Tag:Auburn 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.

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