Signing day is just around the corner, but not all news surrounding Alabama football involves recruiting.Since the Sugar Bowl debacle, we have had departures by both players and coaches.Coupled with news from other schools, next year looks really tough.Here is a brief summary of what has transpired, sprinkled with my opinions, of course.
First, we had two players announce early for the draft, LT Andre Smith and RB Glen Coffee.Both of these players were vital to our success this year, and there is no way to spin their departures as positive news.Andre Smith is projected as the second overall pick in the draft, and of course I wish him the best.However, as talented as he is, I really feel like his place in Alabama history will be minimal, or at least it should be.If you recall, he committed to us on Signing Day 2006.Of course, we were thrilled because he was the top OL prospect to come out of the state in years (arguably ever, though Willie Anderson would argue that point), but to me, he really hurt the team by waiting until signing day to announce.
Compare what happened at Florida that same year.Tim Tebow, one of the most highly coveted QB recruits in the nation, committed early to Florida (in December).From that point on, their recruiting efforts caught fire, and Tebow being a part of the class had a lot to do with that success.Not only did having such a high profile recruit in the fold help attract other recruits, but Tebow actively pursued other recruits during his two months as a commitment before signing day.As a result, Florida landed what I consider to be the greatest recruiting class in college football history, and several of those recruits were players that Alabama was trying desperately to sign.Contrast Tebowís commitment with Smith.Smith, a supposed lifelong Alabama fan, chose to wait until signing day to have a high profile last second dramatic press conference instead of committing early and helping our recruiting class.If you remember the details of that year, Tebow was down to Alabama and Florida.Who knows what would have happened had the nationís top OL recruit committed to Alabama early, and then tried to help with the recruitment of Tebow.
I also think itís relevant to compare the careers of these two.Tebow has become arguably the greatest player in college football history.Of course, it doesnít hurt that he played a large part in filling their entire roster with phenomenal talent from top to bottom.As Iím sure you know, Tebow recently announced that he would return for his senior year, where he will be the heavy favorite to win his second Heisman Trophy and third (yes, third) national championship.Smith couldnít even wait for this season to be over to start his move for the pros, as his illegal actions with an agent made him ineligible for the Sugar Bowl disaster.
Again, I think we should all appreciate the fact that Smith chose us, but if I have to choose one player from that offensive line that I think symbolizes what Alabama is all about, I will choose Antoine Caldwell.He got caught up in that textbook nonsense in 2007, but he passed up millions of dollars to come back for his senior year and redeem himself, and he played a huge role not just on the field, but off the field in a leadership capacity.Heís the person that should enter Alabamaís Hall of Fame, not some 2+ year hired gun that jumped ship as soon as he possibly could (actually sooner).So thanks for coming Andre.I hope you have a hugely successful career in the pros, because you blew the legacy you had at Alabama.
As for Coffee, I have mixed emotions about him leaving.He was only moderately talented coming out of high school (like almost everybody that Shula managed to sign), but he worked hard and has really blossomed this year.Itís possible that his stock is as high as itís ever going to be right now, so I certainly canít blame him for taking a shot.Weíll miss him; he was a strong, physical runner, but hopefully Ingram, Upchurch, and Richardson (current commit), can fill the void.I think they can.Best of luck, Glen!
Briefly, our coaching staff took a couple of recent hits.Kevin Steele, assistant head coach, decided to become Clemsonís defensive coordinator.I hope you got a big raise Kevin, because youíre going into a big mess over at Clemson.Unless you get the head coaching job when Swinney crashes and burns in the next year or so, youíll be back on the market.We also lost Lance Thompson, who moved over to Tennesseeís staff.Thompson is an excellent recruiter, and this is Tennesseeís attempt to damage Alabama.It remains to be seen how successful this shot at us will be, but I do believe weíll miss his recruiting ties.However, we still have Saban, so I think weíll somehow manage!I do think itís interesting that Kiffin at Tennessee is filling his staff with recruiter after recruiter after recruiter.Iím not sure exactly who is going to provide on field coaching, and I really have questions about the chemistry of that staff.I think they have a better chance of success than that mess thatís brewing at Clemson, but Iím not too worried about them, and I think Thompson is making a huge mistake.
Thatís it for now.Check back in after signing day, because this class looks like itís loaded with talent, and you donít want to miss my recap!
Until next time, feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.