COLUMBUS, Ohio — Urban Meyer’s two-year contract extension at Ohio State was proposed on the heels of one of the most high-profile recruiting misses of his career. But that doesn’t mean the two are intertwined.
When Fairfield (Ohio) 5-star offensive tackle Jackson Carman chose Clemson over Ohio State on Dec. 20, the decision sent shock waves through the recruiting world. But the situation truly exploded when Carman casually mentioned that Clemson coach Dabo Swinney had painted Meyer as someone winding down his career.
“[Swinney] also kind of mentioned that Urban was on the back half of his career, which he is, and that Dabo is just starting up, so I mean having the chance to be a part of something that’s upcoming and establish Clemson as a top three figure is something,” Carman said.
Given the uproar over those comments, and the fact that Ohio State announced less than two months later that it was working on an extension for Meyer, it would be easy enough to connect the dots from Carman’s comments to Meyer’s new contract.
However, coaching contracts aren’t created on impulse, and there’s never been any other known instance of a coach using Meyer’s age against him or evidence that doing so works.
“To look at it that way would be an overreaction,” Scout.com recruiting analyst Bill Greene told Land of 10. “In terms of securing him as your coach, [the extension] is huge. But Urban’s age had never been brought up until then, and I don’t think it actually impacted Carman’s decision.
“Urban is 10 years younger than Nick Saban. I think people try to negatively recruit Nick Saban’s age, and it doesn’t even work there. So I think it was much more about getting one of the best coaches in football locked up than thinking it was going to kill their recruiting.”
For the record, Meyer is 53, Saban is 66 and Swinney is 48.
In February, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith explained that the extension probably would have happened, no matter what, to make sure Meyer’s contract stays far enough out that recruits can be assured he’ll be in Columbus for their entire college career.
“Anytime someone goes south of four years, that’s when you have the challenges that we have now,” Smith said. “Urban’s always, for some reason, always had that rumor that he wasn’t going to coach long. I don’t understand that. And that’s where our focus has been on making sure that he has an environment where he’s comfortable. But once we got south of that four years, it’s typical, I don’t care where you are, for that issue to come up about, he’s not going to be there when you are a senior, right? It’s just simple. That’s the way it’s always been. So, yes, when that came up, I knew it was going to come up, it was just a matter of getting it done, so we’re working on it.”
Greene noted that the idea that Meyer might leave Ohio State has always been a much more prevalent negative recruiting tactic from opposing coaches. He left Bowling Green and Utah after two years at each program, and he waffled on leaving Florida after four years and then departed after his fifth season.
But given that Ohio State’s last two recruiting classes boast the two highest average player rating of any class in the recruiting ranking era (2000-present), it’s fair to say that opposing coaches aren’t doing a great job of convincing recruits to go elsewhere.
“They’ve negatively recruited against him that he would flee Ohio State, that he can’t sit still long enough, that he’ll never be at one place for a long time,” Greene said. “They’ve used that against him his entire career, including Ohio State. They use that way more than his age. But not very successfully, if you look at Ohio State’s recruiting.”