GBMWolverine: Mailbag question -- Michigan Football Recruiting -- Recruiting Ohio and also Problems at Ohio State

Posted at 6:00am — 6/13/2011

GBMWolverine: Mailbag question — Michigan Football Recruiting — Recruiting Ohio and also Problems at Ohio State

With everything going on with the school in Ohio, what impact will the Ohio State situation have upon recruiting for Michigan in 2012 and beyond? Any insight on when sanctions could come down for them, the interim head coaching situation, and anything else that could impact things?

Keep up the good work!

MotownM

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First off, thank you for the question, one that we will address more so from a Michigan standpoint as we wish to keep the content of the site Michigan first, Big Ten second, and then everything thing else is down the line or auxiliary. But of course, this begs the obvious: what is everyone talking about these days.

Be advised that any such discussion must be approached from two separate, but related, domains: Michigan’s and Ohio State’s.

Yards of rhetoric could be put forth, but the simple thread is that Michigan has accomplished positives, perhaps or perhaps not linked to the current Ohio State problems. It is quite possible that many of the very good Ohio student athletes may have committed to Michigan regardless of Ohio State’s current difficulties. Some committed before most, if any, of the serious revelations were put forth.

Ohio State has had one impediment since the start of the 2012 recruiting season, a limited number of scholarships, and with the precise detail that the Ohio State master recruiting plan of high selectivity involves, only a small number of spots at certain positions were available, as a big example, linebacker. Add to this strategic plan the tenet that only “supers” would be accepted at positions with limited scholarships.

So, as a result, good, solid players like Ringer, Stacey, and even a very strong four star like Joe Bolden were not at the top of the Ohio State master chart. Ohio State went for the national and state elite.

However, Michigan’s success is not just the result of fortuitous circumstances, it is also the result of a very effective Michigan staff. And for the first time in years Michigan has secured the commitments of players that Ohio State did seriously offer, namely, Ross and Strobel.

GBMWolverine clearly put forth the position from the start that Coach Hoke and staff would recruit Ohio with more vigor than either Coach Rodriguez or Coach Carr. The hope is, and early results indicate, that the efforts in Ohio (and Michigan) pay off with big dividends.

So, with some caution, one could say that both factors, Michigan’s improved efforts and Ohio State’s “situation” are having a huge impact on Michigan recruiting. We have seen this current coaching staff make great strides in Ohio. Although this may rankle some, clearly the effort to secure talented Ohio players the last few years was either ignored or ineffective.

Coach Hoke started the legwork immediately upon being named Michigan head coach. The reasons for the quick about face in recruiting Ohio are clear: first, this is a traditional pipeline for talent; second, Michigan needs to compete with Ohio State in all venues.

Coach Hoke recruiting Ohio

We have been informed that Coach Hoke called high school football coaches while on the jet coming to Ann Arbor. He and his staff have effectively and quickly repaired many of the local concerns, attitudes, perceptions, and issues high school coaches and recruits held toward Michigan.

This staff, while starting off strong in Ohio on its own merit, is now capitalizing on the ongoing situation at Ohio State. Hard work, an effective and strong message, and the clear lure of a Michigan education have secured strong students athletes, and not just from Ohio.

As far as Ohio State, and other teams undergoing NCAA scrutiny and investigation, the uncertainty is worse than the actual punishment. Some recruits become in limbo not knowing what might happen. A real question is how much the “effect” will last past this August, or will the “effect” be actually accelerated. Keep in mind that many good football players in Northeast Ohio will, through childhood and high school experiences, be strongly linked to Ohio State and the loyalty the culture instills.

Ohio State is counting on a quick resolution and has implicitly implied the NCAA is willing to speed up final findings and penalties.

Some of the elite players in Ohio, who were either heavy Ohio State leans or even close to locks, have opened up their recruiting, are holding off, or at least talking about visiting other places. Just six months ago one would not have predicted such a change of circumstances.

Frankly, there are probably twenty to thirty players from Ohio’s 2012 class that predict to high success (impact) at the Division 1 level, not just merely being on a roster. The defensive talent is thick and schools are ready for the metaphorical harvest. In some states Tom Strobel may be the best defensive end in the entire state. In Ohio, he is but one of many excellent defensive ends.

Players like Greg MCMullens, Se’Von Pittman, and Adolphus Washington are currently on the trail looking at programs in addition to Ohio State.

Michigan has already benefited by securing a verbal commitment from an outstanding citizen/student athlelete in one Tom Strobel of Mentor High School who along with his family were (maybe some still are) Buckeye fans. Allen Gant, of Michigan heritage, was once a Buckeye lean waiting on an Ohio State offer and Ohio State strategized to delay Gant’s decision timetable. Joe Bolden, who probably would have received a Buckeye offer at some point this recruiting year, decided to make his commitment early, in part due to the strong effort of Coach Hoke and his staff.

Big manes in football recruiting will still be attached to Ohio State, but now Michigan has joined the competition. The future is speculative, and the penalties and associated severity awaiting Ohio State are uncertain. The faucet is leaking and the storm may well not be over. The certainty in the situation is Michigan’s improvement.

The future uncertainty for Ohio State beyond sanctions and length of sanctions is the status of interim coach Luke Fickell. This site wishes this fine coach no ill will. But the power brokers at Ohio State at the end of next season will look to the future and the question will be: “Is Coach Fickell the guy who can win a national title?” This is one of three measures of success for Ohio State football coaches, the other two being beating Michigan and winning the Big Ten.

So if Ohio State, likely behind the scenes at first floating balloons, goes national and entertains big names. What top five coaches would wish to enter that hornets’ nest, especially if looking at a couple of years bowl ban and reduced scholarships for several years?

This scenario is not the death penalty that SMU went through, but still unsympathetic.

The NCAA is in a difficult position; one that many would conclude has been self-inflicted. The group has been portrayed as being lenient, inconsistent, towing to the financial giants and pounding lesser institutions, hypocrisy, you name it. The group is an easy straw man but does not consist of the buffoons media portrays, but instead has plenty of intellectual assets. The money made by the conferences and the NCAA is mind-boggling and resulting decisions invoke pressure and flexibility.

The NCAA is not a criminal court, but is a body that in theory helps institutions self-govern and self-penalize. The worst nightmare is for the dam to break by having several high profile football programs bite the bullet. Resources would be stretched thin, skepticism would increase even further, and the jilt of amateurism might be significant. But the Ohio State and other situations harbors things to come and eventually a choice must be made: purify or dismember the definition of collegiate amateur athletics as related to moneymaking programs.

That isn’t good for any new head coach and a big-time coach might want to wait and see what happens as Luke Fickell works through the problems before entertaining a possible offer.

Even with the loss of Coach Tressel, T. Pryor, and maybe others, Ohio State is still loaded, especially on defense and it is quite possible for Ohio State to have another banner season. Then, as stated, the few and true powers at Ohio State will make a long-term decision. Removing the interim tag from Coach Fickell’s name is a real possibility, although some have already rushed to judgment.

One name to watch for is former Ohio State assistant Darrell Hazell who is currently the head coach at Kent State.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff

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