Stuart McNair

Alabama Coach Nick Saban wants another assistant, but no early signing day

Alabama split on NCAA proposals for extra coach, new recruiting calendar

The NCAA Division I council made two recommendations Wednesday that caught the attention of Alabama Coach Nick Saban. He needed four thumbs, because he gave two thumbs up to one proposal and two thumbs down to the other.

Actually, he could have borrowed two thumbs from Ohio State Urban Meyer for his two thumbs down recommendation as Saban said, “I’m 100, total, per cent in agreement with what his assessments are.”

The proposal opposed by Saban and Meyer is in regards to an early signing period for football. Actually, not just one early signing period, but two…and with retention of the first Wednesday in February signing day, a total of three.

But Saban likes the idea presented by the council of major college football teams having permission to add a 10th assistant coach. It is a proposal that Saban has been beating the drum for.

"I think one of the big things is that for the number of players we have involved, if you do the player-coach ratio in any sport, football is the least,” Saban said. “We have the most players but ratio-wise, we have the least number of coaches. “

In the past Saban has said that an additional coach would allow a team to have a special teams coach rather than having to give the responsibility of coordinating the kicking game to a man who already has a position to coach. This year, Alabama Running Backs Coach Burton Burns also has the title of special teams coordinator.

Saban said, “Special teams has become a really important part of the game and for a guy to try and coach a position and be a special teams coach is really, really difficult. So I've been an advocate so that we could have a special teams coach. I think it would help from a numbers standpoint in terms of ratio. Then you'd have five coaches on offense and four on defense and I think it's much more workable staff-wise if you have it that way.”

Saban didn’t like another proposal from the council. The recommendation involves a signing day for football in June before those prospects play their senior seasons or go through the summer football camps and another signing day in December before reaching the February date that has become a national day of interest for football recruiting junkies.

“I am absolutely, positively against any kind of early signing date, especially a June signing date, before a guy plays his senior year,” Saban said. “If we want to have an early signing date after the season, then, I would be more for that.

“But we moved the recruiting calendar forward, which creates lots of issues and problems when it comes to not only evaluation of a guy as a player, but more important is the evaluation of his character – what kind of person he is, what’s his academic status, does he have his academic requirements up to his junior year, what’s his test score. So you’re trying to make decisions about guys way ahead.

“I’ve always talked about football being a developmental game. That doesn’t give a guy who’s a little bit of a late bloomer, that maybe does a good job during camp over the summer, and has a really good senior season – there’s going to be more and more guys signing early, and more guys visiting, well have guys visiting in the summer … I just, I really don’t, I don’t get that. I just don’t really get that.

“We would probably make some academic, character and maybe evaluation mistakes, because you aren’t even seeing a guy play during his senior season.

“The other thing from a high school coaches’ standpoint, I mean what is really the guy’s motivation to play, and really work hard to get better to play for his team in his senior year. I know that guys making commitments doesn’t necessarily mean a whole lot. I think we just kind of accept that; we keep recruiting. I think that whole early commitment thing is largely a thing that’s been created by the attention that players get, from a media standpoint. I think it is what it is.

“Ultimately, every player should have the opportunity to make official visits, to develop relationships, and now you’re doing that earlier, and earlier and earlier. I just don’t see it. I agree with Urban Meyer on this one. He wrote like a three-page of a scenario of why we wouldn’t want to do this.”

Just to put it into practical terms, Saban was asked if it is likely the Tide would have had freshman tailback

“Probably not,” Saban said, “because we would probably be full, and that’s what I’m talking about.”

Last week Jacobs was the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week. He was not recruited by Alabama until just a short time before signing day last winter.

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