Can Michigan recruit at Ohio State's level without Urban Meyer in the picture?

Submitted by M-Dog on December 16th, 2018 at 4:01 PM

People underestimate the massive impact Urban Meyer has had on Ohio State recruiting:

Recruiting Class Rankings Under Meyer:
2012: OSU #5   Michigan #6
2013: OSU #2   Michigan #4
2014: OSU #3   Michigan #20
2015: OSU #7   Michigan #37
2016: OSU #4   Michigan #8
2017: OSU #2   Michigan #5
2018: OSU #2   Michigan #22
AVG: OSU #3.6  Michigan #14.6

There is no doubt he killed Michigan in recruiting.  But historical recruiting class rankings show that was his doing, not Ohio State's doing.

Can Michigan recruit at Ohio State's level without Meyer in the picture?

Absolutely.  We've already done it.

It's a myth that Ohio State was out-recruiting Michigan before Meyer came along.  In fact it's the other way around.  Michigan recruited better than Ohio State during both the Cooper and Tressel tenures:   

Recruiting Class Rankings Under Cooper:
1988: OSU #?   Michigan #?
1989: OSU #?   Michigan #?
1990: OSU Top 10   Michigan Top 10
1991: OSU Not Top 10   Michigan #1
1992: OSU #6   Michigan #7
1993: OSU Not Top 10   Michigan #2
1994: OSU #2   Michigan #3
1995: OSU Not Top 10   Michigan Not Top 10
1996: OSU #1   Michigan #9
1997: OSU Not Top 10   Michigan #5
1998: OSU Not Top 10   Michigan #1
1999: OSU #4   Michigan #8
2000: OSU #9   Michigan #27
AVG: OSU #7.9  Michigan #7.6   

Recruiting Class Rankings Under Tressel:
2001: OSU #6   Michigan #3
2002: OSU #4   Michigan #14
2003: OSU #46   Michigan #5
2004: OSU #55   Michigan #6
2005: OSU #74   Michigan #5
2006: OSU #25   Michigan #10
2007: OSU #72   Michigan #11
2008: OSU #10   Michigan #11
2009: OSU #5   Michigan #10
2010: OSU #18   Michigan #17
2011: OSU #6   Michigan #30
AVG: OSU #29.2  Michigan #11.1

(Recruiting class rankings sources:  Athlon's for '90, '91;  Lemming for '92-'99;  24/7 for 2000-2018.)  (Top 10 is calculated as #10, Not Top 10 is generously calculated as #11.)

Michigan actually out-recruited Ohio State during both the Cooper and the Tressel eras. 

Michigan was not some plucky underdog that rose up to ruin Ohio State's championship runs year after year.  Michigan was a direct peer to Ohio State, recruiting toe to toe with them, and even better.  

People forget what an extreme the Urban Meyer era has been at Ohio State. 

Now, is it conceivable that Urban Meyer has launched Ohio State on some new trajectory where they are now a perennial Alabama-level national recruiting power, leaving Michigan in the dust?

It's conceivable.  But it's not likely.

Elite 5-star recruits from FL, TX, CA, the DMV, etc. were not suddenly spurning the south/west and flocking north to play for cold-weather rust belt Ohio State.  They were heading north to play for Urban Meyer.  

Without Meyer in the picture, it's much more likely that Ohio State will revert back to their historical recruiting norm:  A very good regional recruiting power that will lock up it's home base of Ohio, while filling in some miscellaneous spots with top national recruits. 

Make no mistake, Ohio State will still be a very strong recruiting power.  But they won't be out-recruiting everybody in the nation except Alabama.  It's not realistic.  That was a one-time Urban Meyer aberration.  He was already a national legend by the time he got there.

With Ohio State inevitably reverting back to their more typical historical recruiting patterns, it opens to door for Michigan to match them in recruiting . . . the way Michigan has already done in the past.   




December 16th, 2018 at 4:56 PM ^

Those 2003-2007 OSU rankings seem wild to me. They put a ton of those guys in the NFL. 

There may never be another northern coach who recruits at the level of Urban because 1) he's really good at it, and 2) his Florida tenure and success makes him uniquely connected/credible in the south. 


December 16th, 2018 at 5:11 PM ^

Those 2003-2007 OSU rankings seem wild to me.

Yeah, me too.

I thought it was a 24/7 typo at first.  I cross-checked it against other sources like Ohio State's own 24/7 site - Bucknuts - they confirm the 24/7 rankings:

Rivals is more generous if you like, per 11W:

2003: OSU #41
2004: OSU #16
2005: OSU #12
2006: OSU #12
2007: OSU "Mid teens" (edit: it was #15)

If you swap out the 24/7 OSU data for the Rivals OSU data, you would get: 

Recruiting Class Rankings Under Tressel:
2001: OSU #6   Michigan #3
2002: OSU #4   Michigan #14
2003: OSU #41   Michigan #5
2004: OSU #16   Michigan #6
2005: OSU #12   Michigan #5
2006: OSU #12   Michigan #10
2007: OSU #15   Michigan #11
2008: OSU #10   Michigan #11
2009: OSU #5   Michigan #10
2010: OSU #18   Michigan #17
2011: OSU #6   Michigan #30
AVG: OSU #13.2  Michigan #11.1

This looks more reasonable to me.  I would edit the OP if I could. 

(Michigan would probably look different with a similar Rivals swap too, but I'm too lazy to go look that up.)

It still would not change the overall result though.  Ohio State was not out-recruiting Michigan, despite their supposed advantages in lower academic standards, their prominence in Ohio, alleged bagmen . . . what ever it is you'd want to cook up.

Ghost of Fritz…

December 16th, 2018 at 5:38 PM ^

Great OP and great response here.

Looking through the rankings and classes from pre-Meyer confirms what I had always recalled--(1) that OSU was not ahead of Michigan in recruiting, and also (2) that Michigan was more national and OSU more OH/midwest-centric. 

It does seem possible that JH can reestablish Michigan as the top destination for recruits in the Big Ten.  But he has to win a conference title or two to really get the ball rolling down hill.




December 16th, 2018 at 6:42 PM ^

I'm going to start with 2004 NFL draft which is relevant considering it's 3 years from '01 recruiting class.

2004: OSU 14 (3)             Michigan 4 (1)

2005: OSU 3 (0)               Michigan 3 (2)

2006: OSU 9 (5)               Michigan 3 (0)

2007: OSU 8 (2)               Michigan 7 (1)

2008: OSU 2 (1)               Michigan 6 (1)

2009: OSU 7 (2)               Michigan 2 (0)

2010: OSU 4 (0)               Michigan 3 (1)

2011: OSU 5 (1)               Michigan 2 (0)

2012: OSU 4 (0)               Michigan 3 (0)

2013: OSU 3 (0)               Michigan 2 (0)

2014: OSU 6 (2)               Michigan 3 (1)

2015: OSU 5 (0)               Michigan 2 (0)

2016: OSU 12 (5)             Michigan 3 (0)

2017: OSU 7 (3)               Michigan 11 (2)

2018: OSU 7 (2)               Michigan 2 (0)

2019 (Projected): OSU 10 (3)   Michigan 7 (1)


Instead of recruiting rankings, try with NFL players drafted and how many first rounders they put out over the years. You can see the difference between the two. OSU put out more 1st round picks than Michigan and that's the deciding edge because you need studs in order to be an elite team.


December 17th, 2018 at 7:30 AM ^

This is good info.  But I would do it in addition to recruiting rankings, not instead of.

The NFL first rounders draft only looks at 2 or 3 players a year, while the recruiting rankings look at dozens of players.  In football versus, say basketball, that matters a lot.

In all those years that Michigan was beating Ohio State regularly, OSU was still putting more guys in the 1st round than Michigan was.  But it takes more than 1 or 2 first rounders, as we know ourselves with Gary, Taco, Peppers, Lewan, etc.


December 17th, 2018 at 5:16 PM ^

NFL talent is a better indicator than recruiting rankings because it gives us a real gauge of how good of a team they are. The more you have them on the team, the better your team are. Look at Clemson, they have somewhat of a middling recruiting rankings for an elite program but they churn out NFL players after NFL players which is more important.


December 16th, 2018 at 7:55 PM ^

I think somethings a little off with those 247 rankings for OSU, at least for 2004 and 2005.

The 2004 class is listed as 55th, but 247 says that class had only 5 recruits.

The 2005 class is listed as 74th, but 247 says it had only 6 recruits.

Unless OSU had a whole bunch of scholarships yanked or made CC transfers the bulk of their classes, something doesn't makes sense.



December 16th, 2018 at 5:10 PM ^

Ohio St gets to add a ton of Juco kids  (i believe Michigan signed 1 Juco since 1993)

Ohio St has added 10+ Juco top 10 in the past 8-10 years guys like Sheffield,Cardale Jones,Prigdoen,Ryan Shazier,Cam Hayward,Jamarco Jones etc etc etc are all guys that go Juco or extra "schooling" after high school.Thats a ton of top 100 kids schools like Michigan dont/cant sign

Add that Harbaugh will always add 3-6  TE/FB kids in every class,helps to lower the overall avg

Since Jim Harbaugh arrived at Michigan ....Michigan has put more players into the NFL than any school but Alabama (roster,taxi squad,under NFL contracts)  so is Harbaugh doing more with less or Urban under achieving with great classes as far as NFL... i will say Ohio St has put "better" top end players under Urban --Bosa,Lattimore,Zeke,Thomas   i cant deny that



December 16th, 2018 at 6:02 PM ^

I think the advantage OSU has geographically is shrinking with recruiting becoming a more national game.  It is going to be hard to out recruit them when the highest paid guy on staff isn't a very good recruiter.  JH seems to be putting an emphasis on hiring good recruiters with his past couple hires.  Time will tell if he continues that.  Beating them wouldn't hurt either.



December 16th, 2018 at 7:01 PM ^

That remains to be seen because it all depends on if Day can match Meyer's recruiting prowess.  History would suggest it's unlikely.


JH has already shown he can recruit.  Assuming OSU falls back to their traditional, recent historic recruiting levels of a top 10ish class instead of a top 4ish class, then yes, JH can do that.  Early indications are that Day is having trouble on the recruiting trail convincing recruits he will be as successful as Meyer was.  Winning a few recruiting battles for the '19 and '20 classes would be big as well as of course gaining an advantage on the field.  Ultimately however, if we lose again and OSU wins the division again next year that could spell trouble for UM's ability to out-recruit OSU in the Day/JH era.


December 16th, 2018 at 7:34 PM ^

I think this next year is critical for them. Anything less than what was expected under Meyer could start to impact recruiting. Right now it’s just uncertainty from what we’re hearing. If they come out and win another big ten championship and potential playoff birth, they might not drop off much. 


December 16th, 2018 at 7:54 PM ^

I don't think they would drop off much, but I do think they will drop off no matter what happens.

It's hard to see how they can keep out-recruiting Georgia, LSU, TX, USC, Clemson, etc. type of programs without Meyer.

It's probably only the difference between the first 5 and the next 5, but it's still a difference.  Consistent Top 10, not consistent Top 5, without Meyer.

That's a level Harbaugh can match if he can get an OSU win as a catalyst.   


December 17th, 2018 at 10:57 AM ^

The OP is great, but the question now shifts to how much momentum OSU can maintain. The next several years are as huge for us as them. This helps to set up next year--when returning players and our incoming class make raise the potential for success--as a critical potential turning point. From what I can see Day has his stuff together and is liked by players--a year of big success next year and OSU may succeed in threading the needle anyway. Looking forward to hearing Haskins is definitely moving on!


December 17th, 2018 at 7:35 AM ^

Yeah, he killed it in recruiting despite a record that could have been much better. 

Despite his overly-serious grumpy old teacher exterior, the players really liked him and liked being around him.

Also:  Gary Moeller was recruiting at Urban Meyer levels before he got ousted: 

1991: Michigan #1
1993: Michigan #2
1994: Michigan #3

Even Urban Meyer never had a #1 class. 

It's a shame we never got to see what could have been . . .



December 17th, 2018 at 4:20 PM ^

Good stuff.  Meyer may be a scummy person but he absolutely had OSU performing at its ceiling, both on the field and in recruiting.  I don't expect a big downturn under Day but there almost certainly will be a bit of one.

Harbaugh came to us at a time when not all of our rivals had their strongest coaching staffs in a generation: Meyer at OSU, Dantonio at MSU, Kelly at ND.  He's done pretty well anyway, but now with Meyer gone and Dantonio possibly on the downside, the door may be opening up for us.