Tide Recruiting Fans Can Breathe Easy

Even though others in the Scout.com organization do the heavy lifting, it doesn't mean that I don't think about and keep up with college football recruiting. I first became interested in recruiting in the early 1970s and I have come to various conclusions.

Almost everything I think about football comes from what I learned from legendary Alabama Coach Paul Bryant. I hasten to add it's like the coach who said everything he learned, he learned from Coach Bryant, but he knew that Coach Bryant didn't teach everything Bryant knew.

There's one thing he said, though, that I don't agree with. It was his contention that bought players would not perform. Over the years I think that I have seen at least four Heisman Trophy winners who I had good reason to believe were bought players. I have also seen two quarterbacks and one tailback who I thought were bought who led their teams to national championships.

I have been involved with Alabama football long enough that many, many former Crimson Tide greats are close friends. I have never known one who received anything for signing with Alabama. I will confess that once upon a time Bama players were getting extra benefits. Before the rules took away tickets from players, many Tide players made money by selling their tickets. Most didn't know it was against the rules.

So why do players go to Alabama if they can get cash or cloches or cars or whatever by going somewhere else?

For one thing, not all players are offered extra benefits. Does anyone believe that a Greg McElroy could be enticed by an illegal offer?

But the primary reason is that Alabama football is a prestige destination. A man who plays football at Alabama carries a special distinction for as long as he lives.

One key element in recruiting is he opportunity for playing time. If that's what's going to make the difference, it is happenstance.

Most Alabama opponents in the South -- coaching staffs and fan bases -- have accepted that the Crimson Tide has advantages that can not be equaled by most. (One rival considers itself equal, yet continues to look shady in recruiting wars.)

Playing on television is a key factor in the choices of many prospects. No team is on television as much as Alabama.

Coaching? No one has a coach more highly regarded than Bama's Nick Saban. In fact, it's not close.

Facilities? Again, not close.

Tradition? That's a major part of what makes Alabama a preferred destination. A team wants players who want to compete for championships, and Alabama is far ahead of its competition in that regard.

The Alabama campus is one of the most attractive. And particularly important to parents is the extra effort Bama athletics goes to in making sure that the athletes not only have the opportunity to earn degrees, but also that they are educated.

As those of us who follow recruiting agonize down the stretch to February 2, there are things worth remembering. One, Alabama's coaches are expert at what hey do. That doesn't mean they will get every player they go after. It does mean they'll get their share (actually more than their share). They'll get the players they want in the program and get players for the needs they have.

One final thought is really not giving a thought. I don't try to do Saban arithmetic on the 25 limit on new signees or the 85 limit on the squad. That does not come into play until August. Rest assured that Saban knows the numbers and there won't be a problem.

Now you can rest easy for the next week and a half.

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