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October 21, 2012

Roundtable: Talking possible coaching changes

ROUNDTABLES: Oct. 14 | Oct. 7 | Sept. 30 | Sept. 23

The Rivals.com analysts tackle current topics in the recruiting world in a roundtable format.

1. This past week, we detailed eight schools where coaches may be in trouble: Arkansas, Auburn, Boston College, California, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas and USF. Other than Texas, which job would be most attractive to a new coach from a recruiting standpoint?

Mike Farrell, National/Mid-Atlantic: I would say Auburn because they are closely removed from winning a national title, have been recruiting at a high level and have excellent pipelines into Georgia and other states outside of Alabama. I think they could be the quickest turnaround as well despite the great competition in the SEC West.

Rob Cassidy, West: I'll preface this by saying that I think firing Gene Chizik now would be a mistake. That said, the best recruiting situation is certainly Auburn. The Tigers are part of the SEC and one of college football's most famous rivalries. There's never going to be a shortage of interest in playing there. Add in the hyper-rabid fan base and the fact that the program won a national championship less than three years ago, and this is a no-brainer. On the other side of the coin, poor Kentucky.

Adam Gorney, West: I'd say Auburn. They've won a recent national championship, have one of the best rivalries in college sports with Alabama and have a solid recruiting base in the South. It's also a place where kids want to play and they have an outstanding stadium which is one of the best venues in the county.

Josh Helmholdt, Midwest: Auburn is an easy pick located in the southeast with a recent national title people still remember, but there is a lot to like from a recruiting standpoint at Tennessee as well. Strong tradition, the only game in town and centrally located between big talent producing states with a solid in-state talent pool as well.

Woody Wommack, Southeast: With three five-star recruits (Reuben Foster, Carl Lawson and Dee Liner) in this year's class and a national championship not very far in the rearview window, I think Auburn would be a ready-made situation for success if a coaching change is made. Obviously the Tigers have to compete in the SEC, but the talent level is there and players in the Southeast know what Auburn is about and would still like to play there, especially if they make a splashy hire.

Jason Howell, Southwest: Tennessee and Auburn stand out to me, but I'll go with Auburn. The Tigers have Alabama in-state, but they are in a talent rich state and right in the heart of one of the top regions in the country. Plus you can always sell the SEC, tradition, and a recent national championship. Recruiting has not been the issue at Auburn. Gene Chizik has been able to bring in talent and his 2013 recruiting class is loaded once again. Tennessee is very similar, but they do not have as much of an in-state talent base.

Kynon Codrington, Southeast: Auburn is probably the most attractive, but I think head coach Gene Chizik survives this year. Some of the other schools mentioned don't have enough in-state talent to field an elite team year in and year out, so you see a lot of out-of-state recruiting which doesn't always pan out. The War Eagles do a good job winning their fair share of battles against in-state rival Alabama. They are also in close proximity to the Atlanta metro area and raid the city for some of Georgia's top prospects annually.

2. Are there any programs that find themselves in a fortunate recruiting situation based on an uncertain future at any of those eight schools?

Mike Farrell, National/Mid-Atlantic: Honestly, it's difficult to name one. Many of those schools have weak recruiting areas and the ones that don't (Auburn, Cal, Texas and USF) are either recruiting very well regardless (Auburn and Texas) or third or fourth choice in their home state anyhow (Cal and USF). If I had to choose one, it would be UCLA because they are going to finish strongly because USC is out of room, Stanford will be taking a smaller class it seems and Cal has been bad.

Rob Cassidy, West: The easy answer is Alabama, but the Tide recruit against most top programs in America, so I'm not sure Auburn's disaster of a season will have that much of an impact. Can I pick UCLA? Having Cal in a lull isn't a game-changer, but it can't hurt. Sharing a city with USC is enough of a hurdle without having another hand in cookie jar of top California talent.

Adam Gorney, West: I'd say Arkansas itself has a little bit of an edge since all its recruits know John L. Smith is gone after this season. That way the Razorbacks can hire a new coach, have a clean break and then their commits can decide whether to stay or look elsewhere. Many of the other situations are still questionable and there is uncertainty at many of those schools. If there's one good thing for Arkansas commits it's that they're pretty positive a new coach is coming in next season.

Josh Helmholdt, Midwest: Louisville goes head-to-head with a large portion of those schools. They butt heads with Kentucky for in-state prospects, often run into Tennessee on the recruiting trail and see Auburn, USF and others with their strong presence in Florida. Charlie Strong is building momentum with that Cardinals' program and could get some help with a couple coaches at these schools going down.

Woody Wommack, Southeast: Some second-tier schools stand to benefit from the situations at Kentucky and USF. I think coaches at schools in the Sun Belt and MAC would be quick to try to score a nice player from the Wildcats or Bulls classes if there's coaching uncertainty in January. Schools in Florida such as Florida International and UCF could also benefit if things get ugly for Skip Holtz and company in Tampa.

Jason Howell, Southwest: It has been pretty clear that any school who recruits Texas has smelled blood in the water, and national programs are making their presence known more and more. LSU and Alabama have increased their efforts in Texas over the last few years. Urban Meyer and Ohio State are also making Texas more of a priority. However, Texas A&M will be the most fortunate. Texas being down could not come at a better time for the Aggies. who can also sell new head coach Kevin Sumlin, the SEC, and playing with Johnny Manziel.

Kynon Codrington, Southeast: I think the SEC schools will use the uncertainity surrounding Auburn's future against them to try and sway their class and more importantly the three five-star prospect commits. On the flip side the look for Pac-12 schools to go after Cal targets. I like Jared Goff, Ray Hudson, Darius Allensworth and Cameron Hunt. Goff impressed me at the Oakland Elite 11 with good zip and accuracy. Hudson is an athletic tight end and Allensworth is an underrated playmaker. Hunt looked solid at The Opening this summer. UCLA and a few others could be beneficiaries.

3. Which school that made a coaching change in the past year has impressed you the most with how they have recruited so far?

Mike Farrell, National/Mid-Atlantic: I like what Arizona is doing under Rich Rodriguez. Even though they are just inside the top 25, they are No. 4 in the Pac-12, and I see a lot of commitments that are a great fit for what he wants to do, especially offensively.

Rob Cassidy, West:The results aren't showing in the stars yet, but Todd Graham's staff at Arizona State deserves some credit. Graham is making headway with in-state players by placing a renewed emphasis on in-state talent. Of course all the winning the Sun Devils are doing isn't hurting, either. Whatever the cause, though, you can feel the tide starting to turn as ASU is getting mentioned more and more often. It'll be interesting to see if the momentum continues to build. It's not as if limited resources or a remote location are holding the Sun Devils back.

Adam Gorney, West: In the Pac-12, it has to be UCLA coach Jim Mora and his staff. They've done a phenomenal job of making the Bruins relevant again not only on the field but with prospects in California and elsewhere. UCLA currently has the third-best class in the Pac-12 according to the Rivals.com rankings and the coaches are going after some top-flight guys in Los Angeles and elsewhere. They could easily get a few of them, too.

Josh Helmholdt, Midwest: What Urban Meyer did from day one when he landed at Ohio State instantly revitalized a program that was reeling from Jim Tressel's resignation and a sub-par season on the field. He closed 2012 with nine Rivals250 commitments and has the Buckeyes in the top ten of the 2013 team recruiting rankings.

Woody Wommack, Southeast: Rich Rodriguez and Mike Leach out in the Pac-12 have done a nice job of targeting players to fit their unique offensive systems. Also, Larry Fedora and the coaches at North Carolina have done a nice job weathering the storm without sacrificing this year's recruiting class.

Jason Howell, Southwest: Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M have to be high on anyone's list and I give him the nod over Urban Meyer, Larry Fedora, and Jim Mora. The Aggies already have a nice class, but they also have a chance to close really strong with Ricky Seals-Jones, Justin Manning and Mike Mitchell each giving the Aggies a long long look. Landing any one of those three would send a strong message, closing on two or more would be downright ridiculous.

Kynon Codrington, Southeast: You can easily go with the sure bets like Ohio State or Texas A&M, but I have to give credit to Rich Rodriguez and Arizona. Arizona isn't an exactly a hotbed for four- and five-star talent, but Rodriguez has identified players to fit his system and the class sits in the top 25 of the Rivals.com team rankings. Anu Solomon and Logan Stott are a pair of four-stars that headline the class. If the Wildcats continue to show improvement on field, I expect more West Coast recruits to take notice.



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