When it comes down to recruiting, every program has uniquely different things that they can offer recruits, that no other program can.
Regardless of what it is, recruiting all comes down to the idea of finding something that both attracts recruits, and sets your program apart. Often times, a first impression can go a long way. At Ohio State, part of their pitch is the varsity jacket that the coaches are wearing when they hit the recruiting trail.
Now some coaches choose to rock the team track suit or even go with a suite and tie on the road, but Ohio State's staff has decided to separate themselves from the crowd by wearing this letterman's jacket when visiting with recruits. Bold, recognizable, and simple yet flashy...all adjectives that will both describe the jacket, and catch a high school aged kid's attention.
Not only does the jacket stick out amongst a sea of coaches that visit each school in the offseason, but it is also stitched with stories and memories of the rich Buckeye traditions. Items such as patches that pay homage to undefeated seasons (although this season has not yet been added) and conference titles and even national championships litter the jacket. Not to mention that immediately recognizable block "O", and it's pearly whiteness, which only add to the effect it has on the eyes.
According the ESPN's article, Nike made only 14 of these jackets for the coaching staff and other key members of the staff. For manufacturers out there reading this, here at FootballScoop, we'd only need five.
Whether it happens to be jackets, or track suits, the bottom line is that Urban and his staff understand what is going to catch the eyes of recruits. And that in turn will win some fierce recruiting battles. For some programs that advantage is their uniform combinations, while for others it's their tradition, or history, or education.
The lesson here is to find your niche and then find a way to make sure recruits remember you and your recruiting pitch even after you leave. If you can do that, you'll be happy with your results come signing day.
Before accepting the Ohio State job, Urban Meyer famously signed a contract with his family vowing to be more than an absentee father and husband during the season. If he was going to coach again, Meyer had to promise things would be different than when he nearly coached himself to death at Florida.
Now that the 12-0 Buckeyes' season is over, how did he do?
Pretty good, according to Meyer. The coach explained that he left the Buckeyes' football facility every Sunday at noon, something that would never would have happened at Florida, to watch his son's football games. Except for one time, when he was late and got two speeding tickets en route to the game.
Urban Meyer's Ohio State team finished its sanction-shortened season at 12-0 on Saturday with a 26-21 win over Michigan on Friday. While the Buckeyes are ineligible for the Big Ten and BCS championships, Meyer's season laid a strong foundation for things to come.
With a roster that returns nine offensive starters and five defensive starters, Meyer knows bigger things could be ahead for Ohio State.
Meyer has been to the mountain top before, and with two national championships at Florida, an undefeated season at Utah and now an undefeated season at Ohio State, he's practically a Sherpa now. For Meyer, the biggest takeaway leading into 2013 was allowing his team to get a taste of winning at the highest level.
"The whole theme this week was go where the air is rare," said Meyer. "The last door is a big one. Open it up, kick it open, do what you have to do to get through that door. Once you're in there, it smells different, it tastes different, it looks different. I'm hoping our guys get that taste and they want to go do it again because once you taste that, it tastes really good."
Well said from a man who knows the trail to the mountain top.
As has become something of a tradition, Ohio State will break out special uniforms for their rivalry game versus Michigan. These uniforms closely mirror their regular sets, but with some exaggerated features, specifically the stripe on the helmet.
Last season, Ohio State ranked 118th nationally in sacks allowed, allowing nearly 4 per game. As if that weren't bad enough, the Buckeyes ranked 114th in pass attempts with just 245 on the season, which shakes out to roughly 19 attempts per game. Meyer was critical of the body composition of the offensive line when he was hired, and realized that needed to change in order to have the success that him and his staff expected.
Urban's new staff brought in plenty of changes, including hiring a full time nutritionist and giving players healthier choices at meals and have also stationed fridges full of Gatorade all over their training facility.
"In the first six months of Meyer's tenure, the team lost 457 pounds of fat and gained 521 pounds of muscle. The offensive line, a group of just a dozen guys, lost a combined 133 pounds of fat." Thamel notes in his article.
That's very impressive.
One of the more interesting parts of the piece centers around the environment that Marotti has created in the weight room. Not only do they get after it with intensity (with the results to prove it), but he also keeps things entertaining and has created an environment where players want to lift. For example, Marotti has been known to have themed lifting days such as "Harley Davidson day" where guys show up to work out dressed in all black and cut-offs.
"It's not a fun atmosphere, but an entertaining atmosphere. It makes you want to lift." one player noted.
This season, the offensive line has improved tremendously. The daily instruction of offensive line coach Ed Warriner on the field, coupled with Marotti's approach in weight room has payed immediate dividends. Through the ten games of 2012, the Buckeyes are averaging just over 2 sacks allowed per game, and have already thrown the ball nearly as many times this season (242) than they did in all of last season's 13 games (245). Ohio State's ground game has also been dominant, ranking 8th nationally in rushing (256 ypg).
With less than a year in Columbus, Meyer and Marotti have already given the Buckeyes a fresher, faster, and lighter identity. There's no doubt that the weight room environment has a lot to do with their transformation and it's clear to see why Urban noted that Marotti was his "most important hire" after he got him on board.
Another full slate of college football action is now just a mere hours away. What matchups stand out to us on the final college football Saturday of October? Here's nine games that we'll be keeping our eyes on throughout the day.
Florida vs. Georgia (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS): Florida has won 18 of the last 22 in this series, and win No. 19 will lock in a trip to Atlanta in December for Will Muschamp's team. Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease will test Georgia's 72nd-ranked run defense early and often; the Gators have run the ball 319 teams this season and thrown it just 134 times. Georgia will look to turn around an unimpressive three-game stretch that includes a 35-7 loss to South Carolina and two wins by a total of 12 points over Tennessee and Kentucky (combined SEC record: 0-9).
Texas Tech at Kansas State (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX): It's pretty safe to say not many people saw this as a battle for Big 12 supremacy this preseason. The teams that combined to knock West Virginia out of any title conversations square off with first place on the line. Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville's reputation as a giant killer preceeds him, according to blogger Matt Hinton, Tubberville is 7-4 versus top 5 opponents since 2000. Texas Tech, which boasts the Big 12's top defense statistically, meets the conference's most diverse attack: quarterback Collin Klein is the second-most efficient passer in the nation while also rushing for 14 scores, and tailback John Hubert has four 100-yard games on the year. Meanwhile, Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege meets the Big 12's leading pass efficiency defense fresh off a whitewashing of West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith (season-low 143 passing yards, two interceptions).
Duke at Florida State (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU): Saturday's Duke-Florida State game featues a team in control of its own destiny to win the ACC championship, and Florida State. Yes, it is Duke that is alone in first place of the ACC's Coastal Divison, while Florida State needs to win out and a Clemson loss to win the ACC's Atlantic Division. The Blue Devils clinched their first bowl appearance since 1994 with last week's 33-30 win over North Carolina, but to achieve more than that David Cutcliffe's team will need to find a way to slow down the ACC's most statistically-sound team. Jimbo Fisher's squad leads the ACC in nine categories including total offense, scoring offense, total defense and scoring defense.
USC at Arizona (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2): Pac-12 South leading USC travels to Tucson to face 4-3 (1-3 Pac-12) Arizona in what figures to be an easy Trojans win, right? Not exactly. Behind Rich Rodriguez's fifth-ranked total offense, Arizona is the 13th best team in college football according to Football Outsiders' F/+ rankings, six spots ahead of USC. The Wildcats have played better than their record indicates, after close losses to Stanford and Oregon State, Arizona is fresh off a 52-17 pounding of Washington. After losing its conference opener at Stanford, Lane Kiffin's team has feasted on the lower rungs of the Pac-12 standings with wins over California, Utah, Washington and Colorado (combined Pac-12 record: 4-13).
TCU at Oklahoma State (3:30 p.m. ET, FSN): Perhaps Mike Gundy and Gary Patterson can console each other on the hard luck each staff has been dealt at the quarterback position. After redshirt freshman quarterback J.W. Walsh ably stepped in for opening-day starter Wes Lunt, accounting for 461 yards of total offense in a win over Iowa State last week, before he was lost for the season with a knee injury. Oklahoma State will either turn back to Lunt, a true freshman, or to third-string quarterback Clint Chelf. On the opposite sideline, redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin continues to improve as TCU's newly-minted starting quarterback. Boykin threw for 332 yards and four touchdowns in his third start on Saturday versus Texas Tech. Like the majority of games pitting the Big 12's middle class, expect a down-to-the-wire outcome with both teams reaching the mid-30's.
Ohio State at Penn State (5:30 p.m., ESPN): Technically, this is the most meaningless game on the Big Ten schedule in 2012. Or, depending on what you read, it could be the most meaningful college football game played this year. This game could wind up deciding the Big Ten Coach of the Year, as both first year coaches' fingerprints are evident through the improvements each quarterback has shown from 2011. Bill O'Brien's has completely transformed Nittany Lions quarterback Matt McGloin, improving the senior's 2011 totals (1,571 yards with eight touchdowns and five interceptions) through just seven games. McGloin leads the Big Ten with 1,788 passing yards while tossing 14 scores against just two picks. His counterpart, Ohio State sophomore Braxton Miller, places second in the conference with 2,349 yards of total offense and ranks second among all FBS quarterbacks with 959 rushing yards.
Notre Dame at Oklahoma (8 p.m. ET, ABC): Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly stated earlier this week he wants his program to emulate the success that Oklahoma has enjoyed under Bob Stoops. His team can start with a win in Norman on Saturday night. The closer and more low-scoring this game plays the more it will benefit Notre Dame. Oklahoma teams tend to pounce early on any displays of weakness but can fold in a 60 minute boxing match. After going a solid half-decade without losing in Norman, Oklahoma has lost two of its last six home games. Both losses contained a minus-2 turnover margin for the Sooners, good news for Notre Dame and it's plus-9 turnover balance. Notre Dame needs to improve on its 43 percent third-down conversion rate to keep Oklahoma's explosive offense on the sideline.
Michigan at Nebraska (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2): The Big Ten's most-explosive offense hosts the league's most sneaky-good defense in a game that could ultimately decide the Big Ten's Legends Division title. Nebraska leads the Big Ten and ranks among college football's top dozen offenses in yards gained (512.4 per game, 6.9 per play) and scoring (41.6 points per game) faces a Michigan team that arrives in Lincoln quiety riding a three-game winning streak. Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison's unit has held its last five opponents to 13 points or less and checks in at No. 10 nationally in total defense (277.1 yards per game, 4.4 yards per play).
Mississippi State at Alabama (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): Both of these teams have benefitted from back-loaded schedules to arrive at this game with a 7-0 record. Only one of these teams has something to prove, however, and it's not the Crimson Tide. Mississippi State hasn't beaten Alabama since Nick Saban's first season and has scored 10 combined points through the first three quarters of the past four meetings. Fortunately for Dan Mullen, his team excells at the best ingredient to creating an upset - Mississippi State leads the nation in turnover margin. But unforunately for Mullen, Alabama checks in just two spots behind Mississippi State in the national rankings.
After the Buckeyes scored against Purdue on Saturday with three seconds left, a decision had to be made. Do you give the ball to your 240 pound running back, or throw the ball with your backup quarterback for the two point conversion to send the game into overtime?
The offensive line and running back wanted the game on their shoulders, and told the coaching staff to run behind them for the points. But offensive coordinator Tom Herman was up in the press box with a different perspective, away from the emotion on the sidelines.
“The sterility of the press box allows you not to get caught up in the emotion,” Herman explained after the game."
"It allows you not to get caught up in the moment and how big the moment is and be able to say, ‘Guys, I’ve got (the play call) right here. We’ve been practicing it for three weeks and it’s right here in front of me.’”
Herman added that his ability to pick his battles earlier in the season with head coach Urban Meyer may have led to the approval on the play call.
“Had I been fighting for everything that I had wanted for nine weeks, that one might not have gotten approved. So you pick your battles.”
The perspective from the press box can prove to be beneficial for many coordinators, and for Herman and the Buckeyes, the perspective clearly contributed to the win.
“I think that’s the beauty of being in that sterile environment in the press box is not getting caught up in the emotion and the enormity of the play, and really be able to calmly dissect what needs to happen in order to be successful.” Herman said.
It's hard to believe we're sitting at the halfway point of the 2012 college football season. We could have sworn Labor Day was just a week or two ago. Regardless, 50 percent of the season is already in the books. Here's what we found noteworthy from Week 7 of the college football slate.
1. Move over Ohio, is New Hampshire the new Cradle of Coaches? Probably not, but this stat (courtesy of Bruce Feldman) is astounding: Coaches from the state of New Hampshire, Chip Kelly and Dan Mullen, currently sit at 12-0 so far this season. Not bad for a state with zero FBS programs and just one FBS signee in 2012.
2. Speaking of the Buckeye State, Ohio stands as the top state in college football right now. Urban Meyer is 7-0 and ranked No. 7 in the AP poll in his first season at Ohio State. Butch Jones is 5-0 and ranked No. 21 at Cincinnati. Frank Solich has Ohio at 7-0 and No. 25 in the AP. In fact, the MAC East standings read Ohio, Kent State (5-1, 3-0), Bowling Green (4-3, 2-1) and Miami of Ohio (3-4, 2-1) while Toledo also sits atop the MAC West at 6-1 and 4-0 in the league. Ohio's seven FBS teams are a combined 38-14. Oh yeah, and Mount Union is also 5-0 and has allowed only seven points all season.
3. Arkansas seems to have put the wheels back on the wagon. One week after handling Auburn 24-7, the Razorbacks again looked like the top 10 team many expected to see in a 49-7 dismantling of Kentucky. No coach in the country could use a two-game winning streak more than the embattled John L. Smith. Yes, the wins came against teams that are a combined 0-8 in the SEC. But when you are 1-4, a two-game winning streak is a two-game winning streak.
4. Duke missed its first chance at bowl eligibility. David Cutcliffe's team jumped out in front of Virginia Tech 20-0 only to see the Hokies reel off the game's final 41 points. Duke's next three opponents (North Carolina, Clemson and Florida State) are a combined 16-4 until a date with 2-4 Georgia Tech in Atlanta on Nov. 17.
#Duke's David Cutcliffe reiterates Tuesday statement that #Hokies' Frank Beamer is the top coach in the country
5. Congrats to James Franklin and Vanderbilt for finally cracking the code to Florida's fourth quarter defense. After not allowing a point in any fourth quarter this season, Vanderbilt managed to register 10 points in the final frame on Saturday night. It wasn't enough to pull the upset as Will Muschamp's team improved to 6-0 with a 31-17 win. After being outscored 72-22 in fourth quarters last season, the Gators hold a 54-10 fourth quarter edge this season. Florida also claims come-from-behind wins over Texas A&M, Tennessee, LSU and Vanderbilt. Conditioning was clearly an emphasis of Muschamp in the off-season, and strength coach Jeff Dillman has definitely succeeded in transforming his team.
6. We're glad to see that Jerry Kill plans to coach again this Saturday. Kill suffered a seizure in his private locker room less than an hour after Minnesota's 21-13 loss to Northwestern on Saturday. Coach Kill was released from a Minneapolis hospital on Sunday morning.
7. Wisconsin has returned to form after a shaky start to the season. New offensive coordinator Matt Canada and interim offensive line coach Bart Miller have found their footing, and the Badgers' offense is back to its old ways. In a 38-14 win over Purdue, the Wisconsin offense rushed 57 times for 467 yards and four touchdowns. Starting tailback Montee Ball contributed 247 yards and three touchdowns on 29 rushes. After rushing for just 3.3 yards per carry over their first five games, Wisconsin is churning out 7.1 yards per attempt over its last two games. The Badgers are 5-2 and 2-1 in the Big Ten, a full two wins ahead of the pack of bowl-eligible teams in the Leaders Division.
8. Oregon will face an interesting challenge at Arizona State on Thursday night. In his first season in Tempe, Todd Graham has the Sun Devils sitting at 5-1 and ranked No. 24 in the Coaches Poll. Paul Randolph's defense is far and away the best unit in the Pac-12 on paper. Arizona State leads the league in total defense by nearly 60 yards per game over second place USC. The Sun Devils is giving up just 3.92 yards per play, nearly a full yard better than the rest of the conference. Randolph's unit also leads the conference in pass efficiency defense (4.86 yards per attempt), and its 3.23 yards per carry allowed is over a full yard better than Oregon's Pac-12 opposition to date. And then there's this: the last time Oregon traveled to the Grand Canyon State on a Thursday night was in 2007 when the No. 2 ranked Ducks lost to Arizona, 34-24. Chip Kelly and co. will hope history doesn't repeat itself this week. Scott and Zach from our staff will be at this game. More on this to come later in the week.
9. Notre Dame trailed for the first time this season on Saturday. The Fighting Irish actually trailed for a full quarter against Stanford after falling behind 10-3 at halftime; they didn't tie the game until a 24-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter. Brian Kelly's team trailed again 13-10 before scoring the game's final 10 points in a 20-13 overtime win. Bob Diaco's defense still has not (officially) surrendered an offensive touchdown in four full games.
10. Midweek action begins this week in college football. Starting with Louisiana - Lafayette at North Texas tomorrow night, we will have Tuesday or Wednesday night football all but one week through Thanksgiving.