Recruiting players is a 365-day-a-year job for college coaches, and the process
starts several years before a player can sign his Letter of Intent on Signing
Day. Coaches build relationships with high school coaches, players, players'
families, and at times entire communities. It's one reason why staff continuity
is so important to good recruiting efforts, and it's a big reason why
expectations should be tempered for even the biggest name coaches at the biggest
Miami, Michigan, and Florida are just three of the biggest programs to turnover
the head coaching position after the season, and predictably all three had
classes that were ranked lower than what is normal for each program. Florida was
the only one of the three to crack Scout's Top 25 (No. 21) when all three teams
are regulars in Scout's Top 15. Michigan and Miami finished No. 27 and No. 37
New coaches will try and hold a class together, but they'll be hard pressed to
sway a recruit that has 18 month relationships with other programs in the last
month before Signing Day.
That being said, once the new staff gets a full 12 months to work a new class
and rebuild the excitement at a tradition rich program, the recruits
Let's take a look at some recent examples.
New Coaches Recruiting
Alabama's Nick Saban was hired by Alabama on January 3rd, 2007. He had already
won a BCS Championship at LSU where he was known as a tireless recruiter. He was
coming back from the NFL to the South's most tradition rich program. With one
month to recruit, Alabama finished with the nation's No. 22 recruiting class.
With a full year to sell bringing the Tide back to national prominence, Alabama
signed the Nation's No. 1 class in 2008, finished Top 5 in 2009 and 2010, and
could finish as high as No. 2 in 2011 depending on two 5-Star players that the
Tide is recruiting that have yet to sign.
Saban left LSU after the 2005 season and Les Miles was hired from Oklahoma State. LSU had very few scholarships to offer, and Miles managed to bring in
some good players, but still finished 19th in the Scout rankings. The following
year, Miles' Tiger class was ranked No. 7, and LSU has finished each of Miles'
full seasons ranked in the Top 10.
For a more recent example, let's look at the 2010 BCS Champion Auburn Tigers.
Gene Chizik's hire from Iowa State in December of 2008 was a controversial one
considering his 5-19 record with the Cyclones, but with six weeks remaining in
the recruiting season Chizik managed to sign Scout's 16th ranked class in 2009
which was boosted by junior college re-signs from the Tuberville era (an
important one being Nick Fairley who had signed with Auburn in 2007). Auburn
leaped to the No. 6 spot in 2010 and could finished with the No. 1 class for
The examples are endless with the point remaining the same. No one should expect
a new coach to recruit at the level that is normally expected at a school in the
first month, but give the same staff a full year and the results speak for
Miami, Michigan, and Florida may have been in transition years for the Class of
2011, but when it comes to recruiting, this is one of the few times the phrase
"wait 'till next year" isn't a punch line, it's a prophesy.