It can happen that fast. One minute a coach is telling you how excited he is to get to coach you while he's sitting in your living room. The next day he's out the door to coach another program.
Shocked. He was at my house yesterday for dinner and I had no idea.— matt snyder (@Mattsnyder42) December 4, 2014
That was the case with Mike Riley leaving for Nebraska. You can see from that tweet above that Matt Snyder, a tight end that committed to the Beavers in October, had no indication that anything like this may have been coming. Even most of his assistant coaches expressed shock at him leaving.
This is what happens in college football. It just wasn't thought of as a possibility for someone like Riley to do it and that throws everything involved with the Oregon State program into a tailspin.
As of right now, no commits have jumped ship yet. (Update: One has now flipped to Nebraska and another decommitted) But there is plenty of time for things to change in recruiting and each day without a head coach to run the program means more questions about the future.
For right now though, everything is uncertain if you were a recruit that is pledged to Oregon State. Here are the kind of things that those athletes are going to have to worry about over the next few days and weeks without a head coach at their future program.
Other schools are going to get in contact with them
The Beavers may not have a recruiting class littered with blue chip talent, but that's not going to stop opposing coaches from coming after their commits. It's how the game works these days.
Riley was seen by at least one Pac-12 assistant as "the best talent evaluator in the conference by far" and I'm sure there are plenty of other coaches on the west coast that feel the same way. So any program that felt they lost out to Oregon State on a player like safety Shalom Luani is going to try and flip him if they still have a need at the position in their recruiting class. Even schools who didn't recruit Luani before may get in contact because they may have a need after some injuries or de-commitments.
The recruits may have no interest in any other school at this time, but that's not going to stop those other schools from trying to gauge their interest.
Is their position or recruiting coach going to stay at Oregon State?
Coaches spend months, sometimes years, building relationships with players and their families. That relationship that is built by the assistant coaches is usually a deciding factor for most recruits. When there's a coaching change, there is a very good chance that the relationship between an assistant coach and a recruit is going to change as well.
At least a few of the staff will probably end up following Riley to Nebraska and those that don't get asked to join Riley there may not be retained by whoever becomes the next head coach for the Beavers. For a player like Tyrin Ferguson, who is still a solid commit to the Beavs, his commitment may not be nearly as solid if assistant coach Trent Bray doesn't stay in Corvallis. To Ferguson, Bray was a much bigger reason he chose to commit to Oregon State than Riley. (Update: Bray left to join Riley in Lincoln and Ferguson has now flipped his commitment to Nebraska)
A situation like this just occurred with Washington State. Mike Leach let go Mike Breske from his staff and that led to a de-commitment from his top recruit Austin Joyner.
When changes are made at the top of a football program, it's pretty rare that many coaches stick around on the next head coach's staff. If that's the case with the next head guy at Oregon State, it could change some things for some of their current commitments.
Uncommitted recruits who were considering Oregon State may take them off their list
4 star linebacker Khaylan Thomas, an Arizona State commit, recently took an official visit to Oregon State. Any thoughts of him flipping are likely gone now with the coaching change that just happened and the other changes that are bound to happen.
A player like quarterback Kyle Kearns, who opened up his recruitment because of the coaching change at SMU, was someone who Oregon State had been in contact with. It's going to be tough for any new coaches to try and stay in the game with him or any other recruits until they know who the head of the program is. Kearns just de-committed because he was no longer a fit with what new SMU head coach Chad Morris was planning on doing. I don't think he'd want to jump into a situation without knowing that the next head coach or offensive coordinator is going to want him for their offense.
When new coaches come in, they may not want the players who are currently committed to Oregon State
This is a harsh reality of college football, but that's pretty much what happened with a player like Kearns at SMU. It could happen to several commits at Oregon State too when a new coach comes in.
Coaches want players who fit their scheme. So unfortunately, it may not matter that recruits like offensive lineman Mike Fifita and quarterback James Pensyl are still planning on going to Oregon State. It's not out of the realm of possibility that the new coach may not want those players.
There is nothing fun about a coaching change for committed recruits. Even if they chose the school for more reasons than just the football program, the uncertainty of not knowing what is going to happen within the program could have a major impact on their future. Who's going to coach me? Do the new coaches even want me? Do I have other options? All of these things have to be running through their mind right now.
When the dust settles and a new coach and staff are brought in at Oregon State, I'm sure some of the current commitments will still end up signing with the Beavers. But the longer it takes to solidify the future of the program, the less likely it's going to be that most of them stick with their pledge.