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Michigan, Ohio State head in opposite directions on national signing day

There’s no love loss between Michigan and Ohio State, and you can bet that extends to just about everything those two universities do. So, when the 2015 national signing day got under way, these two schools were going to compete hard to make an impact on the day.

However, the battle for supremacy on the recruiting trail really began just about one month ago as the Wolverines finally put an end to their coaching search.

Michigan got its man in Jim Harbaugh, but Ohio State wasn’t going to let “that university up north” stay in spotlight long. Instead, tOSU one-upped their bitter rivals by going out and winning the first College Football Playoff national championship. The next battle came in the final weeks of the 2015 recruiting cycle, and there’s little doubt who won that battle — Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes.

It became evident as ESPNU began its day-long coverage of national signing day with the announcement of 4-star tight end Chris Clark. Michigan’s class stood at a paltry nine players heading in to Wednesday and they were hoping Clark would be the catalyst to an impressive day.

That’s not exactly how it went though, as Clark started the trend towards the Bruins of UCLA. The only thing that went the Michigan way was getting 4-star tight end Tyrone Wheatley to chose them over the Bruins — and they can thank having his dad on staff for a lot of that commitment.

Sure, Harbaugh and Co. got a flip from 3-star running back Karan Higdon out of Sarasota (Fla.) Riverview, but he was rated as the No. 40 running back in the class and that wasn’t exactly the move-the-needle moment needed to keep pace with the rivals down south.

Ohio State on the other hand, they went in to the day already riding high. The Buckeyes had the No. 7 class in the country coming in to the day, but weren’t done with their work and managed to add a few players on national signing day for a 27-player haul. It ended the day up a spot at No. 6 — well ahead of the rest of the Big Ten and miles ahead of the Wolverines, who were No. 49 in the rankings.

Rankings aren’t everything, especially considering just how big the difference between the two classes were in numbers. What Michigan lacked in quantity, they got back in quality with six of the 14 players signed being of the 4-star variety.

That much should make Michigan fans happy about their overall class. However, being in on a number of players making announcements on national television and missing on every one of them can kill some of the good feelings built up by the work done up to national signing day.

One also just needs to look at the battles between the two rivals to understand just how difficult a job Harbaugh had in front of him for national signing day.

No battle showed just how tough things were down the stretch between these two schools than that of the recruitment of 4-star running back Michael Weber from Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech high school. Weber got the full-court press treatment from both sides in the final month, and ultimately Weber stuck with his flip to the Buckeyes and sent in his national letter of intent to Columbus on Wednesday.

To be fair, Harbaugh had just about a month to work some magic and turn a class that had fallen apart in to a winner. Still, he put his team in some big battles, kept them in others and came away empty on the biggest names they were in for on national signing day.

The reality is, College football is a results-orientated business and Harbaugh not being able to close with names like Chris Clark or four other names announcing on ESPNU can’t feel too good on Wednesday.

On the other side of this rivalry, Ohio State is riding high on the knowledge that they closed out the class by landing two 4-star players on national signing day alone. OSU managed to flip 4-star offensive lineman Isaiah Prince from his Alabama commitment and also added 4-star wide receiver K.J. Hill.

Both schools missed on some of the bigger targets, who chose Pac-12 and SEC schools over heading to the Big Ten, but that is the reality of the recruiting game. The difference is, Michigan needed the big names it was in after much more than Ohio State did, considering where things left off on the field.

The stark reality is, Michigan and Ohio State have a lot to offer any and all prospects they want and over the last month the Buckeyes were able to do more work and better work heading in to the 2015 national signing day.

Ohio State may have won the first battle with what happened on national signing day, but the war between Harbaugh and Meyer is just beginning folks.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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