Urban Meyer is the second-best head coach in college football. He's a Hall of Famer, elite recruiter and brilliant talent evaluator and developer.
He is, however, way off on a bizarre opinion that is, oddly, shared by the best coach in the country.
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In August 2013, GQ published a unique profile on Nick Saban. In it, the writer, Warren St. John, told a story about Saban receiving a congratulatory call for winning the 2012 BCS National Championship from a golf buddy, Steven Rumsey.
“That damn game cost me a week of recruiting,” Saban grumbled into the phone.
Rumsey at first thought he’d misheard. He asked for clarification. Saban repeated himself. He just knew that while he was preparing for the title game, enduring all the banquets and media bullshit that came with it, some other coach was in the living room of one of his recruits, trying to flip the kid. The thought was making him crazy.
Rumsey pointed out that Saban and his team had just been on national television before millions of people—including, most likely, every high school recruit in the country—and reminded Saban that they had won the national championship.
“I said, ’I’m not sure, but I think that helped you,’” Rumsey recalled. “And he said, ’I just don’t know. Maybe. Maybe that was good.’”
To recap: Saban was irritated that he couldn't spend the first week of January 2012 on the recruiting trail but acknowledged the culmination of that week of game preparation — his second national title in three years — may have been good for recruiting. Alabama finished with the best 2012 recruiting class in the SEC and entire nation. The class produced stars that delivered more national championships such as Landon Collins, T.J. Yeldon, Reggie Ragland and Amari Cooper.
Four years later, Urban Meyer has a similar gripe — or wait, maybe a similar note of gratitude and opportunity? It's hard to tell.
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During Friday's press conference for the Big Ten Championship, where Ohio State will play Wisconsin for their second conference title in four years and a potential shot at a third playoff appearance in four years, Meyer both complained about not being able to recruit and expressed appreciation to recruit with an on-field performance.
He was asked the following question:
"This week you guys have had to prepare for a big football game, and you're here now. This is obviously a big week, too, with early signing period for recruiting. A lot of other coaches who aren't playing in games this weekend are out there recruiting while you guys can't. How tough is that to overcome later on? Do you have to overcompensate by doing anything else? And is it kind of a tough situation and a bad byproduct of making it to this game?"
"I wish there was an easier way, but I'm not sure what it is, especially with the early signing. I don't believe it's fair. But I'd much rather be here. But that's something that I have a whole recruiting staff that, what's the answer? Work that much harder. And when this game's over, get on a plane and go do the best you can to keep going. But the best recruiting tool out there is for us to play well tomorrow."
For those scoring at home, just forget the official score and doodle on the page, because I have no idea what he's complaining about.
Does the early signing period present challenges for teams still competing? Sure, but this is the conference championship with a playoff spot on the line. The Big Ten didn't deliberately schedule a late regular-season game to give other teams a leg up. Like he said, this game is the best recruiting tool for his program.
Oh, and the Buckeyes — like Alabama five years ago — have the best class in the conference and country, by a mile. Their 18-man group already boasts five five-star players, or five times the total of number of five-star recruits the other 13 Big Ten teams have combined. While that's no excuse to brush off Ohio State's desire to get even better, it's another reason for Urban Meyer to pick a lane.