The Big Ten welcome wagon has officially left Columbus and nearly ran over new Ohio State coach Urban Meyer on its way out.
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio and Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema both publicly criticized Meyer's recruiting tactics after Meyer secured the nation's No. 4 class, according to Rivals, in just 65 days on the job. Bielema, especially, took issue with some of the tactics Meyer used to secure the class and called him on it.
"There are a few things that happened early on that I made people aware of that I didn't want to see in this league, that I had seen take place in other leagues," Bielema said during his media day. "Other recruiting tactics, other recruiting practices that are illegal. I was very up front and was very pointed to the fact, actually reached out to coach Meyer and shared my thoughts and concerns with him. The situation got rectified."
Apparently, recruiting is more civilized in the Big Ten than it is in the SEC. However, uncivilized recruiting seems to coincide with national championships. But I digress…
It's no secret Meyer used his star power to lure several recruits out of their commitments and to Ohio State. Of the 10 players that committed to Ohio State after Meyer was hired, eight had been committed somewhere else, including four-star offensive tackle Kyle Dodson of Cleveland, who was committed to Wisconsin before signing with Ohio State, and Canton, Ohio, defensive end Se'Von Pittman (right), who was a Michigan State pledge.
Meyer also nabbed four players previously committed to Penn State and two committed to Notre Dame.
"Sometimes they say, 'How can you go recruit a young guy committed to another school?'" Meyer said. "You ask a question, 'Are you interested?' If they say, 'No,' you move on. If they say, 'Yes, very interested,' then you throw that hook out there. If they're interested, absolutely [you recruit them], especially from your home state. Is it gratifying to take a guy from another school? Not at all."
But like the games themselves, even recruiting is about competition and part of that competition means keeping the guys on the hook happy. It's no secret that Meyer is one of the biggest names in coaching with only maybe Nick Saban being a bigger threat. When Meyer calls, a recruit listens. It's as simple as that.
"The only thing I said is guys like Jim Tressel and Mark Dantonio never would've done that to each other," Michigan State assistant coach Pat Narduzzi said. "When I have best friends out there that someday if I were the head coach, I won't take their guys. That's just part of how it goes."
Seems like that's a quick way to be out of a job.
Is Meyer using aggressiveness and some negative recruiting to sell his brand? Probably, but that's what Ohio State is paying him to do — get the best kids, worry about making friends with the other coaches later.
And let's be honest, publicly airing recruiting grievances against Meyer and his staff is just another form of negative recruiting and it comes across as petty and bitter because of lost recruits.