Tag:Alabama recruiting
Posted on: February 7, 2011 6:47 pm

Kouandjio payoff talk is baseless, embarrassing

Posted by Adam Jacobi

As most people are by now aware, Cyrus Kouandjio is officially a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide, signing with the team days after briefly committing to Auburn on Signing Day. Alabama had long been the favorite to land Kouandjio, while Auburn was a relatively late player in his recruitment. Other schools being conidered were Iowa and, oddly, New Mexico.

Any time there's wavering from a top recruit over his commitment, especially in close proximity to Signing Day, there's always going to be some doubt that everything was on the up-and-up. When a school pops up seemingly out of nowhere in the recruiting battle, like Auburn did, it becomes basically common knowledge among partisan fans that someone was being paid illegally -- even when absolutely no evidence surfaces of any wrongdoing.

That's a shame, really. It's not a shame in that a particular school's integrity is being impugned; that practice is as old as the sport itself, and an integral part therein. Who doesn't enjoy needlessly slandering a rival team or its fan base? It's the type of devilish, puerile fun that helps make being a fan such a rewarding experience. No, the problem is not what the rumors say about the schools in question; it's what they say about the recruits.

Think about it. When an Auburn fan gets on the radio and accuses Alabama of paying off Kouandjio, the insinuation is that the Kouandjios don't care at all about Cyrus' well-being, or what school offers the best experience for him on and off the field. No, in a paranoid fan's eyes, all that Alabama (or Auburn, or Iowa, or New Mexico) needed to do was wheel out an SUV from some anonymous booster and the recruiting was done. That's a pretty lousy thing to assume about a family, especially when the father, Jean Claude Kouandjio, was on record encouraging his son to take his mind off the process for a day or two. To assume that this display of good parenting is just some act that belies a great misdeed would necessarily require a good deal of evidence, otherwise it's just plain mean-spirited.

And on the front of evidence, there is none in Kouandjio's case. Nobody has proffered any examples of conspicuous spending or shady deals made with any member of the family or anything of the sort. To make that claim anyway is to make a work of fiction, and when local media agencies report on these rumors even under the guise of "fans speaking out," they smear the public record. Our standards ought to be much higher.

Posted on: January 21, 2011 1:25 pm

More turnover for Tide as Cignetti takes D-II job

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

After Alabama followed up their national championship season with a disappointing -- by preseason No. 1 standards, anyway -- 10-3 campaign, it's no surprise that the Crimson Tide underwent some mild turnover on their coaching staff. Defensive line coach Bo Davis was hired away by Texas for the same position without what seemed like much resistance or counter-offering from Nick Saban and the Tide. And offensive line coach Joe Pendry retired, to be replaced -- immediately -- by former Miami assistant Jeff Stoutland.

If Davis and Pendry were fully committed to staying in Tuscaloosa, they probably still would be. But after the Tide arguably underachieved this season along both lines of scrimmage, and given how prepared he appeared to be for their departures, it's also doubtful Saban lost too much sleep over those changes.

But there's now fewer than two weeks remaining before Signing Day, and if losing two coaches might be useful to keep the staff fresh and motivated, replacing a third of your assistants in one offseason probably qualifies as a headache. And it's now a headache Saban will have to deal with as Tide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Curt Cignetti has taken the head coaching job at Division II Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Unlike Davis and Pendry, Cignetti's motivations are perfectly transparent; IUP is the same school where his father Frank Cignetti coached for 19 seasons. But also unlike Davis's and Pendry's departures, Cignetti's decision leaves Saban scrambling (well, for a given definition of "scramble") to have the position filled before Signing Day. And though few coaches would say no to drawing a Crimson Tide salary and coaching Tide-grade talent, the lateness of the vacancy means the pool of candidates might be somewhat shallower than it would be otherwise.

Even those concerns would usually be trifling ones for Saban's well-oiled machine, but that machine is showgin some minor wear-and-tear on the recruiting trail for what might be the first time in Saban's Capstone tenure. Blue-chip in-state linebacker-slash-running back recruit Brent Calloway recently flipped his commitment from the Tide to Auburn. Major wide receiver recruit Malcolm Mitchell chose home-state Georgia over the Tide last night, despite speculation he had been an Alabama lean. And there are indications the Tide may be unable to pull the nation's consensus No. 1 recruit, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, away from hometown South Carolina.

Arguably no program in the country is better-equipped to withstand those kinds of setbacks, or whatever other setbacks might arise as a result of Cignetti's exit. The Tide will be fine. But when the expectations are nothing less than annual contention for a national title, even minor stumbles can prove to be major developments.

Posted on: January 7, 2011 2:29 pm

Saban chat with Sanders Jr. an NCAA violation?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Hey, remember when class of 2012 recruit Barry Sanders Jr. (yes, that Barry Sanders) told the world that Mark Ingram would be declaring publicly for the draft this week because Nick Saban had told him so? And then Ingram officially declared today and he was right? That was pretty cool, huh?

Maybe a little less cool for Alabama, since according to the same OKBlitz.com website that broke the original Ingram-to-turn-pro story, that conversation qualifies as an NCAA violation :
Such an extended conversation between Saban and Sanders [still a high school junior--ed.] is a potential violation of NCAA Bylaw, which states “Off-campus recruiting contacts shall not be made with an individual (or his or her relatives or legal guardians) before July 1 following the completion of his or her junior year in high school."

NCAA Bylaw 13.02.4 defines contact as “any face-to-face encounter between a prospective student-athlete … during which any dialogue occurs in excess of an exchange of a greeting. Any such face-to-face encounter that is prearranged or that takes place on the grounds of the prospective student-athlete’s institution … shall be considered a contact.”
This is the well-known "bump rule," which Saban has already been accused of stretching to its breaking point in the past. Though obviously the NCAA will take its time ruling on the incident one way or the other, the case would appear to be pretty cut-and-dried; the link above includes a photograph of Saban and Sanders having their conversation, and Sanders' comments about Ingram make it clear that, to quote the bylaw, "dialogue occurred in excess of an exchange of a greeting." That compliance officials at both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were willing to go on the record as saying they would want the Tide's compliance department to examine the incident is a strong indication they believe a violation occurred.

Then again, nothing in the murky world of recruiting and recruiting bylaws is official until the NCAA says it is, and Saban has already publicly denied exchanging anything more than a greeting. Even if found guilty, Saban would only have committed a single secondary violation, at worst. Punishments are likely to be minimal regardless.

But if Saban is found guilty, he could be subject to the NCAA's recent decision to make suspensions available as a punitive measure for coaches committing secondary violations, and his reputation as a coach willing to ignore the exact rule he appears to be flaunting here might make him too juicy an example to pass on. (The NCAA could also impose limits on Alabam's recruitment of Sanders Jr., though it's highly debatable how much of an impact those would have in any case.) Don't expect anything to come of this other than a quietly self-reported violation on Alabama's part and the proverbial wrist-slap, if that, but it'll be a story worth following all the same.

Posted on: January 5, 2011 5:49 pm

Recruit says he'll choose school with coin flips

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

At 7 p.m. Eastern tonight, college football fans can get a look at some of the proverbial stars of the future in the Under Armour All-American Game, which will feature any number of top-flight recruits and the commitment decisions of maybe a dozen or more currently uncommitted prospects.

One of those players is expected to be Griffin (Ga.) defensive end Xzavier Dickson, who'll be choosing between Alabama and Georgia. Or, if he's telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the truth, he'll be letting random fate choose for him . The AJC's Chip Towers relayed the following conversation:

I asked [Dickson] if he already knew which way he was going at that moment. He admitted he had not.

“So I’m going to flip a coin,” he told me. “It’s that close.

“Come on,” I said incredulously. “You’re kidding, right?”

“No, I’m serious,” Dickson said. “I’m going to flip it five times and the one that comes up the most is the one I’m going to go with. They both can provide me with what I need at the next level, so I can’t go wrong.”

Fellow Georgia blue-chip Quan Bray (a wideout/running back from LaGrange), Dickson's roommate at the game, told Towers that Dickson had told him the same thing. So at the very least, it's not some elaborate lie told solely for Towers' benefit.

It could, of course, be an elaborate lie to add some extra drama to his announcement all the same; while he's right that both the Bulldogs and Tide would provide him with plenty of top-flight coaching and SEC excitement (not to mention a role as the outside pass rusher in the teams' respective 3-4 defenses that have made players like Justin Houston and Courtney Upshaw), surely Dickson wouldn't see them as such dead equals as to let a coin decide for him. And the coin flip won't happen live on camera, as Dickson said he'd do it the night before.

But if Dickson is dead-set on making a decision at the game (and, more to the point, on ESPN) and truly doesn't see any difference between the Tide and Bulldogs, well, plenty of far important choices have been made with even more unreliable decision-making processes before.
Posted on: January 3, 2011 10:56 am

Dee Hart decommits as sharks circle Rodriguez

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The writing may not be on the wall yet for Rich Rodriguez, but by this point, the guy on the ladder with the black paintbrush in his hands may as well get to work whether Dave Brandon has told him to or not.

An utterly miserable weekend for the Wolverine head coach wrapped up yesterday with the news that the jewel of Rodriguez's 2011 recruiting class, running back Demetrius Hart, had decided to back out of his commitment to Michigan. (Though Hart maybe hasn't made it officially official yet, it's hardly any kind of a secret at this stage.) Multiple credible reports state that Hart will be pledging to Alabama instead at this week's U.S. Army All-American game.

Keep in mind that Hart isn't just the highest-ranked prospect in this year's Wolverine; he's a top-100 recruit to mutliple recruiting services (though Maxpreps' Tom Lemming is less enthused , and ranks Hart as just the No. 11 running back, behind another Michigan commit, Justice Hayes), a consensus four-star recruit, and the potential answer at a position where the Wolverines received adequate-at-best production this season. In other words, he might also have been the best, most important recruit of Rodriguez's entire tenure ... and now he's gone. (Dee-committed, we might say.)

But it wouldn't be accurate to say Hart's departure is the final nail in the coffin. More likely, it's the latest, maybe clearest sign we've gotten that that nail has already been driven in. Yesterday we saw a coach who led his team onto the field for a bowl game the night before leave for another program the very next day; if we see the same tonight and tomorrow with Jim Harbaugh, though, it won't come as nearly as much of a shock as it did with Randy Edsall.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com