Recruiting is a whirlwind, but National Signing Day provides coaches a chance to take a deep breath and reflect on the grind and the top moments along the way. We asked several Big Ten coaches last week to share their favorite recruiting stories from the most recent cycle.
Gary Andersen's wardrobe malfunction
It was me, sitting in a car for three days straight with [assistant] Ben Strickland, and we're driving all through the Midwest. And we finally realized that we're going to end up staying overnight one night, and we have zero clothes. So we had to check into a hotel with no bags. We had to make a trip to the store, and Ben and I in four days got to know each other real well. Ben had to go himself some Wisconsin gear, and I had to go find a new shirt, a new coat, a new pair of pants and some shoes.
I can't even remember where we stopped. I think we were possibly in Chicago, but that's a little bit of a guess. We got it handled by the end, but it was a pretty interesting dynamic to recruiting. We got ourselves where we needed to be, we looked good the next day, but it didn't come without a little work. If I was going to write a book about this recruiting cycle at Wisconsin, first time through, that would definitely be Chapter 1. That was pretty interesting.
Bill O'Brien's bumpy ride
The last week of recruiting, I was flying in basically 40-mile-an-hour winds. I was in Virginia, that area most of the time, Pennsylvania some, but everywhere I was flying into, it felt like we were going down. So every place I ended up, I made sure to say to that player, "You better be a good player because I just put my life on the line landing here."
Jerry Kill's blown diet
Our coaches, once they got a hold of Coach Kill and got him on the road, they didn't let me eat much, I can tell you that. As soon as they got me off the plane and into the car, I was lucky to get a pretzel and a Diet Coke until they got me to the next place. ... But we ate a lot of different foods. I'm about 10 pounds up. Let's put it this way: every time you go into a home and sit down, there's usually a meal there. And I've always told our coaches, when you go on a recruiting trip, you make sure you eat everything. It's not polite not to finish your plate when you're on the road recruiting. So I think we all look like we didn't miss any good meals. Except for coach [Matt] Limegrover. He's down about 100 pounds. I think he gave it to the rest of us.
Kevin Wilson's signing day surprise
We had a kid who signed with us who didn't tell us until [signing] day. We were going to go see him the last week -- he was a young man we got in on late -- but then he committed elsewhere. So then we didn't go see him. A few days later, he called and said he wanted to reconsider. He ends up signing with us, and we didn't even go to see him. You know, you work, you work, you work and sometimes things just kind of work out.
Pat Fitzgerald's high school taunting
It was funny. I was at a high school in a hallway talking with a family. All of a sudden, one of the kids comes walking by and sees me and goes, "Hey, go Penn State!" One of his buddies then goes, "Be quiet, that guy's going to kick your butt." I just said, "Keep walking." So we have a lot of fun with some of the high school kids.
Urban Meyer gets pranked on signing day
Dontre [Wilson]'s high school coach called me as we were waiting on his text and he said, "We've got a problem here." I got up and walked out of the room and said, "What have we got going?" He said, "He's not sure he wants to do this." My heart sunk to my knees. And then he said, "Coach, did I get you?" I said, "Yeah, you got me." I'm going to get him back someday.