If reports from a guy as reliable as Scout.com's Bill Greene are to be believed (and subsequently confirmed by the plugged in blogger at the ever reliable OSU blog 11 Warriors), Urban Meyer will be announced as the next coach at Ohio State sometime next week. If you don't want to believe non-traditional media, how about WKMG channel 6 TV in Orlando?
And it's already paying dividends, as 5 star defensive end Adolphus Washington verbally committed to the Buckeyes Tuesday afternoon.
BOOM, I think the kids are saying these days.
Yeah, things are looking up in Columbus.
In one of the earlier stories I said something to the affect that Meyer would breathe life into a moribund program, and that was a bit hyperbolic (Me, full of hyperbole and bullshit, nahhh). One year removed from a six game BCS streak and two straight BCS wins does not a moribund program make, but the fans were moribund. We've been kicked in the teeth for a year, from Tatgate, to Tressel turning out to be just as flawed as the rest of us, to the gross buffoonery of Gene Smith and G. Gordon Gee, etc., etc. And that's all before an underwhelming performance on the field, with one of the worst offensive performances in recent memory.
This is a shot in the arm we as fans were hoping for in terms of a big name hire, and he was the one guy we (and I know I don't speak for the entire OSU fanbase, just a good portion of us) felt would help get the fan base fired up while shoring up what is a good, but not great recruiting class. And that's apparently already paying off with the signing of Washington, who said he 'hopes to play for Urban Meyer'.
So do we, kid. So do we.
The one thing we didn't want was a protracted coaching search that went through the bowl season and in to February, watching an OSU Lear jet fly hither and yon, while three or four fairly high profile candidates would ultimately turn the job down.
In all seriousness, Michigan fans, Brady Hoke might have been the fourth choice, depending on what you choose to believe, but he was the right one. I don't mean for this to come off the wrong way, but between the two schools, Michigan could afford a protracted coaching search more than OSU could.
I'll tell you why, after the jump.
Michigan had already had three bad years under Rich Rodriguez, and whoever was going to inherit that hot mess had a ton of work to do in terms of recruiting and catching up to Ohio State and most of the rest of the conference. Granted, Ohio State did a lot of self immolation to come back to the pack faster than anyone thought, but at the time Hoke took the job, he had a long way to go to close the difference between Michigan and OSU.
Thanks to Jim Tressel and his cavalier regard for what we like to call 'the rules', that gap closed pretty quickly. To the point that most people expect Michigan to win The Game this Saturday.
But here's where the story between Meyer's hiring at OSU (if it does, in fact, pan out) separate from Hoke's.
Where Michigan had fallen far behind OSU in terms of talent, OSU hasn't fallen behind Michigan. They're even, but there's little if any catching up that needs to be done. A quick hire of a big name, along with non-crippling NCAA penalties (and past history suggests OSU won't receive said crippling sanctions based on what the NCAA has said is coming their way), and OSU returns to prominence in 2012, back on par with the elite in the country.
But a hiring process that Michigan had to go through last winter would have really hurt the Buckeyes, for several reasons. For one, had one or two Flavor of the Month coaches turned down OSU, like Jim Harbaugh, Les Miles, and/or Les Miles might or might not have done with Michigan last year, it would have forced the University to keep fighting against the bad press of the NCAA investigation, further reinforcing all the negativity surrounding that sordid affair. That could have turned into a vicious catch 22--good coach turns down job because of the scandal, which keeps next good coach from accepting job.
It would have put OSU even farther behind in the current recruiting class. Although I look at grading recruiting classes much in the way I feel about grading the NFL draft 10 minutes after it's completed, there's no denying Hoke is making inroads in recruiting, and has plucked some top Ohio recruits, an area largely ignored by his predecessor. Another two or three month delay, followed by an uninspired hiring of a largely anonymous coach would have further exacerbated that situation. Tatgate opened a door for Hoke in terms of Ohio recruits that might not be closed by anyone, even Meyer. But he's one of the few guys that has a chance to swing that advantage back to the Buckeyes.
Best case, Meyer flips the recruiting advantage back towards Ohio State, and worst case he evens it out as opposed to letting Michigan take a clear advantage--Ohio guy, solid reputation, proven results, and two national championships will go a long way in stabilizing what was becoming a dangerously thin class for OSU, and the signing of Washington tells me that Meyer still has the star power factor he had at Florida.
Are there issues with Meyer? Sure. Will he still be coach in five years? Maybe. His health is always going to be a concern, and after Tim Tebow left, his winning percentage dropped noticeably. His players had constant run-ins with the law, and Cam Newton first played for Florida before his dad got a pay raise for Cam to go to Auburn via Mississippi State.
But as exciting as that is for a beleaguered Buckeye fan base...and it is exciting...I can't help but feel a lot of empathy for Luke Fickell, who was given a crap sandwich from day one, and decided to put two pieces of bacon on it and eat it anyway. It's gotta be a heck of a way to get what he always said was his dream job, and it's got to be just as tough to be told you're no longer going to be doing your dream job, but you're welcome to stay on as an assistant, if other rumors turn out to be true.
Fickell never really had a fair shake at the job, and I think deep down, he probably knew it. Having to deal with the suspension of some of your best players didn't make it any easier, and his choice for quarterback was a Kobayashi Maru scenario from day one. And I'll bet, two or three years from now, he'll probably be the first one to admit he wasn't ready to be a head coach yet, much less one at a program like OSU.
Luke Fickell handled the situation with grace and dignity, never once bitching about the cards he had been dealt. He's a true Buckeye through and through, and I hope someday, if and when he's ready, he gets another shot. I hope he decides to stay on with Meyer, but if he decides that he needs to move on, well sit, I tip my cap to you and wish you and your family good luck in whatever the future holds for you. And I thank you for giving Ohio State your all.
Now, Mr. Fickell, if I may ask one last favor of you:
Oh, and if Meyer doesn't take the job, OSU's gooned. Just putting that out there.