From the time it was announced that Jim Tressel would be leaving Ohio State, one man had been on the minds of not just the Buckeye faithful, but all of the Big Ten: Urban Meyer. Even as Luke Fickell took over the reins for Ohio State last season, the writing was on the wall that Fickell was there to serve as the buffer between the Tressel and Meyer eras.
The minute Meyer set foot on campus in Columbus, he was put under a microscope. How would he handle taking over a program in turmoil? Especially considering players on his Florida teams had trouble... staying out of trouble (30 arrests in 6 years).
He certainly did not make any friends amongst fellow Big Ten coaches, especially Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema, as it was rumored that he chose to ignore the “gentlemen’s agreement” stating that all other conference coaches will stop recruiting a player once he has publicly, verbally, committed to a Big Ten school. However, the question is not whether he is well liked in the Big Ten, but whether his presence in the conference is a good thing. Yes, it is.
The benefits of having Meyer as a head coach are obvious for Ohio State. But, the entire Big Ten conference can, greatly, benefit from Urban Meyer as well. A big-name coach moving to a school not only brings attention to the school itself, but to the conference of which it is a part.
For example, where was the SEC before Nick Saban won a national championship with LSU in 2003? Florida and Tennessee had a couple of good seasons here and there, but it was nothing like it is now! From 1980-2002, the SEC had seven national championship football teams. Since 2003, they have also had seven. How did the SEC become SO dominant? Did the south suddenly get good football players? Popular coaches at popular programs bring recruits, not only to their respective schools, but to the conference in general.
Another result is that coaching staffs hit the recruiting trails harder, and prepare harder for games. Why was Bret Bielema so upset after he lost a recruit to Ohio State? It was not just because he lost a recruit, but because he lost a recruit to a school they will have to go through every year just to get to the conference championship game.
The hiring of a big-name coach by one team is an opportunity for the other 11 schools in the Big Ten to step up their games in a big way. If there was any time for the Big Ten to get back to being a nationally dominant conference, this is it!
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