Taking a second look
Ohio State targets are waiting to see what happens next before deciding anything
Cincinnati Taft Under Armour All-American wide receiver Dwayne Stanford was surprised and saddened by the resignation of Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel, but it doesn't mean he's crossing the Buckeyes off his list.
"Well, you know I kind of had a good relationship with Coach Tressel and if I went there I was looking forward to him becoming my coach," Stanford said. "It's definitely a big letdown. I don't wish this on any coach, but I really wish it wasn't happening to Coach Tressel."
Few coaches can match the success Tressel had on the scoreboard and in the recruiting battles. With a 106-22 record over 11 seasons, Tressel was the face of college football in Ohio to a younger generation of fans.
"All I know when it comes to Ohio State is Coach Tressel because he was there when I really started watching football," Stanford said. "It's going to be weird for me to see Ohio State with another coach."
Although Tressel's term with the Buckeyes and the 15 years at Youngstown State that preceded it made him a household name in the Midwest, the 58-year-old's coaching influence reached far outside of the region. The Buckeyes were also successful recruiting into the Southeast, especially in Florida, where Tressel successfully recruited players like Santonio Holmes, Michael Jenkins and Chris Gamble.
Ohio State recruited three players from Florida in the Class of 2011 and were targeting several Florida prospects in 2012, including top safety Deon Bush (Miami/Christopher Columbus).
"Ohio State is a program that I was really interested in," Bush said. "Now I don't know what's going to happen with the coaching change because they had come to my school to see me twice this month already. They were definitely a school [that] was on the short list for an official visit."
Last week during the NFTC camp held on the Ohio State campus, the Buckeyes identified new targets and recently offered wide receiver Durron Neal (St. Louis/DeSmet Jesuit).
Although the 6-foot, 185-pound wide receiver expressed disappointment in the news, he remains interested in the program.
"I heard about this about 30 minutes ago and it doesn't change my interest in them," Neal said. "It's going to be a little confusing because the whole staff could change and there are questions with the NCAA. You have to wait and see because you can't go by everything you hear in the media. It's difficult right now and I'm just going to have to wait and see."
Over his 25 years as a coach in Ohio, Tressel had made contacts with virtually every high school coach in the state and not surprisingly the emotions attached to his resignation have left coaches stunned and speechless.
Ted Ginn Sr., the colorful head coach at Cleveland Glenville and father of former Buckeyes receiver Ted Ginn Jr., was at a lost for words.
"I have nothing to say right now," Ginn Sr. said.
With the announcement that Luke Fickell will be the interim coach for the 2011 season, it assures recruits that the coaching staff will most likely remain intact for most of this recruiting cycle.
However, speculation of the future leader of Ohio State football will run rampant for the next several months and lead to rumors that will not only affect the Buckeyes' ability to recruit but also affect several top programs around the nation with coaches who have ties to the school or the state.
Nebraska's Bo Pelini, Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and Michigan State's Mark Dantonio all have ties to the state or the program. All three names quickly surfaced as potential replacements as soon as the news about Tressel's resignation broke.
Stanford already has an idea of whom he would like to see hired as the next Buckeyes coach.
"Urban Meyer," Stanford said. "He could bring that SEC dominance to the Big Ten. Ohio State has had trouble in the past with SEC schools so him coming from that conference and bringing that success from Florida to Ohio State. He could just dominate the Big Ten and dominate the country."
Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at email@example.com.