Am I the only one who feels like Mike Weber probably handled the whole circus surrounding his recruitment and the related coaching change better than anybody else?
Granted, his Tweet about being “hurt as hell” was a catalyst for the first wave of reactions, but it’s hard to blame anyone for having an emotional reaction to something affecting his or her future and expressing that reaction. That’s especially true with a teenager who just made a big life decision then saw some of the information he probably used to make it change almost immediately.
Feeling and expressing emotions is an important part of life no matter our age. But actually being part of the process is also kind of key to having an emotional attachment, isn’t it?
At the end of the day, Weber kept his public comments to a minimum, and that was almost certainly for the best.
One could make the case he acted less like a high schooler than the adult university employees who may or may not have been (but probably were) subtweeting each other, and he displayed less emotion than anyone who wrote off the entire college football recruiting industry for its corruption and power imbalances.
On the most basic level, what happened with the man who was going to be Weber’s position coach, Stan Drayton, leaving right after signing day was not a good look for Drayton or Ohio State. But something we all tend to forget too often these days is reality trumps optics 100 percent of the time — or at least it should.
One could make the case opting to leave his home state to become a Buckeye didn’t look good for Weber, either, but at the end of the day he decided that was his best course of action. Ironically enough, that was something Drayton said he was trying to convince the prospect was the case before leaving his own home state for a different opportunity in Chicago, and he even used a personal example (his wife, a Detroit native like Weber) as a reason he was fit for helping Weber navigate the rest of his professional life after some would feel he turned his back on his homeland.
There are too many unknowns at this point to make a definitive statement that anyone was really done significantly wrong here. We don’t know what Drayton told Weber about how long he would be in Columbus, and we don’t know when the trigger was officially pulled on his hire by the Bears. While it is possible they did not make a final decision until the day the hiring was announced, it seems almost certain the team and Drayton had at least had conversations about the job in days prior. Given Weber’s aforementioned reaction, we can guess he either didn’t know or didn’t consider it likely Drayton could leave, but even if he had been warned it was possible, he still could have felt bad (or even hurt) about it when it actually happened.
It is fair to conclude things could have been handled better, and it is fair to say the situation is not a good one overall, but it doesn’t make Ohio State a bad place or Drayton or Urban Meyer bad men, in large part because such moves are prevalent across the country. College football is far from the only industry where job changes can and do occur at inconvenient times. I generally don’t tell many people around me about a prospective new job until it becomes a reality. Do you?
Additionally, I don’t think the way this appears to have gone down means there is any serious (or maybe I should say unique?) lack of integrity in Ohio State recruiting, but any prospect with such questions will get the chance to ask them when Meyer or one of his assistants comes calling. And since they often talk about liking to deal with players as men, they can say in all honesty things such as assistants leaving are facts of the business. If Weber didn’t know, he does now, and his few public words on the matter seem to indicate he is at peace with it.
If “How I Met Your Mother” hadn’t become such a terrible show by the end of its run, I’d reference the “glass breaking” episode here, but instead I’ll just say this: A big aspect of playing football is what it can teach us about real life, but nobody said all the lessons have to make us feel good. We’re probably better off that way.
Ultimately, there are mostly winners and few losers here: Weber ends up with a scholarship from one of the nation’s historically elite programs (which was never in doubt even if he changed his mind), Ohio State gets another potential offensive weapon, Jim Harbaugh got some good PR for taking a shot at the Buckeyes, Ohio State got the same in firing back and a high school coach facing questions about his loyalty to his alma mater as some of his best players leave the state got to look good for the locals by lobbing criticism at Meyer and OSU.
Many also got to deliver (or in some cases recycle) new (or in some cases old) proclamations about the evils of recruiting, the NCAA and Urban Meyer, too, so in essence everybody won. Well, except Michigan.