Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News has brought up something that I never really noticed until now, the football program is fully embracing its past stars once again. Cornelius Bennett is the main focus of the article, but it goes on to paint a broader picture about what happened during the probation period, before coming back to Bennett’s views.
During the probation period, the athletic department decided to be 100% positive that no new violations would come from past boosters, and even past players. I’m not exactly sure how much past coaching staffs had to do with this, but now that Nick Saban is in Tuscaloosa, he is embracing the legends.
Saban understands that in order to get the big name recruits, you need to be able to show them something impressive. By welcoming back all of the former players, high school recruits will be able to see that this school has a rich history of pro players. This will show the recruit that Alabama can get you into the NFL.
In recent history, UA has not had as many NFL players as the premier programs. In fact, before last season, Alabama only recently had two former tiders that were big successes in the pros (Alexander and Samuels). Now, with DeMeco Ryans, Mark Anderson, Roman Harper, and (hopefully) LeRon McClain seeing significant playing time, the time is ripe to start big time recruiting, which is what Nick Saban is all about.
I’m not trying to make Mike Shula the eternal scape goat, but even though he recruited some good skill position players, he was not reaching a national level. Sure, he was able to recruit Florida, but in all honesty he was not landing any of the top 10 recruits down there. He did well in Mississippi and Alabama, but that won’t return you to a national level.
I don’t think Mike Shula was a bad recruiter by any means. He came into a rough situation and gave us players that will help get us over the hump. However, with coach Saban, Alabama has that coach that can recruit nationally.
Was Shula using all of the tools available to him at UA? I don’t know for sure, and won’t try to make that judgement. But with Coach Saban, be sure that he is going to use every tool available to him and his staff while at the University of Alabama.