Al Golden's recruiting plan for Miami
There are notes scribbled everywhere on the white board across from Brennan Carroll's new desk in the Miami Hurricanes' football office. There are phone numbers, names and recruiting leads. In the upper-right corner of the board is a reminder of sorts. It reads:
Those are the numbers of high schools in each state. It underscores the potential to canvass the smallest of the three biggest hotbeds of football talent in the nation. Carroll, the former USC Trojans recruiting coordinator, has been in his new gig, as Miami's tight ends coach/recruiting coordinator, for only a few weeks. He, like some of his new colleagues, has had to undergo a crash course not only in his new program but also in the gridiron landscape that surrounds it.
It's a few minutes after 8 a.m. ET on Monday morning, T-minus 46 hours from the official start of national signing day. Things are chaotic in football offices all over the country this week, and this is especially so at programs like Miami, which is coming out of a coaching transition and is scrambling to assemble its first recruiting class under a new coaching regime. Monday was actually the first day the entire new Miami staff was together since it was assembled. Most of them hadn't had a chance to put up a single picture on their office walls.
For new head coaches, putting together your first recruiting class, often in less than two months, is a mad scramble. For some, like Miami's Al Golden and Michigan's Brady Hoke, the transition also includes almost no crossover recruiting -- targeting players the coaches were already recruiting at their previous job -- so the evaluation and introduction processes can be thorny.
Golden, who came to UM from Temple, was unfamiliar with most of the prospects who were already on the Canes' recruiting board. With Temple being in the Northeast and in the MAC, most recruits considering Miami weren't going to pay the Owls' staff much attention. When Golden was announced as the new Miami head man on Dec. 13, most recruits responded to the news with a collective "Who?!"
On top of that, most of the recruits Randy Shannon's staff had landed bailed in the interim. By the time Golden moved into his new office, he had just two commitments on board, and quite frankly, the two that remained were shaky.
As Golden worked to assemble his new coaching staff -- his first wave of assistants included three of the defensive coaches he brought with him from Temple -- they evaluated the personnel remaining in the program during three practices the Hurricanes went through in preparation for the Sun Bowl. In addition, the new staff built their new recruiting board, while assessing that cornerback, QB, defensive line and linebacker were their biggest priorities. Among the first prospects they connected with were the recruits who were planning to enroll for the second semester, which meant the staff would return to campus from home visits just an hour before they hosted their first official visits.
The big-picture approach was to honor those commitments, but also be honest with those recruits about where the new staff saw them fitting in the program. One of the biggest mistakes a new coach makes is jumping at players his staff just doesn't have much of a feel for.