Northwestern is considered a challenge for any coach because of stringent academic standards, outdated facilities and a lack of tradition, but none of those factors prevented Chris Collins from considering the job an "ideal fit" for he, his wife Kim and their two young children.
Collins earned a reputation as an elite recruiter while at Duke, and one of his first challenges will be convincing local players to consider Northwestern over out-of-state schools.
"The timing of landing that job is perfect," said Larry Butler, who runs a Chicago-based recruiting service and has known Chris since the early 1990s. "He will he be able to recruit area kids and get them to see the big picture. That was the one area [Bill] Carmody struggled with, getting top elite kids in the area to see that Northwestern can win in the Big Ten, that they can turn the program around."
Butler said the current class of Chicago-area juniors is as deep as any he has seen since 1998. If Collins can land as few as two of them Northwestern could have its best recruiting class in years.
Collins said getting out on the recruiting trail was one of his first priorities.
"People keep making a big thing out of facilities," Butler said. "They may be outdated but it's a high academic school in a great city like Chicago and you've got the Big Ten Conference. That's enough for Chris Collins to sell the program and he's going to do that. He's going to keep guys at home. He has built contacts on the East Coast and in the South. He can get into an elite kid's living room and sell a kid on Northwestern easily."