It’s the process, recruiting edition

The article is a bit dated, but is still fascinating. Nick Saban on his recruiting method:

[T]he Nick Saban doctrine of recruiting. It is meticulous, methodical and relentless in every single aspect of the recruiting process. . . . Belichick, Bill Parcells and other player pro directors all influenced Saban and his recruiting approach. It’s a five-phase process that first begins with identifying needs of your current personnel based on attrition two to three years down the line out of a five-year player cycle.

Second, Saban sets a standard at each position, identifying key characteristics within each position with the offensive and defensive systems that he runs. Each prospect who is recruited, depending on the position, has to meet certain measurables (height, weight, speed, etc.), among other criteria. Rarely will Saban deviate.

“They take some heat publicly because there could be a big-time guy that may not meet their critical factors,” Luginbill said. “It doesn’t mean he’s not a great player. It just means he’s not the right fit for Alabama….”

Thirdly, he watches the tape and identifies the standards of that particular recruit and the position he plays.

Next, the real evaluation process begins with the new recruits. Names of prospects are put into a system and lots of tape is evaluated. The area coach gets first look, then it’s passed on to the position coach, then to the coordinator and finally to the head coach.

The fifth and final phase is a nonstop 12-month cycle of looking at the recruiting board and talking about all the player’s critical factors. Some of those factors include size, speed, character and academics, but other things are brought into consideration as well. Have they been on campus? Do they have a connection to Alabama or has a family member attended the school?

Over the course of a recruiting cycle, the staff will meet roughly four times a week between the months of February and August and a few times a week for the duration to discuss the recruiting board….

Of course the elephant in the room with this article is oversigning, but I plead ignorance on that topic.

  • Bellanca

    This is the best site in football, and thanks, as always.  It’s transformed my undertstanding of football, and I played it until I was 22.

    I merely note that Iowa has more players in the NFL over the past 10 years than Alabama.  Granted, the Saban system hasn’t been in place for 10 years, and they’re a better team, probably, today.  That observation will probably become invalid.  But maybe not.

    I would suggest an additional look at a ‘developmental’ model, that allows less-favored schools to identify unknowns and turn them into NFL guys.  On Saturday, Iowa started four walk-ons, and four guys who had only one D-I offer (uh, Iowa’s) — and Iowa is second (behind OSU) in NFL placements.  Iowa is second (tied with Michigan) in cumulative w-l record, this decade.  

    In truth, Iowa may have better luck placing athletes in the NFL whom no one wanted, than the rare four-stars Iowa is able to recruit.  I question the whole “measurables” thing, because these are children we’re talking about, and sophisticated training and technique are unknown to superior high school athletes.  

    Oh, and Iowa doesn’t oversign.  And then fire adolescents with no warning.

  • Mike

    Why should Nick Saban care whether or not his players make it in the NFL? That isn’t his job.

  • Bellanca

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhluYu_nsJQ

    So, for example, if you’re not Alabama, you have to recruit according to other criteria.  What are they?

    Oh, being a good football player.  Being a QB or TE.  (Iowa once started a team that had 18 or 19 former QBs.)  Being a team captain.  Getting good grades.  Having parents with big frames.  Being tough.

    Evidence: The rookie starting DT for Tennesee this year was a 205 pound fullback from a small town in Minnesota (uh, Saban didn’t recruit him, even Glen Mason didn’t recruit him); the fifth round pick/roster player for Philly was a grayshirt no one wanted; Robert Gallery was a tight end from a small town no one has heard of, who no one wanted; the starting MLB for Indy was a guy who thought he would rather go Airborne than DI; the #2 center for the Falcons was a walk-on; Dallas Clark, walk-on; Chad Greenway, 8-man football player, South Dakota; Bob Sanders, one (1) DI offer; Marshall Yanda, 0 DI offers, one after Juco.  

    Anyway, I’m arguing a point you didn’t make, which is that Saban’s method is the only way to go.  I think Saban’s mother, however, would find it easy to recruit college-ready athletes to Alabama.  Everyone’s a genius if they work at Goldman Sachs.  Making money in Omaha is a little harder.

  • Bellanca

    Because of the correlation between winning and talent?

  • yaFool

    Iowa recruits those small known players because they HAVE to, not because they want to.  Saban CAN recruit nobodies from nowhere if he chooses to do so as well…. but he doesn’t HAVE to.  So why would he? 
     
    Iowa is forced to take chicken shit and try to make chicken salad out of 1 of every 5-10 recruits while Saban is afforded the luxury of not having to do that.  Iowa recruits undersized kids that with the proper coaching, training and work ethic will turn into great football players.  Saban recruits kids that are big enough, athletic enough and strong enough to potentially play immediately because he can.

    The idea that Iowa would recruit lesser known football players that aren’t as athletic in hs by choice is laughable.  Iowa is good at what they do because they have to be in order to be successful the same way smaller MLB teams work farm systems – because they have to.

  • yaFool

    Iowa recruits those small known players because they HAVE to, not because they want to.  Saban CAN recruit nobodies from nowhere if he chooses to do so as well…. but he doesn’t HAVE to.  So why would he? 
     
    Iowa is forced to take chicken shit and try to make chicken salad out of 1 of every 5-10 recruits while Saban is afforded the luxury of not having to do that.  Iowa recruits undersized kids that with the proper coaching, training and work ethic will turn into great football players.  Saban recruits kids that are big enough, athletic enough and strong enough to potentially play immediately because he can.

    The idea that Iowa would recruit lesser known football players that aren’t as athletic in hs by choice is laughable.  Iowa is good at what they do because they have to be in order to be successful the same way smaller MLB teams work farm systems – because they have to.

  • 4.0 Point Stance

    In any event Saban’s first recruiting class hasn’t even run out of eligibility. So even assuming that NFL draftees is the best measure of recruiting success (it’s not),there’s no evidence that Saban’s recruiting style has failed by that metric. The vast majority of his recruits aren’t even NFL eligible yet!

  • 4.0 Point Stance

    In any event Saban’s first recruiting class hasn’t even run out of eligibility. So even assuming that NFL draftees is the best measure of recruiting success (it’s not),there’s no evidence that Saban’s recruiting style has failed by that metric. The vast majority of his recruits aren’t even NFL eligible yet!

  • Shakinsouthlandhesouthland

    Clemson follows a similar method now as well

  • phillip gilbert

    So does Saban’s disciple Derek Dooley at Tennessee.  Tennessee is somewhere between Alabama and Iowa in who’s available for them to recruit.

  • LD

    Saban cares about his players making the NFL because those guys become part of the recruiting pitch. “So [insert 5-star recruit's name], you want to play in the NFL? Let me call up [searches for Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, Rolando McClain, Javier Arenas, James Carpenter, etc. in his cellphone and shows it to said 5-star]. Let’s see what they say about Alabama getting you to Sunday.”

    The idea that recruiting at Alabama is easy is empirically (and laughably) wrong. I think Mikes Shula and DuBose getting outrecruited by several schools for several years is evidence to the contrary. But hey, who needs evidence when you can stake out the moral high ground? Oh well, haters gonna hate. Roll Tide!

  • dazz

    Interesting stuff.  Saban seems so process and detailed oriented in everything he does.

    FWIW, the top three schools for placing rookies into NFL 53 man rosters this year were USC, UNC, and Pitt.  Those teams didn’t win many games last year!

  • BigWinnerB

    the elephant in the room is the improper benefits to recruits. We saw Saban’s recruiting at Michigan State. The difference is that Alabama has no qualms about cheating and will do whatever it takes since almost the entirety of their school image is caught up with the football team.

  • http://twitter.com/Miller4au christian miller

    Bama had pretty decent recruiting classes throughout both the DuBose and Shula eras, they just didn’t develop them very well. Saban was in the SECCG in his second season due in large part to the personnel on hand when he arrived. Recruiting isn’t easy, but it’s a lot easier at Alabama than it is for 95+% of the programs out there.

  • Hit55

    So does Jimbo Fisher..another Saban disciple..

  • KnowsJack

    OK, what is the difference between an area coach and a position coach?

  • dazz

    It might be when you have a coach that handles outside linebackers (but not inside), another that handles tight ends and tackles (but not guards and centers), etc.? 

    OR it could be “the coach in charge of recruiting Florida” vs. “the coach in charge of recruiting the western United States”

  • BeenAround

    You really have no idea what you’re talking about, do you?  You just don’t like Alabama for some reason so you go around casting aspersions.  That tells me more about your lack of character than it does anything about Alabama.