Posted by Jerry Hinnen
A handful of reports this week have breathlessly claimed that Alabama's arrangement to practice for the Capital One Bowl at Orlando's Dr. Phillips high school -- and make a handful of improvements to the facilities while there -- was executed with the Tide's recruiting efforts in mind, specifically as regards Dr. Phillips' two 2011 top-100 players, safety Hasean Clinton-Dix and running back Demetrius Hart.
The only problem with those reports? There's just nothing to them, as this story from the Tuscaloosa News explains . How? Let us count the ways:
1. Alabama's far from the first SEC school to practice at Dr. Phillips. LSU used the facilities just last season, and a Cap One spokesman says that the Dr. Phillips field "the field the SEC traditionally gets."
2. The bowl paid for the "improvements." According to officials both at the school and with the bowl, the only upgrade worth reporting was a reseeding and "top dressing of the field to fill any holes." Even that was paid for by the bowl committee, leaving the only "improvement" made by Alabama a rented set of temporary showers which will be removed after the bowl.
3. The "improvements" happen every year. Even if you believe the work on the field ("basically putting sand and peat down on certain areas of the field," according to a bowl spokesman) is a big deal for Alabama, it "isn't too much different than [what's done] any other year," according to the bowl.
4. 'Bama doesn't have that much to gain. Though things are always fluid in the world of recruiting, Clinton-Dix has been committed to the Tide and Hart to Michigan for months. Though rumors have persisted Hart might be interested in leaving the Wolverine fold, at this stage it seems unlikely unless Rich Rodriguez is replaced as head coach, and even then it's debatable whether he would choose Alabama as his new destination or even if the Tide would make room in a crowded class for him. Doesn't spending thousands of dollars to earn the respect of one recruit who's already on his way to Tuscaloosa and another who's a longshot no matter what the Tide seem awfully ... inefficient , for lack of a better term?
Put it all together, and there's just nothing to see here, unless you're the sort who squints really, really hard.