- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema made waves Wednesday when he suggested new Ohio State coach Urban Meyer used "illegal" recruiting practices in signing his first class.
Now it appears that Bielema and Wisconsin are taking things to the next level.
Sporting News reported Thursday that Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez will speak with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany about Meyer's recruiting methods during the league's next athletic director meetings.
During his National Signing Day press conference, Bielema hinted that Meyer was using "illegal" recruiting practices. He said as much again Thursday when contacted by Sporting News, and without getting into specifics offered this:
"I called Urban and we spoke about it," Bielema said. "We talked about it, and he said it would stop and it did. I'll let our commissioner deal with anything else. That's not who we are [in the Big Ten]. We settle things among ourselves as coaches."
Meyer's arrival and big splash on the recruiting trail, which included flipping several recruits committed to other Big Ten schools, clearly has rankled coaches in the league. There's a belief, whether it's real or not, that things are done differently in the Big Ten. Bielema spells it out to the Sporting News' Matt Hayes, saying, "We at the Big Ten don't want to be like the SEC -- in any way, shape or form."
Meyer, of course, made his previous coaching stop in the SEC at Florida.
The Ohio State coach reiterated to Brian Bennett today that he assessed recruits' interest in the Buckeyes and only pursued those who wanted to play in Scarlet and Gray. He added that several prospects, like one-time Michigan State commit Se'Von Pittman, "came after us."
Are Wisconsin's complaints solely about the so-called "gentleman's agreement" in the Big Ten -- where coaches don't poach each other's recruits? Or is there something else?
I've seen the "agreement" violated every year. Even Bielema told me Wednesday, "We're all vultures." Sure, the recruit-flipping hasn't happened with the frequency we saw with Meyer at Ohio State -- nor with so many high-profile recruits -- but it happens a lot.
It'll be interesting to see what action, if any, Delany takes on this matter. Unless Meyer violated some NCAA recruiting bylaw, which it appears he did not, I can't see the Big Ten doing much.
Meanwhile, the Wisconsin-Ohio State rivalry just got even spicier.
8hSam Khan Jr.
10hDavid M. Hale