Too many running backs? That’s not Saban’s problem.

I can’t figure out why Alabama needs eight highly rated tailbacks on the roster (four from this year’s class alone), but Nick Saban doesn’t seem too concerned about it.  As Spurrier put it, “recruiting classes don’t always pan out. Of course, they always seem to pan out at Alabama.”


Filed under Nick Saban Rules, Recruiting

43 responses to “Too many running backs? That’s not Saban’s problem.

  1. TennesseeDawg

    About 20% of Bama’s scholarships are tied up in QBs and RBs.


    • With so many ‘ships tied up in the offensive backfield, how does Saban develop the depth he seems to have at every other position? The 85 limit has to come into play somewhere, doesn’t it?


      • Cousin Eddie

        Saban doesn’t have time to count to 85.


      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        Simple. He cuts loose the backs and QBs that don’t work out and uses the extra scholarship space for D players as needed. For example, If he’s short a couple quality LBs he kicks the bottom QB and the bottom RB off the team and signs 2 LBs. That way he always has competition at the skill positions on O but if he needs more D players he has the way to get them. That is Oversigning 101.


  2. Irishdawg

    Why do they all go there? I know Bama is King of the Hill right now, but some of these kids have got to know they aren’t ALL going to play.


  3. Irishdawg

    Yeah, but it’s puzzling to go to a school with 8 other talented backs when you could go to one with 3 and it’s much more likely you’ll play right away.


  4. One thing is for sure, when they are all on your team, they can’t beat you!


    • Cojones

      And that’s the best and soundest reasoned answer for the question. It used to be Spurrier’s favorite ploy. Most coaches adhere to that reasoning (in print, over the years).

      How does the adage go? Give a man a fish and he has food for one meal, but teach a RB how to catch a football…..


      • Hogbody Spradlin

        My version is:
        Give a woman a fish and feed her for a day.
        Teach a woman to nag and feed her for life.


      • gastr1

        Before Spurrier, and before scholarship limits, it was Bear Bryant’s ploy.


        • I was thinking the same thing..Bear Bryant was the inventor of oversigning. Back in those days, the 140 Rule was the only limit. The 140 Rule stated a college program could only have 140 football and basketball players on scholarship at any one time. The teams were allowed to sign up to 45 players a year, but could not exceed the 140 Rule. Bear would sign the full 45 each year and then cut a certain number in his infamous summer “tryout camps.” Bear would cut the players so late that the players were prohibited from playing for other teams. This oversigning practice was why Dodd convinced GT to leave the SEC in 1963.

          I recall Furman Bisher having a column about the number of Bama football players on swimming and diving scholarships, even though Bama did not have a swimming pool at the time. I think Vince Dooley once said something to the effect that each and every NCAA rule was created in response to something shady that Bama was doing.


          • Just Chuck (the other one)

            Before the rules governing contact with recruits, I remember stories about Bear stashing kids in motel rooms on signing day so they couldn’t sign with anyone else. I long for the good old days.


  5. AthensHomerDawg

    Little Nicky’s recruiting game plan is not new. He just took a few pages from The Bear’s philosophy on recruiting. You tried out for your scholarship at Alabama. Over recruiting and cutting a player during summer workouts when they couldn’t catch on with another school was quite popular with the Bear. Signing more talent than he could use was popular with the Bear too. It prevented other schools from using them against the Tide.


  6. Rebar

    To keep them from Ole Miss.


  7. old dawg

    The Saban Express is ruling the college football world now and it’s hard for a kid to ignore all those championship trophies.Nick is actually doing a lot of other coaches a big favor by showing them how to dominate other programs.

    As for the Dogs,we’re in year 13 of the Richt era and Nick Saban Inc ain’t helping our efforts.As I recall,the expectation horizon was altered when Bob Stoops won the NC in his second year at Oklahoma.Tick,tock…the clock is running.

    later,old dawg


  8. Joe

    USC did the same thing in the mid 2000’s. In 2006 they signed Emmanuel Moody, Stafon Johnson, Stanley Havili and Kenny Ashley. Then in 2007 they signed Joe McKnight, Marc Tyler and Broderick Green.

    All of them wanted to be the next Lendale White and Reggie Bush.

    None of them except McKnight turned out to be worth a crap. We will see how all of these Bama kids look without Barrett Jones and Wommack to run behind.


  9. ryan22

    idk either and its not just at running back its every postions and every year they land the top 5 at their position look at last years running backs tj yeldon, kenyon drake, and now this years with henry, jones, teepnany, and kamara and dont forget dee hart i dont get why people want to always go to bama


  10. FRED

    Reminds me of the 70’s when we lived in NJ we had 2 brothers who signed with ND both were very good a QB and a RB both could have been starters with Rutgers. Instead both rode the bench at ND. Never could figure that out! Buy the way Rutgers is a good educational school.


  11. gigdawg

    Honestly, I think it’s less about Alabama actually needing them, and more about preventing them from going to another school.

    Alabama could care less if Kamara actually makes the field/dominates for them. One of those 8 will be awesome.

    But they certainly care that he doesn’t make the field and dominate for another team they’re playing against


  12. Jax

    There is certainly a larger dynamic at work here, not necessarily recruiting wise but based on the interesting run that Bama is on. Their football program is now akin to a secretive, strange cult where every member is sworn to secrecy regarding the inner-workings. The results speak for themselves, but this process that sports illustrated describes is half the story. The other half involves the University President and Provosts completely buying into the golden goose and translating that sheet of music on down to Mal Moore, the coaching staff, the media, and the fanbase. The only people in Alabama that threaten this cult reside in Auburn, and don’t think they aren’t trying to expose the things that Alabama and Nick Saban secretly do to maintain their status. No program, none ever, has achieved this much consistent success without bending the rules publicly (as Saban notoriously does), and outright breaking them privately. I apologize for sounding like sour grapes, but the fact is Bama will eventually fuck up and the magical unicorn of a coach will eventually get exposed for doing what has been done many times before, creating new ways to rig the system. IOW, successfully cheat.


  13. Bright Idea

    Recruits have figured out that whether they ever touch the field or not, life for them will be better at Bama. The professors and cops for starters are part of “the process.” The championships aren’t as important to recruits as the fact that everybody in Alabama is a part of their support system. The folks are so committed to that team that Saban does not have to cheat. All details are covered for him without him even asking.


  14. Uglydawg

    A kid who is a top rated running back or QB is first and foremost an athlete who you can plug into many positions. These kids will end up as recievers, corners, safetys, special teams returners and gunners, and if they’re big enough…line backers and tight ends. It’s an old ploy…sign a QB and you get a smart kid who’s an athelete and a leader. Keeping him out of the hands of your competition is a bonus, and a real good one. Saban is a smart guy. The smart thing for everyone who isn’t an Alabama fan to do is point out how many QB’s and RB’s Saban signs and what actually happens to them once they’re into the “system”.


  15. Grayish

    F’em. They were only 5 yards better lat year with a full group of scholarships. I like what we did recruiting this year. Bet there’s not a Gurley in that bunch.


  16. Always Someone Else's Fault

    Alabama had Fowler, Hart, Lacy and Yeldon all earning real playing time before Fowler and Hart got hurt. Drake got garbage-time carries this year.

    Saban convinces kids that (A) the NFL does not need 50 hours of game film, (B) you develop the skills you need in practice, not games, and (C) practicing against 4 and 5 star talent every day makes you better than playing against it 3 or 4 times a year. It’s not a complicated pitch, and it’s not exactly original, either. It’s been deployed at several powerhouse CBB and CFB programs over the past few decades.

    The oversigning argument may be necessary, but it always gets in the way of a discussion what Alabama gets right in recruiting and program design. And Alabama gets a lot right on that front.


    • Scorpio Jones, III

      Spot on observation, Always….If you are a Bama running back you are going to get the living shit knocked out of you regularly in practice…it is all part of building the thing that fuels Bama’s win streak….toughness.

      Hell, folks, Bama, in fact, DOES need eight running backs on scholarship.

      I, for one, sat there watching Bama eviscerate Notre Dame and had nothing but admiration for the way the Saban process works. That my team came within a tipped pass of beating them becomes more amazing with time and distance.

      And, of course the whole school is all in…it is called “institutional will.”

      Bama’s institutional will contributes to their success as much as toughness, good recruiting and coaching does.


  17. Mike, not Gator Mike

    Late to the game, but you wonder how 8 RBs can get the coaching they need to develop. You look at the list of USC backs above and there is no way you can whiff on 7/8, right? So, something has to give and I’m guessing it’s the time dedicated to developing these guys. If they don’t have the drive to do it themselves, then out they go, I guess.

    Another thought…If 7/8 highly touted RBs don’t make it, then maybe it has something to do with the RB mentality. Seems we’ve had the most off field issues at that spot in the recent past then any other position. (Hello, Isiah, Caleb and Washun). So, maybe you need to sign 4 a year to find one that is successful.


    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      Point of order–Caleb didn’t fall into the same camp as Isiah and Washaun. Caleb was a hard worker who basically stayed out of trouble but just didn’t make his grades. Those other 2 were troublemakers who had overly inflated opinions of themselves.


      • Mike, Not Gator Mike

        Agreed that he wasn’t Isiah or Washaun, but he did get kicked out off the team (due to grades) and he did go to jail, albeit for something stupid. Not to mention the choices he made since leaving UGA. But, my point wasn’t whether Caleb was a good kid or not, but he did have off the field issues causing him to never live up to his potential.