Stay busy next Wednesday

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The other day in the office, someone made the comment that some of his FSU buddies were taking a vacation day next Wednesday to watch National Signing Day on national television.

Here’s my advice for Florida fans thinking of doing the same: Don’t. It would be a wasted vacation day. Save it for a spring scrimmage or an extra day on the beach this summer.

The strangest recruiting season that I can remember for Florida (and I’ve been covering UF recruiting since 1993, and following it many years before that) likely will culminate with an uneventful signing day. I mean really uneventful (especially compared to recent years, when the Gators were major players on the national recruiting stage). This could turn out to be a show about nothing for Florida.

Of the remaining prospects on the UF board who are waiting to announce Wednesday (and there aren’t many), there’s a good chance none will put on a Gator hat at their announcement ceremony. I think the only guy who might fall the Gators’ way is Palm Beach Dwyer linebacker Curt Maggitt, but I wouldn’t surprised in the least if he pulled the trigger for someone else.

It’s been that kind of recruiting season for the Gators. Weird. Strange. Befuddling. But not totally unexplainable.

In the past month, in what is usually the height of the recruiting year for the Gators, almost nothing (especially positive) has happened. Since taking over the program for Urban Meyer, new head coach Will Muschamp has secured a commitment from only one player — safety Jabari Gorman — and that was weeks ago. Since then, there’s been a whole lot of whiffing going on — and all kinds of negative stuff swirling around UF’s recruiting effort.

To some degree, you knew this might happen — because when a coach takes over a program this late, putting together that first recruiting class tends to be a monumental struggle. Meyer went through it when he replaced Zook. Zook went through it when he replaced Steve Spurrier.

Meyer’s first recruiting class in 2005 was a bust (after Zook had set up the Gators to possibly have the No. 1 class in the nation). Zook’s first class wasn’t much better in 2002. Muschamp’s won’t be much better in 2011. Trust me, though, it will be a much different story a year from now after Muschamp and his very impressive coaching staff has an opportunity to establish relationships with the 2012 recruits and their parents and coaches. But for now, it’s time to just accept that UF’s recruiting class is not going to grow much (if any) beyond the 15 players who are committed now. Seven of those committed players are already enrolled, including the gem of the class, quarterback Jeff Driskel.

Despite the low number, this will be a pretty solid class with some quality talent that will help the Gators win games in the future.

But for the most part, this recruiting season is over for the Gators.

So, here’s my advice on what Gator fans should do next Wednesday: Go to work, concentrate on your job, stay off the recruiting websites and save that vacation day for another time. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

Things will be back to normal in 2012.

65 COMMENTS

  1. Very hard to put together a great class with a new staff. I am a little surprised that Coach Muschamp was not able to pull some of his recruits he was on at Texas towards UF. I would be happy if we kept all the verbals especially Story, maybe 1 huge surprise (Watkins or Junior) and possibly pull in Grant and Jernigan. Everyone is saying that this year is a decent crop of players coming out of High School but they are also saying 2012 is one of the most talented High School classes in years.

  2. It’s not really bad advice. I think we get a couple of surprises, maybe a couple of unexpected signees that the coaches were pursuing that we knew nothing about, but overall, it is extremely difficult to bring in a new staff this late and bring in a top 10 recruiting class. That, and the numerous nationally televised disasters by our team this past season didn’t help any either.

  3. Nice, positive, theory about this year’s recruiting Mr. Andreu. Way to keep everyone’s spirits up! I think you’re going to be proven wrong and that there will be a few pleasant surprises. Maybe not, but at least I haven’t given up.

  4. I agree with Lee. We talk about how the recruits waffle back and forth changing teams in the process, but the coaches get off far too easy. Look at a lot of these coaching resumes. A year here, two there. Their only loyalty is to the almighty dollar and chasing a promotion. Lets cut the 17 and 18 year old kids a little slack, and focus on the grown men who jump ship after making that fat salary for doing a job that is more a game than work. I know a lot of fans that would coach for free, and stay for life.

  5. ATL, and a few others, you are way too invested in this emotionally. Wow, at the every mention of negative news, no matter how miniscule, you turn into rabid attack dogs and doom anf gloomers. With the exception of a couple of positions, we’ve addressed all of our needs this year. Last year, we brought in the nation’s #1 player who was the nation’s #1 DE. We brought in the #1 and #2 DT’s and had the nation’s #2 DE transfer in from Cal. Imagine that DL under the guidance of Muschamp. We’re loaded, but DL needs to be a priority next recruiting year. Stop panicking. Geez, you guys are like little old ladies sometimes.

  6. When your recruiting coordinator is secretly looking for another job, after happily accepting your job offer (disloyalty) is it any wonder that your university recruiting has gone flat? I bet OSU receivers underperform their potential as much as our running backs have…. Any takers?

  7. Sadly, Robbie is correct. It is not his job to ‘keep up the spirits’ of the Gator Nation. Some additional observation. (1) This year WM will not do as well as UM or SOS b/c he has no track record as a head coach. (2) Combine this with the inability to establsih ‘relationships’ in a matter of weeks. (3) Assistant coaches may—repeat may—-be a good idea but it has been years since most of these guys have recruited high school players. Can they connect emtionally with a HS kid?? (4) Sometime perception becomes reality. The perception need not be accurate but perceptions can hurt. There is a perception by some that the last year under UM damaged the program, that the program is in decline. Bring in a guy with no head coaching track record and high school guys are obviously having a ‘wait and see’ attitude. With success this will change but this year is a bummer!!

  8. @E. Koch, I was with you there on (1) and (2) but can’t buy into (3) and (4). First, Muschamp’s defenses (i.e., with him as DC) have been in the top five nationally for the past few seasons. Weiss was on the recruiting trail nationally just a bit over one year ago. With this coaching staff, do you really think anyone believes the Florida program is in decline? This recruiting year merely reflects a transition, not a decline. And frankly, we have a heckuva lot of national championship caliber talent already in Gainesville from last year’s class.

  9. Robbie,

    How about some constructive reasoning (objectivity) as to why?

    Urban’s success. The brand is not that strong- USC, Alabama did not have anywhere near this drop off with coaching changes.
    Will hired NFL coaches will very few established relationships..

    We’ll find out next year but he needs to add someone with deep south connections as Hill seems to be overrated.

  10. This class is pretty darn good already. The quantity isn’t that high, but there is serious quality in it, and it’s not over yet. Maybe we will get a surprise recruit or two, maybe not. If not, oh well. We will be just fine.
    The next recruiting cycle is when any kind of judgement on the current staff’s abilities to sway kids should be made. At this point, they get a pass on any shortcomings others may see. Besides, I’m really geeked about our returning roster of players. The last 2 classes that ranked in the top 3 are coming of age, and with new coaches they will be competing for playing time.

  11. I’m not worried at all…we have plenty of talent on the team to win. There is nothing to judge…things will be back to normal next year and we’ll be much improved THIS YEAR. Last year was terrible but Meyer took us to heights we’ve never been too…I’m excited about the coaching change and ready for the new season. Half of these “great” recruits are bust anyways…we are still Florida and we’ll be fine.

  12. HOW CAN YOUR RECRUITING CLASS BE A SUCCESS WHEN YOUR RECRUITING COORDINATOR IS SECRETLY INTERVIEWING FOR A JOB WITH ANOTHER MAJOR UNIVERSITY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE RECRUITING SEASON???? WAS DELIVERING SHAZIER PART OF HIS DEAL WITH “THE” OSU??????

  13. I think we will be just fine. The top recruiting in the country does not mean anything. I can remember when we got players that were not heard of but became great college players. I think we need to understand that it will takes us a couple of years to get into National Championship contention again. I am %100 percwnt behind Will Muschamp and know that Gator fans will be proud of what he gets done for our program!!

  14. Ok the follow up article four years from now is how many 5 STAR players from the 2011 class were a BUST! It aways happens.

    I think Florida will recruit heavily to its needs this year (linemen). There are a lot of “big ugly guys” out there. Then concentrated on picking up a few skill players. Most importantly establish relationships and get back in the hunt.

    Nothing lasts forever, so it’s our turn…man up!

    BTW it makes for a greater story for the championship awards podium.

    BudroGatorMan

  15. What’s funny is that this class is going to be better than what several here are expecting. High profile recruits have come in a left tight-lipped, and that’s a good sign. We’re going to get some surprises on NSD. Maybe not as many as we’d want, but we’ll get some positive news. That said, I will tell you right now, that our class will be top 3 next year, most likely #1.

  16. Cant get the #1 class everyyear. After last years GREAT class UF can relax a little for once, esp with a new coaching staff. Next years class will be top 5. Take some Prozac & Xanax and write another depressing column.

  17. Jeff: I hope you are right and that my apprenhions are misplaced. A couple of additional things. (1) How many of these assistants are, to any degree, committed to college football. Or, to put it another way, does a guy who is working for a living want to make more money or less money? (2) Will stability be a problem with WM’s staff?

  18. I just don’t get it. Muschamp is not new to coaching. He has developed relationships with plenty of prospects when he was recruiting for Tx and yet no one is following him here. Hill was the recruiting coordinator at Miami and yet still hasn’t pulled any recruits away from UM. Weiss must have saw something in Brissett to target him as his first UF recruit and fall all over him and still Brissett is not coming. What am I missing?

  19. This is not unexpected. Urban Meyer was so out of it as a head coach that I’m not sure with him here we would have had a great class. Plus the spread offense was causing a lot of OL, QB’s and RB’s to shy away because pro scouts tend to undervalue spread athletes, so with the announcement that UF will be running a pro-style offense it really caused a shift in strategy. It’s all about relationships and there was no time to develop any by the current staff. But look, the cupboard is not bear, how many true freshman have an impact anyway, and those top 5 classes we have had the past three years should be ready to blossom! I do believe Drayton was a fox in the henhouse however!

  20. You know, I guess there’s always a chance that the recruits read the message boards and the criticism in the paper and simply decide that they want no part of such an environment. A new coaching staff certainly can’t change that perception in 2 months.
    Maybe it’s the same way everywhere and this theory is stupid, but it has certainly crossed my mind this season.

  21. Im no expert, but I think we sign a decent class this yr and improve next year. Like many have said, we already have alot of talent and with the right coaching and plans we will do just fine. Chill out! Eat a cheesburger already. We will be back on top in no time.

  22. As much as I hate Lame Kitten, he was able to go in at UT, where the perception was UT was at an all time low, and pull some decent recruits in his first year. He then went to USC, where everyone knew NCAA sanctions were coming down and he pulled a top 5 class. So why can’t someone who helped recruit top 5 classes year after year (WM) and one of the supposed most gifted offensive minds in football (CW) recruit more than 1 player to UF. I’m seeing red flags, is no one else? The idea was, Kitten had an all star, NFL assistant coaching team to offset his lack of experience and poor record as a head coach. Ok? Isn’t that what we have? Something doesn’t seem right. I’m not hearing any high school players being seduced by any of our coaches. I think we have a lot to worry about and I think blind faith is foolish.

  23. You know, I would think Charlie Weis coming back to college football as an assistant and the curiosity of how he would work with Muschamp would make for good TV. I’ve kept an eye on every website, sports station, newscast associated with Florida and I haven’t seen a thing on either of them. UF is getting no national exposure (except arrests), they’re barely getting any local exposure. Years past, I had to see Kittens dumba$$ all over the TV when he was hired at UT and USC, why has the UF coaching staff gone into hiding during the most important time for publicity?

  24. This is rich: Muschamp is in ‘hiding’ according some experts, but if he were spending all of his time on TV doing interviews and press conferences I suspect these same experts would criticize him for not being out recruiting!

    Dear Lord, Please save us from ourselves. Thank you.

  25. This football has been like a VERY BAD DREAM from start to finish. It started with UM deciding he wanted to let his friend, Steve Addazio, be head coach while he collected the ‘big bucks’ and ended with this recruiting ‘train wreck’.

  26. What was that saying over the weekend re the Chicago Bears quarterback – something like this – when it gets tough out there – pull an Urban Meyer, QUIT!!!. I also remember Coach Visor leaving after the Orange bowl game – right in the middle of recruiting. I love my Gators and I always say – Go Gators!!!!!

  27. Talk about “shooting the messenger”!
    Look, because of the talent and hard work of our new Head Coach and the LOYAL members of his staff, with a couple of late “wins” this could still finish in the “quality, not quantity” category, recruiting-wise…but logic, history, and all the signs down the stretch warned of a tough road for us this year, regardless–and our erstwhile recruiting coordinator secretly negotiating with OSU and ultimately jumping ship right at the end here is a sleaze-blow that puts us up against it at the worst possible time. “OK” would be fine, at this point. As long as we address some needs on the D-line, along with our QB-goody and a receiver or two, we are good to go, all things considered–and WAIT ‘TIL NEXT YEAR (on EVERY level)! Eat ’em up!!!

  28. Rating HS players as 1-5 stars, etc., while interesting is not very illuminating. How many can’t miss blue-chip recruits have we seen at UF either have mediocre playing “careers” of transfer, or quit football? How many great players have walked on here at UF or risen way up a depth chart, ala Shane Matthews?
    Recruiting is not a science, just as coaching is not either. We will be fine with this recruiting class. We have the coaches in place to work with these kids and excel.
    Be honest, who among you thought Chris Leak had what it took to win an NC when he committed to UF? I know I did not, but thanks to some solid coaching, Chris is one of the best to ever strap it on at UF! Remember Touch Down Terry Dean? No, why not, he was hyped to win the Heisman! Instead, a weak armed, heavy footed guy named Danny Wurffel took over.

    Everybody relax, take a deep breath, the Mighty Gators will be just fine! Remember, signing with FSU is its own punishment!

  29. Mushcamp’s unproven–a lot of players don’t want to take a chance until he proves he can win big and develop talent to get players to the NFL. It will take 2-3 years. UF will be down for awhile but be back up if he can get some early results.

  30. What satisfaction could signing with the fake indians bring a recruit? Its not the facilities or the competition from week to week. Really, they play like 3 games a year that really are competitive. There has to be a reason and I think its false promises. Promises to play every down even if you dont earn the position. Sort of the entitlement mentality we have seen alot of over the last few yrs. I am sure that a few actually are going to sign for the education. And my hat is off to them. But to those entitlement sort of guys, I am glad you arent choosing UF. I would rather see recruits that are willing to earn a position and really want to be a Gator because thats what is in your heart. Again, chill out. We will be just fine.

  31. Here’s a thought. Why not consider reality? Last year (2010) after our head coach pulled an ‘Urban Meyer’ we still had a good recruiting year. This year (2011) after our head coach pulled his second ‘Urban Meyer’ recruiting is, well, challenging. The difference is: (1) The perception of instability in the program, (2) A head coach with absolutely no head coaching track record, (3) The UF has a large number of NFL coaches who will be at UF for only a year or two. That, my friends, is reality or at least a perception of the reality facing the UF program. All this can be overcome. Ultimate success can be had. But, again reality, will be challenging!!

  32. Weis will stay 4+years to train all gators into top performing players because he & UF will be educating Weis’ son for a good career life. That is an honorable deal from a most honorable university.
    Muschamp & Weis will coach ’em up 3-star or 5-star. All assistants will meet all expectations,enhancing their resumes while enjoying our gator-nation.
    As a student while Spurrier QB’d I saw gators claw,collide & just drag-hang-on like #1 Jack Card to stop whomever. That bunch did themselves & gator-nation maxproud.
    So stow-away the fret complaining & get ready to cheer for on-field dogged determination at turning opponents into gator-baits.

  33. We will be ok. Did anyone forget we had the top or second best recruiting season last year…I’m sure this year will be LOWER but hey we will win this coming season and once we beat FSU those recruits are gonna say (dmn)