Just three weeks ago, Saban's name was being attacked after Jacksonville Jaguars' owner Wayne Weaver hung the third-year LSU coach out to dry saying he had interviewed for the vacant coaching slot. NFL rumors have tarnished Saban's past during his stay at LSU and the timing of Weaver's announcement could not have come at a more inopportune time.
Saban has denied the fact talk of a bolt to the NFL hurt last season's class, but it really did. So Weaver's blunder coming in the final and most critical stage of the recruiting season was not good news for LSU.
Here comes Saban on the rebound.
Just when his critics thought Saban may have been down for the count, he counterpunched by compiling the nation's best recruiting class as well as the most impressive class of prospects in school history.
Saban delve deep into the state of Texas snatching away some of the top players in the Lone Star State. Two more recruits came to LSU from the D.C. area and Saban left a small, but indelible mark on Mississippi. He then turned his sights on Alabama and snatched one of the nation's top passers from Mobile when JaMarcus Russell committed late Wednesday evening.
While Russell was the crème of the 2003 crop, what Saban was able to pull off in Florida as well as within the borders of Louisiana is just this side of amazing. From the sunshine state, Saban managed to nab two top-flight receivers in Jacksonville-First Coast's Anthony "Amp" Hill and Miami-Norland's Dwayne Bowe.
In-state, Saban and staff were like kids in a candy store when heading into Orleans Parish grabbing all the talent they could carry out of the Crescent City. Key pickups in the Big Easy included O. Perry Walker's Craig Davis and Daryl Johnson as well as John Curtis defensive lineman Carnell Stewart. Toss in East St. John's Kirston Pittman, who gave his pledge on signing day, and Saban and staff can get credit for spoiling the Miami Hurricanes party.
Before switching gears from recruiting to the woes of LSU basketball, Tiger Rag would like to comment on the saga of Monroe-Neville quarterback Robert Lane.
The all-state signal caller revoked his commitment to the Tigers and signed with Ole Miss on signing day when the word on the street looked as if Russell would don purple and gold. With all due respect to Lane, he is going to catch a great deal of flack in his home state for the next few years when he is slinging it for the Johnny Reb's.
However, the choice Lane made was his own and even Saban said he (Lane) had to do what was best for him. (On a personal note, I happen to know Robert Lane, his parents and have seen him play. Ole Miss is getting an outstanding person as well as a quarterback and this writer wishes him well.)
As for the ones LSU got, there may never be a class of quarterbacks pass through the gates of LSU like this one ever again. Russell, along with Tyler-Lee quarterback Matt Flynn, will give Saban's Tigers a wealth of stability at that position for the next four to five years.
Finally, before moving on, Tiger Rag would like to extend a great big thank you to a job well done by Sonny Shipp, our recruiting guru. He spent countless hours running up a pretty hefty long-distance phone bill talking to prospects on a daily basis so he could bring the readers of Tiger Rag the latest, up to the minute recruiting scoop.
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The last couple of installments of this section have been set aside to talk about the travails of the LSU basketball program.
While the Tigers have not played well for the last couple of weeks, they played their hearts out on the Plains only to come up a painfully short. No matter how bad a team is at times, no one deserves to lose a game like Brady's bunch did last Saturday.
Keep your chin up; things are bound to start taking a turn for the better.