When signing your National Letter of Intent (NLI), it states that you are signing with the school and not any coaches at the school. Why the school is the one that will be paying for your scholarship and education, no matter what it says, the role of the college coach is a much during the athletic recruiting process.
In most situations, the eventual school that gets an athlete is the one that shows him or her the most interest. It is the one that goes to most of your high school games and calls the most. There were only a handful of schools that recruiting me and I went with the one that had the coaches recruiting me the most. So when it comes down to it, trying to say that a college coach is not a factor is insane.
I have no idea why the NLI states that other than the fact that many athletes try to get out of this if the coaching staff changes. It could be the head coach or even their position coach. The reason is because you build bonds with the coaching staff. From calls to personalized mail to visits to the school, a connection with the coaching staff is something that will eventually factor into your final decision.
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The reason why it is tough for new Division I-A (BCS) coaching staffs to land a top ten recruiting class is simply because it takes a long time to establish those bonds and trust within the relationship. Look at all the high profile jobs that have changed in the past few years. It even took Nick Saban at Alabama some time to land the #1 rated recruiting class in the county.
If you are a Division II recruit, their coaches could be calling you since the summer. If you talk to the same coach every week for five months, there will be a relationship that has been established. Now if this coach was your main point of contact, what would you do if that coach left and went to a rival program? Do you hope that he recruits you there? Do you try to build another relationship with a coach at that school?
It is really tough to say but college coaches may be the biggest overall factor that a high school athlete looks into before making a decision. Look at the havoc that John Calipari caused when he left Memphis for Kentucky. Many of the current athletes were able to get out of their NLI and that was even with an assistant coach taking over the reigns of head coach. A number of them also followed him to Kentucky.
That is a perfect example of how much a coach really matters. The NCAA may try to dismiss the fact and put different wording in their NLIs but coaches are vital. When Calipari left, if the players really were going for the school and what they offered, then they would have all stayed Memphis bound. But again, many left for other programs and the AD at Memphis did allow them to get out of their NLIs.
When you are going through the recruiting process, see for yourself how much the coaching staff matters to you. When all is said and done, the one showing you the most interest and giving you the most attention is likely to be the one that eventually wins your service.