Blog Entry

It's Urban's world, Big Ten -- deal with it

Posted on: February 3, 2012 2:27 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2012 9:20 pm

The irony is that Urban Meyer and Lane Kiffin have almost become buds.

“As bizarre as this is because our relationship has been so public, I actually get along with him, probably, now,” Meyer told me this week. “We actually have conversations now. He’s fine. We’re fine. He apologized. I said, ‘I acted like a child too.’ ”

It was three years ago, that Kiffin started a year-long tweaking of the SEC establishment by accusing Meyer, then at Florida, of breaking NCAA rules.

“I love the fact that Urban had to cheat and still didn’t get him,” Kiffin said of the now infamous and inaccurate accusation regarding receiver Nu’Keese Richardson.

Left in Kiffin’s wake were a half-dozen secondary violations remaining from his zeal to remake the Vols. As we know, his one-act play at Tennessee is long over. Kiffin has rehabbed both USC and his image the last two seasons.

“He reached out,” Ohio State's new coach said of Kiffin. “I reached back. Me and his dad [Monte] have been friends for a long time. I was as [much to blame] as anybody. I was very childish and egotistical. Then he reached out and said, ‘You know what? We didn’t start out on the right foot.’ “

This all comes in the context of a lot of childishness, Big Ten style. In the past 48 hours, Meyer has morphed from rock star free-agent savior come down from the heavens to rescue Ohio State football, to a recruiting bottom feeder. In the unholy marriage of Twitter, internet and incessant electronic talkfests, there were strong words thrown around to describe Meyer’s recruiting methods.

“Illegal,” said Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema.

“Unethical,” said Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio.

Really quickly, Meyer has become the Lane Kiffin of the Big Ten. Meyer’s boss, Gene Smith, felt compelled to issue a statement Friday. Without actually saying it, the coaches seemed to intimate that Meyer was “flipping” recruits, getting them to come to Ohio State after they’d committed to other schools. The description used Wednesday on National Signing Day was that Meyer had signed eight players who had previously committed to other schools.

So what? Flipped, turned. Whatever. The man had a few short days to fix Ohio State in recruiting, with a bowl ban thrown in to work around. The problem is as the story develops, it lacks nuance, subtly and context. You have to read the full quotes from Bielema and Dantonio (below).

I was in Meyer’s office Thursday and told him about Bielema’s Wednesday statements.

“He [Bielema] called and said that [pausing] It really wasn’t our staff, it was the previous [staff],” Meyer said, “something about where a pro player called a kid or something like that. A former Buckeye called a kid. That’s all I remember. I checked into it, there’s no truth to anything.”

Unethical? Name me a coach who hasn’t signed a recruit who had been favoring another school. It’s how the industry works. It’s cutthroat. It’s brutal.

“I tell our guys,” Meyer said, “you really have no value to a program if you can’t recruit.”

All this reminds me of the great Ricky Bobby who once said, “If you’re not first, you’re last.”

Good call. There are no second places in a recruiting. You either get the guy or you don’t. As long as no NCAA or civil laws are broken, it’s every recruiter for himself. By some estimates, Meyer landed four kids who had committed to Penn State. It would have been a recruiting sin, if he didn’t pick over the remains of Penn State football. In fact, who didn't go after Penn State recruits? Maybe the best question for Meyer is, “Four? Why didn’t you get six?”

Speaking at high school coaches’ clinic Friday morning, Meyer had enough. He was quoted as saying (rhetorically): “You’re pissed because we went after a committed guy? Guess what, we got nine guys [recruiters] who better go do it again. Do it a little harder next time.”

How does that taste, Big Ten? Bielema told the Sporting News that Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez would speak to Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany Friday about Meyer’s recruiting methods. There’s one problem with that. Let’s say that Meyer pissed off a bunch of Big Ten coaches by taking their commits. Again, so what? “Commit” should be stricken from recruiting glossary along with “slight lean” and “strong verbal.” They are contrived terms meant to shame a player into what has become some sort of promise/marriage/sacred bond.

But let’s say that somehow Delany pushes through an official Big Ten stance that no coach can intrude on a “committed” recruit. The one big problem: Even if all 12 Big Ten schools agree, there are 108 other FBS programs who won’t.

In fact, recruiters will be laughing all the way to their private planes during recruiting season. How do you think SEC coaches are going to react if the Big Ten coaches all agree to this little “gentlemen’s agreement?”

Probably by winning a seven consecutive national championship, for starters.  

“Gentlemen’s agreement?,” one incredulous former major-college assistant told me Friday. “[Recruiting] is a Clint Eastwood movie. ‘Hang ‘Em High, ‘The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.’ Are you kidding me? Gentleman’s agreement?”

Context was an issue here. I had a Michigan State official call me to explain Dantonio’s quotes. Read the entire Bielema statement from signing day. Kind of takes some of the starch out of a flaming controversy that continues to have kindling thrown on it. Michigan State defensive coordinator "starts a recruiting rivalry."

You would hope. In fact, there should be a recruiting rivalry should exist with every Big Ten team. The Spartans haven't been to a Rose Bowl in almost 25 years.

Anyway, here's the full quotes ... 

Mark Dantonio
speaking in general on Wednesday:

"I would say it's pretty unethical. You ask people for a commitment, you ask for people's trust, ask for people to make a commitment to you, but then you turn around and say it's OK to go back after somebody else's commitment. That's a double standard.

"Everybody's got a job to do, there's a lot of pressure, but we're all grown men and we're trying to do a job, just like society today in every respect, whether it's a reporter or doctor or lawyer or somebody else. People are gonna try and do their job, they're gonna do what they have to do to get it done sometimes."

Specifically on Urban Meyer:

“They've got a new coach, there's differences when a new coach comes in. It's a new testing of the waters, but it's a two-way street, it's always a two-way street. There's always gotta be the other person listening, too. I think when it becomes a matter of twisting somebody, when you're a 50-year-old man or 40-year-old man twisting a 17-year-old, that's when it's wrong.

"I'm not saying that's happening in the Big Ten Conference, but I see that happening around the country. That happens when somebody decommits on the day of signing day and you've got to wonder about that."
Dantonio then released this statement on Friday: "Let me be clear: Some general recruiting statements I made were completely taken out of context when combined together by a reporter not in attendance. The timing of my comments was a reflection of an occurring matter on Signing Day and nothing to do with Urban Meyer at Ohio State. My comments regarding 'unethical' behavior were general in nature, according to my current coaching philosophy, and not directed toward any particular institution." 

Question to Bret Bielema on Wednesday: Is Urban Meyer’s hiring changed recruiting in the Upper Midwest and in the Big Ten?

Bielema:  "Well, I don’t think it, I hope it doesn’t change. I think the potential to change has been there. And, there’s a few things that happened early on that I made people be aware of that I didn’t want to see in this league that I had seen take place at other leagues, other recruiting tactics, other recruiting practices that are illegal. And I was very up front and was very pointed to the fact. I actually reached out to Coach Meyer and shared my thoughts and concerns with him, and the situation got rectified.

“But the one thing I love about this league, it was kind of funny, when I was a younger coach, I was offered a job in another league, right? And this coach, I was working for $175,000 for Coach Alvarez, and he asked me what I was making, and I said I was making $175,000. He goes, ‘how many year contract?’ I said, ‘zero, just a one-year contract.’ He goes, ‘I’ll offer you $350,000 in a four-year contract.’ And I’m like, ‘ah, I don’t think so. You know, it’s not, money is not important to me at this point. I kind of want to stay where I’m at in the Big Ten. It’s got great values. I’m at a great place, a great institution.’

He goes, ‘okay, I’ll make it $450,000, and I’ll give you a five-year guarantee.’ I said, ‘okay, now I’ve got to talk to you.’ But it did make a point of interest to me. I didn’t tell you that I was just joking. But it was a real offer that was out there. And he said to me, ‘you know what the difference between the Big Ten and this conference is?’

And I said, ‘no.’ He said, ‘in the Big Ten, everybody tells on everybody. In our conference, nobody tells on anybody.’ And that made a huge comment to me. And I’ve been very cognizant of that, encourage our coaches to play by the books, to do things in a certain way. If you have to lie, cheat, or steal to get someone here, it doesn’t make a great point once you get them here about how you’ve got to handle them.

“So I think that’s the point that I’ll take moving forward. Our league is based on certain values that we’re going to hold to be true. And, you know, if you don’t hold to those things to be true in our conference, well, you’ll be held accountable.”

There’s a couple of ways of fixing this “situation.” It sounds like Delany is going to have to have a come-to-Jesus meeting with his coaches to stop the backbiting. It happened with the SEC’s Mike Slive a couple of years ago when Kiffin was in full throat.

The other is to establish an early signing day, say the first week of December. High school players can be left alone to concentrate on state playoffs and their studies. Families don’t have to waste money on last-minute unofficial visits. Best of all, it relieves the pressure Signing Day, a date that has evolved into becoming an end to the process. 

It’s actually the beginning of a two-month signing period, but they don’t want you to know that. That’s an issue for another day. For now, it’s Urban’s world and the Big Ten is only living in it. 


Since: Aug 31, 2006
Posted on: February 3, 2012 10:20 pm

It's Urban's world, Big Ten -- deal with it

dont be an idiot GRIT.  The USC and OSU situations were totally different.  USC got more because their now disgraced and dismissed AD wouldnt cooperate with the NCAA and the transgressions involved multiple sports and big bucks, mansions etc.  The USC investigation took nearly 5 years --ours less than a year.   "The blow to the stomach " remark was made because NO team had ever been given a bowl ban without being charged with the LACK OF INSTITUTIONAL CONTROL (we werent).  Know your facts before making analogies or some-all fallacial arguments that dont pertain to the situation at hand

Since: Oct 19, 2007
Posted on: February 3, 2012 10:14 pm

It's Urban's world, Big Ten -- deal with it

Dodd u dumbass yo sure are quick to forget after ur great URBAINE left UF they were put on probation. He's just another Holtz and Bowden. I hope he drops dead on the sideline.

Since: Aug 31, 2006
Posted on: February 3, 2012 10:07 pm

It's Urban's world, Big Ten -- deal with it

The Sparty, Wisky and even ND fans spouting off here are simply SHAKIN in their boots after Meyers hire and his two month INCREDIBLE recruiting success.   PLEASE understand Ohio State will seldom lose ANY recruit they want to MSU or Wisc nor  many to ND ,which hasnt been relevant for some time AND  may soon be lost in shuffle when the mega conference formations are completed.  AND  please dont be naive enuf to think they , Michigan and others werent actively pursuing OSU recruits before Urban was hired.   SEC fans  or anyone else who make allegations without proof --- are NOTHING more than the  shephard boy crying WOLF.   PLEASE know that MEYER coached at OHIO STATE  , he and his  WIFE have degrees from OSU and both are native OHIOANS with family in the state.  THIS IS and ALWAYS was his DREAM JOB---so much so he had WRITTEN  in his previous coaching CONTRACTS that he could leave for  the OSU  job IF it became available.  And now the rest of the conference who thought they had a CHANCE at a championship because the DOMINATING school was in trouble just went home with their tales between their legs.  IF Meyer can be this successful in two months with NO bowl game this year---what will he do with a whole YEAR  to RECRUIT???  and Michigan Tech --your last game this year is in the Shoe---IT WILL BE OUR BOWL GAME... so be prepared for a BEATDOWN and join the rest of the B1G in meeting the NEW BOSS, same as the OLD BOSS....

Since: Jul 1, 2009
Posted on: February 3, 2012 9:55 pm

It's Urban's world, Big Ten -- deal with it

"It was like a blow to the stomach."

The NCAA slaps Ohio State with "a" bowl game suspension and "It was like a blow to the stomach" says Urban Meyer

Meyer doesn't get the kids to decommitt and then committ to Ohio State if the NCAA would have slapped, punched, and kicked Ohio State with a three year bowl ban. No kid worth the salt to flavor his future would have came to Ohio State if Ohio State would have had a three-year bowl ban.

That could be the difference between Meyer and the "real" prima donna Lane Kiffin. He has USC on top again and he did it while serving a three-year bowl ban. I would've liked to have seen prima donna Meyer do that, but then again, I doubt Meyer, unlike Kiffin, would've taken the job in the face of a three-year bowl ban.

The NCAA won't decommitt from Ohio State, we can be sure of that!

Since: Apr 24, 2007
Posted on: February 3, 2012 9:08 pm

It's Urban's world, Big Ten -- deal with it

Fact: Urban entered the recruiting season late. Players committed to other colleges verbally until something better came along. Enter Urban... Hail to the Buckeyes! Of course anyone but the OSU fans will be pissed. They lost the talent and OSU gained it. Wisconsin and MSU always lose talent to Ohio State. They started to gain ground when the Bucks were down, but things changed. Buck up!

Since: Aug 29, 2006
Posted on: February 3, 2012 9:00 pm

It's Urban's world, Big Ten -- deal with it

Why would any prospective Buckeye want to go to OSU last year?  They wouldn't.  Tressel is gone you basically have an interim coach this year.  Meyer comes in and you have to guess he will be there for at least four years.  He probably contacted players that would have liked to have gone to OSU had there been a little more stability in the first place. 

Coaches abandon ship all the time.  Why can't the players?

For the MSU commit that switched to OSU.  Good luck and stay healthy.

Since: Jan 22, 2012
Posted on: February 3, 2012 8:33 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Jan 11, 2007
Posted on: February 3, 2012 8:23 pm

It's Urban's world, Big Ten -- deal with it

it's a sad commentary on our society, but you usually don't get to the top by "following the rules". urban meyer seems to have
discovered that a long time ago.

Since: Aug 1, 2011
Posted on: February 3, 2012 8:21 pm

It's Urban's world, Big Ten -- deal with it

Urban feels good about this?  At what cost?  Compromising your own integrity is one thing but compromising a teenager is a whole other porcupine.  No wonder you have heart issues Urban.  That is so wrong in my book.  He comes across as this nice guy but he's just another shark and what's worse is that he is in charge of teaching some of our youth.  Stealing another's commitment is no different than stealing another's playbook or video taping their practice.  When it feels wrong its wrong plain and simple.

Since: Oct 18, 2009
Posted on: February 3, 2012 8:05 pm

It's Urban's world, Big Ten -- deal with it

When we justify lack of honor, commitment and integrity as "just doing his job" we can only blame ourselves for the issues plaguing the NCAA. You want student athletes that won't rob, lie, resort to violence, use drugs, etc. then you have to be willing to take a stand against practices like this. It seems like a simple thing, to flip a recruit; it doesn't seem like a big deal.

Saban, Meyer, Petrino, Kiffin, RichRod, Kelly, Carrol, Chizik, and the list goes on. I actually feel bad for them, they are the ones that have to face their children every night. A man without honor is nothing, no matter how many BCS titles he wins. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or