The year: 1981. On the radio: Rick Springfield and Blondie. On the news: The president and pope have just survived assassination attempts, while John Lennon has not. The Raiders win the Super Bowl. IBM is offering a new "personal computer," Raiders of the Lost Ark is crushing all comers at the box office and something called MTV has just hit the air for the first time.
Somewhere in Ashtabula, Ohio, an awkward sophomore sits alone in his room, staring ruefully at the face of senior Urban Frank Meyer III, mulling the most John Oates-worthy lip warmer in Harbor High as he sings quietly to himself, "I wish that I had Urban's girl."
Three decades later, the same panache that undoubtedly made the class of 1982 swoon for 17-year-old Urban is having the same effect on high school seniors in the class of 2012. On Monday, Meyer landed commitments from not one but two touted, top-100 recruits — Glen Ellyn, Ill., defensive tackle Tommy Schutt and Canton, Ohio, defensive end Se'Von Pittman (right) — who had previously committed to Big Ten rivals (Penn State and Michigan State, respectively) before Meyer was hired at Ohio State two weeks ago. They immediately join Cincinnati defensive end Adolphus Washington — who committed to the Buckeyes on Nov. 22, the day after a deluge of reports confirmed Meyer's pending arrival as head coach — as the highest-rated players in OSU's 2012 class.
That's a long way from June, when top Midwestern recruits were shunning Ohio State en masse. Within a month of Jim Tressel's resignation as head coach on May 30, the Buckeyes had lost a 2011 signee and watched hyped in-state targets in the 2012 class — guys who were once considered Ohio State locks — turn them down in favor of Wisconsin (Cleveland offensive lineman Kyle Dodson), Michigan State (Se'von Pittman) and Michigan (Mentor defensive end Tom Strobel). In July, five-star Lakewood, Ohio, offensive lineman Kyle Kalis switched his commitment from Ohio State to Michigan. Before the Meyer rumors began swirling in earnest in late November, OSU had zero verbally committed recruits ranked in Rivals' top 100 overall. With a coaching transition all but assured and NCAA sanctions looming, the 2012 class looked like a lost cause.
Now? With a little under two months to go until recruits are allowed to sign letters of intent in early February, the Buckeyes are back in the game with three top-100 commits in the fold and the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the nation expected to be checking out the campus soon. Meyer may have a private jet at his disposal these days, and a pair of national championship rings to flash if necessary. But underneath, all he's really ever needed is a cheap suit, a shy smile and the roar of a 1974 Chevrolet Vega.