With today’s announcement of Urban Meyer’s retirement, one of the first things I wondered about, like I’m sure many others did, was how this affected Zach Harrison’s recruitment.
There are arguments to make that it could have little to no impact, or a huge one. It’s still early to tell what is going through Harrison’s head, but let’s explore some possibilities.
The reason the effect of this coaching change could be minimal is Harrison’s strongest relationship isn’t with the head coach. In fact, Meyer had been seemingly keeping a distance from the Harrison recruitment. The Michigan Insider’s Steve Lorenz has reported there may have been some disagreement between Meyer and Harrison over how he runs the program ($). Meyer leaving could open Harrison up to a change in the day-to-day operations, and entice him to stay home.
Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson has been the lead recruiter here, and has done an excellent job. Harrison has called him the best defensive line coach in the country on multiple occasions. Johnson is the coach that would be the fatal blow for the Buckeyes’ chances if he left.
Now, Harrison may not have been Meyer’s biggest fan, but his mother loved him. It’s been reported one of the biggest things holding back Michigan’s chances is his mom is firmly in Ohio State’s camp. She has denied she’s pushing one school over another, but her choice has been pretty clear.
Now that Meyer is gone, this would likely mean she loosens up her stance on where her son attends college. They have not had much contact with soon-to-be head coach Ryan Day, considering he was the offensive coordinator and had no reason to be recruiting a defensive end. That’s an important relationship that would have to be cultivated in a very short time. The early signing day is Dec. 19, giving Day a little more than two weeks to get Harrison on board. Meanwhile, Al Washington and Greg Mattison have been working on the 5-star for months.
This change also gives Michigan more hope to sell the future of the program. Harrison was reportedly perturbed after the blowout loss in the last week of the regular season. He’s facing a lot of hometown pressure to stay and become a Buckeye, and that loss did not help. But Meyer leaving gives Harrison some room to say he doesn’t want to join a program who just lost the second-best coach in college football. Michigan can sell him on being part of a new era.
This recruitment was already tense before Meyer retired, and this just adds fuel to the fire. Both teams can spin this as a positive for their school, but neither can definitively be sure how it will affect Harrison. Buckle in, because this is going to be a wild finish.