COLUMBUS, Ohio — In the weeks following Ohio State’s run through the 2015 College Football Playoff, Urban Meyer compared the attention his program had been receiving to what he imagined it would look like had the Buckeyes purchased an infomercial.
“Go pay for positive advertisement for 30 days and see what that looks like,” Meyer said on National Signing Day in 2015. “That’s basically what it was.”
Forget flavor of the month — Ohio State was flavor of the year. Throughout the 2015 calendar year, no program possessed a better recruiting pitch than the Buckeyes, as evidenced by the top-five class Meyer would go on to sign in 2016.
And yet despite not winning the national championship in either of the past two seasons, Meyer has managed to recreate positive airtime for his program in each of the past two offseasons.
What’s the secret to Ohio State’s success? Making the most of every public relations opportunity — particularly when they involve the NFL.
“There’s a variety of things that kids look for,” Meyer said this past signing day. “The success we’ve had recently and the exposure that this program has had for the right reasons has really been beneficial.”
This week, the Buckeyes’ P.R. prowess will be on full display as Ohio State sends eight ex-players to the NFL Scouting Combine. The Buckeyes program will be documenting every step of their journey.
You can’t handle The Truth.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) February 24, 2017
If you’re looking for evidence of how Ohio State’s promotional efforts have paid off, you don’t have to search very far. Less than a month ago the Buckeyes signed the nation’s No. 2 class in the 2017 recruiting cycle, thanks in large part to the visibility of their alumni in the NFL.
“Almost a year ago in April at the NFL draft, seeing all those guys walk across the stage has really lifted our platform, probably on a national level to be able to open up some of these kids’ eyes to Ohio State,” said OSU director of player personnel Mark Pantoni.
That process, however, began at last year’s scouting combine, where the Buckeyes were represented by 14 players. Throughout the week, Ohio State wasn’t shy to share the results of its alums on social media or its official website, where it hosted a combine central.
Meyer himself even got in on the act, posting a selfie from the event alongside Ezekiel Elliott.
Selfie with Zeke! pic.twitter.com/jzVsEDp3Mp
— Urban Meyer (@OSUCoachMeyer) February 26, 2016
“I’m watching the Pro Bowl, a Buckeye carries the ball, a Buckeye is blocking for him, and a Buckeye tackles him,” Meyer said of his program’s pro presence. “It’s a lot of good stuff out there.”
Pro day, the draft and the actual NFL season, of course, help the process, but the combine is where it all begins. And since arriving at Ohio State, Meyer has made a habit of consistently putting his players in Indianapolis, with the Buckeyes having received 39 invites over the past five years.
For comparison’s sake, Ohio State received a total of 28 combine invites from 2008-2012. And only twice (2011, 2009) did a Buckeyes combine list from the five years previous to Meyer’s arrival top any of his own since he took over in Columbus.
In increasing the Buckeyes’ presence in the Circle City, Meyer has increased his program’s visibility to the nation’s top prospects. Considering the historic nature of Ohio State’s 2017 class, it’d be tough to argue the pitch hasn’t worked to perfection.
“You’re coming here for a reason,” said Buckeyes 2017 quarterback signee Tate Martell. “You want to make it to the NFL … you want to get coached by the best guys. You want to be ready for the NFL. It’s not just to make it — you want to be ready to play when you get there. This is the best place to be. I know that for a fact.”
The next week will help prove as much.
Of the eight Buckeyes invited to this year’s combine, seven positions are represented. That means Ohio State’s penchant for putting players in the pros will be on full display.
At this point, it’s starting to become a February tradition for the Buckeyes.
The NFL Scouting Combine may not provide the same 30-day informercial as a national title, but it sure has made for one heck of a sales pitch.