Coaching changes are common in college football, and this year looks to be no different.
Numerous high-profile jobs will be up for grabs, led by the opening at Michigan following the resignation of Lloyd Carr. Carr sustained a lot of criticism for failing to beat Ohio State in recent years and decided it was time to call it quits.
Several other programs appear to be on the verge of making a change, which will have a big effect on recruiting.
In addition to that huge change in the Big Ten, the Big 12 should have some new faces next season. It seems to be only a matter of time until Nebraska's Bill Callahan and Texas A&M's Dennis Franchione are shown the door. And in the SEC, there has been no shortage of rumors surrounding the job security of Arkansas' Houston Nutt.
Coaching vacancies and uncertainty about the future can devastate a recruiting class. Several of these schools have commitments from big-time prospects they will want to keep through whatever transition period occurs. The decisions made by athletic directors at these schools in the coming weeks and months will go a long way toward determining where many of the nation's top high school seniors go to school.
Texas A&M has the No. 11 class in the nation with 24 commitments, nine of whom are rated as four-star prospects. If a change is made, the new staff will have to get to work soon to hold on to the top recruits. Athlete Derrick Hall of Beaumont (Texas) Central passed up offers from LSU, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and others, but he now appears to be wavering. Hall will take an official visit to Missouri in December and, like many other recruits at these schools, is classified as a "soft" commitment. Fellow athlete Lamar Harris has admitted he is interested in Oklahoma, and two Texas defensive ends may de-commit as well. Tony Jerod is taking an official visit to USC on Dec. 1, and Kapron Lewis-Moore has said that if a change is made he may look elsewhere. Defensive back Keon Furtch has been more emphatic, saying it is unlikely he would attend A&M if Franchione is dismissed.
The good news for Texas A&M is that the rest of the recruiting class appears to be solid. Even if some of the aforementioned prospects go elsewhere, this still has the makings of a good class.
Michigan has 16 commitments, all from quality prospects. Perhaps more would be on board were it not for speculation about Carr that took place during the season.
At this point, Michigan looks to be in better shape with its commitments than most of these other schools. All are classified as solid, but we will have to gauge their reaction to Carr's retirement as other schools swoop in and the coaching search begins.
Nebraska, which currently has the nation's No. 13 class, already has felt the effects of uncertainty. Five-star quarterback Blaine Gabbert cited turmoil as the reason he de-committed from Nebraska before choosing Missouri. Gabbert wasn't alone in re-opening his recruitment. Four-star offensive lineman Bryce Givens recently visited Missouri and has an official visit to Texas planned for Dec. 7. He's also looking at Florida and Oklahoma. Junior college linebacker Shaun Mohler has plans to visit Kentucky, Iowa and Colorado. Offensive lineman Dan Hoch has visited Iowa twice in the past month and also is being recruited heavily by Missouri, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State and Wisconsin. Athlete Will Compton of Bonne Terre (Mo.) North County has been seen around Missouri a lot, and he is scheduled to take an official visit there in mid-December. Running back Collins Okafor seems to still be pretty solid, but he took in a game at Iowa recently and is keeping his options open. Defensive end Josh Williams will take an official visit to Texas in the next month.
A bit of good news came with the commitment of elite junior college defensive end Simi Kuli. He chose the Huskers in spite of the turmoil surrounding the coaching situation.
While no one knows for certain what Nutt's fate will be at Arkansas, the rumors are impossible to ignore. That hasn't stopped the Hogs from putting together the nation's No. 21 class so far.
Safety Winston Guy of Kentucky committed to Arkansas after impressing coaches over the summer, but he has since backed out of his pledge.
The Hogs look to be in good shape with their three top recruits -- running back De'Anthony Curtis, offensive lineman Matt Hall and wide receiver Jarius Wright. All are Arkansas natives and solidly committed.
Defensive tackle Lavunce Askew still is committed to Arkansas, but he took an official visit to Texas Tech about a month ago. He has yet to set up a trip to Fayetteville.
Greg Robinson hasn't had as much recruiting success as he would have liked since arriving at Syracuse. His current class is ranked No. 61 in the country, and his best class was ranked No. 48.
There's nothing to indicate that linebacker Romale Tucker, a four-star from New Berlin (N.Y.) Milford Academy, is re-thinking his commitment to Syracuse. He's the top prospect in this class, but is being recruited by other schools. At one point Tucker was very interested in Virginia. Syracuse appears to be in good shape with its other recruits as well, but might find it difficult to fill out its still-small class with coaching rumors swirling.
Recruiting is a tough business for coaches. For programs without a coach, the difficulty is magnified ten-fold. Aside from the concerns that will arise in a prospect's mind, rival coaches smell blood and go in for the kill. Many won't hesitate to bring a school's issues to light.
It may be easier to convince in-state prospects that have committed to stay on board after a coaching change. By and large, those recruits like the idea of staying close to home. But out-of-state recruits can be tricky cases, as many of these schools will discover.
Coaching changes obviously affect the programs directly involved, but they also have an impact on other programs. Other schools will be interested in getting their foot in the door with prospects -- players they hope will give them a second look.