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Friday, February 3, 2012
Meyer bringing SEC ways to the Big Ten?

By Chris Low

Talk about the irony of all ironies.

Urban Meyer is being called out again by one of the rival coaches in his league about recruiting tactics.

Remember the firestorm Lane Kiffin started almost three years ago to the date when he accused Meyer of cheating, albeit wrongly, during a post-signing day celebration?

That was an SEC tussle. Meyer was at Florida at the time and Kiffin at Tennessee for his 14 months of scorched earth detail.

It made for some pretty captivating theatre, as Kiffin was clearly doing anything and everything he could to get under Meyer’s skin. What ended up happening was that Kiffin got under SEC commissioner Mike Slive’s skin more than anybody, which led to Kiffin being officially reprimanded by the SEC and landing a permanent spot in Slive’s doghouse.

Now, here we are three years later, and Kiffin is at USC, where he’s toned it down considerably and done a terrific job coaching the Trojans despite severe NCAA sanctions, and Meyer is just wrapping up his first recruiting class, a star-studded one, at Ohio State.

This time, it’s Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema accusing Meyer of “illegal” recruiting tactics, although Bielema declined to be specific. One of the things that apparently irked Bielema was Meyer taking offensive lineman Kyle Dodson away from Wisconsin when Dodson had been committed to the Badgers.

That doesn’t exactly qualify as illegal, but it does qualify as being funny, especially to those of us in SEC locales.

Come on, they’re squabbling in the Big Ten about one school stealing another school’s recruits?

In the SEC, that’s a pre-requisite for recruiting. They give courses in this league on how to flip players and how to make your school look really good and the school(s) you’re recruiting against look really bad.

Some call it negative recruiting. Others call it surviving in the dog-eat-dog world of the SEC.

It’s a big-boy league, and that’s not changing any time soon.

Meyer knows that better than anyone. The pressure to win in this league is mind-numbing and never subsides. It’s one of the main reasons he’s no longer coaching in the SEC, although the football games on Saturdays at Ohio State generally rise above the level of just another extracurricular activity.

Perhaps the most telling thing to come out of this whole ordeal was Bielema’s quote to Matt Hayes of The Sporting News.

“I can tell you this: We at the Big Ten don’t want to be like the SEC -- in any way, shape or form,” Bielema said.

As Hayes points out in his piece, Bielema was referring to recruiting tactics and not necessarily the success the SEC has had on the field, specifically winning six straight BCS national championships.

Hey, Bielema is truly one of the good guys in the coaching profession and has done a bang-up job at Wisconsin.

But the truth is that until the Big Ten quits worrying so much about how the SEC goes about its business and instead gets down to the business of winning some games that count, any comparison of the two leagues is pointless.

And that’s in any way, shape or form.