Lane Kiffin, Charlie Strong hires make Florida recruiting even tougher
With Florida Atlantic hiring Lane Kiffin on Monday, recruiting is about to intensify in the Sunshine State.
Maybe not for the Gators, Seminoles or Hurricanes, but for everybody else.
Consider this offseason's head coaching hires:
Florida International hired Butch Davis, a former Miami head coach who spent three and a half seasons leading the NFL's Cleveland Browns.
USF hired Charlie Strong, the former Texas head coach who knows Florida well as a former Gators assistant.
And then FAU hired Kiffin, a former head coach at Tennessee, USC and the Oakland Raiders.
Three big-name hires with big-time recruiting reputations, all in one of the three most talent-rich states in the country.
I don't think the moves will affect Florida or Florida State much. The Seminoles are a recruiting juggernaut under Jimbo Fisher. Although the current class is only ranked No. 13 nationally, the ‘Noles had ESPN's top class in the country in 2016. FSU will be just fine.
The Gators and ‘Canes will, too, I think. Mark Richt's Miami class is ranked No. 12, and although Jim McElwain has only landed two five-star recruits at UF, I don't think Kiffin will poach too many players that grow up wanting to be Gators.
But the three new coaches will affect every other program that recruits the state. Willie Taggart by encouraging Tampa Bay-area recruits to stay close to home. Imagine how differently the Bulls would look if Sarasota's Marlon Mack chose Louisville instead.
The same effect might hold true now with high-profile coaches at FAU and FIU, who might be able to retain some of south Florida's ridiculous amount of talent from going elsewhere. Maybe they couldn't have kept Lamar Jackson or Teddy Bridgewater, but they might have had luck with the next tier, like Maryland's all-Big Ten returner Will Likely or South Carolina linebacker Skai Moore.