Transition brings out the worst in recruiting

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The news of Blake Lueders and most likely Gio Bernard defecting was the last straw for many Irish fans. After watching Lueders and Bernard join Toney Hurd Jr. and Chris Martin, a vocal minority came to the tragic realization that Brian Kelly isn’t cut out to recruit at Notre Dame.

I’m here to tell you guys to pump the brakes…

It’s easy to understand the uneasiness that comes with this time of year. Combine last weekend’s news with the fact that Anthony Barr chose UCLA over the Irish and a
few other undecided recruits are potentially slipping away, and some Irish
fans are just begging for next Wednesday to get here all ready.

Transition is tough. For many of us, we’ve got no idea what the recruiting process is like for 17- and 18-year-old kids. Recruits like Chris Martin — a kid that got a scholarship offer from every school he ever wanted one from — spend over a year building a relationship with a coaching staff selling X. Then, with just over two months to go before he makes a binding decision, the guy he built a relationship with, the guy who made him believe that X was exactly what he needed gets cut loose, and the university brings in a guy who smartly starts selling O, because he’d be an idiot to promise the exact same thing as the guy who got fired for not getting it done with his recipe X for success. It’s common sense that someone like Chris Martin would be skittish to just assume a new coach, preaching a different message than the one he spent over a year believing to be true, would still be the right fit, even with the school and its identity never changing.

Xs and Os aside (both in our hypothetical and on the field), Brian Kelly won’t be judged on his recruiting ability until next year. If you look at Charlie Weis’ transitional class, there were key defections as well. While the Rivals and Scout database — not to mention my memory — don’t go back in enough details to remember the Davie/O’Leary/Willingham debacle, I’m sure Notre Dame lost a few recruits during that tumultuous time as well. 

There will be time for panic — and in recruiting, that time is now, regardless of the tenure of the head coach — but for now Irish fans need to relax and trust the process. Besides, for all the poking and prodding that comes along with a first recruiting class, it was actually Weis’ highly-touted second recruiting class that did him in.