Urban Meyer and Brady Hoke are two coaches that will be constantly compared and contrasted because of their respective positions on either side of one of the greatest and most bitter rivalries in sports.
Michigan and Ohio State do not get along, and that's putting it lightly.
Their showdowns on the field are usually rather intense, and more often than not you can feel the bitterness between the lines, on the sidelines and especially in the stands.
The coaches don't get along, the players don't get along and the fans certainly don't get along.
As is the case with most great rivalries, the animosity goes much further than the field of play. You can feel it between strangers, friends and even family members. Households have been divided according to loyalties to either program.
Naturally, the rivalry also extends to the recruiting trail, and more often than not, both programs are competing for some of the best recruits in the region—and even nationally.
Hoke and Meyer are two very different coaches and they have two very different recruiting styles. It's not just about personality but about what each school has to offer and what each coach brings with him on the recruiting trail in regards to prestige and credibility.
Which recruiting style is most effective? They can't both be ultra effective, can they?
Not in this rivalry...
What you have to realize right off the bat is that both coaches are selling a return to glory. They just have two very different approaches to it.
For Meyer, he's promising recruits that Ohio State will return from the depths of Jim Tressel's unceremonious exit. He's selling recruits on the fact that the Buckeyes will once again be a national power, and that the Buckeyes can compete with the likes of Alabama on both the recruiting trail and the football field.
We haven't seen that head-to-head matchup yet, but it is rather obvious that Meyer can match Nick Saban in regards to recruiting. Alabama finished the 2013 cycle ranked No. 1 overall according to the 247Sports Composite Team Rankings. Ohio State was ranked No. 2.
Hoke is also pitching the dream of Michigan being a championship contender that's able to beat an Alabama and compete with the SEC powers, but the one big difference is that he doesn't have the track record Meyer has.
Hoke is pitching hope. Meyer is pitching based off of past results.
He seems cool and almost calculating at times, and he certainly doesn't mind ruffling feathers. As a recruit, you know that Meyer is going to do everything he can (within the rules) to win a game. You also know that he'll do the same on the recruiting trail.
He's proven that.
If you're an Ohio State target, he won't give up on you even if you're committed. He doesn't care if he has to steal you away and step on toes in the process. He wants to win, and if he believes you can help him accomplish that goal, he's going to put on the full-court press in regards to your recruitment.
Look no further than 2013 running back Dontre Wilson, who was committed to Oregon until Meyer was able to flip him soon after Chip Kelly left for the NFL. Meyer saw a weakness at Oregon and exploited it, coming away with a very talented running back recruit.
He's considered to be one of the better offensive coaches in the country, and he has a knack for getting the most of out players and putting them in the optimal position to succeed. Just look what he was able to do with Percy Harvin at Florida, and he found a way to utilize Tim Tebow in the most effective manner.
Meyer can point to the record books and show a recruit the two championships he won as head coach of the Florida Gators. He's a proven winner, and he's a proven closer on the recruiting trail.
Maybe his recruiting style is a bit aggressive or calculated, but it produces results. Championships speak louder than words.
Hoke has certainly been a huge part of Michigan's turnaround, but that's one thing he does not have going for him.
I'd take even one of those championships over Hoke's Sugar Bowl win any day of the week. No disrespect to Hoke or the Sugar Bowl, but that's just how valuable championship experience can be on the recruiting trail for a coach.
Hope can be a powerful thing, though, and credit Hoke—he's certainly capitalized on the "Michigan Man" mantra.
He may not have a championship ring, but if you're a recruit you know without a shadow of a doubt that he believes in the institution of Michigan football. Hoke believes Michigan football is so special that you have to be a certain type of person and a certain type of recruit to don the winged helmet.
True or not, he believes it, and that spirit is inspirational—and contagious.
Hoke is a tremendous motivator, and he can get his players to believe. That obviously translates on the recruiting trail, as Hoke has the ability to make a player and his family believe that Michigan is the only place for said recruit to be.
2013 quarterback Shane Morris is a good example of a prototypical Hoke recruit. He committed to Michigan in May of 2011 and never wavered. He was even somewhat of an advocate for Michigan with other recruits. He's the type of player that fits Hoke's philosophy.
Once Hoke has you believing that you can indeed be a "Michigan Man," he'll sell you on the fact that he can lead you into the proverbial battle, and with heart, determination and hard work, you can beat anybody.
For anybody who has ever watched William Wallace lead his troops into battle in Braveheart and found themselves ready to jump on a horse and charge along side, you'll know exactly what it must feel like to be recruited by Hoke.
He's effective, he's inspirational and he can get you to believe in the Michigan program. There's absolutely no way that even the most stubborn of Ohio State fans can deny that Hoke isn't a phenomenal recruiter.
Still, Hoke doesn't have the experience to back his claims up like Meyer does, so some could look at him as a coach that just "talks the talk," but has not yet been able to "walk the walk" in regards to big wins.
In recruiting, credibility is everything, and let's face the facts—Meyer simply has more of it.
That's not to say Hoke can't have what Meyer has one day, and that's not to disregard Hoke's abilities as a recruiter. It's just a simple answer to the question of whose style is more effective.
Meyer doesn't need to get you to believe, and he doesn't need to get you emotionally invested on the recruiting trail. If you're a big-time recruit, his track record should be enough to get you invested on its own.
Look no further than Ohio State's 12-0 2012 season to see that Meyer can still get results on the field, and any recruit worth his weight in gold knows that those are the only results that matter at the end of the day.
Elite recruits are used to winning. They're used to being dominant, and they're used to being "the guy." Losing is not a sensation that many of these players have experienced often, so I have to imagine that Meyer's personality and style really resonates with them.
That's not to say that Hoke's style isn't good, because he's obviously had some great recruiting results. It's just that Meyer's style seems to be just a bit more effective—if even by the slightest of margins.
If you want to win, commit to Ohio State.
If you want to be inspired, watch Braveheart.
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