Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez spent most of his life in coaching, and he knows recruiting can be a messy process.
But Alvarez also knows the difference between questionable recruiting practices and illegal ones. And to his knowledge, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer didn't do anything illegal in compiling the Buckeyes' latest recruiting class.
Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema accused Meyer of "illegal" recruiting practices Wednesday and told the Sporting News on Thursday that Alvarez soon would be discussing Meyer's recruiting with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany. Bielema said Alvarez would bring it up at an athletic directors' meeting Friday, but the Big Ten confirmed to ESPN.com that there is no such meeting.
Colleague Joe Schad caught up Friday with Alvarez, who said he has no issue with coaches "flipping" recruits who had committed to another school. Meyer flipped several for Ohio State's class, including offensive lineman Kyle Dodson, a Wisconsin commit.
"Recruiting is recruiting until they sign," Alvarez told Schad. "If we had somebody who changed their mind and came to us, that's OK. Urban [Meyer] was very aggressive but there is no pact within the conference not to continue to recruit. It's open season until they sign."
Alvarez also said he's unaware of any "illegal" tactics by Meyer and hasn't spoken with Delany.
"It's dangerous to point fingers and make accusations," Alvarez said. "I actually think recruiting is tamer now that it was at one point in time."
Sounds like Bielema and his boss need to have a talk. It's dangerous to throw out the word "illegal" without some strong evidence to back it up.
Again, I don't think Bielema is talking about flipping recruits or the Big Ten's "gentleman's agreement" not to do so. The "agreement" is a joke and gets violated every year by several schools. Wisconsin has violated it in the past. As Bielema told me Wednesday, "As coaches, we're all vultures. They smell something and they want to try and see if there's an interest."
There's a difference between unethical and illegal.
If Meyer violated NCAA rules in his recruiting, someone needs to come forward and talk about it. Vague accusations don't help. But whether or not it's true, there has to be a bigger issue here than flipping recruits.
Is there some larger issue here? If so, Bielema needs to clue in someone. Like Alvarez.