Five-star recruit Trent Richardson is the latest battleground for the future of the SEC. The first skirmish for the SEC took place in the Georgia Dome as a resurgent Alabama Crimson Tide played the eventual national champion Florida Gators.
Score round one for Meyer.
The next skirmish in this battle of the coaching titans is on the recruiting trail in Escambia County, Florida.
Meyer reportedly spent six hours on an in-home visit with Richardson on Monday. Saban had his in-home visit in December, and according to the report Alabama assistants will visit Richardson Thursday.
There can be little doubt Florida’s main interest in Richardson is not how Richardson would help the Gators on the ground, but keeping Richardson out of Alabama’s backfield. Richardson could help the Gators, but it is highly doubtful he would take many carries away from Tim Tebow. Richardson would see fewer carries at Florida than at Alabama, especially as a freshman. And that is a concern for Florida. Who wants a top notch player to leave the state and play for a conference rivalâ€”a rival you are likely to face in the conference championship game?
Sometimes in war it is more important to deny an enemy access to an asset than acquiring the asset for yourself.
That dictum is certainly being followed by Tennessee. Chatter from the recruiting trail has indicated Knoxville as the location of the most negative recruiting this season, and much of it aimed not at landing prospects for the hapless Volunteers, but in trying to keep prospects from signing with Third Saturday in October rival Alabama.
That is a marked departure from how Phil Fulmer recruited. Fulmer saw cheaters everywhere, but the new staff in Knoxville is looking to smear everyone. But Tennessee is largely irrelevant. The Volunteers are battling South Carolina and Kentucky for third, fourth and fifth in the division. The best the Volunteers can do is aggravate rivals like Alabama and Georgia.
The real war is being waged between Meyer and Saban, Meyer and Gerogia’s Mark Richt, and Saban and LSU’s Les Miles. All of these coaches will finish with strong recruiting classes, but the skirmishes over star recruits like Richardson are an interesting show.
Richardson has stayed committed to Alabama for many months, and a dramatic change this late would be a loss for Alabama and a win for Florida.
Will it happen?