Recruiting: Alabama’s offense a liability?

Smears already underway for 2011 class

This evening I had a conversation with an Alabama fan. He had read some message boards over the last few days, and combined with a healthy dose of talk radio, the Crimson Tide fan was apoplectic.

“These guys are screwing us!” he exclaimed. “These guys” was a reference to rival programs like Tennessee, Auburn and insert whatever school wants an Alabama Crimson Tide commitment. It seems “these guys” are being very negative against Alabama. Of course there was more to the story.

“Even when they don’t want a recruit, they are trying to hurt Alabama by saying bad things,” he told me.

Really? I was shocked.

Do you mean stuff like that goes on in the SEC? This must be a first!

It isn’t a first?

Then why be worried? To borrow a phrase better used by Auburn—this isn’t Nick Saban’s first rodeo. He knows how to recruit in the SEC. He knows how brutal the recruiting wars can be.

He has a plan.

Always.

Lance Thompson combined with Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron when at the University of Tennessee generated complaints from uniformed and informed fans alike. The consensus in recruiting circles was that Tennessee would smear Alabama even if the Volunteers did not have a chance with the prospect.

There was nothing shocking in that. Everyone knew Kiffin and Orgeron were trash.

Reports on the recruiting trail indicated Auburn has pursued a similar course dating from the Tommy Tuberville administration. (Tuberville told everyone Alabama was cheating and would be on probation again. Today’s Auburn coaching staff has followed a similar spew, and it raises interesting questions about the coordinated efforts to smear Alabama that originated in Auburn over the last year. That is a column for another day.) But probation attacks seem passé. Recruits haven’t responded well to them over the last few years, so Auburn has invented a new method—lie. OK, so it is the not-so-new method.

What got my Alabama friend in a message board fueled tizzy was this quote from a Rivals.com recruiting story from 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide commit Marvin Shinn, “I love Alabama. I mean, that is where I want to go to school. If I saw their passing game get on track and guys like Julio touch the ball more, I would be completely on board,” said Shinn… After that game (BCS National Championship), it crossed my mind (decommitting). I have other schools like Florida State and Auburn telling me that they are going to throw the ball more than Alabama and make sure I touch the ball a lot.”

Some people might admire the audacity of trying to take an Alabama strength—playing for and winning the national championship—and using it against the Crimson Tide; however, it elicits chuckles since this is nothing new. It is more of the same that unfolds regularly in the SEC. Auburn is promising every recruiting they’ll get the ball 50 or 100 times a game, and that Alabama runs an antediluvian offensive scheme.

Yawn. So what?

How many top ranked recruiting classes has Nick Saban landed? Two in a row while at Alabama and once at LSU (not to mention all those top 5 and top 10 finishes at both schools.) He knows what he is doing.

So why should fans worry? Bask in the glow of that crystal.