Texas landed a new OC and OL coach, now riding at the head of the Longhorn staff succession parade perched on the hood of a Bellmont clown car, their agent barely stifling a giggle at the UT admin's negotiating acumen ("I'm offering you 600K, but I'll pay 900K and must sign you or risk outright fan revolt, but don't use that against me! And my boss is here to make sure I don't bungle it. Darn, you won't take less than 900k? You're a really good negotiator!") but the possibility of more staff changes and the next month of dead period may handicap the Longhorns chances of pulling off another late rally to fully complement 2015's foundational class.
Staff evals have been largely on point within their relative context - even now, recruiting services are hastily doubling stars on supposedly marginal players the staff had identified months ago and most of the Longhorn three stars have obvious upside - often at other positions - but Texas really hasn't made a dent on several elite players, many at key positions of need, who could speed the turnaround Longhorn fans demand. Insert Brick/Wick/Robinson bashing here.
Here we enter the murky recruiting world of development, need, system fit and recruiting rankings...
F Scott Fitzgerald said the test of a first-rate intelligence is to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. The Longhorn fan recruiting test is to understand that while the services are at times an embarrassing display of groupthink and laziness (Eric's not) and Strong's staff largely does an excellent job of keeping their own counsel and projecting what a player will be as a college junior rather than what they are as a high school senior, the top recruits in the state and nation are generally rated properly and coveted for a reason. It takes viewing approximately two highlights to understand why Flower Mound's Kaden Smith is the most coveted TE prospect within 1,500 miles of Austin. Whether or not he succeeds individually is nearly irrelevant - the idea is to land a dozen prospects like him across all positions and let the NFL four and five star math do its work. Then round out the class with projects, high upsiders ("oh no, a high school senior is awesome but too skinny, how will he ever put on weight in a college S&C program?") and the kids who finish strong as seniors rather than show as sophomores and never get better.
If your school is conspicuously absent from the top of the rankings (even if you don't agree with every single player's individual ranking), your program ceiling is limited, no matter the yeomen's work done with rest of the Top 100. Stars do matter. It's simultaneously true that not all three stars are created equal (or, for that matter, poorly regarded two stars suddenly anointed four stars after someone acquainted with football bothers to watch their senior film).
People seem to struggle with these seemingly competing ideas, but Fitzy said it best.
The reality is that the opportunity for Texas to make up massive late ground on elite prospects is limited, no matter what staff changes occur and new recruiting energy is injected. Despite the numerous updates you'll be reading detailing sources revealing certain recruits are now 53.5% Texas when they were 29.8% Texas one week ago, the dead period is pretty much what it sounds like. No contact is permissible. Unless we want to invest in burner phones and Snapchat accounts. If minds are changed, it's coming from influences beyond the immediate control of our staff. And with half of the Texas staff either recruiting poorly, on their way out, or sitting in limbo, it's hard for Texas to turn a late push into tangible results when competing schools have been working every angle for two plus years. Unless our Biology department has a plan for duplicating Jeff Traylor's recruiting DNA.
Texas has change to sell, but no one to tell. Until January 14, 2016...
Then it's a 21 day blitz until National Signing Day on February 3rd. Will Texas pull some rabbits out of the hat? Undoubtedly. But there's no Malik Jefferson style pied piper to lead an unexpected recruiting surge and Strong just survived a coup attempt on the heels of a disappointing season. The late push will be more about closing out on solid prospects, retaining those already in the fold and calculated opportunism exploiting a late souring on School X rather than a late breaking sprint to a Top 10 finish.