You can’t tell the players without a scorecard.

Jeezus. Nick Saban may the be the only coach in America who has as much work ahead of him to get his super duper recruiting class enrolled as he did to get it signed on the dotted line in the first place.

Nick Saban isn’t an accountant, although he does have to crunch some numbers between now and August and he has mentioned balancing the checkbook before.

The Alabama coach announced a signing class of 32 players on Wednesday, which exceeds both the annual signing limit of 25 and the overall scholarship limit of 85…

So exactly who will the bell toll for? It’s not a short list.

… But those two signees boost Alabama’s overall total to approximately 85 players, the maximum number allowed, and the Tide loses just 15 seniors. So not only must Saban reduce his signing class from 30 to 25, he must reduce his current roster of non-seniors from 70 to 60 to accommodate the extra players.

The signing class will probably include several players who will not meet the minimum SEC academic requirements to earn admission to Alabama. That group includes Davidson tailback Jermaine Preyear, Mississippi cornerback Alonzo Lawrence, Huffman defensive lineman Marcel Dareus, Hargrave lineman Kerry Murphy and possibly receivers Melvin Ray and Devonta Bolton.

If the remaining 24 players all qualify and at least two of those previously mentioned make the grade, Alabama coaches will have to delay someone’s enrollment until 2009 or bring in a player as a walk-on, as former coach Mike DuBose’s staff did with Terry Jones Jr. in the late 1990s.

Once Saban gets his class to 25, he has to figure out a way to get the current group of returning scholarship players down to 60. Last year, he offered academic scholarships to four players with recurring medical issues, including receiver Tyrone Prothro.

Several players qualify for that status this year, including junior receiver Will Oakley, who has batted recurring hamstring injuries; outside linebacker Zeke Knight, who has experienced recurring dizzy spells through heart-related problems; guard B.J. Stabler, whose three knee surgeries have not cured him of problems that prevent him from sitting out practice because of the knee; and defensive back Chris Lett, whose case of juvenile diabetes has prevented him from practicing, much less playing with the team.

Whew! Got all that?

But that’s not the punch line.  This is:

… Even if he lost those players, there could be as many as six more scholarship players that would need to leave the team before the incoming class reports in August.

Not that anybody should know, or care, for that matter.

“That’s not something we’re going to address publicly or make a public issue,” Saban said, “or is it something I think anybody needs to be worried about.”

I could be wrong about this, but I think it will be hard to keep this stuff a secret when his team steps on the field in the opener against Clemson.  Unless Saban doesn’t allow the sale of programs this season.



Filed under Recruiting, Whoa, oh, Alabama

9 responses to “You can’t tell the players without a scorecard.

  1. NM

    It’s easy to get a top-five recruiting class when you ignore scholarship limits. My guess is that Rivals won’t recalculate the rankings once we find out who flunked out… or even if they did, nobody would care.

    Hopefully this won’t become a trend: Sign everybody and his brother, get weeks of positive headlines, demoralize your rivals’ fans, then cut half the team before the spring game. How long until we see 50-man recruiting classes?


  2. It will be interesting to see who among the existing scholarship players that are asked to leave (for the good of the program, natch) refuse to go quietly in the night – and if Saban burns any bridges with high school coaches over it.

    I bet that’s something that might get used on the recruiting trail down the road. And not just by Tuberville.


  3. CLTDawg

    I think you nailed the bigger issue Senator – How many high school coaches is he going to piss off, and does he really care? Much like the Urban Liar, he seems to think only for the short term & damn the torpedos as far as all else is concerned.


  4. People ask, “How many scholarships will we offer this year.”

    With rare exception my response is…”as many as we need.” Sign ’em all. Let Richt sort ’em out.

    Obviously – That didn’t happen with Omar Hunter, but when have we ever “filled up” prior to that and turned away a blue chipper?

    Saban will sort it out. It’s nothing near as complex as what baseball coaches have to deal with.

    I imagine he’ll gray shirt some kids rather than boot some. He’ll just ask a few to enroll in January that would’ve redshirted anyway. Holtz did that in his first class or two.

    It pisses off some coaches, but nothing terminal. Just as long as they eventually get in.

    The rest of them will have holy hell to deal with in their spring version of Mat Drills. He’ll have the undesirables puking their way right over to the I Quit Bell and walking out the front door for him.


  5. I don’t doubt that he’ll sort it out, paul. It’s just that those are some sizable numbers to sort.

    Put it this way: ‘Bama had 15 seniors in its last class and Georgia in ’08 is about in the same numbers boat. How likely is it that Georgia will sign anywhere near 32 kids in 2009?


  6. dean

    Seems ‘bama is back to the Bear Bryant days.


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