When Ohio State hired Urban Meyer as its new football coach just after the 2011 season, Buckeye Nation was ecstatic.
The former Florida coach and Ohio native was about to rescue Ohio State from one of its darkest moments in school history.
Because of the recent scandal known as Tattoo-Gate, the Buckeyes saw the departure of beloved head coach Jim Tressel, the forfeit of nine scholarships over the next three seasons and perhaps their mastery over arch-rival Michigan.
They suffered through a mediocre 2011 season under interim coach Luke Fickell, forced to play without suspended players and then losing to Michigan in the regular-season finale.
Buckeye Nation wouldn’t be down for long. Before the final gun sounded in Ann Arbor, the Ohio faithful knew that Meyer would be the next Buckeye coach.
It was only a matter of time before Meyer salvaged Ohio State's 2012 recruiting class. In just ten weeks after being hired, Meyer added 11 recruits, enabling the Buckeyes to finish with the Scout.com's No. 3 class.
Meyer showed why he won a pair of titles at Florida by leading Ohio State to a 12-0 record in his first season, including a 26-21 win over Michigan.
With his reputation as a winner on the field and his recruiting success off it, should Meyer be expected to dominate the Big Ten as Tressel did the decade before?
Michigan also has righted its ship. The Wolverines struggled mightily under Rich Rodriguez from 2008 to 2010 before Brady Hoke replaced him early in 2011.
Hoke was hired to restore Michigan to the prominence it enjoyed for several years. The recipe included a return to the physical brand of football Bo Schembechler created, Gary Moeller refined and Lloyd Carr perfected (see: 1997).
Michigan’s recruiting strategy also required a return to yesteryear. Instead of mainly recruiting nationwide, Hoke and his staff would concentrate on Michigan and Ohio.
While Michigan has resumed its recruiting dominance over Michigan State, Hoke and Meyer are locked up in quite a battle.
Both Hoke and Meyer have eyes on the talent-rich state of Ohio, so whoever comes away with the most recruits can chalk up a victory. Each have four of the top 10 players in the upcoming 2013 class.
Nationally, the scuffle between Hoke and Meyer should come down to the wire.
Currently, Hoke has Scout.com's No. 1 class and Meyer No. 2.
It would be simple to conclude that Meyer is the best recruiter because of his outstanding record at both Florida, Utah and Bowling Green, but Hoke, too, has had plenty of success. Hoke rebuilt the programs at Ball State and San Diego State while taking each to bowl games.
Hoke also proved to be an excellent recruiter in Ohio as he covered the state during his first stint at Michigan and especially while he was the head coach at Ball State. Hoke’s last Cardinal team featured 29 Ohioans.
During his first stint with Michigan and later at Ball State, Hoke built relationships with high school coaches throughout the state of Ohio. Those relationships might prove to be more valuable than a pair of national titles.
In truth, both coaches have plenty of time to establish who's "best" on the recruiting trail.
Perhaps Meyer himself tossed a wrench into this discussion.
When he led Florida to the national championship, Meyer’s defensive coordinator was Greg Mattison, who’s now at Michigan in the same role.
Meyer said this of Mattison when he was an ESPN analyst: “He’s not only one of the best defensive coordinators in America, but the best recruiter in college football.”
Maybe Hoke and Meyer should wait their turn.
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