CAMP HILL, Pa. (AP) — Urban Meyer created a minor stir at a news conference Friday for a high school All-Star football game between Ohio and Pennsylvania without saying a word.
Imagine what Ohio State’s new coach could do on the recruiting trail in Pennsylvania, long fertile territory for prospective talent for the Buckeyes. There’s an added twist, too, in the interstate recruiting battles: Ohio State, Penn State and Pitt each have new coaches.
“There’s change. There’s maybe a little level of discomfort in what had happened in Columbus,” Meyer said when asked about how the dynamics of having three new coaches at each school might affect recruiting tussles. “Just keep fighting through it, and work as hard as you can moving forward.”
Ten minutes late, Meyer was seated before a bank of microphones right next to the Big Ten’s other high-profile new hire, the Nittany Lions’ Bill O’Brien, at the news conference to promote the Big 33 high school football game between Ohio and Pennsylvania. Also in attendance were Pittsburgh Steelers star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, new Pitt coach Paul Chryst and Temple coach Steve Addazio — Meyer’s offensive coordinator at Florida.
Among the Pennsylvania contingent of coaches at the podium, Addazio was the dean of the delegation — and he’s only in his second year.
“I’ll take all the advice I can get,” O’Brien joked.
“Let me tell you something. I’m in no position to give any advice, OK,” Addazio retorted, drawing chuckles. “It’s hysterical to me sometimes how fast our business moves.”
Each member of the Pennsylvania contingent offered Meyer a cordial welcome upon his late arrival. Later, when they walked out on stage during a high-tech introduction before at least a couple hundred people inside an auditorium, Meyer was introduced before O’Brien — but O’Brien drew the biggest round of applause.
This is still Nittany Lions territory, after all.
“If you compare head coaches, I would say that Urban’s got the proven track record. I’ve never coached a game yet,” said O’Brien, the former New England Patriots offensive coordinator entering his maiden season as a head coach. “What we try to do at Penn State is talk about Penn State .... At the end of the day, we worry about the kids who choose Penn State.”
For Meyer, it was his second trip this week into a hostile football territory that also lies in a Ohio State recruiting target area. Meyer was at a high school football camp outside Detroit on Wednesday to speak to attendees from across the country. Michigan coach Brady Hoke and Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi were among other coaches in attendance.
“You don’t have to think about the difference in how it was or how it’s going to be,” Meyer said Friday about recruiting, “except that it’s a street fight every day and you work as hard as you can.”
Meyer and O’Brien are acquaintances from when Meyer was an assistant at Notre Dame and O’Brien an assistant at Georgia Tech.
Chryst, a former assistant at Wisconsin, concurred with O’Brien that recruiting was about finding the “right fit.”
“Our job is to let players know, prospects known, who we are. Then to me it’s about finding a fit,” Chryst said. “You want football to be great in this state ... we can all be strong with Pennsylvania kids.”
Chryst made those comments with O’Brien and Addazio sitting before the microphones — but before Meyer arrived.
Tight end Adam Breneman, who has verbally committed to Penn State for the Class of 2013, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during offseason drills Thursday and will miss his senior season at Cedar Cliff High School. Breneman, considered one of the prospects in the country, chose Penn State over Ohio State. He told The Patriot-News of Harrisburg that he now intends to enroll at Penn State early, and that he’s working with Penn State’s medical staff within NCAA guidelines.