Urban Meyer for Sipple 6.30.14

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer acknowledges Buckeye fans in Michigan Stadium as his team takes the field before last weekend's game against Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich. Unbeaten and second-ranked Ohio State plays No. 10 Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game in December 2013 in Indianapolis. 

Thank your lucky stars for James Franklin, Nebraska football fans.

Same goes for Urban Meyer.

Yes, Urban Meyer.

Meyer and Franklin are regarded as top-shelf recruiters in the Big Ten — arguably the best — and heaven knows the Big Ten, as an entity, needs all the help it can muster when it comes to recruiting. Without Meyer at Ohio State and Franklin at Penn State, the Big Ten would have zero chance of catching the Southeastern Conference.

Zip. Zilch. Nada. Forget it.

Maryland, set to officially join the Big Ten on Tuesday (along with Rutgers), must feel just wonderful that Franklin, a former Terrapins assistant, now raids the state as the Nittany Lions' first-year head coach.

"I predict and project that it won't be long before Penn State is going to challenge Ohio State and everyone else for the most talented team in the Big Ten," Big Ten Network analyst Gerry DiNardo said Saturday on Jack Arute's show on SiriusXM Radio.

Franklin and Meyer are important in the grand scheme because, "For the Big Ten to come back," DiNardo said, "the historically elite programs have to come back."

When DiNardo says "historically elite," he's talking about Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Nebraska. Ohio State, of course, has done more than its share of late — a combined 24-2 the last two seasons. The three others are on the chase. That can be a good thing in the long run.

"The traditional, historic powers must be maximizing their resources, which they haven't been doing in recent years, for the Big Ten to challenge the SEC for supremacy," DiNardo said of NU, PSU and Michigan.

Mike Farrell, national recruiting director for Rivals.com, can't say enough good things about Franklin and Meyer as recruiters. The more I hear about Franklin, the more impressed I become.

The 42-year-old worked wonders in three seasons as Vanderbilt's head coach. Now, he has the keys to, as Farrell puts it, "a stronger, faster car." He has it purring — the Nittany Lions are ranked fifth in Rivals' 2015 national recruiting rankings. They have 17 verbal commitments, including 10 from four-star players.

Franklin possesses "the ability to relate to every party involved" in the recruiting process, Farrell said.

"He can relate to parents, he can relate to the crazy uncle, to the high school coach, to rich kids, to not-so-rich kids, to seven-on-seven coaches," Farrell said. "He just has a very, very good personality for recruiting."

Meyer, meanwhile, is the master at working angles, Farrell said. Farrell, by the way, considers Meyer "the standard bearer for head-coach recruiting in college football. He's the guy."

Ohio State lags behind in the 2015 recruiting rankings — No. 28 by Rivals — but the Buckeyes' 2014 and 2013 classes were ranked third and second, respectively.

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"Urban can relate to any human being on Earth," Farrell said.

It's difficult to be a great recruiter if you don't enjoy the task. Franklin and Meyer seem to enjoy it.

"If you're annoyed by people, if you're a cranky person, if you're not a people-person, you're not going to recruit well," Farrell said. "There's a quality in having a patience for B.S.

"In this day and age in recruiting, with kids needing to be coddled and constantly paid attention to, and the narcissism that comes with Twitter and Facebook. … If you don't have the patience for all that, you're generally not going to stay in the running for all the top kids in the country."

* Farrell is blunt on the topic of whether Rutgers and Maryland will reap recruiting advantages by joining the Big Ten.

"I think it's more of an advantage for the rest of the Big Ten, honestly, than it is for Maryland and Rutgers," he said. "They're going to expose themselves to more competition, and they have not done a great job of keeping kids at home overall."

As a mid-Atlantic state, Maryland already gets raided from the south by the SEC and ACC (Florida State, for instance). And now, here comes the Big Ten with its far-reaching television network.

In 2014, Maryland did land five-star offensive lineman Damian Prince of Forestville, Md. In 2012, the Terps successfully recruited in-state wideout Stefon Diggs, a five-star speedster. But for the most part, too much elite talent has left the state.

At Rutgers, same thing. Greg Schiano did a decent job recruiting New Jersey as head coach from 2001-11, Farrell said. But too often, players like Brian Cushing (USC) and Jabrill Peppers (Michigan) of the world have gotten away.

"All the Maryland and D.C. kids say, 'How cool would it be if we all stayed together and went to Maryland?' But they never do," Farrell said.

"And the reason is, they don't win."

At least not consistently enough.

"If you're a good program moving to a good conference, like Texas A&M to the SEC, you're going to reap the rewards," Farrell said. "But if you're a mediocre or poor program going to a bigger conference, you're just bringing more teams into your state to take your kids away."

* It's not as if Nebraska has made a significant recruiting push into New Jersey and Maryland/D.C. According to Rivals.com, the Huskers have offered scholarships to 10 players in New Jersey and nine in Maryland/D.C., a slight increase from the previous two recruiting cycles.

That compares to 34 current offers in Florida, 32 in Texas and 25 in California.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com.​


Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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