Meyer whips up a strong class, irritates Bielema


COLUMBUS — When opposing recruiters brought up Ohio State's bowl ban and other problems, new Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer fought back.

"It was a two-week assault," Meyer said after signing 25 in what many termed a top-5 class. "But instead of waiting for that to come, we went after it."

Despite a 2012 bowl ban, NCAA probation and recruiting limitations, the forced resignation of Jim Tressel and the most losses (seven) for the Buckeyes since 1897, Meyer's first recruiting class was a success.

The headline-grabbing position was the defensive line, particularly end.

Meyer had a cautious assessment: "I signed a class (at Florida) one time that I heard a reporter say was the greatest class in history of high school football. Some aren't there any more. You just don't know."

Noah Spence was one of four Ohio State recruits who switched allegiance from Penn State, and Se'von Pittman initially indicated he would go to Michigan State. Two others started out committing to Notre Dame and another to Wisconsin.

Badgers coach Bret Bielema was asked if Meyer had changed Big Ten recruiting methods.

"There's a few things that happened early on I made people be aware of that I didn't want to see in this league that I had seen take place at other leagues," Bielema said. "Other recruiting tactics, other recruiting practices that are illegal. I was very up front. I actually reached out to Coach Meyer and shared my thoughts and concerns with him and the situation got rectified."

He said Meyer asked him: "You know what the difference between the Big Ten and our conference is? I said, 'No', and he said, 'In the Big Ten, everybody tells on everybody. In our conference nobody tells on anybody.' "

Rutgers keeps recruits: When Greg Schiano left last week to become Bucs coach, it was feared that Rutgers would lose much of what was being touted as its best recruiting class. New coach Kyle Flood and his staff kept it together. Rutgers lost one commitment and came away with a class that included most of the top players in New Jersey.

penn state pleased: New Penn State coach Bill O'Brien gave credit to recruits who stuck with verbal commitments in light of the upheaval surrounding the program since November. Just more than half of the 19-member class is holdovers who initially committed to O'Brien's predecessor, the late Joe Paterno — a foundation that O'Brien said allowed the new regime to target fresh prospects. "That was a real testament to their mental toughness and their ability to stick it out," O'Brien said. "I give them all the credit in the world. I can't wait to start coaching and working with them." Recruiting services ranked Penn State's class anywhere from 39th to 50th in the country and middle of the pack in the Big Ten.

Four full years: With NCAA legislation pending approval this month, Florida is among schools that said their incoming classes will be the first to receive four-year scholarships that no longer must be renewed annually. Others include Ohio State, Auburn, Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska. Nick Saban wouldn't say what Alabama will do: "I think this is some people's cynical approach to think that coaches don't have the best interest of the young people that they coach in mind. I resent that.''