Back in February, a day before Valentine's Day, we asked blog readers to vote for the most disliked coach in the Big Ten.
And, boy, did you vote. More than 27,000 people submitted their choices, and the "winner" by a slim margin was Ohio State's Urban Meyer.
Think about that for a moment. The most disliked coach in the Big Ten, according to our highly unscientific poll, was someone who won't coach his first game in the Big Ten until September. Why?
There are a couple reasons behind those feelings. Meyer definitely ruffled some feathers across the league with his aggressive recruiting tactics, flipping committed players to the Buckeyes and angering fans and some coaches along the way. Yet he certainly isn't the first nor the only coach to change a prospect's mind or push the envelope on the recruiting trail, even in the supposedly genteel Big Ten.
Some of it also must stem from the nature of Ohio State as a program. Because of their size and status, the Buckeyes are always going to be a lightning rod for other fans, especially those from Michigan. Kermit the Frog would get hate mail from some quarters if he coached in Columbus.
But those things can't fully explain the immediate dislike of Meyer. Sure, he has been criticized for the way he handled some things during his tenure at Florida, but since when do Big Ten fans care about what happens in Gainesville?
No, the underlying reason Meyer inspires hatred among some fans is simpler than that. It's because they know he wins. Wins big. And that's scary.
Meyer has a 104-23 record as a college head coach. He's won two national titles, guided Utah to an undefeated season and claimed two other BCS bowl victories. Anyone who doubts that the marriage between Meyer and Ohio State, with all its resources and access to elite Division I talent, isn't going to produce wildly successful results is fooling themselves.
Deep down, other fans know this, and that's a big reason why they don't like Meyer already. In sports, you don't truly hate those you don't view as threats. Red Sox fans hate the Yankees, but until recently the Yankees just saw the Red Sox as annoying pushovers. Same goes for Cardinals-Cubs.
It's no coincidence, then, that the four coaches we chose for our most disliked poll are all big-time winners. Wisconsin's Bret Bielema finished a close second to Meyer. Bielema has an engaging, outgoing personality, but he has also beat up on a lot of Big Ten teams while going 60-19 and making the past two Rose Bowls. And he's not afraid to keep pouring on the points when he's ahead. Same goes for Michigan State's Mark Dantonio, who has drawn the ire of Michigan fans by beating the Wolverines four straight times. You'll notice that no one hates Indiana's Kevin Wilson yet, because his Hoosiers have yet to defeat a Big Ten team. Brady Hoke isn't too popular in Ohio these days, but did Ohio State fans every really have cause to hate Rich Rodriguez?
Haters gonna hate, as they say. And winners are going to win. There's little doubt that Meyer is going to win at Ohio State, just as there's little doubt many won't like him because of it.