“Together, Michigan and Ohio State have received more ESPN 300 commitments (76) than all other Big Ten schools combined (63) since Harbaugh arrived in Ann Arbor. Those two are the only schools from the conference to sign a top-10 class during that span.”
With National Signing Day upon us, it’s as good a time as any to realize just how dominate Urban Meyer and Ohio State have been when recruiting. As the quote above says, the Buckeyes, along with Michigan have shared 76 commitments ranked in the ESPN 300, which is more than all of the other teams in the conference combined (63). That is a truly amazing statistic considering the amount of teams in the Big Ten. But it’s been true for the past decade or so as well, as the two powerhouse teams have continually dominated both on the field and off of it.
Even as other Big Ten teams have improved over time, especially in recruiting, Meyer and Jim Harbaugh have done their best to make sure Ohio State and Michigan are always at the top. In fact, the last time a team that wasn’t the Buckeyes or Wolverines signed a top 10 recruiting class according to ESPN’s rankings was Penn State in 2006. The 2017 recruiting cycle already has another top 10 class finish likely for both Ohio State and Michigan.
“There's no substitute for talent, and it's nearly impossible to win a national title without recruiting at the level Meyer, Harbaugh and Franklin are reaching. But there's also still room in the Big Ten for developmental programs and for coaches who know how to find the right needs for their own styles, regardless of the star ratings.”
Staying with the recruiting theme, another interesting point to the conversation, especially in the Big Ten, are the teams that succeed despite not being one of the top recruiters. The example immediately used is Penn State. The 2016 Big Ten champions also took down USC in the Rose Bowl with a quarterback who garnered MVP honors in the Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin. That same quarterback, Trace McSorley, was rated as a three-star prospect in most recruiting rankings when he was originally committed to Vanderbilt. Not to mention that most teams saw him as a future safety at the college level. Stories like McSorley happen every now and again and it’s even common in the Big Ten.
Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, and even Penn State to some degree have all had their shining moments in the Big Ten over the past decade or so and all of them really haven’t come close to anything considered dominant in terms of recruiting. Yet the teams they put out on the field have won Big Ten championships and have competed on a national stage for BCS bowls and College Football Playoff games alike. It’s one of the more interesting parts about recruiting, and it’s something to keep in mind with National Signing Day tomorrow.
“You hope that there is a certain standard that guys are going to hold themselves and their teammates to. This team has had a tendency to go back and we start over. That has been one of the challenges with this group of continuing to demand as much as we possibly can. We have played some excellent basketball.”
Ohio State’s basketball team has had plenty of ups and downs this season. They’ve shown flashes of being able to play excellent defense and are 11-2 in games in which they’ve held teams to no more than 70 points. But the inconsistency of the Buckeyes has hurt them in the long run, dropping games to a team like Iowa, in a game that Thad Matta’s team was beaten by a comfortable margin. The Hawkeyes scored 85 points that day and that was without their best offensive player on the court. It seems at times that Ohio State just isn’t in sync with each other when playing and it shows quite often.
Now the Buckeyes have another game to host against a 17th-ranked Maryland team that won’t be looking to give away a win easily. For Ohio State to succeed the players will need to be on the same page, communicating at all times and showing the cohesiveness of a winning team. They’ve done it before and have a chance to do it again with the season starting to dwindle down.