Spring camp is nearing its end for the Ohio State football team, as the Buckeyes have just three practices left on the schedule, including the annual spring game, which is set for Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
OSU coach Urban Meyer spoke to the media on Monday after the team’s workout, and here are three of the most important things he addressed.
Meyer has never been one to mince words about rules he feels are unjust in college football, notably blasting the NCAA and College Football Playoff two seasons ago for not helping defray travel expenses for players’ families trying to attend the bowl games. His advocacy was instrumental in getting the NCAA to help fund a program.
The three-time national champion coach was at it again Monday, chastising a pair of recent rule changes that he said are bad for student-athletes.
The Division I Council ruled Friday to end limits on electronic communication and to forbid programs from hosting satellite camps. Satellite camps, which have increased in popularity in the last year, are when coaches appear as guests at schools in the South, or other areas laden with prospective recruits. OSU’s staff worked with Florida Atlantic at a camp in Florida in June.
Meyer said his frustration with the decision on satellite camps will have a negative impact on lesser-known recruits and smaller programs. Because players have to pay for camps on their own dime, the rule change could stop a player from Mississippi, for instance, from traveling to Columbus for a camp put on by OSU. But if Meyer and his staff were guests at a camp in South, it would be easier for said player to attend.
The same logic applies to smaller schools that work in conjunction in powerhouse programs. Since the rule mandates FBS schools host clinics and camps at their own facilities, Meyer said it hurts staffs at schools like Bowling Green in the Mid-American Conference, which before could have partnered with Meyer at an OSU camp. Now as a result, a lesser-valued recruit might not get the necessary exposure to have MAC schools offer scholarships.
Meyer said he thinks “probably hundreds of scholarships have come out of (Columbus)” to those nonblue-chip recruits.
“I hope they revisit it,” he said, adding, “Think about the student-athlete first.”
The coach took an even harder stance on the lift of texting regulations, which, in theory, could mean coaches could constantly bombard recruits with text messages.
“That’s the most ignorant thing I’ve ever heard,” Meyer said. “If they’re making a decision because coaches are upset about it, that’s not the point here … do you really want text messages from a hundred universities on your phone when you come out of school?”
Committees making these decisions should be consulting the student-athletes before making some changes, Meyer said.
“I think we learned our lesson on the (family travel expenses),” Meyer said. “Whoever has that checklist, No. 1: student-athlete.”
Making a mark
Meyer offered high praise about four early enrollees from the 2016 recruiting class: wide receiver Austin Mack, running back Antonio Williams, offensive tackle Michael Jordan and defensive end Jonathan Cooper.
“They’re much more than we ever thought they would be,” Meyer said. “Because you never know what you get. Sometimes high school coaches and people tell you, ‘They’re the greatest people in the world,’ then they get here and they’re not … But those kids are doing great.”
The coach’s praise stems from the recruits’ efforts beyond just the practice field. Meyer said they are excelling in the classroom, with GPAs above 3.0.
“They do everything right,” Meyer said.
Still talking about quarterbacks?
Redshirt junior J.T. Barrett is obviously the guy behind center this year for the Buckeyes, but there is still chatter about the other quarterbacks on the roster, namely about who will be Barrett’s backup.
Meyer said redshirt freshman Joe Burrow, after improving his release “night and day,” is “close” to being game ready. Burrow is also becoming a “much better runner,” Meyer said.
During the spring game on Saturday, Meyer said Burrow and redshirt sophomore Stephen Collier will play live a little bit, meaning contact, at least for some snaps, will not be off-limits.
Barrett, on the other hand, will wear a black jersey, although how much he plays is still up in the air, Meyer said.