NCF On The Trail: Recruiting What If

As part of a RecruitingNation-wide series, NittanyNation takes a look at a 'What If' in the world of Penn State recruiting.

Bill O'Brien didn't flinch when he admitted recruiting through the sanctions would be difficult. How could it not be?

For every positive O'Brien might offer, opposing coaches are going to tell recruits to take a hard look at those sanctions and re-think a commitment. Ninenty-five thousand fans? Sure, but every game's like an exhibition. They boast a winning record? Great, but what does that mean without a conference title?

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SEATTLE -- Imagine for a moment that, instead of reading words on a computer screen, Reuben Foster (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) stands in front of you.

The nation’s No. 1 inside linebacker is talking to Washington’s ace recruiter Tosh Lupoi and the coach’s sales pitch has the standout hooked.

Forget for a moment that Foster lives in Alabama. Forget he has Auburn's logo tattooed on his forearm. Forget the long list of suitors the senior has now that he has decommitted from the Tigers.

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In trying to ensure depth at every position, coaches can often play the "What if?" game when it comes to recruiting. Expecting the unexpected can mean the difference between feeling comfortable enough to have a capable body step in and contribute at a position and scrambling to make sure any depth exists.

When it comes to their offensive tackles, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin and his offensive staff are ready for anything. After the conclusion of the AT&T Cotton Bowl, junior tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews will have a decision to make: Apply for early entry into the NFL draft or return to Aggieland for their senior seasons?

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After flirting with the NFL last year, Chip Kelly's name has been mentioned as a top target of many pro teams again this year. If he did take an NFL job, where would that leave the Ducks' recruiting efforts?

[+] EnlargeThomas Tyner
Quavondo/ESPNHSWhat would happen with Oregon's star RB commit Thomas Tyner if Chip Kelly went to the NFL?
ESPN 150 running backs Thomas Tyner (Aloha, Ore./Aloha) and Dontre Wilson (DeSoto, Texas/DeSoto) could look elsewhere. Tyner was very vocal on Twitter last year when there were reports Kelly was accepting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers job. He would likely look at other schools. Wilson, meanwhile, has a great relationship with Oregon RB coach Gary Campbell, who would likely consider retirement if Kelly were to leave.

There is nothing but speculation at this point, but it is assumed the Ducks would move offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich to head coach, leaving most of the staff and the Ducks' high-flying offense intact.

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The “what if” scenarios regarding college football are a revolving door this time of year.

Boston College, Temple, Auburn, Kent State, Wisconsin and Tennessee are just a few schools hit with coaching changes in the last few weeks. Those changes could have an impact not just with players on the current team, but in recruiting as well.

[+] EnlargeKerry Coombs
Jim Owens/Icon SMIKerry Coombs also coached at Cincinnati under current Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly.
Urban Meyer isn’t likely to go anywhere after Ohio State’s 12-0 season, but what if one of his assistant coaches left for another gig?

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – D.J. Durkin has been a valuable member of Florida coach Will Muschamp’s staff, both as a linebackers coach/special teams coordinator and a recruiter. But he’s not going to be around forever.

Durkin is headed for a coordinator’s job, and there are plenty of jobs available across the country. What if Durkin were to leave Florida? What kind of impact would that have on the Gators’ recruiting?

D.J. Durkin
Kim Klement/US PresswireGators special teams coordinator/linebackers coach D.J. Durkin was originally hired by Urban Meyer.
Potentially a pretty significant one.

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ATHENS, Ga. -- Mark Richt has consistently credited his coaching staff for its ability to work together and produce outstanding results.

It’s inevitable, however, that members of the staff will leave for other opportunities. After all, both coordinators -- Mike Bobo and Todd Grantham -- are starting to see their names mentioned as potential head coaches. And plenty of other UGA assistants would be in demand if they opted to seek employment elsewhere.

So the big question is how Richt and the Bulldogs will fare once the group dynamic changes within his staff.

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There have been many hypothetical questions surrounding the USC Trojans. What if senior center Khaled Holmes had been healthy for the Stanford game? What if Matt Barkley had spiked the ball in the last-minute drive at Arizona? What if USC made an adjustment or two against the vaunted Oregon offense?

In the end, there were too many questionable moments this season for a team that couldn't afford any. Now, with the Trojans preparing for the Sun Bowl, recruiting fans have found themselves asking another question.

What if USC had more scholarships to give out?

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With the recruiting season winding down and signing day fast approaching, the big what-if scenario for Michigan has to do with two former commits. There are three spots left in this class due to the fact defensive back Gareon Conley (Massillon, Ohio/Washington) and offensive lineman David Dawson (Detroit/Cass Tech) wanted to take visits and thus decommitted.

Both are still being recruited by Michigan, since both are still at a position of need. They also are being courted by Ohio State, which means there is a chance the Buckeyes could land both of the former Wolverines commits. So, what if that happened?

The first thing Buckeyes fans would say is that it was payback for Michigan nabbing former Ohio State commit Kyle Kalis in the 2012 class. Aside from that, the Buckeyes would be landing two very good players at positions of need for Michigan.

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It’s going to be an annual struggle. How long can Oklahoma keep a wide receivers coach as good as Jay Norvell before another program offers him an offensive coordinator or head coaching position?

It was right around this time last year when rumors started circulating Norvell was thinking about leaving. Wisconsin and Florida were the two schools thought to have a shot at Norvell.

It's only the beginning of December and Norvell’s name is already being thrown around again for coaching vacancies.

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What if ... John Chavis left? 

December, 7, 2012
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- It's the height of the coaching change season. LSU has been to immune to staff changes so far, but not to the annual December speculation.

Defensive coordinator John Chavis' name got hot when the Tennessee job came open. While reports surfaced early Thursday that Tennessee hired Cincinnati's Butch Jones, the possibility remains that a school and Chavis could see enough potential in one another to prompt a move.

If that were to happen, what would happen to LSU?

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What if Manny Diaz is replaced as Texas’ defensive coordinator after the Alamo Bowl?

Diaz is a young, energetic, inventive defensive coordinator who led the top defense in the Big 12 in his first season with Texas, as the Longhorns ranked first in the conference in total defense, rushing defense and pass defense.

But he suffered through a drastic sophomore slump in Austin that saw Texas finish as the Big 12's worst rush defense and give up 33.9 points per game, fifth-most in the conference.

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