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It’s an Urban environment

Updated: December 30, 2011 8:22AM

Memo to Illinois football: Here is where the bar has been raised.

In six years, he won two national championships, had 26 players drafted into the NFL and coached a Heisman Trophy winner, Tim Tebow.

Now take that Urban Meyer resume, put it in a program with almost unlimited resources, such as that of The Ohio State University, and there’s a reason the rest of the Big Ten should sleep uneasily.

Only in America can a major college scandal actually work out better for a program. Make that, only in Columbus, where a Tattoo-palooza cost Jim Tressel his job.

Coaches such as Meyer just didn’t go for Big Ten football. Whether it was some Stone Age philosophy of three yards and a cloud of dust or a mentality that the conference has had far too long, that it rather would go with “a Michigan man’’ or a “Woody Hayes wannabe.’’

It stayed away from the big-boy coaches. Not now. Ohio State has crossed the threshold, grabbing one of the premier guys in the country to put on a headset. A coach who isn’t allergic to winning a BCS title game.

A Southeastern Conference attitude with elite recruiting skills. That’s a scary combo.

Michigan was able to raid Ohio for recruits for its 2012 class. Those days are over. The borders will be shut.

Not only will Meyer reconquer Ohio in recruiting, but watch what the pipeline will bring him from Florida and Georgia, where his name still has a ton of pull.

So what does that mean for the rest of the Big Ten? Evolve or become road kill. It’s that simple.

Look at the top three teams in the SEC: Alabama, LSU and Arkansas. That’s Nick Saban, Les Miles and Bobby Petrino. Elite. What does the Big Ten have on the coaching front?

A few nice coaches as far as the Big Ten goes, then a handful of guys you couldn’t pick out of a lineup.

That’s why Illinois has to act now.

The Ron Zook Era is thankfully over, and it’s time for Illini football to get serious — Mike Leach serious. You want to beat Urban Meyer-coached teams? The first rule is you better be able to score with them.

The former Texas Tech renegade hasn’t been on a sideline in two seasons, but look at the Leach effect in the college game.

Houston, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Arizona, Baylor, Texas Tech and West Virginia each have Leach disciples influencing their offenses. They happen to be some of the best offenses in Division I.

OK, so he allegedly made Craig James’ son, Adam, stand in a dark shed for a few hours after suffering a concussion. Considering the cesspool of morality in the Big Ten this past year, Leach is a choirboy.

What really matters are five bowl victories, eight consecutive seasons with at least eight victories and 10 consecutive winning seasons.

He’s out there as a gun for hire, waiting for another opportunity.

The Urban Meyer train is already out of the station and will be picking up steam quicker than many in the Big Ten even can anticipate. It’s also not waiting for anyone, certainly not an underachieving program such as the one at Illinois.

The Zook firing had to happen. Coaches and managers are fired to buy a team or program a few more years of hope.

That doesn’t mean it has to be false hope.

Your move, Illini.

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