MADISON - It seems that UW coach Bret Bielema isn’t the only person that feels new Ohio State coach Urban Meyer doesn’t exactly do everything by the book.
In a revealing story this week by the Sporting News, former Florida football players accused Meyer of giving players in a ‘circle of trust’ special privileges and too much influential power by playing favorites, resulting in Meyer losing the Gators’ locker room due to rarely punishing players despite serious allegations.
The story also indicated that after Meyer started pursuing Maryland prep All-American wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who'd narrowed his choices to Ohio State, Florida and Maryland, as the new coach in Columbus, Meyer reportedly "told the Diggs family that he wouldn't let his son go to Florida because of significant character issues in the locker room."
In essence, he was recruiting against himself by pointing out issues that he himself was responsible for.
Bielema raised eyebrows in February during his national signing day press conference when he said Meyer and his Ohio State staff were doing some recruiting practices that were illegal, a claim Meyer vehemently denied then and still does.
Two months later, Bielema says he doesn’t feel ‘vindicated’ that he hasn’t been the only football person that had a run in with the new Ohio State head coach or that his comments weren't just a batch of sour grapes.
“When that whole thing came out … it was obviously a lot to be written,” said Bielema. “Not to slight (the media) but a lot of time what’s being written isn’t exactly what’s reality. That’s getting closer to it.
“I just know this. We handle ourselves in a certain way. In the Big Ten conference, we’ve been able to do that. When I called Coach Meyer and expressed a certain thing, he addressed it and handled it very quickly.”
According to the story, that issue would be Meyer having former Ohio State players currently in the NFL call recruits like Cleveland Heights offensive tackle Kyle Dodson, who backed out of an oral commitment to the Badgers to sign with the Buckeyes on signing day. The story also said UW officials accused Meyer and his staff of ‘bumping into’ Dodson. The practice of ‘bumping’ occurs when coaches accidentally bump into players during recruiting dead periods. Both the alleged phone calls and bumping are NCAA violations.
Bielema said Tuesday that the issue he brought up with Meyer had nothing to do with the so-called Big Ten ‘gentleman’s agreement,’ where some coaches agree to not recruit another school’s committed players, or ‘bumping,’ but did not address the claim of former players calling recruits.
“It’s just a lot of stuff that’s probably spinning its wheels,” said Bielema. “The only thing I am worried about is all the guys we are recruiting (and) how we recruit them. Obviously when you come into competition with other schools and you become aware of anything that concerns you, you have an obligation to say something.”
Bielema said the NCAA has addressed his concerns with the situation and that his only regret of the whole situation was not being more thorough with his complaint in the first place.
“The only regret is that I probably didn’t address it (in the media) cleaner and quicker,” said Bielema. “Any time you see something out there floating around that’s not really reality, it’s better to just cease it and stop it. Obviously it got a life of its own.”
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