Urban Meyer makeover of Big Ten complete now that Ohio State has helped dethrone Nick Saban, Alabama
It means that the revolution is complete now, as sure and as granite as the noses on Mount Rushmore. It means that the transfusion took. It means that the Urban Meyer Makeover of Big Ten football as we knew it just ticked off another milestone.
Just ticked off the SEC, too. Which is even better.
Meyer is a few Wednesday signatures away from landing his first national No. 1 recruiting class, as ranked by the 247Sports composite, at Ohio State. As of early Monday morning, the Buckeyes’ spoils led No. 2 Georgia’s by almost two whole points, with a score of 311.17 to 309.23. Even if the final furlong is shaping up for a photo finish, we know Nick Saban won’t be prancing around the winners circle for the first time since 2010.
Which means that what’s old is new again, given that Meyer had rounded up the nation’s top class in two of the four years (2007 and 2010) before Saban built his personal Death Star at Alabama and started hoarding the top spot. For seven years straight.
“I think it is a prestigious thing when Alabama has won it seven years in a row and no one else has won it,” longtime recruitnik Tom Lemming told Land of 10 recently. “Ohio State has always been among the top 5 recruiting classes and finally got over the hump of being the overall No. 1.
“And I think it’s a special class, too. Last year’s class was a great class, but I think there might be even more depth in this one. What it means for Urban is a continuation of the dominance in the Big Ten. And I think that’s the only thing that Urban is worried about.”
‘He’s one of the hardest-working coaches around’
Bill Hancock doesn’t hand out trophies in early February. But given that no Big Ten program has nabbed 247Sports’ No. 1 slot this century, it means the last frontier, the last albatross, the last digital glass ceiling, could well be shattered forever.
The big, fat, slow, stodgy Big Ten opened the week with the nation’s top class. And No. 4. And No. 16. And No. 24. And No. 25. And No. 27.
The SEC accounts for seven of 247Sports’ top 30 as of early Monday; the Big Ten accounts for six. In 2010, the gap between the two leagues was eight (SEC) to four (Big Ten).
“He realizes no matter how good a coach you are, you win with impact players. And he and Saban understand that better than most.”
— Longtime recruiting analyst Tom Lemming on Ohio State coach Urban Meyer
So it means that Planet Delany has the depth and the cream now. And for that, it has Meyer to thank, the rising Urban tide that forced the administrations across the league to upgrade their own respective boats. Or risk getting washed away.
Without Meyer’s introduction to the Big Ten in November 2011, we probably don’t get Jim Harbaugh at Michigan or James Franklin at Penn State pushing everybody’s game, especially the recruiting game, to get better.
We probably don’t get P.J. Fleck rowing boats at Minnesota or Jeff Brohm somehow making silk purses at Purdue. We probably don’t get Scott Frost at Nebraska, stoking the dying embers inside that Big Red engine again.
It means you take a day off at your peril. Lemming was doing the 4-1-1 rounds at a high school in North Carolina last week where the natives told him Urban had popped in recently to check out a promising nose guard for the Class of 2019.
“He’s one of the hardest-working coaches around,” Lemming said of Meyer. “And he realizes no matter how good a coach you are, you win with impact players. And he and Saban understand that better than most.”
‘It won’t force them to play guys too early’
The skeptics on the other side of the Waffle House line will contend that the 2018 rankings are a quantity trick, a mathematical fluke. The Crimson Tide, as of early Monday, had just 18 commits to the Buckeyes’ 24.
Although this is a victory of quality, too: Ohio State’s class features a pair of 5-stars (for now) compared to Bama’s one, and averages a talent score of 94.18 per prospect on 247Sports’ rankings to Bama’s 92.91. In fact, it’s the second year in a row in which Meyer has edged out Saban on a per-recruit basis, with an average score last winter of 94.59 to the Tide’s 93.76.
“I don’t think it matters much to Meyer to land the top class — and even that is not wrapped up. Georgia could still pass them,” offered Brandon Huffman, national college football recruiting editor at 247Sports. “But I think he’s got to be happy to solidify the top class in the Big Ten, considering the momentum Penn State [at No. 4] has built.
“Coming off what was a stellar class a year ago, where the Buckeyes signed a lot of young talent, to be able to do it again this year sets the Buckeyes up for both the short- and long-term. They filled depth at key positions — the defensive line and tight end — with prospects who can make an immediate impact, but also gives them depth for the long term. So coming off last year’s class, [it] won’t force them to play guys too early.”
And while the top overall class guarantees you a seat, it doesn’t promise the table. Of 247Sports’ No. 1 national composite classes since 2000, 10 of the 18 schools with the top-ranked haul — 56 percent — wound up winning a national title within a 4-year span of that particular class; 14 of the 18 — 78 percent — notched at least one Associated Press top 4 postseason ranking within a four-year frame.
Although since snatching the crown from Meyer’s temple in the winter of 2011, Saban is seven for his last seven — on both fronts.
“What it’ll mean is that they’re bringing in a boatload of great players,” Lemming laughed. “It just means Ohio State will be in the national title race for the next few years.”
It means the king is dead. Long live the king.