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February 10, 2012
First class can be key for new coaches
Three years is the new five, at least for grace periods for some coaches.
The window of opportunity for coaches to build their programs is closing. Five years used to be the standard, but that has shrunk. Without significant improvement, coaches will be lucky to stay for five seasons at many schools.
This trend makes the first signing class of a coach's tenure that much more important. The high school seniors signed Feb. 1 will be juniors three seasons from now, and ideally, part of a veteran backbones of teams across the country.
For first-year coaches, these classes were assembled in some cases under less-than-ideal circumstances due to NCAA issues (Ohio State, North Carolina), poor records (UCLA, Illinois, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, etc.) and unexpected coach departures (Pittsburgh, Rutgers).
The coaches who did the best job salvaging - and in some cases excelling - in recruiting in this first class may be the ones most likely to stick around.
Here's a breakdown of classes for first-year coaches in the six major conferences.