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

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

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. 

Posted on: February 3, 2012 1:03 pm

Gene Smith statement re: Urban Meyer

This statement from Ohio State AD Gene Smith was released by the school early afternoon on Friday: 

"I am disappointed that negative references have been made about our football coaches and particularly head coach Urban Meyer regarding recruiting. In our league appropriate protocol, if you have concerns, is to share those concerns with your athletic director. Then your athletic director will make the determination on the appropriate communications from that point forward. The athletic directors in our league are professionals and communicate with each other extremely well. Urban Meyer and his staff have had a compliance conscience since they’ve arrived." 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: November 23, 2011 3:35 pm
Edited on: November 23, 2011 4:38 pm

Source: Meyer has not accepted Ohio State job

A person close to the process denied a Wednesday report that Urban Meyer was about to become the next coach at Ohio State.

The person did not want to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation but is intimately involved in the process.

“People can throw out guesses,” the person said. “Some may or may not know what they’re talking about. It’s [the report] not true. That’s not the case. That is all there is to say.”

The Columbus Dispatch, citing two well-placed sources, reported Wednesday that Meyer will be announced next week as the new Buckeyes coach. The report added that contract terms had not been agreed upon.

Meyer has denied on at least two occasions he has been offered the job. That doesn’t account any indirect contact that may have been between his representatives and Ohio State officials. An Orlando, Fla. television station reported that Meyer has agreed in principle to a seven-year, $40 million deal.

Meyer has been widely speculated, and in cases reported, to be Ohio State’s next coach. He is not joining his usual ESPN broadcast crew at the Ohio State-Michigan game. ESPN released a statement saying the Bristol, Conn. studios were the best place for him to be this weekend to analyze games.



Category: NCAAF
Posted on: July 19, 2011 7:58 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2011 8:03 pm

Q & A with Urban Meyer

For the first time in seven years, the SEC media days will not include Urban Meyer.

That doesn't mean Florida's former rock star coach is sitting back taking it easy. In this recent interview with CBSSports.com, Meyer is as outspoken as ever. He has been active NCAA reform activist, actually traveling to Indianapolis during the offseason to speak to NCAA officials. He's also doing some analyst work for ESPN.

(Still can't get over his image when I see him on TV. Is he the interviewer or the interviewee? Something looks out of place.)

In this question-and-answer session, we recently spoke to Meyer on a variety of subjects. He is adamant about holding coaches accountable for wrongdoing. Also, don't necessarily believe he'll automatically be back coaching in 2012. Meyer just completed a fulfilling father-son baseball trip around the country and is looking forward to watching his daughter Gigi play volleyball at Florida Gulf Coast University.

We talked to Meyer in the middle of our series earlier this month regarding cheating in college football. We started out by telling him of our main findings: That almost half of FBS schools have had a major violation in football since 1987.

Urban Meyer: "I absolutely believe it. You threw some stats at me I didn't know. In the 80s and 90s I was at schools that ... we just didn't hear much about it [cheating]. It wasn't a big story. I didn't hear it in my staff room. It seems like the last five years is where that [has happened]. I'd have an assistant coach tell me, 'This is what's going on and this is this situation.' You just shake your head and go, 'Wow!'.

CBSSports.com: Was it because of the conference you were in [SEC] or the climate or what?

Meyer: "I think the SEC gets a lot of publicity. The last five years is when it started, and it just wasn't just tied to the SEC. You would just hear non-stop issues about -- for example -- 'Why is this group not coming to your camp now? Why is this kid not visiting your school?'

 Sometimes assistant coaches use it as a defense mechanism where like, 'This school is doing this. That's why they got [a recruit].' Maybe they outworked us.

 "But it seemed like every day I was hearing another story about something that was going on that shouldn't be going on."

 CBSSports.com: What did you tell the NCAA in general terms about the current climate?

 Meyer: "I have a good relationship with the NCAA. What I told them and what I told others: We complicate this thing as having a very clear set of rules and a very clear set of punishment structure ... [The NCAA Manual], it's a big book that says you can't do this, you can't do that. But it never says, if you do this, if you rob a bank you know exactly what is going to happen to you.

 "If you commit -- a term I never heard before until a few years ago -- a secondary violation, there is no such thing as a secondary violation. If it's a mistake it's one thing, but if it's intentional you should be punished as such."

CBSSports.com: Does it amaze you that essentially there is no bylaw to govern what Cecil Newton did? (Offer his son's services in exchange for $180,000 at Mississippi State.)

 Meyer: "The person that has to make the conscious decision [to cheat] is very well aware of the [response] that will take place. It's kind of a difficult situation. I don't think the objective is to catch everyone. I think it's to deter behavior. There's only one way to deter behavior and that's to have a risk/reward situation in place where the risk is so great people will quit doing it.

 "If you are asked a  question and are untruthful with the NCAA, everyone has to know what it [punishment] is. The case with Dez Bryant was clear, it was a year of eligibility."

 (Note: Bryant, an Oklahoma State receiver, was suspended for the season after lying to the NCAA about his relationship with Deion Sanders.)

 CBSSports.com: Are you, then, waiting like a lot of us to see what happens to Bruce Pearl and Jim Tressel?

 Meyer: "I'm kind of anxious see because I love this game of football ... I think this is the perfect opportunity to make this statement."

 CBSSports.com: Is it time to go to the Olympic model where athletes are paid a stipend because the amateur model is broke?

 Meyer: "We can't do that. That's not what this is all about. You've got a president [the NCAA's Mark Emmert] that is very committed to keep college football the sport it is supposed to be."

 CBSSports.com: Is the basic issue here not getting a competitive or recruiting advantage? That's what most coaches are concerned about, right?

 Meyer: "That's very accurate."

 CBSSports.com: There is talk of stratifying penalties. In other words, separate the felonies and the misdemeanors. As it stands major penalties fall into a broad category to the point that Army is considered a major violator from 1980, even though it received only a public reprimand.

 I don't know if that solves the problem but at least it keeps half of FBS being labeled quote-unquote "cheaters". What are your thoughts?

 Meyer: "That's where you're hitting the nail right on the head. There's two terms: Willful, intentional. To me, those are two key words. If you intentionally do something the punishment is severe. If you're not forthright when you're asked a question, the punishment is severe.

 "All the sudden you ask a coach, 'Are you using three cell phones? Are you paying a third party money to have them come to your camps?' If they understand if they don't tell you the truth on record, they will be suspended for one year. I think I can speak on behalf of most coaches that they're going to tell the truth.

 "If you intentionally commit a violation your suspension could be [for example] three games, six games, nine games. It's up to the committee [on infractions]. Intentionally, that's the key word."

 CBSSports.com: Do we need another death penalty to get everyone's attention?

 Meyer: "I don't know. I'm not on the inside. I don't know what's hanging out right now. I don't know what's behind Door No. 1 or 2."

 CBSSports.com: What about subpoena power for the NCAA in its investigations? Is that something you'd welcome?

 "Absolutely. The problem right now the investigation process takes five years, four years. USC can't go to a bowl game. They [current players] were 14 years old, 15 years old when this was going on.

 "The two areas that are missing in my mind are fear and lack of knowledge. Fear on the side of the coaches and lack of knowledge on the side of the NCAA. Why not combine the two? Every quarter you have a conference call [with coaches].' What do you hear? What's going on? We hear  about these recruiting services or camps or bumps. They put a memo together and send it out. 'This is what we hear is going on. If you get caught here is the punishment.' "

 "You won't catch everybody, That's not the goal. You want to stop the behavior." 

Posted on: February 14, 2011 3:31 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2011 5:53 pm

Urban Meyer becoming CFB watchdog

Wow, Urban Meyer sure did pop off didn't he? 
In a widely distributed (on Twitter) radio interview , Florida's former on-again, off-again coach made some pretty damning statements. Well, damning considering they came from him. 

Meyer: “What I’ve seen the last five years is a complete turn in the integrity of the college coaching profession. It’s completely turned the other way. Maybe I wasn't exposed to it because I was in the profession. Right now, it’s not good because the risk-reward is 'Have at it, do what you’ve got to do to get the great player, go win games and at the end of the day we’ll find out what happens down the road …'"

The news here is not that Urban Meyer sees a radical change in the coaching profession. The reaction should be: duh. The "last five years"? That does coincide with the SEC's current championship run, but the coaching profession was fairly sketchy before 2006. I seem to remember Alabama being on probation a couple of times before that. 2006 was after Reggie Bush had left USC but before he would burn the program to the ground. And there were those approximately 30 players arrested at Florida while Meyer was there. 

Of course, coaches weren't directly involved with those cases. But it remains hypocritical for coaches to take credit for Johnny's 3.5 GPA then claim ignorance when the spit hits the fan. If Meyer was a part of that system, then he is turning into the Carrie Nation of college football.

And let's not forget he profited greatly -- and continues to profit -- off a system he calls corrupt. Meyer is ESPN's latest in-between-jobs coaching analyst superstar.

While he was on his stump, Meyer also seemingly took a run at Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl. 

Meyer:  “You tell me how a young man who is a wide receiver (Dez Bryant of Oklahoma State) and he lied to the NCAA and they took away his eligibility and he was never allowed to play again. And then there are violations in other areas of the country and that doesn’t happen.”

Radio host: “Coach of Tennessee basketball (Bruce Pearl) did the same thing (lied to the NCAA). Sat out eight games lost a little money and he’s back coaching right now.”

Meyer:And Dez Bryant is out of the profession."

Meyer agreed with host, former coach Dan Dakich, that coaches should be fired if they are found guilty of major violations.

Meyer: "That's the only answer. There's a reason why people don't rob banks. The risk-reward is you're going to jail. Right now, if you commit -- they call them secondary violations, which is comical; they're not secondary -- if you commit a secondary violation, it's a slap on the hand." 

Meyer also said he developed "a recommendation" that he sent to "a good chunk of athletic directors and presidents and commissioners." It would have been nice to get some specifics -- you know, names of coaches, specific recommendations -- out of Meyer. For now, the news is that he said these things, not necessarily that these things are going on.

Meyer: "I've had a couple of meetings already. It's a question of how much do they want help? I think there were 28-something players suspended last year. If that's not a red flag ... We don't want this to turn into minor leagues for the NFL, or maybe we do..." 

"I'm no longer a football coach and that's had a part with why I stepped away."

Once again, it would be nice if the coach named names and provided us with the list of recommendations. We can only hope they're coming. Soon.

Category: NCAAF
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com