Blog Entry

It's Urban's world, Big Ten -- deal with it

Posted on: February 3, 2012 2:27 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2012 9:20 pm

The irony is that Urban Meyer and Lane Kiffin have almost become buds.

“As bizarre as this is because our relationship has been so public, I actually get along with him, probably, now,” Meyer told me this week. “We actually have conversations now. He’s fine. We’re fine. He apologized. I said, ‘I acted like a child too.’ ”

It was three years ago, that Kiffin started a year-long tweaking of the SEC establishment by accusing Meyer, then at Florida, of breaking NCAA rules.

“I love the fact that Urban had to cheat and still didn’t get him,” Kiffin said of the now infamous and inaccurate accusation regarding receiver Nu’Keese Richardson.

Left in Kiffin’s wake were a half-dozen secondary violations remaining from his zeal to remake the Vols. As we know, his one-act play at Tennessee is long over. Kiffin has rehabbed both USC and his image the last two seasons.

“He reached out,” Ohio State's new coach said of Kiffin. “I reached back. Me and his dad [Monte] have been friends for a long time. I was as [much to blame] as anybody. I was very childish and egotistical. Then he reached out and said, ‘You know what? We didn’t start out on the right foot.’ “

This all comes in the context of a lot of childishness, Big Ten style. In the past 48 hours, Meyer has morphed from rock star free-agent savior come down from the heavens to rescue Ohio State football, to a recruiting bottom feeder. In the unholy marriage of Twitter, internet and incessant electronic talkfests, there were strong words thrown around to describe Meyer’s recruiting methods.

“Illegal,” said Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema.

“Unethical,” said Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio.

Really quickly, Meyer has become the Lane Kiffin of the Big Ten. Meyer’s boss, Gene Smith, felt compelled to issue a statement Friday. Without actually saying it, the coaches seemed to intimate that Meyer was “flipping” recruits, getting them to come to Ohio State after they’d committed to other schools. The description used Wednesday on National Signing Day was that Meyer had signed eight players who had previously committed to other schools.

So what? Flipped, turned. Whatever. The man had a few short days to fix Ohio State in recruiting, with a bowl ban thrown in to work around. The problem is as the story develops, it lacks nuance, subtly and context. You have to read the full quotes from Bielema and Dantonio (below).

I was in Meyer’s office Thursday and told him about Bielema’s Wednesday statements.

“He [Bielema] called and said that [pausing] It really wasn’t our staff, it was the previous [staff],” Meyer said, “something about where a pro player called a kid or something like that. A former Buckeye called a kid. That’s all I remember. I checked into it, there’s no truth to anything.”

Unethical? Name me a coach who hasn’t signed a recruit who had been favoring another school. It’s how the industry works. It’s cutthroat. It’s brutal.

“I tell our guys,” Meyer said, “you really have no value to a program if you can’t recruit.”

All this reminds me of the great Ricky Bobby who once said, “If you’re not first, you’re last.”

Good call. There are no second places in a recruiting. You either get the guy or you don’t. As long as no NCAA or civil laws are broken, it’s every recruiter for himself. By some estimates, Meyer landed four kids who had committed to Penn State. It would have been a recruiting sin, if he didn’t pick over the remains of Penn State football. In fact, who didn't go after Penn State recruits? Maybe the best question for Meyer is, “Four? Why didn’t you get six?”

Speaking at high school coaches’ clinic Friday morning, Meyer had enough. He was quoted as saying (rhetorically): “You’re pissed because we went after a committed guy? Guess what, we got nine guys [recruiters] who better go do it again. Do it a little harder next time.”

How does that taste, Big Ten? Bielema told the Sporting News that Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez would speak to Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany Friday about Meyer’s recruiting methods. There’s one problem with that. Let’s say that Meyer pissed off a bunch of Big Ten coaches by taking their commits. Again, so what? “Commit” should be stricken from recruiting glossary along with “slight lean” and “strong verbal.” They are contrived terms meant to shame a player into what has become some sort of promise/marriage/sacred bond.

But let’s say that somehow Delany pushes through an official Big Ten stance that no coach can intrude on a “committed” recruit. The one big problem: Even if all 12 Big Ten schools agree, there are 108 other FBS programs who won’t.

In fact, recruiters will be laughing all the way to their private planes during recruiting season. How do you think SEC coaches are going to react if the Big Ten coaches all agree to this little “gentlemen’s agreement?”

Probably by winning a seven consecutive national championship, for starters.  

“Gentlemen’s agreement?,” one incredulous former major-college assistant told me Friday. “[Recruiting] is a Clint Eastwood movie. ‘Hang ‘Em High, ‘The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.’ Are you kidding me? Gentleman’s agreement?”

Context was an issue here. I had a Michigan State official call me to explain Dantonio’s quotes. Read the entire Bielema statement from signing day. Kind of takes some of the starch out of a flaming controversy that continues to have kindling thrown on it. Michigan State defensive coordinator "starts a recruiting rivalry."

You would hope. In fact, there should be a recruiting rivalry should exist with every Big Ten team. The Spartans haven't been to a Rose Bowl in almost 25 years.

Anyway, here's the full quotes ... 

Mark Dantonio
speaking in general on Wednesday:

"I would say it's pretty unethical. You ask people for a commitment, you ask for people's trust, ask for people to make a commitment to you, but then you turn around and say it's OK to go back after somebody else's commitment. That's a double standard.

"Everybody's got a job to do, there's a lot of pressure, but we're all grown men and we're trying to do a job, just like society today in every respect, whether it's a reporter or doctor or lawyer or somebody else. People are gonna try and do their job, they're gonna do what they have to do to get it done sometimes."

Specifically on Urban Meyer:

“They've got a new coach, there's differences when a new coach comes in. It's a new testing of the waters, but it's a two-way street, it's always a two-way street. There's always gotta be the other person listening, too. I think when it becomes a matter of twisting somebody, when you're a 50-year-old man or 40-year-old man twisting a 17-year-old, that's when it's wrong.

"I'm not saying that's happening in the Big Ten Conference, but I see that happening around the country. That happens when somebody decommits on the day of signing day and you've got to wonder about that."
Dantonio then released this statement on Friday: "Let me be clear: Some general recruiting statements I made were completely taken out of context when combined together by a reporter not in attendance. The timing of my comments was a reflection of an occurring matter on Signing Day and nothing to do with Urban Meyer at Ohio State. My comments regarding 'unethical' behavior were general in nature, according to my current coaching philosophy, and not directed toward any particular institution." 

Question to Bret Bielema on Wednesday: Is Urban Meyer’s hiring changed recruiting in the Upper Midwest and in the Big Ten?

Bielema:  "Well, I don’t think it, I hope it doesn’t change. I think the potential to change has been there. And, there’s a few things that happened early on that I made people be aware of that I didn’t want to see in this league that I had seen take place at other leagues, other recruiting tactics, other recruiting practices that are illegal. And I was very up front and was very pointed to the fact. I actually reached out to Coach Meyer and shared my thoughts and concerns with him, and the situation got rectified.

“But the one thing I love about this league, it was kind of funny, when I was a younger coach, I was offered a job in another league, right? And this coach, I was working for $175,000 for Coach Alvarez, and he asked me what I was making, and I said I was making $175,000. He goes, ‘how many year contract?’ I said, ‘zero, just a one-year contract.’ He goes, ‘I’ll offer you $350,000 in a four-year contract.’ And I’m like, ‘ah, I don’t think so. You know, it’s not, money is not important to me at this point. I kind of want to stay where I’m at in the Big Ten. It’s got great values. I’m at a great place, a great institution.’

He goes, ‘okay, I’ll make it $450,000, and I’ll give you a five-year guarantee.’ I said, ‘okay, now I’ve got to talk to you.’ But it did make a point of interest to me. I didn’t tell you that I was just joking. But it was a real offer that was out there. And he said to me, ‘you know what the difference between the Big Ten and this conference is?’

And I said, ‘no.’ He said, ‘in the Big Ten, everybody tells on everybody. In our conference, nobody tells on anybody.’ And that made a huge comment to me. And I’ve been very cognizant of that, encourage our coaches to play by the books, to do things in a certain way. If you have to lie, cheat, or steal to get someone here, it doesn’t make a great point once you get them here about how you’ve got to handle them.

“So I think that’s the point that I’ll take moving forward. Our league is based on certain values that we’re going to hold to be true. And, you know, if you don’t hold to those things to be true in our conference, well, you’ll be held accountable.”

There’s a couple of ways of fixing this “situation.” It sounds like Delany is going to have to have a come-to-Jesus meeting with his coaches to stop the backbiting. It happened with the SEC’s Mike Slive a couple of years ago when Kiffin was in full throat.

The other is to establish an early signing day, say the first week of December. High school players can be left alone to concentrate on state playoffs and their studies. Families don’t have to waste money on last-minute unofficial visits. Best of all, it relieves the pressure Signing Day, a date that has evolved into becoming an end to the process. 

It’s actually the beginning of a two-month signing period, but they don’t want you to know that. That’s an issue for another day. For now, it’s Urban’s world and the Big Ten is only living in it. 


Since: Oct 19, 2007
Posted on: February 7, 2012 2:47 pm

It's Urban's world, Big Ten -- deal with it

I'm not questioning your facts.  You may even have a valid point when you state that USC wasn't judged by the same standards?  But just because your statement is factual, doesn't mean that you aren't complaining. 

I might even feel the same way if I were an SC fan, but isn't going to change the circumstances.  It seems to me that SC wasted a couple of years fighting, protesting, appealing... when they could have just taken their medicine and put it behind them after the 2012 season.  As it stands, they have lived through a two year post season ban, and are just now going to suffer the REALLY harmful part of the sanctions with the loss of 30 scholarships over the next three years.

I realize that we now have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, but the way that USC handled the situation seems a bit short-sighted.

Since: Jul 1, 2009
Posted on: February 7, 2012 12:50 pm

It's Urban's world, Big Ten -- deal with it

It's not called complaining when you state facts.

Like TrueGrit said earlier, the nation doesn't have to worry about the NCAA decommitting from Ohio State and we all know what a person or institution gets charged with is determined by the charger.

Urban Meyer wouldn't have taken the USC job like the "real" prima donna Lane Kiffin did. It would have been to risky for his winning record. Kiffin still has a tougher row to hoe than Meyer but Kiffin has more upside if he pulls USC to the top. If both fail, Meyer could be laughed at, Kiffin could be forgiven.  

Since: Oct 19, 2007
Posted on: February 7, 2012 10:54 am

It's Urban's world, Big Ten -- deal with it

Complain all you want, It's not going to bring your schollies back.  Why didn't they just suck it up and take the scholarship reductions along with the post season ban for the past two seasons?  They would have been home free after this season, instead, they have turned a three year problem into a five year problem!  Not real smart!

Since: Jul 1, 2009
Posted on: February 7, 2012 3:34 am

It's Urban's world, Big Ten -- deal with it

GRIT--try to stop being an IDIOT--you want more info on what OSU was charged with--try  GOOGLE--but the fact is in  the end still remains we werent charged with LOIC.  Please reread my post for a BRIEF summary of why USC got more ; but then GOOGLE --theres that word again, huh?--will further explain the many differences.  And  if you really want MORE info--why dont YOU  call the NCAA and ask for a better explanation.  Or better yet just shut up and go home....

Buckeyefan67 - I learned how to google, thank you for suggesting such a thing!

Please tell us why the NCAA didn't charge Ohio State with LOIC. Did they turn the institution over to Terrelle, was he the one controlling the institution? He was dragging 18 other players around on his coat tails; a little more time and he may have been in control of the whole damn team!

<span class="Apple-style-span" style="color: #333333; font-style: italic;">USC's transgressions involved one player, Reggie Bush, and his transgressions were done in secret.

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel lied, signed false documents, and played a full season with players he knew cheated. The football team had 14 players accept illicit benefits and another five players trade their Ohio State sweat for tattoo's.

Which institution lost control? 
<span class="Apple-style-span" style="color: #333333; font-style: italic;">Could you leave the NCAA's number in your next post? Shut up and go home....  I don't think so. 

Since: Jul 1, 2009
Posted on: February 7, 2012 2:45 am

It's Urban's world, Big Ten -- deal with it

Sanctions against Ohio State just the latest NCAA scandal

By Steve Wieberg USA TODAY, 12/21/2011

One signature football program, , re-enters the bowl mix next season. Another, Ohio State, falls out as the drumbeat of scandal in college athletics continues.

The  on Tuesday punctuated an ignominious year for the Buckeyes, hitting them with the postseason ban, deepening self-imposed scholarship reductions and subjecting former coach  to restrictions for five years if he manages — or cares — to land another job.

The number of major football-playing schools currently on NCAA probation now is 25, or more than one in every five. Sixteen are in bowls this season. Four are in  games, including national title finalists  and Alabama.

USC is sitting out despite a 10-2 record, having drawn a two-year bowl ban in 2010 related to extra-benefit violations revolving around star running back .

"Institutions of higher education must move to higher ground," said Ohio State athletics director , who acknowledged his school's infractions but expressed disappointment in the postseason ban.

  • BLOG: 

It means new coach , named Nov. 28 as Tressel's replacement, will go into his first season with no prospect of getting to the  title game or a bowl. The Buckeyes haven't sat out the postseason since 1999, a 12-year period featuring eight  appearances.

Their current team, which struggled to 6-6 amid multiple player suspensions related to the violations, is free to play Florida as scheduled Jan. 2 in the . The sanctions hanging over the game "will serve as a reminder that the college experience does not include the behavior that led to these penalties," Meyer said in a statement.

Ohio State's transgressions ran deeper than USC's, dating to November 2008 and involving 14 players the NCAA said accepted more than $16,000 in illicit benefits. The case revolved around former quarterback  and several others who got cash and free or discounted services from the owner of a local tattoo parlor.

Tressel kept superiors in the dark about his knowledge of the violations for nine months, allowing them to play the 2010 season despite being technically ineligible. He was forced to resign in late May. The case then widened as nine players were found to have taken cash from a booster or been overpaid by him in their summer jobs.

While the NCAA found Ohio State guilty of a failure to properly monitor its athletics program, it didn't hit it with the more serious lack of institutional control charge it leveled against USC.


Since: Jul 1, 2009
Posted on: February 7, 2012 2:35 am

It's Urban's world, Big Ten -- deal with it

Ohio State? Nothing to see there, USC fans!

12/20/2001 by Ted Miller @ ESPN

Breathe, USC fans, breathe.

In fact, I'd suggest you ignore  with Ohio State and its slap on the wrist from the NCAA for a massive systemic breakdown and a coverup by head coach, Jim Tressel. 

Yes, when you hold up the Ohio State case and the USC case, it's impossible not to conclude the Ohio State case was . It was, of course, without question. No informed, objective person believes differently. 
But here's the thing: Being outraged will accomplish nothing. You will be unhappy and your team will still be docked 30 scholarships over the next three years for what one player secretly did while Ohio State will be down just nine scholarships over the same time period for the rule-breaking of five with full knowledge of their head coach. And your unhappiness will provide great joy to folks who don't like your team. 

Adopting a placid pose — at least as best as you can — will be good practice for handling potentially more infuriation ahead. The NCAA also likely will give even worst upcoming cases — North Carolina and the  — less severe penalties than it gave USC. 

Why? Because the NCAA treated USC unfairly — everybody in college sports knows this — and it likely won't revisit such irrational harshness. In the end, the justification for such severe penalties, meted out in contrast to past precedent, was little more than "just because." 

But the NCAA, an organization not endowed with a sense of self-awareness, failed to foresee when it curb-stomped USC that among the lawbreakers in college football, the Trojans were jaywalkers amid a mob of bank robbers. Ohio State's sanctions, in fact, represent a return to NCAA normalcy: Mostly toothless penalties that will have little effect on the program's prospects, other than a single-season bowl ban. 

There we go again: Fretting the particulars and the injustice of it all. 

The point is USC fans have been quite reasonably been shaking their fists at the heavens or, more accurately, the NCAA home office in Indianapolis for two years. That anger has accomplished nothing, other than emboldening taunts from opposing fans. 

You know: Fans whose teams didn't finish 10-2 and ranked No. 5 in the nation. 

And therein lies the ultimate revenge: Winning. 

It's hard to imagine the next five years won't see a USC downturn. Losing 30 scholarships is a tough burden. Things could be particularly difficult in 2014 and 2015, when the true cumulative impact arrives. And it could be even more galling if Ohio State is back in the national title hunt those years. Maybe playing Miami in a Fiesta Bowl rematch! 

But if the Trojans can somehow remain in the picture, perhaps playing in a Rose Bowl -- or two -- along the way that would be a heck of a panacea, wouldn't it? 

It's a longshot, sure. But other than that, we've got nothing for you USC. Sorry. 

Easy, now. Breathe, breathe. Happy place. Happy place. 

Oh, no. That's exactly what we were trying to avoid.

Since: Jul 1, 2009
Posted on: February 7, 2012 2:23 am

It's Urban's world, Big Ten -- deal with it


Buckeyes get one-year bowl and title ban for players' memorabilia sales; Trojans got two-year ban over Reggie Bush home issue. It's a case of no monitoring versus no institutional control, NCAA says.

|Bill Dwyre

The NCAA, in its infinite bureaucratic wisdom, slapped Ohio State's football program upside the head Tuesday.

It certainly wasn't a love tap. Nor was it a kick to the groin, a feeling familiar to those who revere USC.

In Columbus, Ohio, where college football ranks in importance only a tiny notch above visits from the Pope, there is weeping to match the gnashing of teeth. One local news report began by saying that the "NCAA had rocked Buckeye football to the core."

Out here, USC loyalists can feel Ohio State's pain. Except that most would testify that theirs has been worse. Most would also wonder aloud, again, why they took such a hard hit when other situations, certainly including Ohio State's, seemed similarly egregious.

The comparable pertinent details are that the Buckeyes were penalized a season of no titles, no bowls and a loss of nine football scholarships over the next three years. USC has just finished its second straight no-title, no-bowl season and its scholarship assessment from the NCAA was 30 scholarships lost over three years.

The sins against NCAA doctrine of each school have been well-documented.

The parents of USC's Reggie Bush got a house in San Diego, based on Bush's potential to bring a big commission to an agent representing him in the pros. In the 2010 season, Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel got 12 wins and a Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas —both now wiped off the books — out of a group of players he knew were selling Ohio State memorabilia to a tattoo parlor owner for cash and discounts on their tattoos.

Tressel is now employed by the 1-13 Indianapolis Colts, where he advises from the press box whether to seek a replay. He cannot be employed by an NCAA school for the next five years without the school persuading the NCAA in formal arguments that there is a compelling reason for the hiring. Edward Rife, owner of the Fine Line Ink tattoo parlor, is now in jail for drug trafficking and money laundering.

So, let the arguments begin anew. Which school was the bigger sinner? Which punishment best fit the crime? Most interesting, why did the NCAA act as it did in each case?

Ohio State, once caught with Tressel lying, signing false documents and playing a season with players he knew had cheated and were therefore ineligible, self-imposed penalties. USC, with the Bush violations becoming clearly indefensible and with cheating accusations against basketball star O.J. Mayo taking on validity, did so only in basketball.

Pete Carroll, who often said he would not return there, suddenly found the NFL appealing. Mike Garrett sniffed at the NCAA and said at an alumni function after the penalties came down what he had said privately: The NCAA went after USC because it was jealous of the Trojans.

That attitude, of course, cost Garrett his job and may have cost USC some bargaining points. Gene Smith, athletic director at Ohio State throughout this turmoil, remains Buckeye AD today. Neither Garrett's name nor Smith's appears in the respective NCAA reports.

The key difference in how each school was penalized appears to be a matter of semantics. Ohio State lost one year of titles and postseason play because the NCAA said it had "failed to properly monitor" its football program. USC lost two years and 21 more scholarships than Ohio State because the NCAA said it had "lacked institutional control."

Greg Sankey, associate commissioner of the Southeast Conference and a member of the infractions committee that ruled on Ohio State, served as NCAA spokesman on a media conference call Tuesday. During that, he said that "lack of institutional control" is the "heaviest thing" that the NCAA rules on.

He also said that Ohio State "met its obligation to cooperate." When asked whether USC had met that same obligation, he said he wasn't part of that ruling and couldn't comment.

The future direction of each school remains interesting.

USC hired Pat Haden to clean things up and keep the Trojans on the high road, which is exactly where he walked Tuesday after the Ohio State news. He reiterated that USC had disagreed with the NCAA rulings but had chances to appeal.

"We had our two shots," Haden said. "We were disappointed with the results, but we have gotten beyond that and are moving forward."

USC finished its second and last season of title and bowl bans as one of the best teams in the country. Only the AP poll officially ranked them, but a victory over Oregon, the 50-0 rout of UCLA and an AP No. 5 spoke volumes. During the two appeal processes, the Trojans were able to stall the scholarship ban and stockpile for the future. But starting next season, and for two after that, they will be 10 scholarships shy each year.

Alumni sentiment has been for the Trojans to sue the NCAA and get the sanctions reversed. That would come at an estimated cost of $5 million and USC would, in the opinion of its legal experts, stand little more than a 20% chance of winning.

Ohio State just hired a new coach, a man named Urban Meyer, with a history of great recruiting success leading to great teams. At Florida, Meyer won two national titles.

Ohio State said Tuesday that, unlike USC, it won't appeal. That means Meyer will immediately operate a few slots shy, but nothing like USC's shortfall.

Sankey was asked several times, in several ways, if the Ohio State ruling, set against the backdrop of USC, represents a "new day" for NCAA penalties. He answered in basic NCAA legal doublespeak.

No answer was needed. This is, indeed, a "new day" of NCAA get-tough policies and USC, as the hardest hit, holds a special spot.

Poster child.


Since: Oct 19, 2007
Posted on: February 6, 2012 10:38 pm

It's Urban's world, Big Ten -- deal with it

New B1G Motto:

Try....but don't try TOO hard!

Since: Oct 26, 2006
Posted on: February 6, 2012 10:37 pm

It's Urban's world, Big Ten -- deal with it

They're a hopeless bunch south of Michigan!  This from someone whose team was 0 for the decade against Ohio State until they eeked one out last year.  Hope you boys enjoyed last year's victory because it will be another 10 years before you beat the Bucks again.  

Since: Dec 7, 2008
Posted on: February 6, 2012 9:37 pm

It's Urban's world, Big Ten -- deal with it

Meyer is a WEASEL.

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