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'Scarlet and Gray Days' Proving to be a Recruiting Tool for Ohio State
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS — When the Big Ten Network announced that they would be doing a "Hard Knocks" type of show following the Buckeyes during Fall Camp called "Scarlet and Gray Days", the obvious question that was asked by many was, 'Why would Ohio State pull back the curtain like this?' Especially when it is customary to reveal as little as possible, and do so begrudgingly.

The answer, however, is easy and obvious — recruiting.

When an out-of-the-ordinary media proposal is sent to Ohio State or Urban Meyer, the first question considered is will this help recruiting? If the answer is yes, then there's a pretty good chance that Ohio State will do it, because in college football, everything is about recruiting. As Meyer will tell you, you can call the best play in the world, but if you don't have great players running that play, it's not going to work like it could.

"Scarlet and Gray Days" has only aired one episode so far — though the second episode is set for Wednesday August 26 — but it is already having the desired effect. According to tight ends coach Tim Hinton, they are constantly receiving positive feedback from recruits.

"All the time," he said. "We’re allowed to tweet out some things, do those things and the guys are able to get them. They hit you back and you get things like ‘Awesome!’ ‘Unbelievable!’ So, absolutely. This is a social media world we all know. What we can do with that? And they watch it and they see it, the things they do with it, it’s phenomenal what it does and the exposure that it gives you. Behind the scenes in recruiting I think you may gain those kids because, no offense, in the Midwest you have the Big Ten Network pushing it out, pushing it out, and pushing it out. Well, that doesn’t hurt you to be exposed, there’s no question they see you."

Not everybody has taken notice, however.

"Funny thing is, I haven’t had time to watch it yet," said cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs. "Shoot no. We’ve been working, we’ve been grinding, which is what we do. I’m sure some day I’ll enjoy it. Somebody sent me a tweet about it. I hope I didn’t embarrass myself, I usually do."

Even though he himself hasn't had time to watch it, Coombs absolutely understands the reach and impact that a weekly half-hour infomercial can have on the Ohio State Football program.

"The recruiting game is constantly changing," he explained. "You’ve got to find creative ways to reach out to young people and their parents to show them the product that you have. The reality is we have the best product in America. Our job is to make sure that everybody sees that. So how do you get that in front of those kids? How do you get that in front of their families, in front of their high schools coaches, and there’s got to be creative ways to do it because kids today are bombarded with information."

Ohio State has an entire graphics department tucked under their recruiting staff, producing promotional and recruiting materials. It's a necessity in an ever-changing frontier where trends may only last for a few days. The fact that Ohio State is able to stay on top of these trends — and even create some of their own — is a good sign for the future of the program.

"It’s a creative world," Hinton said. "You have to stay creative, you have to be able to have the ability to have connection with the recruit you have, and have him have a relationship with the position coach, hopefully a relationship with some players, and all the things it takes so that young man thinks, ‘This is my home.’

"Mom and Dad have to feel like academically, socially it’s a great fit for their son. There’s a lot of moving pieces with it. What’s really unique about it is that everyone is a little bit different. There’s not two the same. Every recruiting battle we have is a little bit different and why they make a choice. It’s just finding that button to push and that’s what makes it really hard to do."

Every player is different and they all need their own unique touches throughout the recruiting process. However, as a recruit who is interested in Ohio State, it would seem impossible to watch a weekly program about a team that has planted a flag on the mountaintop and not feel closer to said program.

It's simply another foot in a recruit's door, though at this point the Buckeye coaches have more feet crossing thresholds than your average centipede.

And it's all done with the sole purpose of gaining a recruit's attention, because every Ohio State coach and staffer believes that if they can just catch that attention long enough, that player will realize that nobody else can give them what they can.

"Opening a letter in the mail is different than it was five years ago," Coombs said. "So now our mission is to find creative ways to reach out to those kids, get them to see what we have to offer them, because I really believe if we do a good job of getting them to see it, they’re going to be Buckeyes because it’s the best product in America."

Player profiles relevant to story:
Coach - Coombs, Kerry | Coach - Hinton, Tim
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