Yesterday I took a Saturday off from watching high school football talent to take in the Ohio Dominican University football game against Grand Valley State. As most people know, I am a big booster of Division 2 football here in Ohio. ODU and Ashland University both get my "stuff," and I am familiar with their programs.
Ohio Dominican University was in full throttle scoring on a kickoff return, a punt return, passes, and runs. They stepped on nationally rated Grand Valley's neck and never let up. Also nice was the fact that I had evaluated many of ODU players during their high school years. On the roster, there many young players who are waiting their turn. But I recognized a bunch of them.
Head Coach Bill Conley has been a friend of mine for many years. First met him when he was the head coach at Middletown High School. Followed him when he went to Ohio State's staff. After being out of coaching for a few years, Bill took over a "bad" program in which the former head coach had done a poor job in recruiting. No Ohio background and no recruiting ability. Then the AD reached out to Bill Conley - born and raised in Ohio.
Conley was the backbone of Ohio State's football success from his football recruiting director's position. He was a solid evaluator of talent, but his strength was communicating with prospects, parents, and high school coaches. Of course, he was organized and had a plan and direction. Most importantly of all, he could sell Ohio State football, because he believed in the product. He is a good salesman.
After he was named head coach ODU, he used the same skills that he used at O-State. But with this job he had to hire a quality coaching staff and a hard working supporting staff. Those hires have worked out well. As I talked with him, I knew that he had a plan to bring a winning attitude to Ohio Dominican University football. If the beating that Grand Valley took yesterday is any indication, ODU is going in the right direction.
Ashland University is rebuilding, but I have tremendous respect for the work that head coach Lee Owens does. The other Division 2 schools in Ohio do not get my service, so I am not as familiar with their programs.
Finally, just as there are college players in the BCS sitting the pine who should be playing mid major level football, there are mid major players who should be playing Division 2 football. I promise you there are players playing at Division 2 schools in Ohio who could be contributing on the Division 1 level. After the excitement of getting noticed by Division 1 programs, be sure not to forget about the Ohio Dominican's and the Ashland's.