When news broke on Sunday that Steve Sarkisian was being asked to take a leave of absence and then was ultimately fired a day later, I'm sure the first thought for rival coaches was concern for Sarkisian's health.
I'm also sure it didn't take long for them to think about poaching USC's recruits right after that, though. Recruiting is a cutthroat part of college coaching and any issue with a college program gives another coaching staff a chance to pounce on a potentially wavering recruit.
It wasn't long after the announcement on Sark's status that 4 star linebacker Daelin Hayes publicly de-committed. That was followed by 5 star linebacker Mique Juarez publicly de-committing today. I can understand why people might see these two things happening and come to the conclusion that USC is going to be in trouble with recruiting. A coach gets fired during the middle of the season and the uncertainty about who the next guy will be could certainly shake a recruit's confidence in the school. For these two prospects, I don't believe that was the case, though.
Hayes was already looking around at other schools and had planned to visit Notre Dame this weekend on an official visit. This trip will be his second in six weeks to visit South Bend so by no means was his commitment rock solid. This circumstance with Sarkisian just gave him a push to finally go through with backing out. For Juarez, he has been open to other schools for quite some time. In fact, many people had predicted he would eventually sign with UCLA before this even happened. Maybe they would have both ended up Trojans in the end, but it would have been a safe bet that one or both would choose another school.
Even without those two, this is still a good class with the chance to get better. There may be some other defections, but the majority of the class will likely stay committed. It would not be a shock to see USC getting involved with some new prospects in the next couple of months as well. Here's some reasons why I feel there isn't any reason to panic for USC fans:
9 in-state commitments
Out of the 14 players, 9 of them are from the state of California. These are kids who grew up with USC as their favorite school and have dreamed of playing for the Trojans for years. It's not out of the question that they open things up and visit other schools as a backup, but I think it's safe to say that USC is where they are hoping to be.
Will it hurt for national recruits from out of state? I'm sure it will and it already has with someone like tight end Isaac Nauta cancelling his official visit. It could end up costing them 4 star defensive tackle commitment Keyshon Camp, who has already taken an official to Michigan and just received an offer from Texas.
Wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe (Georgia) is another one of the out of state commitments and it would be logical to think that he may look at other schools now if it wasn't for the fact that his brother just transferred to USC. Wide receiver Velus Jones (Alabama) may look around as well, but whether he stays in the class may depend on his position coach sticking around.
Tee Martin is likely to stay on the staff
Whenever a new coach comes in, there is going to be a lot of turnover on a coaching staff. Wide receiver coach Tee Martin knows this well because he was hired by the previous USC head coach, Lane Kiffin. When Sarkisian took over, it was an obvious choice to retain Martin because of his great reputation as a recruiter. It will be an obvious choice to retain him again for whoever the next head coach is as well.
Martin is responsible for recruiting USC's outstanding wide receiver class that is currently committed and is a big reason why blue chip players like Tyler Vaughns, Michael Pittman, Imatorbhebhe, and Trevon Sidney pledged to USC. He is also responsible for recruiting 4 star safety commit CJ Pollard. Having him stick around is critical to keeping the top skill talent in this class committed.
I don't imagine it would be a hard decision for the new coach to keep Martin around. He was involved in recruiting current studs on the roster like Iman Marshall, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Adoree Jackson, and Rasheem Green as well. He's considered one of the elite recruiters in the nation.
Martin already had a chance to leave for a job with his alma mater at Tennessee and turned it down to stay in Los Angeles. It's likely he'll do the same if the next coach is smart enough to keep him on the staff.
It's still USC
Even if the next coach is not one of the many names that is being floated out there right now, it's probably not going to matter much in the long run. Sarkisian was not exactly the big name that people were hoping for after Kiffin and yet USC signed what some believe was the top recruiting class in the nation last year. If they bring on someone before the dead period in December, they'll still be in good shape to win back any commitments who are considering other schools and will have the chance to jump into the game with some new blue chip recruits that the previous staff didn't offer.
The next head coach for USC's football program is set up to succeed. He'll have a loaded roster of talented players already there and he'll be able to sell tradition, weather, Los Angeles, and many other things to future recruits. The 2016 class can still be a great one and it's almost a guarantee that the 2017 class once again will have the chance to be the best in the nation.