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Recruiting: Recruits weigh options with Weis out

Bill Brink | Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Regardless of the manifestation of Charlie Weis’ coaching abilities, he always whipped up impressive recruiting classes.

Now that recruiting force is gone, and the Irish set about the task of retaining those recruits who have verbally committed while still attracting those who were undecided.

Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick said he did not expect committed recruits to back out of their verbals because they committed to the University, not necessarily one man.

“The young men that picked this place have picked this place,” Swarbrick said. “They were attracted to the coaches they met and no doubt were attracted to Coach Weis and have an affinity for him. But as we’ve talked to them today and will continue to talk to them, we’re hearing the message we would expect to hear, which is ‘I’m very sorry to hear that, but you still offer the things that attracted me to the University, and so I’m still coming.'”

Interim head coach Rob Ianello, who also serves as the recruiting coordinator, agreed with Swarbrick and said Weis’ firing may not be the only question mark for potential recruits.

“Anybody that might be wavering I think as recruiting goes might have been wavering no matter what the circumstances might have been,” Ianello said. “I think we’re prepared for that, prepared to move forward to try to secure those commitments first and foremost and then move forward to some guys that we’re still recruiting that are uncommitted at this time.”

Ianello said the staff would be visiting the homes of potential recruits this week.

The coaching change will most likely not affect many of those who have verbally committed, said Mike Frank, a Notre Dame recruiting analyst who runs the ESPN-affiliated site Irishsportsdaily.com

“Most of the committed guys I think you’ll see will stick around,” Frank said. “The uncommitted guys, that’s going to be the interesting thing. The new coach will have a lot of selling to do.”

Frank said if Notre Dame hires a big-name coach, such as Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, Florida’s Urban Meyer or former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach and current ESPN commentator Jon Gruden, signing uncommitted recruits will become easier. Smaller names, like Cincinnati’s Brian Kelly, might have more trouble, but Kelly’s personable nature may win over some recruits, Frank said.

Swarbrick said the timetable for finding a new head coach is open-ended. Frank said getting the right coach is more important for Notre Dame than finding one quickly.

“Even though it may cost you a few recruits, even though you may take some PR hits, you still have to hold out and get the guy you really need.”

Since Ianello was the recruiting coordinator, he has been involved with the recruits throughout the process, something Frank said was a benefit.

“I think it was a very wise move to have him in charge because he’s going to know the most about the most important thing at this point, which is recruiting and prospects and the candidates that are left out there,” he said.

The potential decision to turn down a bowl game, Frank said, will not affect the recruiting process. In fact, he said it might help to have the coaches visiting the players rather than coaching in a bowl game.

Without Weis, Frank said, some players may de-commit, but others may reconsider.

“A big name or somebody who’s a real persuasive guy could come in and possibly grab some guys that aren’t currently on the list right now,” Frank said.

For more on Notre Dame recruiting, check out Mike Frank’s irishsportsdaily.com.
E-mail Mike at [email protected] and tell him The Observer sent you.