Alabama’s Nick Saban is the greatest combination of head coach, chief recruiter and defensive coordinator in college football.
He’s lifted two BCS crystal balls over his head within the last four years, while also capturing four out of the last five mythical national championships in Rivals.com’s team recruiting rankings.
Recruiting? There hasn’t been somebody as powerful and mighty parade throughout the Southeast (to round up blue-chippers) since General Sherman’s march.
And Nick Saban makes the chaos of recruiting look so controlled. On last month’s signing day, while many of his SEC contemporaries were sweating bullets sitting next to fax machines, Saban was telling reporters how the day was drama-free. He also chatted a little bit about that No. 1-ranked class, which was comprised of eight of Georgia’s top prospects.
How does Nick Saban reach the pinnacle of success with his recruiting classes year after year after year? Can anybody in SEC land or around these parts out-recruit Saban?
We asked one of his former SEC adversaries, Lane Kiffin, who went head-to-head against Saban in recruiting during his brief pit stop at Tennessee. Most people remember Kiffin calling then-Florida coach Urban Meyer a “cheater” on that infamous 2009 signing day (FYI: They’ve kissed and made up), but he also threw a verbal jab at Alabama’s living legend.
Flash forward to now: Kiffin is coach at USC, which is ranked No. 1 for next year in one ESPN poll. We asked Kiffin: Can anybody in the SEC out-recruit Nick Saban?
“Wow, I don’t know … he’s tough,” Kiffin told the AJC. “He’s just an A+ in all the categories. He’s A+ as a coach and as a teacher. But then he’s also an A+ when you put him at a place as powerful as Alabama. It’s a tough combination putting Nick Saban at Alabama. It’s tough, just like putting Urban Meyer at Florida. Those are powerful places with great coaches who are both great teachers.
“With Nick, probably the thing that really puts Nick over the top is how many players he puts into the NFL, and that he runs NFL systems on offense and defense. That was the one thing about Florida: They were not NFL-based with Urban’s offense and defense. That was an advantage for us in terms of recruiting, where going against Alabama we did not have that advantage because they are NFL-oriented in their systems.”
Nick Saban is off to another fast start with his 2013 recruiting, with nine early commitments. Could there be another No. 1 class in the making? It’s looking that way. All nine are ranked 4-stars or higher, including one of the Georgia’s top running backs (Walton’s Tyren Jones) and 5-star LB Reuben Foster of Troup County. The Crimson Tide are also the frontrunner for Grayson’s Robert Nkemdiche, the nation’s top-ranked prospect.
How does Saban do it? They say he’s the hardest-working man in the recruiting business. But why, some ask, why would these kids continue to go to Alabama after Nick Saban pulled the last-minute grayshirt trick on a couple of long-time commitments and he was quoted as saying “I don’t know anybody” who cuts players after accusations of doing just that?
Why? Maybe they’re simply blinded by greatness.
GUESS WHAT JUST HAPPENED?
IT’S NEVER BORING IN THE WACKY WORLD OF RECRUITING
– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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