There comes a point in the tenure of every head coach at which he must transition from selling fresh ideas, new hope and abundant playing time to selling winning and a history of development.
In 2014, I identified four schools that needed to take the next step on the field in order to keep moving forward in recruiting. Ole Miss did, as Hugh Freeze's Rebels won nine games for the first time since 2009. And while it wasn't intended to be a hot seat piece, recruiting at Michigan, Nebraska and Miami took dives as two of the programs fired their coaches.
In 2015, six schools fit the bill.
Notre Dame: Win 10 or more games
You can count on one hand the number of teams who have outrecruited the Irish over the last four years. Two out of every three players signed by Brian Kelly in that time have been rated four-stars or better.
But last year Kelly's Irish lost five games for the third time in five seasons, and over the last two seasons, the Irish have dropped games against non-elite teams like Northwestern and a bad Michigan. Kelly is 45-20 and has only been in the title hunt one time in five seasons.
Teams who recruit at a super elite level win 10 games more often than not, and if the Irish can do that in 2015, the elite talent should keep flocking to South Bend.
Tennessee: Win nine or more games
Butch Jones has completely flipped Tennessee's roster during his two seasons. He's signed 32 four- and five-star players in the last two classes, 20 more than the previous two. And Jones showed some improvement from 2013 to 2014, bumping the win total from five up to seven.
Mostly because of his elite recruiting, expectations on Rocky Top are sky high. The Volunteers do not need to win the SEC East to keep recruiting at an elite level, but winning nine or 10 would silence those who ask if Jones is a recruiter and not a coach.
Miami: Win the ACC Coastal
Miami appeared on this list last year, and because of a lackluster season on the field, its recruiting fell apart down the stretch.
But because the Hurricanes are located in the most fertile area in the country, they currently have a top-10 247Sports Composite class and are poised to bounce back ... if Al Golden can get Miami to Charlotte. If not, Miami could end up losing recruiting battles down the stretch to the Gators, Seminoles and out-of-state schools.
Kentucky: Make a bowl for the first time since 2010
Kentucky's recruiting has improved under Mark Stoops, as the coach uses his Ohio roots to pick off preps from the Buckeye State who do not have the opportunity to play for Ohio State by offering them the chance to play in the SEC. And the Wildcats' record have improved under Stoops, going from 2-10 in 2013 to 5-7 last year.
But 5-7 is still a losing record. Recruits want a chance to play in bowl games, and success becomes more important as immediate playing time becomes less available.
Penn State: Win nine or more games
James Franklin has only been in Happy Valley for one season, and in his first full year, he signed more four- and five-star recruits (13) than the Nittany Lions had in the previous three classes combined (11). Penn State has a cakewalk of a schedule this year and is likely to be favored in all but two games (Ohio State and Michigan State).
Franklin has more mileage when it comes to selling newness and playing time, but he also resides in a division that just added Jim Harbaugh to go along with Urban Meyer. If Penn State can win 10 games, including a bowl, Franklin will be armed with marked improvement to sell.
Texas A&M: Win nine or more games
Kevin Sumlin has recruited extremely well in his three seasons, signing 40 four- and five-star recruits. But the Aggies have seen their win totals decrease from 11 to nine to eight.
When does good recruiting become a curse? When rival recruiters contrast a school's recruiting record with its actual record and suggest that a staff can't develop talent. If the Aggies can turn a gift SEC East draw (South Carolina and Vanderbilt) into 9 or 10 wins, they could silence negative recruiting and help take further advantage of a down Longhorns program.