HOOVER, Ala. - And now it's time for Plan B. Or C. Perhaps D. Maybe even E, but we could always end up back at A. Make sense? Didn't think so.
With so many moving parts, Tennessee's recruitment of its quarterback of the future is more complicated than E=mc2. That being stated; here are some possible paths.
Plan B: UT goes after what most would consider a second-tier quarterback.
Tyler Bray of Kingsburg (Calif.) High School is a great example. The 6-foot-6, 190-pounder is committed to San Diego State but would be a great fit for UT's soon-to-be gaping hole behind center.
The downside of taking that sort of quarterback for 2010 is that it could undermine UT's chances of landing a bigger name for the 2011 signing class.
Not so, said Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin.
"If we took a guy who wasn't ranked very high, which would be the guys left, I don't think that would affect a guy for next year," said Kiffin, who can't comment specifically on prospects as per NCAA rules. "Everyone realizes that you usually have to take one every year so that's not going to affect you.
"It usually affects you when you take the No. 1 player in the country at quarterback; you usually don't go get a great one the next year."
The exception is Southern California, where Kiffin learned his recruiting wares. USC secured top quarterback Matt Barkley last year and pulled coveted quarterback Jesse Scroggins from Lakewood (Calif.) High from the Vols this week.
"When you're rolling like they are," Kiffin said, "they can kind of get anyone at this point."
Plan C: The Vols keep knocking on the same ole doors.
Is Scroggins so sure he'll play at USC? Would Barry Brunetti of Memphis rather play closer to home for the Vols than travel all the way to West Virginia? How sure is Chase Rettig from Sierra Madre, Calif., about his commitment to Boston College?
"You know us," Kiffin said. "We're not going to stop recruiting people just because they committed somewhere."
Kiffin, however, admits that pulling off a quarterback switch is challenging.
"It is a little bit more difficult with quarterbacks," Kiffin said. "You can still turn them sometimes, as they have in the past. (But) they start recruiting so much for the school (they committed to). They become part of the school. It's almost like they become an assistant coach."
Plan D: Wait for a prospect to emerge.
It happens every signing class. A decent prospect has a fantastic senior season and ends up climbing the recruiting rankings. California and Texas are fertile grounds for late bloomers.
But does Kiffin want to wait that long? If the Vols find a quarterback they like this fall, they'll still want to spend some face time with him before they extend a scholarship offer. And they'll have to hope another school hasn't already set up insurmountable inroads.
Plan E: Wait for a coach to get the axe.
This is perhaps the most frustrating of all the options because it could take the longest. If UT doesn't get its next quarterback until February, fans may line up on Gay Street Bridge.
"Unfortunately, there's always some coaching changes," Kiffin said. "Watch that as well."
Firings aside, there's always the possibility that USC coach Pete Carroll could return to the NFL.
20/20 Hindsight: Kiffin said he's not ready to begin second-guessing his staff's recruitment of quarterbacks just because the Vols haven't landed their dream guy.
"Let's see what happens in the end," Kiffin said. "Then go back. We'll definitely look at 'Did we wait too long? Were we too selective?' But the first thing I think of is, that's us. We're not going to settle until we have to move down."
Clearly, not having a high-profile quarterback committed is a setback for UT's 2010 class. Other offensive players want to know who their leader will be. And those big-name quarterbacks can act as recruiters with no limitations from the NCAA on contact.
Kiffin pointed out that his staff should be commended for the class it put together in 2009 without a quarterback to lend a hand. True, but that doesn't mean UT's coaches want to do the same for 2010.
Secondary Slams: I found it interesting that Scroggins mentioned UT's secondary violations as a concern he had with the Vols. The comment came shortly after his visit to Florida and USC.
Given Kiffin's relationship with USC, I'd bet a day's pay that Scroggins was reminded of UT's secondary violations while in Gainesville.
Kiffin said it's important to identify when prospects have such concerns and educate them.
"Our number of secondary violations is not way above everybody else," Kiffin said. "Recruiting is a very competitive field. So what happens is people say things to players and parents that aren't very educated in the process."
Schools will often get dirty, telling a prospect that he won't be able to play in bowl games or compete for post-season awards such as the Heisman Trophy if they chose a school with too many violations.
"Unfortunately some kids buy into that," Kiffin said, "so we have to educate them."
Kiffin vs. Carroll: Kiffin said he has no problem facing off against Carroll, his longtime mentor, because of their relationship. The Trojans' success, however, is a different story.
"That's why it's difficult," Kiffin said of battling USC in recruiting, "not because of my relationship with him."
Kiffin said he and Carroll went after some of the same coaches this past off-season, so chasing the same prospects is no big deal.
"He would never get upset with that because he's the most competitive guy there is," Kiffin said. "He has fun with it especially because he's a little more powerful than we are right now with all those wins they've had lately.
"He kind of likes it when we go after the same people because he's been winning a lot lately."
Dave Hooker covers recruiting. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.