Ohio State's Urban Meyer on since tabled recruiting changes: "Teams have made plans to have separate scouting departments"

Jared Wickerham

We know about the Big Ten's public posturing against recruiting regulations they helped green light but didn't clearly understand (that were ultimately tabled anyway). Now we know specifically how much of a role Urban Meyer played in making that a reality.

It's been hashed out ad nauseam during the last few months: the since tabled controversial recruiting changes, which would've removed restrictions on the number of coaches that are allowed to recruit, the number that are allowed to contact prospects, and the limits on how much said coaches can contact recruits.

The NCAA's thinking was simple: those methodologies are scarcely enforceable as is. The sort of police infrastructure necessary to audit 120+ programs' travel itineraries, phone logs, not to mention technology in this day and age making it possible for coaching to use an app to get untraceable burner phone numbers with both to make unlimited calls and texts to recruits free of consequence. By simply deregulating these fashions and letting the free market govern them, let the kids being put off by the (hypothetical) excessive bombardment of contact govern a healthy amount. Let angry parents tell coaches not to call kids instead of a shadowy governing body ill equipped to do so logistically.

Of course once news of the legislatively green lit changes made their way to coaches, the escalating arms race mentality drew the ire of many coaches nationwide, specifically amongst the Big Ten. Though the practices had been in action in NCAA basketball for well over with nary a peep of protest amongst players or coaches, righteous indignation became the currency du jour amongst the masses, particularly amongst Big Ten coaches, who issued a boldly worded statement protesting the changes. After enough public posturing, the NCAA eventually relented, offering the status quo (which admittedly wasn't working any better) in lieu thereof.

Now courtesy of the due diligence of Scott Dochterman of Iowa's The Gazette, we know specifically that Ohio State's Urban Meyer was one of the principle driving forces in the outspoken cries against the changes. Given some of his past publicly worded sentiments objecting to the changes and his stature in the coaching fraternity, it's far from a surprise, but now we know specifically some of the actions taken on the back end including a notable text from Meyer to Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald:

Other Big Ten coaches shared similar concerns. In mid-February, Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer sent a text message to Northwestern counterpart Pat Fitzgerald, writing "that there are already teams that have made plans to have separate scouting depts. [sic]. there has already been nfl scouts that have been told they will be hired to run the dept. (hired for over 200k). I checked with an NFL friend and he confirmed that there was much conversation about this. Appealing to scouts because of no travel. Also, there has been movement to hire Frmr players/coaches with big names to work in that dept. and recruit full time. This will all happen immediately once rule is passed. Thought u should be aware if [sic] this nonsense to share with who u feel can assist."

Meyer's text was circulated among Big Ten presidents and officials on Feb. 14.

Eventually the likes of Jim Delany and NCAA president Mark Emmert got involved before as we know now, the powers that be caved. Perhaps most comically in the situation as a whole, Emmert takes a hilarious non-sequitur potshot at poor Rice of the Conference USA:

Emmert retorted that the proposals were vetted for months by the NCAA's membership committee with opposition from only Rice University, "who I don't believe is a mainstream D1 school," Emmert wrote.

Though it's far from shocking that Meyer has such clout amongst his peers nor is it a surprise given the relative lack of understanding amongst coaches regarding the almost libertarian nature of the since shelved rules they'd push back so ardently against, it's still a shame where we find ourselves today. The restrictions are still all but unenforceable, we're no closer to a solution that makes any more sense than the ones that were rebelled against, and if a school happens to be lazy/sloppy enough to get caught, the system that we have has almost no choice but to make an example out of them.

But at least the heavyweights aren't spending disproportionately to the have nots, right? Oh. Right.

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