On the same day it announced Urban Meyer as its next head football coach, November 29, Ohio State requested and was granted a NCAA waiver allowing the school to exceed the allowable number of football coaches on staff through the Buckeyes’ bowl game.
(Meyer not practicing what he preaches?)
Rusty Miller of the ASSOCIATED PRESS reported on December 9, 2011:
The existing staff, under Luke Fickell, will prepare the Buckeyes on the field in the days leading up to and including their Gator Bowl game against Florida on Jan. 2. Then there is incoming coach Urban Meyer, who will handle only recruiting while hiring his own assistants.
The waiver specifies that no more than 10 coaches - and no more than seven at any one time - may be involved in recruiting. Ohio State asked for the waiver because otherwise it would have exceeded the maximum number of allowed coaches under NCAA rules.
Such waivers have been granted in the past, but Ohio State’s situation is unique because Fickell plans to retain a prominent spot on Meyer’s staff as a lead recruiter and defensive play-caller.
Thursday Fickell was asked by Ohio State Football Radio Network broadcaster Jim Lachey - via WBNS-FM in Columbus - how Meyer was coping with not being part of Ohio State’s Gator Bowl preparations.
Lachey: “(Has it) been tough keeping him on the sidelines?”
Fickell: “He tried not to come around too much but when it’s in your blood, it’s in your blood.”
One presumes Lachey meant to say “off the sidelines.” Regardless, Fickell’s answer has already raised some eyebrows.
Earlier today GAINESVILLE (FL) SUN columnist Pat Dooley, who has covered Florida football for decades, Tweeted this response to Fickell’s contention that Meyer has “tried not to come around too much“:
Fickell on his coach’s show last night: “(Urban) tried not to come around too much but when coaching is in ur blood it’s in ur blood.” Hmm.
Because of Meyer’s intimate knowledge of the personnel of Ohio State’s Gator Bowl opponent, Florida, his possible involvement in Ohio State’s preparations for its game against the Gators would be of more impact than had the Buckeyes faced any other opponent in college football.
If Meyer was indeed involved in briefing the Ohio State coaching staff and/or players on Florida personnel or game preparations in any way, which would be against the terms of the NCAA waiver, it’d be another slap in the face to Gator fans at the hands of the former coach.
Fickell indicating that perhaps Meyer hasn’t limited his influence on the current OSU program to recruiting is also likely to concern University of Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon, who complained about the Ohio State NCAA waiver when it was first announced. He then provided greater detail to his objections last week.
Brandon to the DETROIT NEWS on December 22, 2011:
“Our (Michigan) coaches right now are sleep-deprived. They’ve got to plan to get 130 people to New Orleans (Michigan plays Virginia Tech in the Jan. 2 Sugar Bowl), practicing and preparing a game plan and doing all the things coaches do, and yet this is one of the busiest recruiting seasons of the year.
“Urban Meyer is able to spend 100 percent of his (December) time recruiting athletes, and no other coach in our conference has that flexibility.
“The NCAA preaches over and over about maintaining a level playing field and treating everybody the same. If that’s their guiding principle, someone at the NCAA needs to explain how this translates into a level playing field.”
On second thought, considering the significant positive impact Ohio State is likely to gain from Meyer’s salesmanship to prospective players, perhaps Brandon would prefer the new OSU head coach spend more time gameplanning for a meaningless Gator Bowl than matching wits with Michigan’s ’sleep-deprived’ assistants on the recruiting trail.