Shane: Saban and Meyer do not need to cheat

By Shane from Centerpoint

Most experts agree that recruiting is the “life-blood” of college football. In the SEC it can determine the difference between the success and failure of a program. That said, the University of Florida and the Alabama Crimson Tide are coming off consecutive national crowns, sending their recruiting success into the stratosphere. Both are re-loading with ease.

At the same time, the Tide’s Nick Saban and the Gators’ Urban Meyer are creating panic in the war rooms of every SEC opponent. The second-tier programs like Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee, and LSU know that catching the Tide and Gators will be an impossible task without pushing the limits and using every trick in the bag.

Lately, the situation has gotten desperate, as evidenced by the athletic departments of certain SEC schools allowing their football coaching staffs to create circus side-shows for recruits, and even break NCAA rules while attempting to enhance recruiting success.

The only things Nick and Urban have shown lately are trophy cases, and they’re offering young athletes the best opportunity to win a BCS crown. Their NFL track record also speaks volumes.

Normally, the offer of early playing time is a useful tool for the SEC’s “champ-chasers”, but Saban and Meyer have an uncanny ability to phase that sales-pitch out of the equation for players they want.

Negative recruiting – a specialty in the SEC – may work well against the rest of the conference, but it’s virtually useless as a weapon against the Gators or the Tide at this time.

Truthfully, when teams like Alabama and Florida are on a “roll” and receive a great deal of national media attention, the benefit to the recruiting process is enormous.

How are the lesser teams – who constantly fight an uphill battle already – going to compete with that?

Actually, most choose to accept their role and place in the SEC pecking order. But, some believe they can compete with the “masters”.

These particular programs are willing to spend enormous amounts of money on recruiting specialists and then give those “hired guns” freedom to operate with autonomy. Sadly, some of these shady characters draw NCAA scrutiny along with the players they bring in.

Are these wannabes willing to cheat to gain an advantage and improve their team’s chances? Would they use money to influence a player’s choice? Truthfully, every SEC team – including Alabama and Florida – has done it before, and it usually involved an attempt to catch the leader.

Could it be happening now? I wouldn’t bet the house against it.

Listen, it’s evident that Saban and Meyer aren’t speeding right now. They don’t have to go over the limit.

However, it does seem that there are a couple of head coaches in the league who are making radical decisions and may be willing to take the risk.

Talk about risk. Tennessee’s Lane Kiffin (gone now) and Auburn’s Trooper Taylor have defined risk from the day they were hired to take on Meyer and Saban. In fact, they almost tied in a race to record the most secondary violations in one year. Didn’t they?

The antics of those two clowns have to make you wonder about what the bottom-six SEC schools will (or must) do to remain competitive with the top six.

Does money get involved? Absolutely. Hey, isn’t that the American way?

Nevertheless, I don’t think Alabama or Florida have to spend one dime to convince a player to sign with them. With powerful head coaches, who are also among the nation’s best recruiters, these two schools are operating on a different level.

But, LSU, Georgia, Tennessee, and Auburn all have had a taste of the “big time”. Sitting in second, getting their ticket cancelled by the Tide and Gators yearly could potentially force any one of those programs to go “outside the box”, especially when it involves recruiting.

Those four head coaches – whose teams face the daunting task of trying to beat Alabama or Florida – must have better players to do the job.

To get the best players they have to beat Saban and Meyer in recruiting.

Not many recruiting battles – fought on equal ground – will be won in direct competition with Urban Meyer or Nick Saban. Their status sells itself.

Additionally, Alabama and Florida are currently basking in the glory of championships, while the second- tier teams are in a fight for respect and attention.

Nick Saban and Urban Meyer have no need to cheat. Can Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee, or LSU say the same?

Shane writes a weekly column for the Call News and the Capstone Report.