Maybe Jim Harbaugh felt a little extra fire in the belly after his Gatorade-soaked Wheaties on Saturday morning when the Michigan coach apparently decided to pick a fight with Ohio State.
We heard plenty late last week about the untimely departure to the Chicago Bears of Ohio State running backs coach Stan Drayton – and how it upset new signee Mike Weber of Detroit, who selected the Buckeyes over Michigan in part because of his relationship with Drayton.
Well, Harbaugh’s decision to weigh in – if that is, in fact, what he did – brought more attention to a simmering issue in recruiting with legs far beyond the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry.
Thought of the day - What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive! - Sir Walter Scott
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) February 7, 2015
Mark Pantoni, Ohio State director of player personnel, fired back, evoking a response from Harbaugh’s son, U-M tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh, which erased any doubt about the intentions of the original tweet.
Houston coach Tom Herman, the Buckeyes’ former offensive coordinator, and even Shelley Meyer got involved. Lest we lose sight of the issue, Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Bill Livingston writes that the Buckeyes' tactics were questionable.
This would make for great February fun if Weber wasn’t stuck in the middle. Similar situations are playing out with prospects who pledged to attend or signed with UCLA, Texas, Florida and Notre Dame.
It's not going to be fixed by trash talk on Twitter.
I won't get on a soapbox over the silly nature of the reasoning that kids should pick a school for the school, not the coach. The peddlers of that propaganda will also remind you that recruiting is first about relationships.
To argue over which notion makes more sense is to go round and round in a discussion with no logical conclusion.
And that leaves us where? Well, perhaps, on the cusp of a solution.
Remember the recent news that the Division I conference commissioners would vote in June to institute an early signing period in December 2015? If the early signing period passes, it would go into effect for two years on a trial basis, with prospects allowed 72 hours to sign in conjunction with the mid-year junior college signing period.
The early period would bring some problems, notably many more opportunities for recruits to sign unwittingly with schools that then lose coaches. To boost the viability of the December signing period, as Jon Solomon of CBS Sports recently reported, the commissioners might consider adding an out clause to the National Letter of Intent.
If an out clause existed for December signees, it should apply in February, too, when similar circumstances exist.
And Ohio State coaches, in this situation, would likely feel compelled to keep a prospect like Weber up to date, even if it reduced the chance of signing him.
All parties would agree that the happiness and comfort of a student-athlete is more important than the last word in a Twitter scuffle between privileged adults. Right?
On to the links from the rest of the league:
Michigan State continues to perform better than its rankings in recruiting.
Rutgers’ haul of New Jersey signees is more about quality than quantity, according to its recruiting coordinator, Phil Galiano.
Maryland is seeking a medical redshirt for junior quarterback Caleb Rowe.
An insightful look behind the scenes of signing day at Illinois.
Wisconsin is counting on its walk-ons to help.
Nebraska will need help on defense, especially at linebacker, from its signees under new coordinator Mark Banker.
Former Minnesota receiver Donovahn Jones is headed to an FCS program.
Iowa QB signee Ryan Boyle throws a pair of touchdowns for Team USA.