February 28th, 2012 09:23 AM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Florida, Tennessee
Tags: Rocky Top, SEC, Urban Meyer Gator, Year Three
Nothing can wipe out a signing class like coaching turnover. Well, that and thuggery.
In a Rivals.com piece yesterday ranking the 13 unluckiest — initially highly-ranked — signing classes, coaching transitions and off-field shenanigans led three SEC recruiting classes to be labeled as duds.
1. Tennessee, 2009 — The unluckiest class on the list. This one was Lane Kiffin’s crew. Arrests, violations of team rules and eventual transfers — when Kiffin left — decimated the class.
6. Tennessee, 2007 — Phillip Fulmer’s next to last class was filled with busts as well. Academics and players who never even arrived on campus hurt. When some others were disappeared by Kiffin when he took over in ’09, things only got worse.
12. Florida, 2008 — Transfer, transfer, transfer, transfer, drug-related dismissal. At the height of Urban Meyer’s Gator tenure, he brought in a class that’s better known for underachieving than achieving. Again, it’s no wonder that his departure and Will Muschamp’s arrival contributed to the mess.
Texas A&M’s 2003 class was unlucky #13 on Rivals’ list, but since A&M was playing in the Big 12 at the time, it’s hard to rank that as an SEC class… even if the Aggies are now part of the family.
What’s not surprising is that Tennessee has taken an overall nosedive as a program with two classes impacted by defections and coaching-change-driven attrition. Toss in a 2005 class that was initially ranked #1 by some services yet failed to produce any all-time greats and it’s clear why things went south on Rocky Top.
While Derek Dooley hasn’t won enough games to satisfy Vol fans in his first two years — and he’s squarely on the hot seat entering Year Three — the man has quietly re-stocked UT’s cupboard. He’s inked three Top 20 signing classes despite the mess left by Kiffin and an NCAA investigation that hung over the program for two years. Question is: If Dooley’s ousted at season’s end, will attrition take its toll on the Tennessee program once again?
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