COLUMBUS (AP) — Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema and Ohio State’s Urban Meyer quibbled (which may be a rather sedate way of putting it) over Meyer allegedly poaching recruits who had verbally committed to other Big Ten schools. One native Ohioan, OL Kyle Dodson, had said he was going to play for the Badgers but then backed out of that and later came to Ohio State.
Bielema said this week that way too much was made of the minor flap.
“Obviously, there was a lot written in the offseason. The unfortunate part of that is it was really a lot of to do about nothing,” Bielema said. “I only met Urban a couple of times before his introduction into the league. One was a real enjoyable experience when he came here as an (ESPN) analyst. I really enjoyed sitting down with him, and hopefully he did as well. So that part is unfortunate.”
Wisconsin has six native Ohioans on its roster, including three starters and two second-teamers. It’s only natural that there might be clashes between the schools.
“We do a lot of recruiting in Ohio. So the kids know each other,” Bielema said. “That builds up a little bit of animosity and some feelings out there more than anything. I’ve learned early on in my coaching career you lose more friends in recruiting in the coaching world than you do on game days.”
Bielema is hoping the whole thing passes.
“I think on Saturdays, you just kind of play, shake hands afterwards, and move on,” he said. “Recruiting, you wear that on your sleeve. That’s something that’s the lifeline of your program, and a lot of times that’s where feelings get very emotional.”
Meyer was asked if he was now on the same page with the Wisconsin coach after last winter’s tiff.
“Same page? I have a lot of respect for his team,” he said. “Other than that, we’re fine. That was kind of a lot of stuff that was blown up. I’ve never had any issue other than they’re a good team.”
SIMON IN SEMIS: DE John Simon has been announced as one of eight semifinalists for the annual Lott IMPACT Trophy.
The 6-foot-2, 270-pound senior from Youngstown has 10.5 tackles for loss and five sacks for the undefeated Buckeyes.
“John possesses a burning passion for success that I have never witnessed in a college student-athlete,” Meyer said. “His performance on the field speaks for itself, but the off-the-field commitment and performance is what distinguishes John from every other player I have ever coached. His training and study habits are off the charts. He is the ultimate team player.”
Other semifinalists include Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o, Stanford LB Chase Thomas, LSU S Eric Reid, Georgia LB Jarvis Jones, San Jose State DE Travis Johnson, Kansas State LB Arthur Brown and Mississippi State CB Johnthan Banks.
Simon was also a semifinalist a year ago and Te’o a finalist.
Ohio State LB James Laurinaitis won the award — which goes to players who affect their teams the most on and off the field — in 2008.
THEY SAID IT: Bielema on the execution and timing between Ohio State QB Braxton Miller and his WRs: “Of all the films you watch (of Ohio State), you see a progression every week.”
WHAT ARE THE ODDS? Wisconsin was favored by 1.5 at the start of the week in Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. game on ABC, with the margin rising to 3 points by Wednesday. It has dropped to 2.5 points now.
BACK TO WORK: Meyer said he was very concerned how his team would come back from last week’s bye. He’s encouraged by what he’s seen so far, but that doesn’t mean problems don’t crop up.
“We’re very worried about that. I guess you worry about everything,” he said. “Over the past 11 years as a head coach, that’s a big concern. There’s a couple (of theories that) you go into it gradually, or you just put the ball down and go as hard as we can — and that’s what we did. Usually that works.”
LATE ARRIVAL: A lot has been made of Curt Phillips, the third-string Wisconsin QB who has persevered through a string of injuries including rehabbing two times from ACL tears to become a starter.
Many Buckeyes are impressed with what Phillips has overcome, and also with what he can still do.
“He’s an athlete,” coach Urban Meyer said. “I kind of admire him, I don’t know him, but I read a little bit about him where he had injuries. I have a lot of admiration for tough people. Everything I’ve read about this guy, he’s a tough guy. Our coaches said he’s a good thrower but he’s the best athlete of the quarterbacks we’ve played against this year.”
Phillips makes for an interesting story about perseverance and dedication.
“Yeah, it is,” said LB Zach Boren. “I watched the Indiana game a little bit. I saw that he’s torn two ACLs, so it’s definitely hard. But he’s made a great comeback and I wish him the best.”
The problem is, how do you prepare for a quarterback who has seldom played because he’s been injured?
“He’s a different kid. The offense is different,” DBs coach Kerry Coombs said of Phillips now compared to when he last played a little in 2009. “He had played 15 snaps coming in (to last week’s Indiana game). Tell you what he is, he’s a leader. He made a lot of plays and you could see the offense really was drawn to him. So we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
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