Monday, January 16, 2012

Nick Saban Is A Recruiting Genius Who Lacks Ethics

National Signing Day is approaching and coaches and recruits are jockeying for position.

The AJC's Michael Carvell reports, Alabama RB commit Justin Taylor has been told by Nick Saban he will not be able to sign with the Tide this February.

A little back story on Taylor...he had a season ending knee injury back in September. At that time, Alabama coaches they would stick to his scholarship offer despite the devastating injury

They just didn't say when he could sign the letter of intent for that scholarship. Taylor was Bama's 7th commit in the 2012 class.

Almost a year later and standing at 27 commitments, Saban is telling Taylor he will have to wait and sign next year with Alabama.

But the Washington HS running back does have a piece of paper with the three time BCS Champion's signature on it stating such. I have no clue if Taylor had a lawyer review the piece of paper with Saban's signature, but I am guessing he did not.

So what is Taylor doing after he graduates high school?
“He said I’m going to stay in Georgia. They are going to find me a job. I’m going to work. I’m going to physical therapy at least seven days per week. I guess I will work, go to physical therapy and get strong..."

That should be ok as long as Taylor is paid appropriately for the work he will be doing.

Onto the issue of Oversigning...

Currently, Alabama has 27 commitments (including Taylor). Based on three early enrollees which count towards last year's class, and new SEC rules the Tide can sign up to 28 prospects during 2012. [More on SEC Oversigning rules enacted last June] There may be casualties due to academics is well, but those numbers will not be known until after National Signing Day (Feb 1) as prospects still have time to raise test scores if necessary.

Essentially, Taylor is grayshirting until next year (grayshirt is delaying your enrollment by a semester).

Over the last four recruiting classes, Alabama has signed 110 players while they are only allowed to have 85 on scholarship. Considering you are allowed to admit only 25 players per class, they have oversigned by one full class in the last four years.

The Tide's record over the last 4 seasons? 48-6

In my opinion, Nick Saban is the best recruiter in the country and he makes a living in the gray area of the NCAA rule book and ethics. If I am an Alabama fan I have no problem with him doing whatever he can, within the stated rules, to get players because it is proven he can win big with elite talent.

If you are a coach trying to win conference and BCS titles, you better be doing whatever the rules will allow because your competition is. You are paid to win games first and foremost.

Now on the flip side you have matters of ethics. Many of these kids have only football going for them when they arrive on campus and are using that football scholarship to try and get an education as well. If they lose that scholarship, many cannot afford to pay for school on their own or with help from their families. 

A coach tells a kid and his family he will be there for his college career and watch over him and then two or three years later he no longer has that promise from you.

The numbers don't lie. Alabama has "cut" players or eagerly encouraged them to look for opportunities elsewhere and this is not happening to starters.

The practice of signing more players than you have spots for will go on until the conferences or NCAA crack down further or multiple top prospects start to spurn those who practice it.  Top Georgia prospect Jordan Jenkins did make the comment of why he turned down Alabama because he didn't feel "safe".

In today's recruiting, coaches have to decide if they want to be big time winners or ethical.  It is virtually impossible to be both.

What is your opinion on Oversigning? Put your answer in the poll in the upper right sidebar.

Update 8PM: Justin Taylor decommits from Alabama per

"At first I went along with it," Justin Taylor said Monday afternoon of Alabama's grayshirt offer. "It’s now getting to me. I just love football. I have played for so long. I can’t sit out for another six months. I just don’t think I can do that. I am going to look at my options."

"A Purdue coach emailed me on Facebook," Taylor said. "They told me they are looking for a tailback. They said to give them a call, and they will take me right away. I am definitely going to give them call. I’ll see what they have to say."
Update #2: Per Michael Carvell, Justin Taylor is still commmited to Alabama but looking at other options as well.

Taylor's HS Coach, Legal Guardian, and college teammate of an Alabama assistant gives his side of the story.


  1. Over-signing was the very issue over which Georgia Tech left the SEC way back in 1964. Bobby Dodd thought the football factory schools were using fall camp as an unethical try-out period. And, oh yeah, Alabama was one of the main culprits back then, too.

  2. It's unethical and wrong, but not illegal. Everybody knows the SEC and specifically Alabama does this. Kids have parents, coaches, and others involved in the decision making process, if they are still willing to take the risk so be it. I hope it's worth it.


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