Recruiting 2010 - CFN Analysis, Signing Day
Florida head coach Urban Meyer
Florida head coach Urban Meyer
Posted Feb 5, 2010

With the great recruiting class that Urban Meyer brought in, the Florida head coach's health will be an issue more than ever. Will there be more pressure with all the talent coming to Gainesville? This and more as the CFN writers take a look at the big stories from Signing Day.

CFN Analysis

Signing Day 2010

Pete Fiutak   

Tennessee survived with Derek Dooley working wonders to salvage a strong class. UCLA, Washington, Oregon, and California brought in enough great players to not only pose even more of a challenge to the USC dynasty, but to also boost up the Pac 10 and make it a nastier conference for the next several years. Oklahoma and Texas were Oklahoma and Texas, Ohio State was mediocre because last year it got just about everyone it wanted, and Notre Dame was decent enough while showing that Brian Kelly, if nothing else, will make life more fun around South Bend now that the insufferable cloud of Charlie Weis is gone.

But the 2010 recruiting season was about three things: Florida, Florida and Florida.

The Urban Meyer health issues weren't a negative in any way, and in fact, they turned out to be a plus as he and his staff were able to use the concerns to the program's advantage. There was almost a tired desperation about the way that Meyer was able to do everything possible to get NFL prospect after NFL prospect as the sprint for the last quarter mile at the end of the marathon paid off big-time. However, if he wasn't fried before he sure looked and sounded during every interview like he was beaten down and cashed. Will a few weeks, if that, be enough time for him to recharge the batteries? They'd better be.

Despite what many Gator e-mailers think, no, I don't hate Florida, I don't have a problem with Meyer, and yes, I do want to see one of the greats in the history of the game stick around. But there was something a little too slick, a little too used car salesman, and a little too unseemly about what Meyer and his staff were selling this time around. Yes, the entire process and business of college football recruiting is a big pile of steaming sleaze and it needs to be blown up and eliminated (more on that another time), but this Florida class was different and it'll be a class and a year that will be analyzed and scrutinized as long as recruiting matters.

The recruiting wonks completely and totally missed the bus on what happened (which is strange since they spend so much time chasing them down), with just about all the big-name analysts saying that the Florida class proved that the program is bigger than just one head coach. While Ron Zook could be back at the helm and Florida would still bring in a top ten class, the program doesn't get a haul like this, an all-timer of a class, without Meyer telling each and every kid that he would be there as the head coach and that the health issues weren't a problem. If Meyer isn't there, no, Florida doesn't get all the top-shelf players it brought in; there's a reason why the guy is one of the best in the game, and it does a disservice to his recruiting and coaching skills to suggest that just anyone could've done what he has to put the program in this position.

The problem is that the act is now looking like an act and it's coming across as manipulative. Whenever you hear a college football prospect say that a coach is like a father figure, especially before the kid takes his first class at a school, there's a problem. A coach isn't a father figure at that point; he's a salesman. Meyer's job isn't to be a dad, no matter what he and other coaches like to sell to kids who might be cocky on the outside and nervous high school kids making the biggest decisions of their lives on the inside. It's Meyer's job to win and win big, and everything else is simply a means to that end. He could be Father Flanagan and it wouldn't matter if he wasn't winning. There have been plenty of wonderful human beings who did great things but were fired because they didn't win enough football games.

This recruiting class is "unique" and "special" just like the last one and just like the one before that and just like the one before that. Meyer throws around words like love and family when it comes to recruits and players, and yet when he announced his retirement the most played up sound bite was from his daughter who gushed about how glad she was to have her daddy back. How did that turn out?

Meyer might believe that he's doing some sort of greater good with the players he's bringing in, but it's easy to love a prospect who's going to win you a lot of football games. He's not going to "love" a player without a bunch of stars next to his name. Florida football isn't a family; it's a multi-million dollar business that needs talented players to come in and make the machine go. To play upon the intellectually and emotionally immature and sell the University of Florida as anything more than a tremendous school and a great place to play football is wrong, and to do it while there's still so much uncertainty around the head coaching situation begs for more scrutiny and a watchdog eye for the next five months as well as the next five years.  

What if Meyer takes off for a few months and his health problems return? Do you think for one single solitary second that he told any recruit that he wasn't going to be there for the next five years? No, and according to all accounts, he was telling every top prospect that he would be the coach this fall, and possibly this spring, and everything will continue to go on as if nothing ever happened. But what if his health says otherwise? What happens the next time he wakes up in the middle of the night with his heart about to leap out of his chest? Is his football "family" then going to take precedence over his real one? It has to after what he just sold to, arguably, the greatest recruiting class in the history of college football.

Try as he might to diminish the idea of pressure, this recruiting class actually heaps on more pressure then before because there's no excuse whatsoever for Florida to not win at least two national titles in the next five seasons considering the talent level. It might not seem fair, but yes, at this point, anything less than an SEC title and an appearance every year in the national championship is a failure at Florida ... no pressure there.

Every school and every coach says whatever needs to be said and pulls on whatever string needs to be pulled to try to get some ego-inflated, uber-talented 17-year-old to sign on the dotted line, and what Meyer sold this recruiting season isn't anything different than what any other coach would've done in the same situation. But now he has painted himself into a corner after recruiting first and asking questions later. Health issues and family concerns can't be taken into consideration anymore and the players brought in now have to come first. Meyer HAS to be the head football coach at the University of Florida this fall no matter what, and he has to be there for the next five years or else he just did nothing more than play upon the emotions and dreams of a bunch of kids with no honest regard or concern about their futures.

And you don't do that to family.

Richard Cirminiello

And that's why you take a risk and hire Lane Kiffin to replace Pete Carroll.

Carroll did a fantastic job in his tenure at USC. There's no debating that reality. However, it's not as if he was Gary Patterson at TCU or Mike Riley at Oregon State, turning two-star recruits into all-leaguers and NFL-caliber players by the time they were seniors. No, the Trojans rolled, in large part, because they consistently assembled killer classes that were resistant to attrition, transfers, and a few inevitable clunkers. Under far less than ideal circumstances, including taking the job a month ago and facing possible NCAA infractions, Kiffin has once again shown a knack for closing the deal and keeping Troy flush with blue-chippers. Plus, this haul gives Matt Barkley a slew of explosive targets, like Robert Woods, Kyle Prater, and Xavier Grimble, which will pay huge dividends in the passing game for at least the next two years. Even with the current uncertainty surrounding can't-miss OT Seantrell Henderson, the staff did a nice job of keeping this class intact, which is the best news the program has gotten in a long time.

By the way, that sigh of relief you hear from the south is coming from Steve Spurrier now that he finally secured the signature of Marcus Lattimore, one of the nation's top running backs. When was the last time South Carolina landed the state's premier prospect? It's been a while, which is why the coach absolutely had to win this battle after fending off the likes of Oregon, Penn State, Georgia, and most seriously, Auburn. With the bloom beginning to fade on Spurrier, he desperately needed something to get the folks around the campus excited again. Lattimore has the potential to be that type of Gamecock, and the kind of playmaker who pushes Kenny Miles right away for playing time and makes Stephen Garcia's life a little easier. Spurrier positively had to have Lattimore for reasons that extend well beyond just the 2010 depth chart.