Could a change in hiring cycles be coming?

Every head coaching hire is a snowflake. Each school that makes a regime change has its own specific reasons for doing so, and it's own needs, timeline, and desires to seek in its new head coach.

That said, each hire also follows a well-worn path. Once that point of no return has been crossed, a school will move quickly to say goodbye to its previous staff, often times after the final game in late November, and get a new hire in place as soon as possible. In 2011, 19 new head coach hirings were announced between Nov. 17 and Dec. 14. Last year, 20 coaches were hired between Nov. 27 and Dec. 14. 

One of the primary reasons for that quick turnaround is clear: to get the new head coach on the phone and in the living rooms of his new employer's recruiting class.

But, has a new wrench has been thrown into this process?

Announced in late October, the NCAA has expanded the winter dead period, on both the front and back end. This year's dead period has grown from Dec. 23-Jan. 3 to Dec. 16-Jan. 15. A 12-day respite has transformed into what's now a 32-day hibernation. 

A ripple effect of expanding the dead period means that the business of coaching changes is about to change. Which way? It's too early to tell. Realistically, it could go one of two ways:

- Knowing that a new hire won't have meaningful interactions with recruits for more than a month, a school without a head coach on say, Dec. 9, could be patient and let the process play out a little bit longer rather than rush a hire simply to have a head coach in place. Or:

- Faced with the prospect of waiting until mid-January to introduce a new head coach just three weeks or so before national signing day, schools could rush even more to get a new head coach in place as early as possible.

There's really no way to know how this will play out and, truly, each opportunity to unique. But it seems safe to think that programs that have already taken the first step will have even more reason to move quickly, but this new, extended dead period might be just the cover that athletic directors were secretly looking for to allow them time to perform their due diligence and make a hire they have thoroughly and appropriately vetted. 

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