Posted on: January 21, 2011 1:25 pm
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.
Tags: Alabama, Alabama recruiting, Auburn, Auburn recruiting, Bo Davis, Brent Calloway, Curt Cignetti, Curt Cignetti, Frank Cignetti, Georgia, Georgia recruiting, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Jadeveon Clowney, Jeff Stoutland, Joe Pendry, Malcolm Mitchell, Miami, Nick Saban, SEC, South Carolina, South Carolina recruiting, Texas
Posted on: January 5, 2011 5:49 pm
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.
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.