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Urban Meyer’s timing might not be as bad as you think

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Sun. December 27, 2009 | Keith Niebuhr

With Urban Meyer quitting as Florida Gators football coach when he did, the timing would seem to be awful when it comes to recruiting.

But by stepping down when he did, Meyer might actually have minimalized the damage.

Will his leaving hurt the Gators with recruiting? Absolutely.

Will it paralyze them? Probably not.

Here’s why:

From Dec. 21, 2009 through January 1, 2010, recruiting is in its NCAA-mandated “dead period,” which means college coaches can’t have any in-person contact with a high school athlete or his family and phone calls to recruits are heavily limited. Because Meyer quit during the dead period, it makes it more difficult for opposing teams to poach Florida recruits -- legally.

College coaches aren’t dumb. So during the dead period, they’ll work the system by going through a player’s high school coaches.

That, however, isn’t the same as talking directly to the athlete face to face.

Regardless of what happens at Florida, the Gators will have some work to do to keep many of their prized recruits. But this is precisely why coaches sell the program and the school during the recruiting process more than they sell themselves.

Should Florida, as expected, have a replacement for Meyer within the next week, the damage potentially could be relatively limited on the recruiting front. Good players will get away (they always do), but on the flip side the new coach very well could bring in players previously pledged to his former school (think, for instance, Bob Stoops of Oklahoma).

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