These questions are addressed in this week's mailbag.
Change is coming
What's going on with college football and all of these coaching changes? I never realized how much [coaching] change influences change in recruiting. This is unbelievable!
-- David from Atlanta
This is just the nature of the beast that is college football recruiting. We have certainly seen some unreal things happen in the past few weeks.
The team that set the bar for the previous decade, USC, lost coach Pete Carroll to the Seattle Seahawks. We have seen Urban Meyer, a coach who has won two national championships at Florida, resign and then announce he's coming back - but will first take a leave of absence. We saw a living legend, Bobby Bowden, leave the school that he made so great in Florida State. Let's not forget what's happened at Notre Dame and Texas Tech. Then you have change in the Big East with Louisville and now USF. And how about that little bombshell dropped on Tennessee as Lane Kiffin heads back west to USC.
What's gone on in the coaching world has been crazy. But change happens everywhere - and every year - in college football. Head coaches get fired or leave for bigger and perceived better jobs. The same goes with assistant coaches.
And recruiting is pretty simple - it's about relationships. When coaches leave it can really cause some upheaval in the entire process for these young men. Typically when there is a coaching change and a program is in transition, you see a short-term hit because these programs have a small recruiting window to build relationships and land prospects.
Sometimes, though, it doesn't happen that way.
Who would have thought at the end of November that FSU would be in the position that it is currently in? Change in Tallahassee caused a great ripple effect for the Seminoles. They went from being in the mid-30s in the Rivals.com team national recruiting rankings to No. 13 after getting some huge commitments from linebacker Jeff Luc, defensive backs Mike Harris and Lamarcus Joyner and wide receiver Kenny Shaw.
How did Fisher make it happen so quickly? It's simple - the kids embraced change. Sure, they would have loved the opportunity to play for Bowden. Who wouldn't? But it was time for a change, and these prospects finally saw direction at Florida State.
We thought there would be change in Gainesville and there would be a short-term hit at Florida. Recruits were nervous as Meyer announced he was leaving, then coming back, etc. Meanwhile, the Gators lost defensive coordinator Charlie Strong to Louisville, and he ended up taking some assistants with him.
Change has certainly been the theme in Gainesville but not with recruiting. If anything, Meyer and what was left of his staff did an amazing job over the past few weeks to reclaim safety Matt Elam, pull in big-time five-star defensive line standouts in Ronald Powell, Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley as well as wide receiver Chris Dunkley.
No one saw that coming.
Which leads us to today's big story: Kiffin takes over at USC. That sent shockwaves from Seattle to Miami and everywhere in between. This will be a boom for the Trojans and a bust for the Vols - at least in the near term. Already recruits are excited about what's coming back to L.A. Meanwhile, prospects headed to Rocky Top are understandably upset. You can see USC catapult back to its lofty perch, while this move could send Tennessee into a tailspin after what looked like the makings of a top-five recruiting class.
So what do we learn from all of this? Change happens. Change is good. Sometimes we don't like it and it seems uncomfortable. But in the business of college football, change happens and affects the recruiting process - both good and bad.
Notre Dame's chances
What do you think are the chances for Notre Dame to get Seantrel Henderson and/or Kyle Prater? Is Anthony Barr a lock?
-- Eddie from Orlando, Fla.
I wish I had a dollar for every time a fan asked me if a certain recruit was a "lock" to a certain school. If there is one thing I have learned in 18-plus years of covering college football recruiting, it is there are no such things as "locks."
Notre Dame would love to close with the trio of prospects you mentioned. The Irish have the best shot at Barr, a big-time athlete from the West Coast who is down to Notre Dame and UCLA. No way at this time would I call him a lock to either the Fighting Irish or the Bruins. In fact, it's so close between the two programs that it could go either way. Barr, who has already officially visited Notre Dame, is scheduled to visit UCLA this weekend. A decision from him could come as early as next week.
Now this may come from left field, but with the hire of Kiffin at USC, I would expect to see the Trojans make a big run at Barr. For now, though, let's call it a tight race between UCLA and Notre Dame.
As far as Prater is concerned, I think the Kiffin hire solidified his decision to remain with the Trojans. This five-star receiver told Mike Farrell of Rivals.com on Tuesday night that he "loves the hire" and will enroll early at USC.
What will happen with five-star offensive tackle prospect Henderson? That's hard to say. Three of the four schools he has visited - Florida, USC and Notre Dame - have gone through coaching changes. So it's hard to speculate what he will do three weeks from today. Only Ohio State's coaching staff remains intact, and I would think that's a plus for the Buckeyes.