Former Florida head coach Urban Meyer has gotten a lot of heat from some fellow Big Ten coaches over his recruiting tactics. Specifically Meyer, and hold back your horror here for a second, went after recruits that were committed to other schools. I know, I know. It's a good thing I first heard about it while sitting down.
Bret Bielema is upset, which is understandable given that he lost an offensive line recruit to Meyer on signing day. He's even decided to
cry complain to Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany about it. Mark Dantonio called Meyer unethical. Meyer responded to the complaints thusly:
"You're pissed because we went after a committed guy? Guess what, we got 9 guys who better go do it again," said Meyer. "Do it a little harder next time."
Translation: "U MAD BRO?" Meyer has crossed over into Lane Kiffin territory in terms of agitating fellow coaches in his conference. I'm glad we could all share this moment.
I'm a little confused at all the outrage, because I thought we got all this settled when Rich Rodriguez got to Michigan. There was no real gentleman's agreement not to go after committed recruits. There was some complaining about RichRod doing that initially, but it all died away. What has changed?
My guess is that these other Big Ten coaches actually think Meyer can win at Ohio State. He won at Bowling Green despite never even having been a coordinator before becoming a head coach. He made Utah the first ever BCS buster. He won two national championships at Florida and easily could have won a third if it wasn't for Nick Saban.
I think the consensus up there was that Rodriguez was not a serious threat to win big after his first year. He was seen a force of change initially, which is why people got all rankled about his recruiting, but then 3-9 killed that quickly. It became a given that his system wouldn't work in the Big Ten, and everyone settled down. His system would, in fact, work in the Big Ten, as it was his poor defensive coaching choices that did him in.
Meyer is a threat to win. He also comes with the stigma of having worked in the SEC. All I hear from Bielema and Dantonio is: "Can't you see what's happening? He's trying to make us just like the SEC!!"
Guess what? The Big Ten is just like the SEC, only it's covered itself up in some kind of abrasively arrogant, faux genteel wallpaper. While Delany is the troll pulling all the strings, the conference is probably best personified in Jim Tressel. Tressel used his sweater vest and boring personality to hide the fact that he's a ruthless competitor who was willing to break rules to try to get ahead. They're pretty much all like that, only they prefer to have a veneer of sanctimonious righteousness covering it up.
Meyer is up front about his commitment to winning, as is everyone in the SEC. As is most everyone in the country, for that matter. It's especially rich to hear Bielema, who dropped 83 points on Indiana and went for two while up by a huge margin late in a game, act as though he's not a win-at-all-costs type. (Note: Former OSU LB Brian Rolle says Wisconsin recruited him up to signing day despite having committed to the Buckeyes. He was a freshman in 2007, which was Bielema's second year at UW. Busted, Bret.)
I think these coaches aren't just threatened by the idea that Meyer will dominate the conference with Ohio State as Tressel did before him. I think they're also worried that he'll finally put an end to the bankrupt idea that the Big Ten really is all that different from everyone else.