Shane: The Limo aftermath

By Shane from Centerpoint

Webster’s dictionary defines the word “gimmick” as a clever gadget, trick or idea. When University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban or Florida Gators coach Urban Meyer enters a “Five Star” athlete’s home to secure his promise to sign on the bottom line, gimmicks, gadgets and smack-talk aren’t part of either coach’s ever-expanding arsenal of recruiting tools. However, it appears that the man in charge of Auburn University’s football program, Gene Chizik, along with Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin, have decided that abnormal behavior and the use of props are the wave of the future. Between Kiffin’s infamous series of childish public outbursts and Chizik’s use of “pimp-mobiles” (decked-out with flags and cheap magnetic signs) to tour the state and promote his school, one would imagine that things are going to get strange watching these two clowns struggle to compete in recruiting against the top two coaches in the nation.

Actually, we could spend hours debating whether Nick Saban or Urban Meyer is the better recruiter, but I will say with conviction that they should be one and two on most everyone’s list. However, I’ll leave it to the experts to determine who is actually the best.

Although Saban and Meyer use very different styles, the end result of their efforts is always an outstanding group of talented athletes pouring in to play football for each of their respective universities. A-list players sign in droves, year after year. Interestingly, most of the process of how either coach wins recruiting battles for the services of these elite athletes is hidden from the public, because both coaches perform their magic on a very personal level – with the athlete and his parents being the only witnesses to what is truly recruiting “genius”.

Other the other hand, you’ve got the Tennessee “greenhorn” Kiffin, and Chizik, the former Iowa State Cyclones (5-19) head coach, operating from the section of the coaches handbook that Saban and Meyer never got – or maybe they didn’t want.

For example — a certain future-member in the college football “Hall of Fame”, Nick Saban, and the legendary University of Alabama football program simply do not need to parade around the state of Alabama in a (PLEASE LOOK AT ME) limousine in order to attract the attention of potential recruits. In fact, most of the young players in Alabama have grown up longing to wear the Crimson jersey and play for the Crimson Tide. A coach of Saban’s caliber wanting them to play for him is all that is necessary to seal the deal.

In turn, it makes absolutely no sense (and shows signs of desperation) for Auburn and Chizik to use stretch Hummers and Lincolns to create a media circus (another story for another day) to garner the attention of young men who might be offered a scholarship to play football for the Tigers in the future. What does a limo have to do with playing the game? Besides, I’ve yet to figure out what “real” message they were trying to send by using those “pimp-mobiles”, and I’m still not sure what type of young men they were targeting with all that “bling-bling” material. The whole thing just seemed strange – especially when you consider that Auburn is faced with recruiting against a relentless monster like Nick Saban.

Concerning Tennessee’s Lane, I don’t think a concert hall full of psychoanalysts could convince me that Kiffin really believes the embarrassing public-outburst that came out of his mouth about smacking Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators around in this year’s upcoming game. I mean, there’s being bold, and then there’s making a fool of yourself in front of the entire nation. Kiffin definitely accomplished the latter with his baseless rant. In fact, Lane has gone “clown” in front of a microphone several times, having to apologize and retract some of the stupid things he has said. He might want to focus on the fact that he is competing for players, wins and the eastern division against one of the best all-around coaches in the business, Urban Meyer.

Speaking of Meyer – he is absolutely the best young coach to appear on the college football scene in a long time. Just like Nick Saban – Meyer can do it all, and he is an exceptional recruiter.

When all is said and done, and with all jokes aside, I do realize that both Tennessee and Auburn must do something to stop the bleeding, but I do not think using “circus-like” gimmicks, nor threatening the Gators – who were going to totally destroy your Volunteers anyway – is going to create any type of recruiting advantage for Kiffin, and the limo is a useless tool for Chizik as well. Instead of making ESPN’s Sports Center by pulling bizarre stunts with mouth or props, these “rookie” SEC coaches should be preparing to match wits with two absolute professionals who dominate their craft (recruiting) and who’ve mastered every detail of the game.

—Shane writes a weekly column that appears in the Western Star and the Capstone Report.