S tay updated with Nebraska Cornhuskers football recruiting in the latest edition of The Harvest, which posts at 7:30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday. Be sure to check out previous editions of The Harvest here.
Bill Moos will be patient, even in face of early signing period
When Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos made the decision to relieve Mike Riley and nearly the entirety of his coaching staff, save for interim coach Trent Bray and a few recruiting staffers, it became clear that Moos desired his new coach to operate with a clean slate upon his arrival.
The move had serious ramifications on the recruiting trail. Beginning Sunday night, programs not participating in their conference championship games started hitting the road to make in-home visits with the early signing period less than a month away (Dec. 20-22). Staffs would prefer that commits sign during that period before building on a solid foundation in advance of the traditional signing period in February.
“The sooner the better, and that’s why you’ve got to be actively working things prior to today to gauge the interest,” Moos said Saturday. “We’ve got an early signing period on the 20th through the 22nd of December. That’s something new this year, and it would be nice, obviously, to have someone in place with a staff quite a ways prior to that, in a perfect world.”
Scott Frost, a key Huskers coaching target, has his UCF team playing for the American Athletic Conference championship on Saturday. Moos is aware this week will have to go on without distractions for those teams still playing.
“We’ve still got seasons going, there’s games today, there’s conference championship games, and then we go into the bowl season, too, and so there’s lots of college still to be played,” Moos said. “But having said that, this is the time of year where these types of decisions and moves are made. So, a lot of dominoes start to roll right now and there will be more coaches become available, and have just in the last two-to-three days.”
At the end of the day, though, Moos was emphatic that bringing in the right coach to provide stability for the program ranks much higher on his list than simply bringing in a coach to salvage this recruiting cycle.
“I want to touch on that because the early signing period is a factor, but not to the degree that we should make a bad decision just so we make sure we sign one or two players early,” Moos said. “I will say this: If we bump against that early signing period and we’re not there yet, the sky isn’t falling. It’s more important that this is a hire that provides stability and a true identity to our football program, and so, even though I do feel [hiring a coach in time to recruit before signing day] is important, it’s not a priority in the grand scheme of things here.”
In the aftermath of the Riley firing, I wrote that it was important for Moos to move quickly for the sake of recruiting. With only nine commits in the 2018 class, a poor recruiting cycle can put the future coach and his staff in a serious hole before they even get started.
Regardless of the outcomes this weekend during conference championship games, it would behoove Moos to secure his coach sometime early next week. That way, the coach can assemble his staff, calmly, and still hit the recruiting trail prior to the start of the quiet period on Dec. 17.
Trent Bray, other staffers still recruiting from Lincoln
In addition to Bray, several other Huskers staff members from the Riley era are still in the football offices reaching out to recruits. Billy Devaney, who served as executive director of player personnel and a special assistant to Riley, is still hard at work speaking with recruits.
“We already had a meeting this morning and started to lay out a plan. Trent’s been in contact with a bunch of our recruits,” Devaney told Steven M. Sipple of the Lincoln Journal-Star. “We’re going to be looking at tape because we know we’re going to lose some players. We’ve already lost some [Brendan Radley-Hiles and Chase Williams] and we have some positions opened up now. We’re going to go back and revisit some guys we liked but we didn’t think we’d have room for.”
The purpose of all this work is to ensure the transition to the new staff runs smoothly.
“We’ll try to keep preparing for whatever staff comes in and be ready to answer any questions they have — which prospects they need to see immediately, get them up to speed with where we are,” Devaney said. “There’s a ton of work to be done. It’s a great environment that Mike created. There’s nobody walking around like ‘woe is me’ or ‘we got screwed.’ It’s, ‘Man, let’s go until somebody tells us otherwise.’ ”
How much the new staff takes the old staff’s recommendations into consideration remains to be seen. Not all personnel groups evaluate players the same, not to speak of the fact that the new staff may employ a wildly different system that would require a much different recruiting focus.
Regardless, it’s important that Moos and the remaining staff has dedicated their efforts to recruiting. The goal here is to keep commits in the fold so they can meet the new staff before making decisions on their commitments.
Until then, the waiting game — for fans and commits alike — continues.
Missing out on Nebraska recruiting? Check out previous editions of The Harvest here.
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