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Harty: Meyer wrong to call out Big Ten coaches

[ 0 ] February 10, 2013 |

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is right that the other Big Ten football coaches have to recruit better to make the conference more competitive against the mighty SEC.

He’s wrong to say it publicly, though.

Meyer should’ve waited to address his concerns Monday when the Big Ten coaches hold their annual business meeting at league headquarters in Park Ridge, Ill., instead of saying it Thursday on a Columbus, Ohio, radio station. There is a time and a place to call out your fellow coaches, and Meyer failed in both regards.

His message is right. He just shouldn’t have delivered it in public, even when asked to do so.

Meyer was asked on 97.1-FM if it was important for the other Big Ten schools to recruit better for what he’s trying to build at Ohio State.

“Well, it’s not only important, it’s essential,” Meyer said. “It has to happen. And I don’t know enough about what goes on in the other programs. I know I have a lot of respect for the tradition and their historical success they’ve had, but we need to as a conference keep pushing that envelope to be better.

“And I think our whole conversation (Monday) has to be about how do we recruit? When you see 11 of the SEC teams are in the top 25 in recruiting, that’s something we need to continue to work on and improve.”

The question came in response to national signing day Wednesday. Signing day was the latest example of how wide the gap is between the Big Ten and the SEC in football.

Ohio State, Michigan and Nebraska held up their end of the bargain by finishing first, second and 11th respectively, in the 2013 national recruiting rankings, according to Scout.com. The problem is that no other Big Ten team finished ranked in the top 25, while the SEC has 10 teams ranked in the top 25 by Scout.com, including six of the top 10.

Rivals.com paints a similar picture with the SEC having 11 of its top 25 recruiting classes compared with just three from the Big Ten: Ohio State at No. 2, Michigan at No. 5 and Nebraska at No. 17.

Combine the recruiting rankings with how the SEC has dominated the national title hunt over the past decade and Meyer’s concerns are justified. He knows all about the SEC’s power and prestige after winning two national titles at Florida.

Meyer also knows the Big Ten landscape a lot better now after navigating his way through a 12-0 record during his first season at Ohio State last fall, albeit under a bowl ban.

He still should’ve taken the high road and been more respectful of his peers in public. Just because you’re asked a question in a public forum doesn’t mean you have to answer it.

Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz is a master at saying the right things in public. He often doesn’t say anything newsworthy, but he avoids saying anything controversial.

Meyer’s only reason for challenging his fellow Big Ten coaches is self-serving. He wants the other conference teams, probably with exception to Michigan, to do better because the Buckeyes ultimately would benefit in the long run.

It’s probably fair to say Ohio State more times than not will be in the national title hunt with Meyer leading the way. His popularity combined with Ohio State’s storied tradition and built-in recruiting advantages is a recipe for success.

Ohio State will look better in the eyes of the voters if the Big Ten performs better from top to bottom.

But now you have to wonder how Meyer looks in the eyes of his fellow Big Ten coaches. I can only imagine how Ferentz reacted when told about Meyer’s public challenge. Ferentz’s program is in a funk right now, but he still doesn’t need Meyer telling him to recruit better.

Meyer telling the other Big Ten coaches to recruit better is sort of like Beyonce telling her competition to look better on stage.

There are lots of reasons why most of the Big Ten teams finished outside of the top-25 recruiting rankings, but a lack of effort isn’t one of them. The other coaches, from Ferentz all the way down to Tim Beckman, who failed this past fall to win a conference game in his first season at Illinois, scoured the recruiting trail this past year in search of talent.

They all want to do better in recruiting, maybe even more so now after being called out by the new sheriff in Columbus.

Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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