From 1991 to 1993 I did some recruiting for Michigan here in Northern Ohio under the leadership of the recruiting coordinator at the time Bob Chmiel. Generally speaking we held our own against OSU in the powerhouse Catholic schools (although Notre Dame could be a problem) and were competitive (not ruled out by any means) in the public schools. We weren't afraid to go after kids anywhere in the state and taking an offer from Michigan was not always viewed by kids down here as an act of treason against mother Ohio.
Now if you are a D1 football program with aspirations of greatness it is imperative you are able to successfully recruit one or more of the "big 5" football states: California, Florida, Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania. For whatever reason, those five states seem to produce an extraordinarily high number of elite football players year in and year out. A quick look at the home towns for many of the greatest Michigan football players since the Bo era demonstrates this as well. Franklin, Grbac, Howard, Woodson and countless others grew up in Ohio, not Michigan, but chose to come north to play football. And in doing so they not only made Michigan stronger - they made OSU weaker by not attending.
In the Tressel era that all changed however. For whatever reason (charm, personality, fear, payola, cars, tats, etc) that pipeline was basically shut off. If OSU wanted a kid down here they got him - and OSU grew stronger as we grew weaker. Fortress Ohio was real, if a kid down here even considered Michigan as an option he was considered a traitor against the home land and life wasn't very pleasant for him or his family. Look at the rosters of both OSU and Michigan from 1990-1999 and then from 2000-2010 and you'll notice quickly that OSU became almost exclusively an Ohio based recruiting school and we stopped getting the kids we wanted out of Ohio. Double whammy and it played a big part in our conference role reversals this past decade.
Now fast forward to July, 2011. Yesterday Jarrod Wilson, an Akron Buchtel kid coached by Ricky Powers, goes Blue. We hear from TomVH that Kalis is making a second visit this weekend and all told we now have six (I think that's right) Ohio kids coming north this year so far and more (hopefully) on the way. Thanks to Tresselgate it appears the walls of fortress Ohio and now finally coming down and the pipeline is opening back up. If it does, it is my prediction that we will not only get exponentially better as a team - they will get exponentially worse as every kid we get they don't.
Keep it up Hoke and crew. Glory days are coming back soon.