Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Urban Meyer brings SEC recruiting to the Big 10

image He took a year off to get his personal life and health in order. Then he returned to coaching, taking over a traditional Big 10 powerhouse that did well against league foes but always seemed a step slower than the SEC teams that clobbered the Ohio State Buckeyes in BCS Championship games.

Meyer learned something during his stressful tenure in the SEC. Winning championships means winning recruiting battles and if the Buckeye’s 2012 class is any indication, Meyer is taking the Big 10 school to SEC standards.

Meyer has a lot going for him on the recruiting trail. There’s a rich tradition at Ohio State. The facilities are among the finest in the nation. He’s assembled a top notch staff and when he flashes his two BCS championship rings, prospects are going to take notice.

What made him a successful recruiter and coach at Florida will pay dividends in Columbus, too.

The rejuvenated, remade Meyer is a lot like the old Meyer, who had two recruiting classes at Florida (2007 and 2010) rank No. 1 nationally by Scout.com. His 2006 class, which included Tim Tebow, Brandon Spikes and Percy Harvin, was rated second. With 23 commitments heading into Signing Day this Wednesday, Scout.com ranks Ohio State's class as the third best nationally with four five-star recruits and 10 four-star players.

That's a brand new ranking for Ohio State, as are many of the names expected to officially sign on Wednesday's National Signing Day to play for Meyer. Since taking over on Nov. 28, Meyer has convinced at least five highly-touted players previously verbally committed to other programs to choose Ohio State. There are still at least two more targets on his radar who could choose the Buckeyes.

Meyer has done it despite the December news that Ohio State faces a bowl ban for 2012 and scholarship reductions over the next three years, three in each year. He said he explained the NCAA sanctions to each recruit, and apparently that's just another part of his pitch that prospects and their families immediately buy.

The scholarship reductions and one year bowl ban won’t do much long term damage to the program. The NCAA’s penalty package was aimed at punishing the coaches who broke the rules, not the school that successfully argued how they were deceived.

It’s not unreasonable for Buckeye fans to expect a brief period of pain followed by a longer period of success. If Meyer can adjust his model for Big 10 schedules and personnel, Meyer may succeed beyond even the most ardent Brutus’ expectations.

It starts on the recruiting trail.

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