recruiting classes in 2011 (No. 6 ranking), 2012 (No. 5), 2013 (No. 2) and 2014 (No. 3), none of which finished as the No. 1-ranked class in America.

Urban Meyer once said that if they’re dishing out a championship for something (even if it’s a non-tangible trophy like the recruiting crown) that Ohio State wants to win it. But that national title was one prime example of not necessarily needing to win a recruiting ring in order to win the CFP ring.

That’s why, when asked what landing the No. 1-ranked class in 2021 would signify for the program and what it would mean, the Buckeyes’ current CEO and GM basically shrugged their shoulders and said it wasn’t a big deal.

“I’m not really interested in that at all, because it’s just someone’s opinion,” Ryan Day said. “I get it. I respect it all. But in the end, we’ve gotta find the right guys for Ohio State, and the right fit. I would say that’s not 100 percent, but the guys that we bring in, they’re the right fit for us. I’m sure some people look at that a little bit more. In the end, I just want to make sure we have the right guys for us, and that we’re winning once they get here in four years. To me, that’s the true test of a recruiting class is where is it at in four years or three years from when they sign. And I know it’s fun, it’s great to talk about and all that stuff, but in the end, what matters is what they do when they get here, and that’s what we stay focused on.”

And that’s something Day has harped on in both of his early signing period press conferences, that he is searching for “the best class in the country for Ohio State,” which he mentioned multiple times in December.

“What’s the best class in the country for another school? That’s not the same for us,” Day said. “One of the things you know if you come here is it’s going to be hard. You’re going to have to compete to get on the field. You have to compete to play for a national championship. That’s what we’re looking for here.

“So the first thing you have to do is do they have the physical ability? If they do, you check that box. Are they a culture fit in terms of what they want in their goals and who they are character-wise? You check that box. How about academically? Check that box. And by the end, you have this list of guys that you go and try to recruit, and then you build the relationship, and if the relationship’s there, you just keep building on it.”

When asked the same question about whether or not attaining the No. 1 class is important to him, Ohio State director of player personnel Mark Pantoni was right in step with his CEO.

“I heard what Ryan said, and I honestly agree with him 100 percent,” Pantoni said. “It’s not a big deal. We’ve had classes in the past that were 4 or 5 and probably had more NFL draft picks in the top two rounds than some of these other classes, so to me, the way I grade recruiting classes is how they end up. NFL being a big part, but also key contributors, starters as well, so we’ll look forward here in three or four years and see, that’s how we’ll grade it.”

Blue-chip ratio

We’re talking today about the Buckeyes possibly winning the No. 1 recruiting class because:

  1. Ohio State and Alabama had been battling back and forth for the recruiting crown since the spring, but the Tide have taken a substantial lead, will easily cruise to the recruiting title and could wind up with the best recruiting class of all-time.
  2. As the two programs square off on the field for the national title game, they are the final two teams left standing this season and were the top two teams in the recruiting rankings. So although the No. 1 ranking in recruiting may not necessarily determine who wins a national championship, the rankings are an indicator of who is competing for one. 

Of course, as you’ll obviously notice with those four classes each being ranked in the top six, talent accumulation is the name of the game in winning a title. Or winning any CFP game.

Matt Gutridge and I compiled a side-by-side look at the recruiting rankings for Ohio State and Clemson, and it was clear the Buckeyes had an advantage on a per-player basis and overall in terms of talent coming out of high school. We are going to do that for the upcoming Ohio State-Alabama national championship game as well.

However, this is a great look at the talent difference between the Buckeyes and Tigers – which surely helped in the Clemson blowout – and the difference between the Buckeyes and Tide, which could possibly be an indicator that the upcoming matchup between the two will wind up being closer than both the Sugar Bowl and the Rose Bowl games were.

The blue-chip ratio is the percentage of four- and five-star signees a team lands in each class and, as 247Sports' Bud Elliott writes:

Put simply, to win the national championship, college football teams need to sign more four- and five-star recruits (aka “Blue Chips”) than two- and three-star players over the previous four recruiting classes.

Reactions to Sarkisian hire

Texas' firing of Tom Herman – a move whose final nail in the coffin may have been Ryan Day and Corey Dennis flipping Quinn Ewers – signaled what could wind up being some moves on the recruiting trail in the Lone Star State with the hiring of Steve Sarkisian in his place.

Ohio State has made a living recruiting the state over the past several cycles, and one of Sarkisian's No. 1 tasks when he takes control of the program will be putting an end to that.

There are a handful of top-tier prospects the Buckeyes are recruiting in Texas, and some of them shared their thoughts with Rivals' Adam Gorney on the Longhorns' hiring of Sarkisian:

Denver Harris

"I kind of figured that move was inevitable. I understand that this is a business first and you have to produce to keep a job. Heck, if I’m not producing on the field I won’t be playing, same rules apply."

Omari Abor

“When I heard this I was shocked because I didn’t think they were going to really fire him this year. And I’ve never really paid attention to Steve Sarkisian but I’ll love to get to know him.”

Kam Dewberry

"It’s going to be a different change now since i was getting recruited by Herman since the eighth grade so I’m just going to have to meet the new staff and see what goes from there."

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