The most talked about era in Big Ten football is the aptly named the "Ten Year War" that took place in the 1970's, when Michigan and Ohio State dominated the conference behind powerful head coaches, Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes.
The years that followed those two coaches saw both teams go through periods of dominating their hated rival on the field, and not coincidentally, in recruiting.
With both schools hiring new coaches in the past few years, both Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer are having great success on the recruiting front, and they have had more than a few interesting battles. There will be more in the future.
For Hoke, the 2012 recruiting class saw him take advantage of Ohio State firing head coach Jim Tressel and he attacked the state of Ohio in a way not seen under former head coach Rich Rodriguez. Hoke's success in battling Ohio State for top prospects continues today.
With Ohio State reeling under sanctions and the uncertain status of Luke Fickell, Hoke swept into the state of Ohio and landed commitments from Tom Strobel, Kyle Kalis and Chris Wormley. While Wormley was always going to be a tough pull for the Buckeyes, who would have bet against Tressel going up against Rodriguez? Those two battling over recruits was similar to Rihanna's face battling Chris Brown's fist, with Tressel coming out on top as often as the fist. Strobel was thought to be an Ohio State lean all the way. Landing Kalis was the unkindest cut of all, as he was the signature recruit for Ohio State. His subsequent decommitment from the Buckeyes, to switch to the Wolverines, sent shockwaves across the recruiting landscape.
Ohio State needed a miracle to save them, and in late November of 2011 all prayers were answered when Urban Meyer came walking through the press conference door. Just as Hoke was bringing in the number-four ranked recruiting class in America for 2012, Meyer rescued the Buckeyes, leading them from nowhere in November to the number-three ranked class on National Signing Day. "Three-Star Heaven" was officially closed at Ohio State.
Both schools impressed greatly in the recruiting season of 2013, with Ohio State narrowly edging out Michigan for the top spot in the country.
For Michigan, the 2013 class was aided by winning a few recruiting battles with Ohio State in the state of Ohio. Holding on to Dymonte Thomas was key, and the Marlington star never wavered, even though Meyer did his best to flip him soon after he was hired. Hoke also won the battle over Hudson linebacker Ben Gedeon, who chose the Wolverines over the Buckeyes. Ohio State offered legacy recruit Michael McCray late in the process, but were not able to succeed in flipping him to his dad's school. Warren Howland's DeVeon Smith was also offered by Ohio State early in the process, but committed to Michigan a month prior to Gedeon.
Michigan also landed a commitment from one of Ohio's top 2014 prospects, St. Clairsville linebacker Michael Ferns last August, and the Wolverines had to be feeling pretty good about battling Meyer for top talent.
Leave it to Meyer to answer Hoke's success in a big way starting with a two-month period from December of 2012 through January of 2013.
Gareon Conley committed to Michigan mid-way through his junior season, as Ohio State ignored the Massillon star. Meyer decided to pursue Conley in late fall of 2012, and an offer was extended in mid-November. Conley's response? He decomitted from Michigan November 27, and committed to Meyer and the Buckeyes December 7 following an official visit.
In January 2013, Meyer struck once again, as Ohio State landed a commitment from Detroit Cass Tech's Damon Webb, which nobody saw coming. Again, that was Damon Webb, out of CASS TECH in Michigan. The Buckeyes have established a strong presence in Cass Tech, and other areas of Michigan, so look for recruiting scrapes inside that state as well going forward.
Meyer kept the recruiting momentum rolling by securing a commitment from four-star 2014 defensive end Lawrence Marshall, out of Southfield, Michigan, in February.
Hoke's response? Within days of committing to Ohio State, Marshall not only visited Michigan, but decommitted from Ohio State. By mid-May, Marshall was in the Michigan commit column.
Kyle Berger is the nation's number-two ranked outside linebacker, and the Cleveland St. Ignatius product also saw his recruitment come down to Ohio State and Michigan. After a fierce battle, and one that seemed to be fairly even for months, Berger selected the Buckeyes over the Wolverines.
The Michigan momentum continued this past weekend, as the Wolverines accepted the commitment of five-star cornerback Jabrill Peppers. He also briefly considered Ohio State, although they never made much headway with the New Jersey product.
NEXT BATTLE TO FOLLOW? Clairton (PA) Thomas Jefferson linebacker Chase Winovich has narrowed his list to Ohio State, Michigan and Pittsburgh, although it's tough to see the Panthers winning this one. More than likely, Winovich's recruitment will come down to Hoke and Meyer, and he is the next one to watch in this on-going battle between these two programs.