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Urban Meyer talks importance of rivalry games in front of Jim Harbaugh

Michigan’s coach may be a little sensitive on the subject.

Ohio State v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

“It’s been emphasized.”

-Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, via Nick Baumgardner, Detroit Free Press

The Michigan football program has taken a lot of heat this offseason in regards to its treatment of its annual rivalry matchup with Ohio State. Last month, former Wolverine standout Charles Woodson, after speaking at Michigan’s commencement in April, lamented the fact that Michigan players don’t seem to “emphasize” their rivalry with Ohio State, much to the chagrin of head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Most recently, Urban Meyer savagely trolled Harbaugh while attending a recruiting camp in Michigan Sunday. In particular, Meyer spoke to the group gathered at Grand Valley State’s “Best of the Midwest” camp about the importance of being successful in rivalry matchups--all while Harbaugh, who had been touted as the keynote speaker of the event and who had brought his entire coaching staff to attend, looked on just a few feet away. “I want to see it in your rivalry game,” Meyer said. “I want to see it on fourth down, when the team needs you. Not when you’re running around in shorts and T-shirts doing vertical jumps.”

Meyer’s choice of words was probably uncomfortable for Harbaugh, who had looked on as J.T. Barrett and the Ohio State offense converted on fourth down in overtime in 2016 to set up an Ohio State win. Meyer also said all of this while wearing a 2014 National Championship jacket, and adding points about the success of Ohio State players in the NFL.

Harbaugh remains winless against his rival, while Meyer boasts a sterling, 6-0 record versus Michigan. When asked later in the day about Woodson’s comments, Harbaugh responded that the rivalry has been emphasized “coming from someone who has been there every single day.”

Meyer and Harbaugh did not interact during the camp’s speaking portion, which also featured the head coaches of Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan.

The 2018 Ohio State wrestling season was an outstanding team effort. While Kyle Snyder, perhaps the most decorated wrestler of his generation, made headlines when he earned his third NCAA title this year, the Buckeyes collectively put together a dominant performance on their way to a national runner-up finish in March.

However, wrestling never stops, as a number of standouts from Ohio State are competing in major, world tournaments in the offseason from college wrestling. In April, a group of three current Buckeyes and alums competed for Team USA in the World Cup, bringing home the gold. In May, rising senior Joey McKenna, a two-time All-American, was named a representative of Team USA for the 2018 World Wrestling Championships in Budapest, Hungary in October.

Now, two current Ohio State wrestlers have earned spots on the U23 World Team for Team USA. Senior Myles Martin and redshirt junior Kollin Moore both competed in the U23 World Team Trials over the weekend in Akron. With their respective wins, the pair is set to compete in Bucharest, Romania in the U23 World Wrestling Championships in November. Even more impressive, the roster has just 10 spots. Ohio State and NC State were the only two programs to earn more than one roster spot.

Martin, competing at 86-kilograms, defeated Chandler Rogers of Oklahoma State, taking the first two matches to seal the win. At 97-kilograms, Moore dominated Kent State’s Kyle Conel for his own spot. It was a revenge match for Moore, who fell to Conel in the NCAA Championships in March.

In all, 10 Buckeyes competed in the trials over the weekend, with three others, Te’Shan Campbell, Luke Pletcher and Kevin Snyder, all placing in their respective divisions. Team USA’s Senior World Championships are scheduled for later this month, with a number of Ohio State alumni competing.

“When it was his time to finally start in 2016, Booker injured his knee on the 13th play of the season opener against Bowling Green. In some ways, it feels like he hasn’t been able to get right since.”

-Bill Landis,

Ohio State’s linebacking corps struggled last season, even with veteran talent like Jerome Baker and Chris Worley anchoring the unit. However, despite the inconsistency that often plagued the group, a number of young players emerged throughout the season which gave a glimpse into what the future linebacking corps could be at Ohio State--especially now that Baker and Worley have both moved on to the NFL.

One of the players caught in the middle of this transition, however, is fifth-year senior Dante Booker. Booker showed significant potential as a young player on the 2014 National Championship team, during which he played in 11 games as a true freshman. After playing a supporting role in 2015, Booker seemed to find his chance to shine when he earned a starting role in 2016--only to get injured in the season opener. Booker was able to take a medical redshirt to recover and return in 2017, but still seemed to struggle after opening the season as a starter. In fact, by the end of the year, Tuf Borland had emerged as the heir apparent to lead the linebacking corps.

Booker sat out from spring practice after receiving shoulder surgery, which makes his role on Greg Schiano’s defense somewhat murky. Beyond Borland, other potential starters at linebacker include Justin Hilliard, Baron Browning and Malik Harrison, and where Booker stacks up among this group is unclear. Given the competition, it would seem that Booker is not currently in a position to earn a starting spot heading into the fall.

Booker also has the option to transfer, having graduated this past spring. Still, despite his injuries, Meyer seems to have been a fan of his fifth-year player throughout Booker’s time in Columbus, and, if he is able to overcome his injuries, he could prove to have a breakout season in his final year of eligibility.