Jordan Kovacs: Michigan-Ohio State rivalry will 'take that next step' after Urban Meyer hire
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
First-year Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer is facing a bit of heat this week after a Sporting News report took a scathing look at his tenure at Florida.
Say what you will about his character, or the impetus for his departure from the Gators, but the guy can coach and has two national championship rings to prove it.
Senior Michigan safety Jordan Kovacs and his teammates are well aware, and expect their rivalry with the Buckeyes to ratchet up because of it.
“It’s going to be great for the rivalry," Kovacs said Tuesday of Meyer's addition to college football's biggest rivalry. "Two of the best coaches in the nation are coaching these two programs, and they are recruiting better than anybody in the nation right now.
"It’s historically a great rivalry, and I think it’s going to take that next step, and going to be an elite rivalry for the next few years with these two going at it."
Michigan coach Brady Hoke went 11-2 in his first season in Ann Arbor, including a win in his debut against Ohio State. It snapped the Wolverines' seven-game losing streak in the series.
Meyer, meanwhile, already has secured a top-five recruiting class in his first few months since replacing interim coach Luke Fickell in Columbus.
Both programs have stumbled in recent years -- Michigan went 15-22 during Rich Rodriguez's three-year tenure, and Ohio State went 6-7 in Fickell's only season -- as well as incurred NCAA sanctions.
But they now appear to be trending upward with their new head men.
“Next year is going to be a big year for us, and them as well, and it’s going to be fun going down to Columbus and playing there," Kovacs said. "We’re really looking forward to it.”
Hoke wasn't quite so forthcoming, when asked during a teleconference Tuesday about facing Meyer.
“You’ve got two storied programs with storied tradition and, as far as I know, it’s never been about the coaches, it’s always been about the schools in that rivalry and the intensity of that whole week when you get ready to play each other,” Hoke said.
The two coaches know each other, but are not close, and that's as much as Hoke would divulge.
“I don’t know him great,” Hoke said. “I’ve talked to him on a few occasions, (but) that is all something that is personal to some degree.”