Urban Meyer is at Ohio State now.
Florida fans are miffed and who can blame them. He left the Gators citing his health, his burnout and his lack of time with the family. Family weekends must have been wonderful this past season, with daddy/hubby spending his Saturdays in the ESPN studios.
He also left a cupboard lacking enough to rival that of Old Mother Hubbard.
And he isn’t finished. First, he goes to Ohio State, the team most hated by Gator nation that isn’t called Florida State or isn’t in the SEC.
Now he will come back and haunt these same Gators’ officials for whom he used the work. He will haunt these same Gators fans who once worshipped the ground on which he walked. The coach who quit, came back, then quit again, will now poach the state of Florida of its coveted crop of recruits.
What’s that we hear? From over there in the Panhandle? Yeah, laugh now Florida State people. He’s not done with you yet, either. The coach you could only beat once in five years is back to pounce on all of your prospects, as well.
And he’s at it already.
Enter into evidence, exhibit 1A, a Facebook transmission from coveted St. Petersburg Lakewood defensive end Dante Fowler, posted about 11 p.m., Tuesday:
Just got off the phone with coach URBAN MYER.........:)
Take that as a warning, Gators, Seminoles, Hurricanes and all others ...
Not only is Meyer going to comb the state of Florida for the prospects in the territories he used to own, but he’s also obviously going to go after recruits who have already committed to other universities, like Fowler, the No. 4-ranked player in the Sentinel’s 2012 Florida Top 100.
Fowler is committed to FSU, but has spent a lot of time on Gator turf this season and has many people, especially Gators, thinking he will eventually flip and commit to UF. He could now, however, flip to Ohio State. Why not? Meyer did.
Obviously Meyer will make an impact on this year’s recruiting class, but the future classes are where we will see if Meyer can finally crack what seems to be a Mason-Dixon block on Florida kids coming North.
Is it the cold that drives Florida players away from the Big Ten, or is it the boring, bruising pro-style offenses for which the league has been known forever? Florida players are flash, not bash, but Meyer’s offense could be bring history-making change to the plodding Big Ten.
Big Ten schools have lacked southern speed for years. Meyer, however, could change that. In the past, kids didn’t want to play in the cold and cloudy towns of Columbus and Ann Arbor and East Lansing.
Only recently Purdue has broken some ground on Florida recruiting with Ricardo Allen and O.J. Ross of Daytona Beach Mainland, Raheem Mostert of New Smyrna Beach and Taylor Richards of Lake Mary venturing north. The Boilermakers have 21 Florida players on the roster.
Ohio State only has six on its current roster, while the rest of the Big Ten, in order, is Wisconsin 13, Illinois 13, Minnesota 12, Michigan 10, Indiana 7, Northwestern 7, Nebraska 5, Iowa 4, Michigan State 3, and Penn State zero.
FYI, on the Gators current roster, 73 players are listed from the state of Florida, and Florida State has 91.
Meyer could create a mass exodus of state prospects if he has the success he’s had in the past.
In his five years at UF, Meyer's recruiting classes finished no lower than 15th overall, according to rankings by Rivals.com. That was Myers’ first season. After that, in order, he had the No. 2, No. 1 and No. 3 classes in the nation until hitting a bump in 2009 where the Gators dropped all the way to No. 11.
But the resurgence in 2010, Meyers’ last UF class that brought in Ronald Powell, Sharif Floyd, Matt Elam, Dominique Easley -- only one of those is from Florida -- among the 27 signed last year, just to give an example of the kind of recruiting class Meyer is capable of bringing in.
You gotta wonder about that 2010 class. There were a lot of players of those signed who fought the establishment. Perhaps the proper homework had not been done like in the past. Meyer had lost key assistants back then like Dan Mullen (Mississippi State head coach) and Charlie Strong (Louisville head coach) and even Steve Addazio, interim coach during Meyers’ leave of absence after the 2009 season, was leaving to become Temple’s head coach. Dan McCarney, too, was on his way to be head coach at North Texas.
Maybe those, along with other coaching departures, were as tell-tale as the recruiting failures that things were not all hunky-dory in Gatorland.
Of those 27 signings in 2010, seven -- since publication of this column two more have said they will transfer in Josh Shaw and Lynden Trail to make it nine -- have left the program and one, Neiron Ball is no longer on the roster after he was diagnosed with a serious brain-related medical condition, arteriovenous malformation (AVM), in February.
Time will tell, of course, what kind of impact Meyer will have on the Florida and Florida State and Miami recruiting classes.
It’s no longer going to be a Florida, Florida State, Miami, Alabama, SEC battle for the top in-state prospects.
Ohio State now becomes a big player.
Things just got more difficult for Jimbo and Coach ’Champ.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun