With coaches on shaky ground, where do recruits stand? | Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | SportsDay: Columnist Kevin Sherrington
Kevin SherringtonKevin Sherrington is a sports columnist for The Dallas Morning News.
With coaches on shaky ground, where do recruits stand?
10:48 AM CDT on Thursday, October 25, 2007
D.J. Woods, an Ohio wide receiver orally committed to Nebraska, hasn't heard from Cornhuskers coaches in weeks. He can only imagine what kind of mood they must be in by now.
The last time he talked to any of Nebraska's assistants, Woods told the Lincoln Journal Star, "Their voices just sound depressed, like they know they're going to get fired. In the back of my head, I kind of know the coaching staff is going to be gone.
"I'm just trying to figure out who the next coach is going to be."
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If Bill Callahan and his assistants are, indeed, living their last days in Lincoln, they're hardly alone in limbo. Coaches all over and around the Big 12 find themselves in similar straits, which is difficult enough even when you're getting paid seven figures to settle your nerves.
But what about D.J. Woods, a kid who's simply trying to abide by his commitment? He's in Limboland, too, only his neighborhood isn't even gated.
Other Nebraska recruits have already "de-committed," a bureaucrat's term for "de-fected." The Cornhuskers' national class ranking has dropped from seventh to 10th, according to Rivals.com.
Here's how serious it gets: A running back from Detroit switched his allegiance from Nebraska to Notre Dame, which is like jumping off the Titanic for the listing deck of the Lusitania.
Not so long ago, the fate of a college coach at midseason might have held a kid's interest, but it wouldn't have held him hostage. Mack Brown changed all that around these parts.
As you may have heard or read, Brown occasionally gets outfoxed on a football field, but few can beat him in a living room. He convinced recruits to commit early, supposedly so the poor kids could concentrate on their senior seasons.
Next thing you know, every coach within two time zones is feeling altruistic pangs, too.
I know what you're thinking: Oral commitments aren't binding. Until he signs something, a kid is free to change his mind anytime he wants.
But you might be surprised to find how often they don't. Our recruiting guru, Todd Wills, guesses that better than 90 percent stick with their oral commitments, barring disasters.
And when questions start to boil up about a coach's job security, what does a coach tell recruits?
"I can't make any promises," Callahan told reporters this week. "I can't, because I'm not getting any promises."
So what we have here is a more-complicated-than-usual catch-22: Coaches try to hold on to commitments from players who want to know if the coaches have a commitment from the school, which also wants a commitment from the recruit. But not at the expense of keeping the coach.
When the recruit decides a coach is iffy, he "de-commits," further wrecking the coach's chances of survival, not to mention creating negative vibes in the media and among boosters who watch in horror as a national recruiting class is disassembled.
Any recruit changing his commitment this year also finds his options a little limited.
Never have so many coaches in and around the Big 12 seemed to be in such dire predicaments. Texas A&M's Dennis Franchione, Baylor's Guy Morriss, SMU's Phil Bennett and Houston Nutt of Arkansas all have been the focus of rampant speculation.
Boosters want to know, bloggers want to know, reporters want to know, coaches want to know.
Official response: All personnel matters will be reviewed after the season.
Because of his shaky job status, Nebraska coach Bill Callahan said he has had difficulty offering assurances to recruits.
Certainly seems a humane approach, even though it's just delaying the inevitable. Of all the above, only Franchione and Nutt have a decent shot of saving their jobs, which is what makes it difficult for their bosses.
Even if athletic directors are just trying to preserve appearances, they've got to get on with the task at hand.
At least a couple of pretty good jobs will be opening up soon, and you want to beat your competitors to the top candidates.
Lists are piling up everywhere, from hot coaches such as Rutgers' Greg Schiano, Cal's Jeff Tedford and Auburn's Tommy Tuberville to just-off-the-radar types like former Packers coach Mike Sherman to up-and-coming coordinators like LSU's Bo Pelini and Alabama's Major Applewhite.
A smart AD would let word leak that he's in the hunt for one of the above or a handful of others, hoping maybe the message would somehow reach his recruits. Of course, that would be unethical. Nothing for them to do now, at least officially, but wait. Limboland gets more crowded every day.
Last edited by Wesley; 10-26-2007 at 09:01 PM.
Let my Fred's Posse Ride: Georges, Naz, Hogue, Bryce, Nader, Monte, Matt, and McKay.
Re: Shaky Ground
Could be a perfect storm recruiting opportunity for ISU.
Last edited by goldmember; 10-26-2007 at 10:43 PM.
Re: Shaky Ground
Iowa State needs to take advantage, and unlike previous years...I actually believe Chizik can do it! Get after it and let's start the I-State dynasty off right!
Re: Shaky Ground
Wow, how fast has Applewhite climbed the ladder???