TAMPA Tony Posada attended the Jan. 1 Gator Bowl cheering on Michigan, the college he had committed to four months earlier.
Proudly sporting Michigan blue, Posada watched the Wolverines struggle, seemingly overmatched by the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
As the waning seconds were winding down on Michigan's 52-14 loss, the Plant High offensive lineman turned to his mother and both were thinking the same thing.
"We knew the (Michigan) staff had just gotten fired," Christine Posada said. "And we were sad."
The domino effect of a college coach's firing trickles down from the highest administrative levels to the prep recruits who have committed to the program.
For many high school players, the recruiting process involves years of contact with coaching staffs that builds strong bonds. Those relationships are shattered when coaches are fired.
Coaching changes result in so much uncertainty. Questions about scholarship availability, new staffs and new systems are just a few of the answers recruits find themselves seeking.
"This is a very fluid industry," Plant coach Robert Weiner said. "It's a treacherous process sometimes to figure it all out."
Posada had nearly 30 Division I scholarship offers when he verbally committed to Michigan in Plant's media center before the start of the football season. He donned a Michigan hat and tie, and he beamed proudly as he announced his decision.
Three days after watching his Wolverines lose to Mississippi State, Posada learned that Rich Rodriguez was indeed fired as coach. Then, the madness began.
"We didn't know if he still had a scholarship at Michigan," Christine Posada said. "We had other colleges calling him and telling him that he wouldn't have a scholarship at Michigan and he should come to their school.
"They were scaring this 17-year-old kid."
Like Posada, Alonso defensive end Anthony Chickillo settled on his college last fall. At a packed ceremony in his school's gymnasium, Chickillo proudly displayed a T-shirt with the Miami logo and a nod to the fact he would be a third-generation Hurricanes player, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.
Three months later, Chickillo's phone lit up with calls and text messages from college coaches across the country. Almost immediately after Randy Shannon was fired as the Hurricanes' head coach, other coaches pounced, hoping to secure Chickillo's services.
Urban Meyer was the first to call Chickillo to tell him he was taking over the recruiting for the Florida Gators. Ten days later, Meyer announced his resignation as Florida's coach, so for the second time in two weeks Chickillo dealt with a coaching change.
"There's always a possibility that this can happen," Weiner said. "But when it does happen, the kids owe it to themselves to do their due diligence and check out whatever other opportunities are available and make sure it matches up with what they thought they were getting into at the place they committed to."
Both Chickillo and Posada reopened their recruiting after Miami and Michigan changed coaching staffs. They took official visits to other colleges and got to know the new coaches, the Hurricanes' Al Golden and the Wolverines' Brady Hoke.
Chickillo reaffirmed his commitment to Miami after last weekend's official visit to the campus, and Posada is expected to sign his letter-of-intent to Michigan during a Wednesday ceremony on National Signing Day.
After going through the recruiting process twice with her son, Christine Posada became educated in the process, both the good and bad.
The bad? One college coach who got "nasty" with her son when Tony decided to not take a visit to his campus. The good? The coaching staff at Mississippi State that told Tony if Michigan didn't work out, there was a spot on the Bulldogs team for him.
"At the beginning, you feel like your world is coming to an end," Christine Posada said. "But in the end, it's a refreshingly eye-opening experience. I got to see how it works. We're so humbled and appreciative because someone is giving my son something that I could never give him myself.
"I told Coach Hoke, 'You're going to change my son's life.'"