Ohio State Recruiting: Did Jim Tressel Let Rich Rodriguez Have Ohio Talent?

Chip MinnichCorrespondent IJanuary 31, 2010

ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 21: Head coach Jim Tressel of the Ohio State Buckeyes shakes hands after a 21-10 victory with head coach Rich Rodriguez of the Michigan Wolverines on November 21, 2009 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Throughout its historic rivalry with Michigan, Ohio State fans have watched Ohio players leave the state to don the maize and blue for the hated Wolverines.  Bo Schembechler made Ohio a key recruiting target throughout his tenure as Michigan’s head coach, signing 21 Ohio players for his first Michigan team beginning in 1969.

During the 1980s, the name John Kolesar became synonomous with Ohio State heartbreak, helping Michigan to defeat Ohio State in 1985 and 1988.  Kolesar played high school football in Westlake, Ohio.

Think back to the 1990s—Ricky Powers (Akron Buchtel), Elvis Grbac (Cleveland St. Joseph), Desmond Howard (Cleveland St. Joseph), and Charles Woodson (Fremont Ross) all left Ohio behind to become Wolverines.  Is there an Ohio State fan who does not believe John Cooper’s dreadful record against Michigan (2-10-1) may have been different if he had any of those Ohio-born Wolverines on some of his teams?

Jim Tressel was hired as Ohio State’s head coach in 2001 and has made it a priority throughout his tenure to secure the top Ohio talent for Ohio State.  Michigan has been able to secure some Ohio players since 2001, such as Prescott Burgess , Shawn Crable , and Justin Boren (briefly), but for the most part, Jim Tressel has been able to win head to head recruiting battles with Michigan for Ohio high school football talent.

With National Letter Of Intent Day approaching on February 3, a quick look at Michigan’s verbal commitments for this year’s recruiting class will show 11 players from Ohio.  What I find most interesting about these Ohio players is that not one of these players received a scholarship offer from Ohio State.

While I subscribe to the theory that high school recruiting rankings are overrated , I do believe it is a noteworthy exercise to see which other teams recruited a player.  For example, Terrelle Pryor selected Ohio State over teams such as Michigan, Penn State, and Oregon back in 2008.  Using Shawn Crable as an example, Crable was offered by both Ohio State and Michigan, as well as Miami (FL), Pittsburgh, and USC.

Let us look at the schools who offered Courtney Avery , a defensive back from Lexington, Ohio, who will sign with Michigan:  Stanford (where Avery was originally verbally committed before switching to Michigan), Army, Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Indiana, and Louisville—in other words, only Indiana from The Big Ten offered Courtney Avery besides Michigan.   

Jake Ryan
of Cleveland St. Ignatius selected Michigan over Ball State, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, and Toledo. 

I am not suggesting that attending any of those other schools I listed up above would have been bad choices or schools for Courtney Avery, Jake Ryan, or anyone else that Michigan has recruited from Ohio high schools.

I do believe it is something Ohio State fans may wish to make a mental note of as it relates to future Ohio State/Michigan games to see if any of these Ohio-bred Wolverines inflict any damage, or if Ohio State completely missed the boat in their evaluations of these players and let Michigan steal some more of Ohio’s top players as they have in seasons past.