UPDATED 3:47 p.m. ET: Following a previously scheduled meeting Friday in Chicago, Urban Meyer released a statement addressing the recruiting flap that’s developed throughout the week. Here’s the statement, in its entirety:
“I was pleased to take part in a productive, regularly scheduled meeting of the Big Ten Conference coaches today in Chicago. We had an opportunity to discuss a number of issues with each other and conference staff, including those that have arisen this week. It should be noted that my coaching staff is in full compliance with our recruiting efforts, and no one on this staff did anything illegal or unethical. We will continue to comply with NCAA rules and recruit with relentless effort, especially the great state of Ohio.
“I want to thank Commissioner Delany for his insight and leadership, and at this point we all look forward to moving past this week and getting ready for the start of spring football.”
Instead of worrying about what’s going on at another Big Ten school, Bret Bielema might want to consider getting on the same page as his boss.
At least twice in the past three days, the Wisconsin head coach has used the word “illegal” when talking about the recruiting practices of Urban Meyer and his new coaching staff. Former UW head coach and current athletic director Barry Alvarez, who knows a thing or two about surviving on the recruiting trail, addressed the accusations made by his football coach with ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad and seemed to subtly take Bielema to task for going with a public airing of his grievances.
“It’s dangerous to point fingers and make accusations,” Alvarez said. “I actually think recruiting is tamer now that it was at one point in time.”
As for the issue of continuing to recruit a player until he’s signed a Letter of Intent, Alvarez said all is fair in the recruiting game.
“Recruiting is recruiting until they sign,” Alvarez told Schad. “If we had somebody who changed their mind and came to us, that’s OK. Urban [Meyer] was very aggressive but there is no pact within the conference not to continue to recruit. It’s open season until they sign.”
Again, it might be time for the two to get in the same book — or the same library — let alone the same page.
And, yes, we’re well aware of the fact that Bielema could, or probably is, referring to something other than flipping verbally committed recruits with his accusations against Meyer. If that’s the case, stop making blanket, non-specific accusations and spill what illegal tactics are being utilized by a rival coach. Short of that, shut up about it publicly and keep your grievances where they should be — behind closed doors and resolved through proper conference channels.
In essence, that’s exactly what OSU athletic director Gene Smith said in a statement released by the university early this afternoon, which makes me leery about the stance I took in the previous paragraph. Be that as it may, Smith chided those who have made “negative references” about his new head coach.
“I am disappointed that negative references have been made about our football coaches, and particularly head coach Urban Meyer regarding recruiting. In our league appropriate protocol, if you have concerns, is to share those concerns with your Athletic Director (AD). Then your AD will make the determination on the appropriate communication from that point forward. The ADs in our league are professionals and communicate with each other extremely well. Urban Meyer and his staff have had a compliance conscience since they have arrived.”
(Writer’s note: I’d like to personally thank Mr. Smith for lobbing up the “compliance conscience” softball for our commenters to take a few whacks at. Appreciate it Gene!!!)
For some reason, though, I don’t think this is the last we’ve heard of this issue; Bielema and Meyer are expected to be in attendance at a “voluntary” conference for Big Ten coaches in the very near future, affording Jim Delany the opportunity to have a Slive-like come-to-Jesus discussion with at least two of the coaches in the conference.