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Turns out Dave Doeren picked the worst possible time for a staff overhaul

How well does tele-recruiting work with a bunch of new coaches? Predictably, not that well.

North Carolina State v Boston College Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Significant coaching staff turnover in college football tends to be the result of one of two extremes: either things are going so well, everyone wants your coaches (see: LSU) or things are going so poorly, the head coach feels the need to shake up the program in an effort to right ship.

Obviously, NC State is the second case after a heinous 4-8 campaign in 2019 that brought about wholesale changes by Dave Doeren. Doeren ended up replacing both (er, all three) coordinators and nearly every other assistant during the offseason.

It’s a hail-mary move to improve the on-field product in the near term that generally comes with longer-term recruiting consequences. Recruiting success is built through assistant coaches establishing relationships with high school players and coaches over the course of months and, often, years. Building trust and also setting expectations for what a kid’s role will be when he gets to campus both are critical.

NC State’s staff has had no chance to do any of that, through no fault of their own. Doeren flipped his staff and then a global health crisis broke out. The NCAA in mid-March instituted a recruiting dead period through April 15 that was recently extended through May. The Pack’s new assistants have been forced onto the shelf for over two months, unable to meet with kids either on campus or at recruiting events.

If that dead period extends into the summer, then it affects camp season, which is a critical recruiting period. On-campus camps bring in tons of prospects, allow the coaches to evaluate them in person, and in NC State’s case, usually they bring with them a string of commitments.

Sure, they’ve got technology to help with one-on-one talks but it’s a lot easier to get a feel for someone—their comportment, their authenticity, whatever—when you can meet them in person. State’s staff has had to sell the program from a distance, basically as strangers to a significant part of the 2021 class. That’s not a recipe for success, and, well ... you’ve seen the results so far.

This is not to say that these circumstances are the entire reason for NC State’s recruiting problems this cycle; they obviously are not. UNC has been able to re-frame the narrative with in-state kids, which has hurt a lot, and any time you are coming off a losing season, it hurts.

But there’s no question that the coronavirus shutting down recruiting when it did was a huge stroke of misfortune for NC State. State’s staff was going to be working from behind no matter what, and this has just made the hurdles substantially larger.