When a new college coach takes over, the expected response is that that team's recruiting class will suffer.
Among the many responsibilities facing the rookie is that he must set down roots and form relationships with the old coach's commits very quickly.
Sometimes, this task is too daunting for a new coach, or the old commitments don't match his vision. Decommitments follow.
But for other schools, the new coach is an improvement, even a major one, over the last coach from a recruiting perspective.
Here are the nine best examples of the latter case for the 2010/11 recruiting season so far.
Bobby Bowden had some good signings to close out his final years at Florida State.
But towards the end of his career his classes became more and more stratified, composed of one or two highlights and a lot of slack.
Still, few could have foreseen the absolute explosion of interest in the Seminoles since Bowden stepped down and his offensive coordinator, Jimbo Fisher, took over.
The Noles closed out 2010 with a flurry of high-profile signings, including five-star LB Christian Jones, five-star DB LaMarcus Joyner, five-star WR Kenny Shaw and five-star MLB Jeff Luc.
Chalk those players up to the new regime, as well as the 11 players the Noles have already gained verbals from for the 2011 class.
Put your ear to the ground and you hear Florida State's name getting called once again. As long as Fisher and new defensive coordinator Mark Stoops know where to put all that talent, things could start looking like 1999 around here.
I profiled Virginia as an up-and-coming recruiting school earlier this week, but let me repeat: from a recruiting standpoint, Mike London is the real deal.
London brought the promise of a great recruiting pedigree to a school sagging under the weight of the dreaded "alumni coach not performing up to expectations" (See: Weis, Charlie), and declared all of Virginia fair game.
Not a bad idea for a coach who'd already recruited Virginia well on behalf of Richmond, an FBS school who won the national title under London in 2008.
He has the Cavs sitting at eight commitments for 2011, all at different positions. The highlight so far is stud athlete Clifton Richardson, a 4.4 talent who is explosive with the ball in his hands.
Marrying a great coaching resume to the type of recruits Virginia once saw as all but lost has at least one pseudo-sportswriter drinking the London Kool-Aid.
Yes, Charlie Weis was a terrific recruiter, but for the wrong reasons.
Weis' go-to recruiting tactic—to promise a player he'd be ready for the NFL in his system—totally bypassed the need to succeed at Notre Dame (which should surprise no one who has watched the Irish closely these past years).
The mishmash of talented players in a dinosaur system, all waiting for three years to go by to cash in on the riches they were promised, is long gone.
Instead, Kelly, channeling John Kennedy, is telling his recruits, "Ask not what Notre Dame can do for you, ask what you can do for Notre Dame."
The amazing thing is, it's working. The Irish are on a roll, gaining verbals from five-star tight end Ben Koyack, fringe five-star tackle Anthony Hegarty, four-star tackle Connor Hanratty, four-star tackle Tony Springmann and four-star outside linebacker Jarrett Grace after their spring game.
Kelly can get the players, and—bonus!—actually knows what to do with them when they arrive in South Bend. The proof may not have been in the class of 2010's pudding, but it should be in 2011's.
And don't be surprised if you see it as soon as the Irish hit the field this fall, either.
Charlie Strong was the man behind many of Florida's top signings on offense and on defense—just from the 2009 class, Rivals credits him with No. 1 and No. 4 LBs Jelani Jenkins and Jon Bostic, No. 7 RB Mike Gillislee and No. 2 WR Andre Debose.
Steve Kragthorpe may not have been responsible, but he presided over one of the largest waves of attrition to ever hit a major BCS school, and could never put together the talent or the numbers to catch up. His 2008 class was abysmal, and it got worse.
With 11 verbals already, Strong is deserving of the up-and-coming accolades, and we know he can put it together on the field. This one's an absolute no-brainer.
I think Marshall bailed a little too early on Mark Snyder—the Thundering Herd finally made it back to a bowl and had one of 2009's most electric rushers in Darius Marshall.
But as Snyder's replacement, John Holliday is, if nothing else, a major upgrade from a recruiting standpoint.
At West Virginia, he's credited with landing OL Josh Jenkins and QB Geno Smith, the 'Eers likely starter next year.
The exodus of at least three players from WVU's commitment list (including a few to the Herd) after he left for the Marshall job is evidence of the tight relationships Marshall is able to form with kids.
Finally, Holliday's connections to Florida's talent pool are among the best in the business.
They're even enough to make Marshall relevant again. With his hire, the Herd have made it evident they know when and how that process begins.
Rich Brooks wasn't a bad recruiter, and he was an excellent coach, but it was difficult to picture a recruit finding something really cutting-edge about committing to play for him at Kentucky.
His replacement, Joker Phillips, was the lead recruiter for many of Kentucky's best signings in the previous class, including DE Justin Henderson, DT Brice Laughlin and LB Malcolm McDuffen.
Phillips has the Wildcats way ahead on the 2011 class, gaining verbals from OL Darrian Miller and ATH Jon Davis, both ESPNU Watch List prospects and four-star players to Scout.
To compare, Brooks' best year—probably 2006—had three four-stars total (RB Demetrius Goode, DT Corey Peters and DE Micah Johnson) and Phillips was credited with all three.
I'd liken Joker's success to Jimbo Fisher's at Florida State, albeit on a smaller scale. A young, fresh coach with strong connections to his talent pool takes over for a program with nothing to lose.
The Wildcats are the SEC's pirates, outliers adrift in one of college football's most star-studded conferences. It takes a special kind of recruit to dig that vibe, but Joker will find them.
I'd jump off a bridge for Mike Leach, but only because he never lies, and if he felt it was the right thing to do, who am I to contradict him?
Tommy Tuberville could also talk me into jumping, but he'd be using that trademark persuasion and that appealing country attitude to do it.
Leach wasn't a bad recruiter—he landed Michael Crabtree and Graham Harrell, two perfect fits for his outlaw system that paid off in a near-BCS bust—but it was evident that his straight-shooting approach wasn't for everybody.
Tuberville, on the other hand, could sell the mythical ketchup popsicle to the daintily-clad lady.
You're seeing the fruits of that confident, steady-handed approach in Texas Tech's 10 commits for 2011, including watchlist players QB Michael Brewer and RB Kenny Williams.
What Tuberville does best is act as the CEO, assembling the most capable staff around him. Wooing James Willis away from Alabama to act as defensive coordinator was both sweet revenge for his final Iron Bowl loss, and a deft move to crack into Bama's recruiting backyard. So far, it's paid off with the commitment of ILB and Spanish Fort, AL native Blake Dees.
For Tuberville, recruiting on the margins is old hat. He's the Cary Grant of the recruitoverse—if you want him to play the part of the outlaw, he'll just change his accent a little bit.
Is it blasphemy to suggest Lane Kiffin is a better recruiter than Pete Carroll?
Perhaps. But to parlay the Greek myth, imagine that you've cut off the head of one of the greatest recruiters of all time, only to watch three more equally terrifying heads sprout out of its base.
In this version of the myth, Kiffin plays the silver-tongued journeyman, the Pied Piper, uncannily good at forming and forging relationships with the villagers' children. Where he takes off to, they follow.
Monte, his father, plays the Wise Fool, the doddering wizard whom no one suspects is an old hand at closing the deal within, or outside of, the rules.
Ed Orgeron is Heracles, boastful, primitive, brutal, violent, efficient dispatching his challenges.
The hydra more commonly known as Kiffin, Kiffin and Orgeron will, in my mind, be even more effective than Carroll was at getting the nation's elite players all together in one place.
Carroll laid the foundation, but grew disillusioned with college football's lack of a playoff. Now, there's a new prince in town. And contrary to popular belief, I don't think he's going anywhere.
Despite granting Kiffin, Orgeron and Kiffin's recruiting powers are some of the best in the biz, I think Derek Dooley is an upgrade in Knoxville.
He may not have the star power or the aura of Kiffin, but Dooley will recruit kids to Tennessee who want to play for Tennessee, not for the USC of the South, as Kiffin aspired to do.
Dooley showed he was no slouch at playing the game, either, lifting Da'Rick Rogers, one of 2010's best wide receivers, out of Georgia's pocket just prior to signing day.
The Vols will struggle this year, but Dooley's un-romanticized, ego-free approach to the job has to be refreshing. Tennessee has enough tradition already without someone meddling with it.