It doesn’t matter what sport it is but a change in coaching will have an overall impact on the recruiting process at that given school. And unless they have already named a coach-in-waiting, then that impact will be something that is negative to the current crop of recruits at the school.
But for recruits who may be borderline athletes at that level, a coaching change may end up being the best thing that can happen to them. A new staff will also give recruits another look to see if they are good enough to play at their program. This is something that can be a huge benefit in the long run for these athletes because the coaches may be willing to take more chances.
Once a school has an established coaching staff and relationships built up throughout the country, they are able to take their time during the evaluation process and target specific recruits. These coaches are also able to have A recruits, B recruits, C recruits, and so on if their top targets just don’t work out.
For a coaching staff who is hired in November, December, or January, the timetable is much different. The first thing that most staffs will be doing is taking a look at the current crop of commitments. If the previous staff moved on to a better job, than the new coaching staff will be working to keep these committed athletes in the mix at their school. They will work hard making sure these players eventually sign with their school.
If the previous coaching staff is fired, then all bets are off as to what the new staff will do. This new staff may feel that the current crop of commitments is not good enough and will start from squad one in their evaluations. What that means is that players committed and offered by this school may no longer have that option in the recruiting process. The publicity is bad but this does happen frequently.
The new staff will also be at a disadvantage in signing recruits that have scholarship offers in hand. Relationships are a vital thing in recruiting for all sports and that familiarity with other coaches will likely have a negative effect. What that means is that they may be more willing to take a chance on a local kid or someone who has dreamt of playing for that program.
Again, let me stress that while they will stretch a little on recruiting, they are not going to offer a kid who just has Division III interest. They are going to get a recruit who the previous staff may have felt would be a grayshirt recruit or a preferred walk-on with a strong chance of eventually earning a scholarship.
The staff will likely need to sign at least twenty prospects, depending on the school, so they may need to stretch on a few. A perfect example of this in action was Nick Saban during his first two years recruiting at Alabama. Saban is considered one of the top recruiters in the game and in his first year (which was limited because of timing), he pulled in zero five-star recruits, ten four-star recruits (which is pretty good for the timing), twelve three-star recruits, and three two-star recruits.
With his first full year of recruiting, Saban landed the top class in the country according to Rivals.com. He brought in three five-star recruits, nineteen four-star recruits, eight three-star recruits, and two two-star recruits. In order to fill that first class, Saban had to stretch to fill the spots that were open. With more time at the helm, Alabama will continue to become one of the most dominant programs once again.
Going back to the point, a coaching change can be a great thing for athletes during the athletic recruiting process. It could open doors that would have not been there previously. If you have Division I-AA offers but feel you are a Division I-A player, my advice is to send your recruiting profile to every Division I-A school that has had a coaching change. These are the schools that will be most open to a late recruit.