Meyer quickly irks Big Ten rivals

Meyer quickly irks Big Ten rivals

February 5th, 2012 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Three years after Lane Kiffin arrived as Tennessee's football coach and became a brief nuisance for Urban Meyer of Florida, Meyer has become a nuisance for the Big Ten.

Meyer's first signing class last Wednesday at Ohio State was ranked third nationally by Scout.com and fourth by Rivals.com, quite the feat considering the Buckeyes are ineligible for the league title and a bowl game this year. Ohio State signed 10 players who made their decisions after Meyer's hiring, including eight who had been committed to other schools.

Big Ten coaches have a "gentlemen's agreement" not to go after prospects who have committed to other league schools. Such a deal obviously would be laughable in Meyer's former league, the Southeastern Conference.

"We at the Big Ten don't want to be like the SEC in any way, shape or form," Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said when asked about Ohio State.

The Buckeyes signed offensive tackle Kyle Dodson, ranked among Rivals.com's top 200 players, after he had been committed to the Badgers. They also signed two defensive ends ranked among the top 100 overall prospects, Noah Spence and Se'Von Pittman, who had been committed to Penn State and Michigan State, respectively.

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio also voiced his displeasure with the relentless recruiting by the new coach on the block.

"I would say it's pretty unethical in the end," he said.

Meyer responded Friday to the comments made by Bielema and Dantonio. So much for easing into a new league.

"You're pissed because we went after a committed guy?" Meyer said. "Guess what, we've got nine guys [assistant coaches] who better go do it again. Do it a little harder next time."

Getting Kiel-hauled

Normally coaches choose not to talk at all on signing day about the players who got away, but that was not the case Wednesday when LSU's Les Miles addressed Tigers fans at the annual "Bayou Bash" about quarterback Gunner Kiel of Columbus, Ind.

The nation's top-rated pro-style quarterback according to Rivals.com, Kiel committed to LSU and planned to enroll last month. He switched, however, and enrolled at Notre Dame, following in the footsteps of uncle Blair Kiel.

"There was a gentleman from Indiana that thought about coming to the Bayou State," Miles said. "He did not necessarily have the chest and the ability to lead a program, just so you know."

Players got into the act as well.

After defensive end Josh Dawson of Tucker, Ga., signed with Georgia after being committed to Vanderbilt, touted Commodores tailback signee Brian Kimbrow posted this on Twitter: "There was once 22 of us, and the bad apple left."

All in the family

One of the most memorable moments in recruiting this winter occurred early last month when Landon Collins, the nation's top safety prospect, announced on ESPN at the Under Armour All-American Game that he would sign with Alabama over his home-state team, LSU. His mother quickly expressed disappointment and told the announcer that LSU was the better fit for her son.

Collins signed Wednesday with Alabama, and Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban is wishing everyone would move on.

"I just hope that everybody can be supportive of his decision," Saban said. "This is kind of a mutual partnership that we have with parents. When they send their sons here to develop in our program, we want to continue to develop the principles and values most parents want for their young folks. That's exactly what we want for them, just like it's what I want for my own children.

"It's a partnership, and we need to have very good relationships to continue that partnership in a positive way. I'm sure that we'll be able to do that with Landon."

A parting shot

The most humorous moment of national signing day occurred when ESPNU talked with South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier about his eighth class of commitments in Columbia. ESPNU had reporters stationed at several college campuses, including Alabama, LSU and Georgia, a team the Gamecocks defeated this past season in Athens.

South Carolina was not included on that list, and Spurrier made host Rece Davis quickly aware.

"I'm wondering why you didn't send a reporter to our campus," Spurrier said. "We went 11-2 last year. Did you know that?"