August 26, 2014

Michigan Strikes Back at Ohio State in Recruiting War

It’s not just a rivalry on the football field. Perhaps the greatest rivalry in college football, the disgust and animosity these two states feel for one another permeates all aspects of life. If an Ohio State fan beats a Michigan fan in a coin toss, said Buckeye will feel the almost the same level of pride and joy that is felt on those cold November afternoons when the scarlet and gray came out victorious. Almost.

But where the battle between these two great Universities is quickly heating up the fastest is on the recruiting trail. And it’s a battle that could potentially have implications for The Game.

Not much known about Brady Hoke when he accepted the Michigan, but Hoke has wisely leaned on his Ohio roots to build connections with Ohio high school coaches. In his own way, Hoke is developing a tenacious reputation as a recruiter himself. He is showing no fear of Urban Meyer and seems to be content to go toe to toe with the new man in charge in Columbus. 

This past weekend Michigan hosted their annual Junior Day, always a big day for Wolverine recruiting. Nobody could have imagined what would happen, but Brady Hoke landed an astounding seven four star recruits, all ranked in Rivals’ top 200 for the Class of 2013. This insane recruiting haul in one weekend has the Wolverines setup to compete with Ohio State’s recruiting class right down to the wire this year.

Rivals’ Steve Megargee writes:

They’re putting together the types of classes that eventually could make the Big Ten race an annual Michigan vs. Ohio State tug-of-war once again. Michigan and Ohio State have combined to win 77 Big Ten titles – Minnesota ranks a distant third with 18 league championships – yet the Wolverines haven’t won even a share of the league crown since 2004.

While Ohio State placed third and Michigan seventh in the 2012 team recruiting rankings, Nebraska was next in the Big Ten at No. 25. No other Big Ten team finished in the top 30.

Although it is very early in the 2013 recruiting cycle, Michigan already has 10 four-star commitments and Ohio State has pledges from one five-star recruit and three four-star prospects. The other 10 Big Ten schools have a combined total of four verbal commitments for 2013.

Ohio State is off to a fine start themselves, with commitments from 5-star Jalin Marshall and 4-star prospects Cam Burrows, Billy Price, and Eli Woodard. With so much time left in the season, expect to see both schools aggressively pursuing some of the same players, leading to an off the field battle with on field implications in the future.

There certainly isn’t a 1-to-1 correlation between off field recruiting wins and gridiron wins on the field. That’s where the 2nd level of college coaching comes into play. Brady Hoke showed a certain calm and coolness on the sidelines last season in guiding Michigan out from the depths of a coaching change and into the spotlight of a BCS Bowl. He further added to his mantle of first season accomplishments a win over the Buckeyes, thus officially ending the 7 game 6 game losing streak.

You can feel the tide slowing shifting and the fortunes of the Wolverines slowly changing. No longer downtrodden, beaten down by their southern neighbors, and succumbing to the gloom of a misunderstood coach trying to change the culture and playing style of one of the most traditional programs in the land, Michigan is confident again and the arrogance is growing by the week.

Now it’s Ohio State’s turn to answer. Now it’s Urban Meyer who is tweaking the culture and playing style of a traditional school. Coming off a season of scandal, loss, melancholy, and confusion, it was Urban Meyer who reintroduced hope and life into the program. But when the shine of the new toy begins to fade and the luster of the rock star coach begins to wane, all that will be left behind will be the successes on the field.

This recruiting battle is just the subtext, a prelude to something bigger in the future, The Game. Neither coach will be defined or remembered by their recruiting successes or failures against one another. No, it will simply be when the two sides line up and the silver helmets collide with the maize and blue helmets into a colorful collage of history, nostalgia, and pride that the outcome will be revealed.

But if this recruiting battle is any indication, we could be in for another 10 Year War between the two Universities that love to hate each other more than anything. Nothing was more fun than Jim Tressel’s reign of terror in which he took 9 of 10 battles with Michigan. But nothing would mean more than a decade of furious battles for Big Ten crowns, for BCS Bowls, for National Championship berths, and most importantly, the pride and satisfaction of beating a truly worthy opponent.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Z4NMAQ22NA64SPBCFSRYJDWPKA Aaron

    As much as I hate them, it makes the rivalry better if when both teams are good.

  • Bucknuts2012

    Great piece…Its along way away from Nov. 24th when we get to start a new streak against those bUMs but this gets me fired up.  It was fun beating them down for 10 years but theres nothing quite like this rivalry when both teams are where they belong.

  • SPBarrick

    More importantly this can bring the big 10 back to relevancy.

  • cmm13

    No offense but nothing counts until signing day….plenty of recruits will be making verbals over the next several months and then flipping those commitments later on.

    I’m not saying this in particular reference to HjOKE’s latest haul but all junior recruits nationwide.

  • Lyon25

    Amen brother.  This seems to be especially true in the last couple of years.  You hear more n more of recruits verballing then changing again before signing day.

  • Steve

    I’m not sure why this wasn’t expected. Hoke was known as a great recruiter when he was an assistant at Michigan, and Meyer himself called the architect of his defenses, Mattison, the best recruiter in college football. These are the type of classes Michigan is going to pull in regularly.

  • Dombard11

    Michigan fan here.. Urban was YOUR dream coach..Hoke’s dream was to coach our team! pretty easy to tell a kid and his parents that. These are the kids who wanna go to michigan and they are from ohio back yard .

  • floydrubino

    Michigan wants to win the big 10….Ohio State wants to play and win national championships. Michigan is nothing more than just a tiny little speed bump that Ohio State barely has to slow down for. You’ll be one of our easiest games of the season for years to come.

  • Kildawg

     Ohio State has a WINNING coach who produces NFL-caliber talent AND decent human beings (read: Browns CB Joe Haden and some guy named Tebow). Meatchicken (the aMaiz-in Blow) have some ignorant hick who was dropped on his head as a baby (how else could a person born and raised in Ohio like those bUMs) and possibly ate paint chips too (further proves point). Now we can beat the SEC (suck) because our coach won it WITHOUT CHEATING!

  • 5KMD

    “AND decent human beings”

    Let’s not get carried away here. You need to remind yourself of the UF police blotter while Urban was there. Great recruiter, great coach, not sure he cares about the decent human being part.

  • The_Real_Shamrock
  • Bryne18

     So is that why Hoke (I’m assuming the ‘j’ was a typo) retained all but ONE of the early commits for 2012????  The only guy that vamped out was a local Cincy kid who opted to stay close to home and play for CINCY, brainiac.

  • Chrisbright13

    Hate to be this guy but hire an Editor

  • cmm13

    wow, rage much?

    I understand the OSU/scUM rivalry brings the hate out in all of us.  I will be the first to admit my blood boils when I see those colors or hear that state up north’s name being uttered but no need to personal attack.

    In fact, no.. the name was not a typo.  I have absolutely 0 respect for that program, it is the way I was raised and will never change.

    I know, I know, “Buckeye fans are insufferable, arrogant jerks”. No offense taken, we are.  We expect Big 10 Championsips and to have a shot at the National Title every year.  Why wouldn’t we?  Why wouldn’t every program?

    I was just pointing out the fact that every year junior recruits get so excited at the fact a college is talking to them many make verbals before they have had the chance to visit with everyone.  That includes verbals to colleges other than UM that end of flipping there.

    Just because UM or OSU have junior verbal commits now does not automatically mean they will be donning the hat on signing day.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    I’m sure you really “hate” being that guy, but if you want to offer constructive criticism, feel free to shoot me an email. andrew@waitingfornextyear.com

  • mgbode

    anyone else can’t help but smile to see Michigan and Ohio State football fans crazily bickering over somewhat meaningless stuff in February?

    man, it’s been a long time.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    I know, I love it. In a perfect world, OSU and UM would be #1 and #2 every year. And of course, OSU would win every year. In a perfect world. 

  • Art_Vandelay

     Urban Meyer never did a very good job of developing pro talent. Sweater Vest? Absolutely. Fact is Meyer is a great recruiter and gets top notch athletes, but runs a gimmicky offense that doesn’t translate to the NFL.

    And also, if you’re going to bring up the “decent human beings” coached by Meyer, you also have to bring up all those arrests under his watch, as well as general punks like Brandon Spikes, Janoris Jenkins etc.

  • Art_Vandelay

     As a Michigan fan, I love how the new coaching hires by both schools are taking the greatest rivalry in all of sports to even higher levels.  Up until the last few years, we really only argued about results on the field and best all-time players, teams, coaches etc. Now we’re even arguing in the off-season about recruiting classes! It’s great!

    Unlike the previous coaching administration, Hoke is going head-to-head with Meyer for recruits in Ohio and other Midwestern states, where RichRod wasn’t as aggressive with Ohio.

  • Art_Vandelay

    And to be fair, I hated Meyer at Florida, and he gives me even more reason to hate him now.  It’s going to be a fun 2 or 3 years until he is forced to retire because of health reasons.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    I don’t wish to see Meyer turn Columbus into Gainesville North in terms of the rap sheet his guys put together down there. But I could not possibly care any less about what his players do in terms of NFL success. Urban’s “gimmicky offense” translates pretty darn well to college football, and that’s all that matters here. But whatever helps one sleep at night, I suppose. 

  • cmm13

    …says the commentor who failed to place a period at the end of his poorly constructed sentence.

  • Garry_Owen

    Now why do you have to go and be that guy?

    (You forgot the missing comma in the middle of his sentence.)

  • mgbode

    Meyer’s “health” reason for retiring from Florida was that his heart will always be in Ohio :)

  • mgbode

    I don’t know.  In this perfect world of yours there would be no Appalachian State and Toledo weekends where we just get to laugh and wipe a tear from our eyes from laughing so hard.   

    The occasional fall from grace for Michigan is very acceptable to me :)

  • TSR3000

     And you placed your period inside of a parenthesis. Ha! This is fun.

  • TSR3000

    Please. You guys won the 2000s, we won the 1990s. Our turn. 

  • Garry_Owen

    Aha!  You think you got me, but you didn’t!

    Because the parenthetical sentence was a stand-alone sentence, it is appropriate – indeed, correct – to place the punctuation within the parentheses (the plural is depicted with an “e,” by the way).

    Conversely, punctuation should appear outside of the parentheses when the parenthetical information or thought is contained fully within the preceding sentence.  (See the above paragraph.)

    http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/marks/parentheses.htm

    Come on, man.  You can’t sharpshoot a sharpshooter!

    Grammar nazis, rally! 

  • Garry_Owen

    Careful.  Watch where you swing that hubris.  I don’t want to invite a loss someday at the hands of Youngstown State, or some such nonsense.    

  • Garry_Owen

    There’s no “turnsies” here.  Besides, you had your turn.  It was 2011.  That’s it.  That’s all you get. 

  • mgbode

    Oberlin 1921

  • Garry_Owen

    The Yoemen were tough that year. 

  • floydrubino

    You guys might play Indiana tough for the next couple years.

  • floydrubino

    I could tell you were a michigan fan when you commented on your own comment. I hope you guys can do something because we look at you guys as an Indiana football team type level. Urban Meyer has 5 coaches complaining about his recruiting that are like Hoke. How many people are complaining about being scared of Hoke. So try to put things in perspective when you are talking Meyer and Hoke.

  • Gbwoy

    Speaking as lifetime OSU fan who grew up in Columbus and still lives there, I’d like to say that in just one season I’ve gained a healthy measure of respect for Brady Hoke.  He’s a good coach, and obviously a good recruiter, probably the best you’ve had since Bo.  He gets the rivalry, unlike your previous sad excuse for a coach. 

    I’m looking forward to The Game being competative again.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed beating down Michigan while we had the chance.  But the days of dominating them are over, and there shouldn’t be any doubts about that.  It’s gonna be The Game again every year.

    I’m not sure all of you Michigan fans get it though.  Because, despite what I’ve seen some of you posting here, Urban is an Ohio State guy whose dream it was to coach this university.  He gets the rivalry too.  He’s won national titles.  And you have to know that he will have his guys ready to play, and they will also be among the best in the country, just like yours. 

    It WILL be a battle.  Every year.  And both sides will be ready to go.  Bring it on. I love it, and The Game can’t get here soon enough.

  • Samhuff

    “Not much known about Brady Hoke when he accepted the Michigan…Hoke is developing a tenacious reputation as a recruiter himself.”

    I stopped reading this article after these amateur observations. What rock have you been hiding under? Very weak article.