The game of recruiting is one where sharks are forever circling any given team's targets and commitments, looking for the one hint of blood that could let them sway a given recruit in a given direction. And seismic news like Urban Meyer's resignation at a recruiting juggernaut like Florida is like tossing those sharks a huge bucket of chum.
This is a given. A coach like Jimbo Fisher at Florida State wouldn't be earning the full amount of his multi-million dollar salary if he didn't at least make a phone call to any Gator recruits who might be inclined to give his Seminoles a closer look given the turmoil in Gainesville. But it's not every day one of the sharks comes right out and admits, as Fisher did at a Chick-Fil-A Bowl press conference today, that yes, he's going to be one of the ones circling (emphasis added):
As Fisher points out, the 2011 recruiting cycle is so far advanced at this stage that there's a limit to how much he and the Gators' other rivals can benefit. But that doesn't mean the 'Noles won't be thrilled if they can get a second shot with Florida commitments like one-time FSU target Nick Waisome, a four-star defensive back from Groveland, Fla., or a better shot with hotly-pursued uncommitted Lake City, Fla. defensive tackle Tim Jernigan.
"I think it will cause at least some delay in [Florida’s] recruiting and what they’re doing and if there’s some battles that we can win from that, OK – so be it. Because that’s part of the business.”
Fisher has gone on record before as deriding those programs who use negative recruiting tactics but, obviously, there’s no way he can’t attempt to use this situation to Florida State’s advantage. Miami is searching for a head coach. Now Florida is, too. And all of a sudden Fisher, not even through his first full season as a head coach, is the most tenured coach among the state’s Big Three.
“They were using the turmoil going on here for all the time to [recruit against us],” Fisher said. “I mean, that’s part of the business … the good thing, we don’t have many guys left to get, know what I mean? There’s six, seven guys or whatever we take or how many it is here at the end.
“It’s not like you’re at the beginning. But it could influence [recruiting] and hopefully it’ll help.”
One player is always just one player, but given how badly the 'Noles embarrassed the Gators in this year's season finale and how well the Seminoles have already recruited this cycle, every recruit that widens the gap between the two programs makes it that much harder for whoever takes over in Gainesville to regain the Gators' dominance of the state. When their rivals aren't even bothering to disguise their intentions of exploiting Meyer's departure for maximum effect, it's obvious how quickly Jeremy Foley will need to find Meyer's replacement ... and how badly he'll need to make the correct choice.