Shady OSU? Weber 'hurt' RB coach is leaving

Tony Paul and David Goricki
The Detroit News

Detroit — Wednesday wasn't an overly happy day for Mike Weber, who admitted he felt bad letting down Michigan.

Well, Thursday wasn't a great day, either, as the star Detroit Cass Tech running back learned his future running backs coach at Ohio State won't be his running backs coach, after all.

Reports started circulating early Thursday night that Stan Drayton is leaving Ohio State to join the NFL's Chicago Bears in the same capacity.

"I'm hurt as hell I ain't gone lie," Weber wrote on Twitter.

Weber did not immediately return a message from The News.

He did take the hashtag BuckeyeNation off his Twitter bio Thursday.

Weber made an excruciatingly difficult decision Wednesday, National Signing Day, when he turned down the team he grew up rooting for, Michigan, to stick with his commitment to Ohio State. He didn't make the decision until around 10:30 a.m., after new Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh made one last push.

Weber talked glowingly about both the UM and OSU staffs, and said he was eager to get started with his new coaches in Columbus. But Drayton, clearly impactful in the recruiting of Weber, won't be one of them.

"I knew Coach Drayton recruited Mikey, came up to the school several times to see him," Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher told The News on Thursday. "Really, he was one of the guys who kept hollering at Mikey until they sealed the deal with him.

"I don't know how Mikey feels, but I'll talk to him later (Thursday). He signed the letter of intent, but he hasn't enrolled yet. We'll find out what's going on."

The timing of this move is odd, to put it mildly.

John Fox was named the new Chicago Bears coach in early January, and much of his coaching staff was in place shortly thereafter. It seems curious Drayton would be making the move only after Weber signed his letter of intent to play for Ohio State.

This is somewhat common in college football — for a college coach to leave a school for another job only after said school secures a key commitment. Had Drayton left before Wednesday, OSU might've run the risk of losing Weber to Michigan.

A similar thing happened Wednesday with UCLA prized recruit Roquan Smith, a linebacker who declared his intention to join the Bruins during a signing-day ceremony. But he held off on faxing in the paperwork once word started circulating that UCLA defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich might be leaving for the Atlanta Falcons. Because Smith didn't send in his letter of intent, he's free to consider other schools, and according to reports, Michigan is one of the schools he's now looking at.

However, once an athlete signs a letter of intent, as Weber did Wednesday before the Drayton reports Thursday, that's a binding contract between the player and school, regardless whether a pivotal coach leaves for another job. If Weber wanted out, he would need Ohio State's permission.

On Wednesday, Drayton hailed Ohio State's recruiting class, tweeting, "Ohio State will help them reach dreams."

On Thursday, he was saying his goodbyes on Twitter.

Drayton, 43, has been on Urban Meyer's staff all four years at OSU, and before that worked with him in Florida. Drayton also once was an assistant football coach at Eastern Michigan.

Weber, 17, the top prospect on The Detroit News Blue Chip list, originally committed to Michigan, but balked late in the season during the Wolverines' loss to Maryland, then officially switched to Ohio State after Brady Hoke was fired. He honored that commitment Wednesday, only after weeks of going back and forth in his mind.