In the spirit of high school players getting texts from assistant coaches at all hours, here's one that might appear in the iPhone of your latest four-star recruit.
“Hey man, remember that assistant coach that's been blowing up your cell the last six months? The guy you were going to play for? Yeah, he's not here anymore. It happens, you know? Off to a new job. Anyway, your new position coach will be really great, I promise. When we hire one in a few weeks, I'll hit you up. –Coach Glass-Half-Full
Gobs of hirings, firings and NFL defections happen every year. Recruiting plays a prominent role role in it all, sometimes stretching out firings until mid-February.
Since National Signing Day a week ago, USC fired its offensive coordinator, LSU is poised to hire Cam Cameron as offensive coordinator, Alabama offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland went to the Eagles, Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham interviewed with the Saints only to stay in Athens. Oklahoma State, UNC, Mississippi State -- they've all made moves.
And the process is not done. Oklahoma's Bob Stoops is making several changes to the staff this week.
The working theory is if coaches are still on a staff by the thick of recruiting “closing” season, or a coach has a close tie-in with important recruits, just keep the staff intact until it's over.
By the time bowl prep is over, it's early January. What's another month?
Even the NFL works around this, depending on the team. The Saints agreed to wait until after signing day to interview Grantham; the Eagles didn't.
“Coaches are very aware of not leaving before NSD,” said Scott Roussel of Footballscoop.com, which reports on coaching news year-round. “They try to be loyal where they are whenever possible, even if leaving.”
Loyal is a relative term in a business in which, as Boise State's Chris Petersen said on 103.9 The Game in Arkansas this week, “Coaches are so driven, so competitive, trying to get the next thing, whatever that is.”
Two things that kill a recruiting class are instability and damaged relationships, according to 247Sports.com national recruiting director JC Shurburtt.
Dumping or losing an assistant coach too early can jeopardize a recruiting class on both counts, even if the inevitable dumping is a little disingenuous.
Do the players care?
“It depends,” Shurburtt said. “Maybe a little lost trust. If it's a coordinator and a player had bought into a system, that can change things. It's usually a situation where a kid says something about it and it eventually gets settled down and it's all good.”
When asked if there's a right way for a coach to handle a pending job inquiry when trying to sell recruits on the very product that coach might leave, one agent of several college coaching clients said, “I don't know.”
It's tough either way, he said. Though step-ladder jobs are hard to pass up, most coaches still want to ensure the current staff is in a good place.
A well-rounded staff that doesn't rely on one coach to close recruits can ease the transition.
“Most of the time, there are enough coaches on a staff that are recruiting a player that losing one guy is not going to be disruptive,” the agent said. “There's so much group recruiting going on. Most of those guys, there are three or four guys with every player that has that relationship.”
Shurburtt agrees, though he said not every staff works diligently at this.
Players can get roped into an offensive or defensive scheme that suddenly changes when a coordinator leaves after signing day. But it's not like that National Letter of Intent has much flexibility. Good luck escaping that with an old-fashioned appeal.