4. Coaching changes were weirder this year
There’s normally a rhythm.
Coach is in trouble, recruits are worried about going to a program that might be in transition, schools either 1) give the coach an unnecessary extension thanks to agents pumping the idea that the lack of stability is killing recruiting or 2) recruiting really is killed as a school waits until the end of the season and make a coaching change.
However, it used to be that a coaching change in a strange situation would end up helping on National Signing Day. Top recruits still deciding would then know what the deal was, they’d know the direction going forward, and there would be a late round of big signings by the big-name multi-millionaire new head man.
The Early Signing Period killed that groove because there just isn’t enough time for any new coach to do anything other than keep the guys who already committed – there aren’t a whole lot of top recruits left to get in early February. Throw in the transfer portal and the crazy 2020 season, and it was even weirder than ever for the new head coaches.
Here are some of the key classes from schools with big-time new coaches.
New head coaches never have time to work, but Josh Heupel really didn’t have a chance. Jeremy Pruitt came up with a good class throughout the 2020 process – by the way, players are always the ones who get totally screwed in this since they’re locked in after they sign – with enough talent for Heupel to work with. It’s not a top-five caliber haul, but it’s good enough.
It’s disappointing because of who Tom Herman couldn’t get – and that was part of the problem. If you’re the Texas head coach, you have to lock down the next-level offensive line talents of Tommy and James Brockermeyer out of Fort Worth, but they went to Alabama. Steve Sarkisian will get the offensive talent with a little time to work, but let’s start with this – Texas shouldn’t be getting outrecruited by Mack Brown.
This should be the biggest jump in recruiting class status from 2021 to 2022 – expect Bryan Harsin to crush and kill on the path over the next 12 months. It’s not fair to call this a lost recruiting year, but for a program that lives off of beating Alabama, yeah, it was a struggle.
Illinois and Arizona
Put these two in roughly the same bucket. Bret Bielema at Illinois and Jedd Fisch at Arizona had no time to work, and it showed with light classes without any major stars. They each got a few guys after the Early Signing Period, but it’s going to be rebuilding time in the recruiting world for both.
NEXT: Some new schools were in the overall mix of great recruiting classes