Sunday, December 23, 2007

Recruitniks Panic as Callahan Recruits Decommit

Oh my! The sounds of despair from Husker recruitniks is becoming deafening as recruit after recruit decommits. "Our Top Ten Recruiting Class is disappearing!" "This new staff has no idea what they are doing!" Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!

Here's it in a nutshell: Chill out.

This is to be expected for the most part, for a number of reasons. First of all, decommitments are nothing new. Remember two years ago when Josh Freeman dumped Bill Callahan for Kansas State? It happens. High school kids change their mind all the time.

But to this extreme? Well, consider what has happened since most of these high school kids committed to Nebraska. Nebraska extended Bill Callahan's contract, he promptly went 5-7, and was fired. Quite a roller coaster for coaches, players, fans ... and recruits. And while players do consider the school, in many cases, the commitment is to the coach more than the school. When they do sign, it's to the school, but until the signature occurs, it's a verbal promise based quite a bit on the coach.

And for the most part, the guys who sold these high schoolers on Nebraska are gone, replaced by complete strangers to these guys. Yeah, the building is the same. The academics are the same. But the football program is completely different now. For the most part, these guys are strangers. It happens. It's the price of change.

Another factor was created by Bill Callahan himself, and now is working against Nebraska. Callahan had a unique (at least unique to me) idea of using big-name recruits to help recruit other big-name recruits. We saw Harrison Beck working to lure others to Nebraska in 2004. Blaine Gabbert did the same this past summer. It was a powerful ally for Husker recruiting, and players decided to "stick together" and sign together.

Suddenly that solidarity between players backfired. They start questioning their commitment to Nebraska, and start looking at their options. And when these players started changing their mind, the solidarity meant that players were jumping together.

So is this a disaster for Nebraska? Are the Huskers screwed? Chill out. It's a good bet that this incoming class will not be as highly ranked as it would have been if Callahan had been retained. But what does that recruiting ranking really mean? What has it meant for Nebraska football in recent years?

The fact is that we'll miss some of these players in future years. Some of them we'll see on the other sideline. But here's another thing to think about... if the new coaching staff would have been in place a year ago, some of these players probably wouldn't have been pursued nearly as much. It's a question of perception and evaluation.

And there's still a month left for this staff to find other players. Players that they think could be better than the guys we lost. Or guys who are a better fit with what this staff plans to do in the future.

Bo Pelini's only been on the job for three weeks, and now things are on hold for a couple more weeks due to the NCAA-mandated holiday dead period. It's a little premature to hit the panic button. Give the man a little time.

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