Saban Discusses Signing Day Results

Alabama Coach Nick Saban said he was just like every other coach, and he wasn't being humble. He also said he was like legendary Bama Coach Paul Bryant, and he wasn't bragging. What he was doing was preparing to discuss the Crimson Tide's football signing day success.

Alabama did have a good day, signing one of the nation's best groups. Saban's point, though, was that every coach said roughly the same things following signing day: that he is pleased, that a lot of needs were filled, and that the class has players of quality character.

Saban added some substance. For instance he said that Brent Callaway of Russellville, who is highly ranked as a linebacker, would start at running back for Alabama. Callaway had decommitted from Alabama and to Auburn a few weeks ago, citing the desire to be on offense.

Although Saban could not discuss the bizarre situation regarding the nation's number one offensive tackle, Cyrus Kouandjio, he offered some hope that Cyrus will end up at Bama with his brother Arie. Saban said the Tide had recruited three left tackles "and didn't get any of them...maybe."

Saban also discussed the issue of over-signing players, which has been an issue among opponents of Alabama, used as a recruiting ploy.

"I think there's been quite a big written about over-signing, so to speak, but we have never gotten rid of a player because of his physical ability," Saban said. "And any player that has left this program prematurely has created his own exit route. He's created his own conditions for leaving, whether they're academic in terms of not doing what he needs to do academically, whether there's some violation in terms of team rule or policy, whatever it is. Some of these things we're not allowed to comment on.

"But we have so many seniors. We have some guys (juniors) going out for the draft. Nobody really knows for sure how many guys we had on scholarship last year, but we didn't have 85. I can tell you that. We have some people who could not finish the season who will probably not be able to continue to play that can be replaced, and we have several players who can graduate and may not come back for the fifth year who have been redshirted.

"So when you add all these things up, plus we have guys that may not qualify, and there may be a guy who may not appear on this release that was committed to us that may already be in junior college someplace."

It is believed that linebacker Shannon Brown, who committed to Alabama but elected to enter East Mississippi Community College, was not signed in order to avoid the appearance of over-signing.

Saban continued, "So there are all kinds of ways, but to criticize based on numbers when you don't have all the facts and you don't have all the internal information is a little premature and unfair. And for people to go on and use that against you in recruiting is even more unfair.

"But this is the number of players that we could take. We could add one or so to that, if the opportunity presents itself in the future. And we have some guys that may grayshirt, and let me address that, too, because I think there's a lot of criticism in grayshirting that is unfair.

"First of all, we have never, ever grayshirted a guy here who when he decided to come here didn't know the circumstances that we were going to take him to The University of Alabama, that he was going to be a grayshirt whenever he committed. And the reason is sometimes academic, the reason is sometimes physical development and maturity, but those are the reasons. But never has a player not known. Sometimes if they're hurt and physically can't perform.

"So there are reasons for it, but they're always done up front. We've never, ever not done it up front. So the player comes here with the idea that, ‘I'm going to start school in January (of the next year).' Now I do not think that that's a bad thing, because if we were not able to do that, these players would not have an opportunity to come here. They would not have the opportunity to come here. So we're actually creating an opportunity for a guy to be able to come here, not taking one away. And that's where I think there's some disconnect out there in understanding what grayshirting is all about."

Saban also discussed Bama going from California to North Carolina to land players. "We look all over for players," he said. "We try to get the best possible players on our board. We have an evaluation system to try to get the bnest possible players on our board. The more players we can get on our board who pass our evaluation system who meet the criteria for a position and have the athletic ability to meet those criteria in size and speed, as well as character and attitude, the more we can get on the board--if we're going to bat .333, one-for-three in baseball--so if we have 90 guys on the board, we're going to be able to get 30 good players; if we have 10 good players on the board we'll only get three. So that's our approach.

"Sometimes we'll have a lot of really good players in our state, sometimes a lot of really good players in a five hour radius, so we'll obviously have less players from further away. But recruiting is so global now, and I think we have a very recognizable program, so we try to take advantage of guys outside of that five hour radius who are interested in Alabama, and we got some very good players this year from far away."

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