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: Dec 2, 2006
Posted on: February 4, 2012 11:07 am

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

Here's the problem with the Big Ten AND the midwest as a whole.  And I should know better than most because I'm "from" Columbus where I graduated from Ohio State and spent most of my life (by the way, I live in New York City now).  The Big Ten is full of whoosies!  I've said it for yeeeeeearrs.  The midwest itself is full of a population of folks who suffer from an incurable disease called "Group Think".  Everyone thinks the same and refuses to see any other point of view.  It's sickening and it's why I don't live there anymore.  This is never more clear than by this silly arse "Gentlemen's Agreement" that these schools and specifically coaches have supposedly had in place for years.  What the frick is a gentlemen's agreement anyway?  That actually sounds like something they would do in the SEC.  Imagine it: Two old white guys (SEC coaches mind you) sitting on one of their front porches, one of those long front porches with swings and rocking chairs at some antebellum mansion with weeping willows in the background--they are drinking Sweet Tea or Countrytime Lemonade and decide to enter into a revolutionary 'Gentlemen's Agreement' that will transform the whole league and make everyone else play nice in the sand box!!! ARE YOU F'ING KIDDING ME? GIVE ME A BREAK!  Both Woody and Bo would be turning over in their graves saying this is why our conference is continually getting PUNKED by everybody across the country, in particular the SEC.

What Urban Meyer is doing is what we THOUGHT he would do.  Come to the Big 10 and kick some arse, both on and off the field.  All of this was predicted when he signed.  Now these whoosie coaches are acting like he stole their candy.  Guys its sports, you ALL know that every major program across the country along with the BIG BAD NCAA is just using these kids to begin with to run their multi-gazillion dollar industry.  Yet you choose to bitch about one guy coming in and disrupting your damn 'Gentlemen's Agreement'.  How about you grow a pair and stop sipping your tea or lemonade, stop pretending like you like each other when you don't and stop villifying a guy for doing the job you should be doing.  If you steal some of OUR players in the future, so be it, kudos to you and we move on to the next person.  Its only a game anyway, were not solving world hungner here.

Since: Nov 17, 2007
Posted on: February 4, 2012 10:51 am

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

Dantonio and Bielema really? This is like crack dealer B and meth dealer C accusing pimp A of being unethical and immoral. Please take your seat at the back of the bus and shut up.

Try actually reading what was written before opening your noise hole. Dantonio's comments were spun by a reporter into something they were not and the article explains that. Dantonio was not addressing Darth Meyer with his comments.

So take your own advice and shut up.

Since: Oct 8, 2006
Posted on: February 4, 2012 10:42 am

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

Dantonio and Bielema really? This is like crack dealer B and meth dealer C accusing pimp A of being unethical and immoral. Please take your seat at the back of the bus and shut up.

Since: Sep 25, 2011
Posted on: February 4, 2012 10:27 am

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

Urban is a sleezeball....always has been....always will be.  Glad to see him "miraculously" cured and providing new exhibits of his sleezy practice.   

Since: Nov 18, 2011
Posted on: February 4, 2012 10:09 am

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

It looks like Urban Meyer and his staff outworked some other folks, and they can't handle it.  

All these coaches now work in a recruitment industry, and the workplace is truly dysfunctional.  I cannot imagine working all my life in the coaching profession and finding out that it's come to trusting those who are not worthy of trust.  Did Jim Tressel not bet his life on a group of young men and lose spectacularly?  

Are you really trying to compel me to have some compassion for these families?  Wasting their money on unofficial visits?  Who cares!  Think about your neighbor down the street who's having trouble paying the mortgage instead of fretting about this culture of entitlement and corruption.  

Tressel's gone because he apparently recruited young men with no moral or ethical fiber, and the entire university got dragged into the mud.  Meyer will do the same recruiting and gamble that his poorly-educated minions will keep their stuff together.  Week after week the stories come flowing about these college athletes.  Many of them are not even sound enough students to be admitted to any university.  And they chirp as though they have something to say that others would want to listen to...

Somewhere, at some point, a coach decided that academics were secondary to wins, and so the erosion of admittance standards for jocks began... with the blessing of many of the schools.  College presidents like to "own" good football teams because it makes their peckers seem bigger.  

I do not have an affiliation with any college or university; the college game is far less compelling than the NFL due to the competitive disparity among teams.  Maybe I'd feel differently if I had a degree from Any State U and felt a loyalty of some kind...  what?  Loyalty to a band of thugs with unethical leadership?  No thanks.  These college coaches are all in the same boat.  


Since: Nov 17, 2007
Posted on: February 4, 2012 9:50 am

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.
No. We are just lamenting the loss of honor and the huge stain now plain to all on the once good reputation of the B1G Ten.

Commitment is an act of entering into an agreement based on TRUST. Breaking the commitment is breaking of trust, same as lying or stealing or cheating. All of those are breaking of trust.

There are 2 variations on this.

First, the recruit just changes his mind. No undue influence. He goes to the coach with who he made the verbal contract and they talk it out and mutually agree to sever the agreement. This is how it should be done. De mano e mano; not through a newspaper of Facebook or an email. Face to face with honor.

The second scenario is what we are talking about. A coach calls a recruit after that recruit has made his promise to a school and given his handshake to the coach. Based on the unethical contact, the player rejects his contract and enters into a new one. This is wrong. The coach making the call is immoral and the act of calling is unethical.

The reasons for the verbal commitment are: (a) to give the recruit a cooling off period during which he can reflect on his choice without all the hoopla and celebrity attention given him during the recruiting phase and (b) to give the coach a measure of security during the recruiting phase. The objective is to avoid bad matches and bad choices.

The natural consequence of poaching (ala Darth Meyer) is that the National Letters of Intent will be required by the schools months earlier. This is not a good choice because breaking a LOI is much more difficult, the kids won't get their grace period. The optimum chioce is for recruiters to hold themselves to a high standard of ethical behavior, respect the choices made and honor the verbal commitments with a hands off policy. Along with this, the recruits need to honor their choices as well and not take additional visits and refuse calls from other schools when they are under a VC. If the recruit wants to be back in the ratrace, he only needs to go to the coach and talk it over as described above.

There are so many problems in college football that we do not need to make them worse by having recruiting become, literally, an auction with the best recruits going to the highest bidders. There are too many money handshakes as it is. Embacing the tactic of poaching will bring out the very worst of everything.

Since: Aug 4, 2009
Posted on: February 4, 2012 8:39 am

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

this is great! 5 months ago everyone was loving the terrible season ohio state was having and the ncaa sanctions were still up in the air. i remember people talking about how ohio state would get the death penalty and would never be the same. now, they land one of the top recruiting classes in the nation and all they can do is pi$$ and moan about how unfair it is meyer stole there recruits. 



Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: February 4, 2012 8:35 am

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

When a consummate cheater like Lane Kiffin accuses you of cheating, you are definitely a world class cheater.  Meyer is amoral; that was probably the cause of the "family pressure" that made him develop "health problems."  Meyer is great at acting in his own self-interest.  He is putting together a great class in Columbus this year, but I think it's a bit early to anoint him "king of the Big Ten" quite yet.

It has been humorous to listen to talk radio in the Tampa Bay area this week, though.  Suffice to say that Urban Meyer isn't exactly welcome in the Sunshine State anymore.  We'll see how things work out for him at Ohio.  I predict five years and more "health problems." 

Since: Oct 30, 2006
Posted on: February 4, 2012 7:27 am

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

Don't count on it,MORON! That program is on watch for 5 years. All they have to do is catch the guy and it's light out! Remember that. In the meantime don't worry about any annual ass-kicking by anyone except from your own team. They got off light because they hired Meyer, but they still are being watched for a good amount of time. I still don't think OSU is out of the woods with past issues, and to be totally honest that school or Meyer doesn't need any bad PR right now. Good luck with the 5 year watch, CHOKEEYES!!

Since: Feb 11, 2009
Posted on: February 4, 2012 6:18 am

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

Like I said yesterday, too bad Big 10 but if you want to win like the SEC, you have to play like the SEC, and that includes the recruiting game.  Does any of his critics REALLY think that Meyers cares about what they say?  The critics he cares about right now are all at Ohio State.  All he has to do to please them is steer clear of the NCAA and work on producing a winning program.  By the time the whiners are done, they'll ook up and see that Ohio State has gone back up in the world, and that all their moaning has been for nothing.  It's so nice to see Dodd's selective amnesia in action too.  Dodd was so down on Meyer when he went to my alma mater, Florida, to clean up the mess that the Zooker left.  Then after Florida kicked Ohio State all over Glendale and back, Dodd acted as though he knew Meyer had the right stuff all along.

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