Updated at 2:45 p.m.
Despite bringing two national titles and dozens of victories to Gainesville, FL, over his six seasons with the Florida Gators, former head coach Urban Meyer has drawn the ire of fans over the last few years for how the team played in 2010 and the way he left the program and subsequently took over the Ohio State Buckeyes.
The remaining Florida fans Meyer still had on his side may finally find a reason to turn against him if a recent report that he turned in a Gators assistant coach for a minor secondary recruiting violation is indeed true.
According to FOXSports.com’s Clay Travis, who only cites “sources in New York” in his column, Meyer and Ohio State recently turned in Florida running backs coach Brian White for a “bump” violation (contacting a recruit, usually “accidentally” in person, during a non-contact period) while recruiting four-star 2014 wide receiver Curtis Samuel.
Chances are that Meyer likely reported White not for bumping into Samuel but rather because he believed White offered Samuel a scholarship while at his school, which is a secondary violation. Samuel told InsidetheGators.com that UF head coach Will Muschamp called to extend a scholarship offer following White’s visit on April 16.
Though the NCAA reportedly investigated the potential violation and found that White had done nothing wrong, Meyer going out of his way to report a former assistant – one he originally hired to coach tight ends for the Gators in 2009 – is an action that should undoubtedly put a sour taste in the mouths of Florida fans.
Reporting any coach or program, let alone an ex-assistant from his former employer, for this potential violation could also be seen as hypocritical considering Meyer himself has been accused of “bumping” into recruits on more than one occasion, including during his time with the Buckeyes.
An April 2012 column from the Sporting News’ Matt Hayes alleges Meyer and his staff used the practice to get in touch with a recruit committed to Wisconsin.
Travis calls Meyer’s decision to report a former assistant “unprecedented,” noting that doing so is “unheard of in college athletics” and that no one he spoke to “could recall a former coach turning in his former program and a former assistant coach.”
This is also (at least) the third time since Meyer joined Ohio State that there has been a problem when running into Florida on the recruiting trail.
The Gators believe Meyer and the Buckeyes negatively recruited Florida to five-star 2012 WR Stefon Diggs, who was set to choose between a final four of UF, OSU, Auburn and Maryland. (He eventually committed to UM.)
In the same Sporting News report, Ohio State running backs coach Stan Drayton, who held the same position under Meyer at Florida, had a problem with Muschamp and the Gators recruiting three-star 2012 WR Ricquan Southward because he believed there was a “gentlemen’s agreement” between the two coaches. Southward signed with the Buckeyes but has since left the program.
Meyer denied both the “bumping” incident and the notion that he and Muschamp had any sort of gentlemen’s agreement.
His alleged actions in regards to White would certainly support the latter denial.
Update – 12:30 p.m.: Meyer denied to The Gainesville Sun‘s Pat Dooley that he had any involvement in turning in White for the alleged secondary recruiting violation. “It is absolutely not true that I turned in the University of Florida,” Meyer told Dooley via text message. “Weeks after, I learned our compliance guy (without any coach involvement) forwarded an article to the conference office. This is standard procedure. Once again, zero coach involvement.” Citing sources, Dooley also reports that OSU turned in UF in 2012 when four-star defensive end Jordan Sherit visited Florida with a friend who happened to be a member of the Gators football team. Sherit will be starting his true freshman season at Florida this fall.
Update – 2:45 p.m.: Citing a “source with knowledge of the situation,” ESPN‘s Brett McMurphy reported Wednesday afternoon that Meyer was not only aware of the Buckeyes turning in the Gators for a potential secondary recruiting violation but also “endorsed” the decision. “Ohio State director of player personnel Mark Pantoni read about the possible ‘bump’ on a recruiting website and informed Meyer of the incident, a source told ESPN.” Pantoni held a similar position under Meyer at Florida.
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