COLUMBUS, Ohio ― Address that first thank-you card to Clemson, S.C.
Dear Dabo, thanks for the extra years and motivation with one of the most successful head coaches of all time!
Make a few to send to, oh, let’s just assume neighboring states.
Appreciate the bonus time with one of the greatest defensive line gurus in the nation and the stronger relationships he’s going to form!
Sign them both from the Ohio State fan base with love, because the only long-term boost those negative recruiting attempts against Urban Meyer and Larry Johnson will likely provide is for the Buckeyes.
Now, it’s true that at some point Meyer’s career is going to wind down, and he’ll happily head off to spend time with his family and love being called Grandpa instead of Coach. He isn’t going to coach forever, and even as recently as last month seemed to bristle at the suggestion that he would be working by the time he turns 65.
But I hate to break it to Dabo Swinney: That’s still more than a decade away. It might not have been the smartest move to stoke one of the most famous competitive fires college football has ever seen.
And, sure, it’s also correct to assume that Johnson’s days on the sideline with the Rushmen are getting closer to the end than the start. The revered position coach will have earned a chance to step away at some point in the next couple of seasons, given his years of service to the game, and he’s produced a career that deserves to be celebrated.
But, again, that’s not a decision for anybody outside of Johnson or one to be talked about outside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. And pretending like that day already has arrived to try to change the mind of a recruit only might encourage him to keep doing a job he’s still performing at a higher level than anybody in the nation.
So, the Buckeyes might wind up being grateful for those attempts, even as frustrating or bizarre or underhanded as they seem. It feels particularly strange that Meyer’s age would be used against him by somebody who is only five years younger than him, but negative recruiting generally has a way of sounding weird, no matter what.
I am well aware that there are far worse things that can be brought up on the recruiting trail, and I’m equally certain that they actually are. But if the sales pitch doesn’t include any actual positives about a school, program or a coach and relies instead on attacking somebody else, how convincing can that really be?
“When a coach talks [or] when schools go talk about your staff or other things, I don’t understand that,” Meyer said before the Cotton Bowl. “That’s something we don’t do. We have plenty to sell. I didn’t even know when that was going on because I don’t get involved in that.
“When [Johnson] came to me and said, ‘I need to do this because some school is using this against me,’ first of all, I’m like, ‘Really? So they all now know your career plans?’”
It’s possible that those whispers about both coaches may have wound up changing their plans. Maybe there was no impact at all, other than the inconvenience.
If nothing else, it at least compelled Johnson to address his future and reaffirm that he wasn’t going anywhere. Meyer for the most part has shrugged off the conversations about his future publicly, although it’s safe to assume they won’t be forgotten behind closed doors. But if that’s the case, a fired-up Meyer isn’t going anywhere for a while.
Don’t forget to stamp that envelope before shipping it to Clemson.