When he abandoned his commitment to one school and announced he was attending the other next month, Daphne’s TJ Yeldon dropped a nine megaton thermonuclear device into the recruiting battle between in-state rivals Alabama and Auburn. This 365-day rivalry is as intense in recruiting as it is on game day, so big time switches like yesterday are big news.
While these are entertaining for Bama fans to read, it’s the product of lazy reasoning, and here are several points why.
- Alabama is an elite national football power with a storied tradition. The program has won 22 Southeastern Conference championships and 13 national championships. Programs like Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Southern Cal often recruit themselves.
- A few days after Yeldon enrolls and begins classes in Tuscaloosa, Alabama will play for its second BCS Championship in three years and its 14th national title overall. That recruits itself well, too.
- Mark Ingram won the Heisman Trophy in 2009. Trent Richardson was a finalist for the Heisman in 2011 and won the 2011 Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back. If you’re an elite running back prospect, the chance to compete for individual as well as team honors is a major draw.
- In each of the last three years, Alabama has had top players selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. In 2011, Mark Ingram was chosen in the first round by the New Orleans Saints and signed a multi-million dollar contract. in the upcoming 2012 Draft, Trent Richardson is widely projected as the second straight 1st rounder who played running back at Alabama. The chance to develop into an NFL star and make millions for yourself and your family recruits itself.
- Alabama has the best and the one of the most stable coaching staff in the country. No one has a more demonstrated capability of recruiting, coaching and developing quality prospects and helping them grow into great football players. It’s not just at running back, either. It’s program wide, and playing with the best of the best teammates is a major draw if you’re one of the best of the best at your position.
- In 1999, Alabama won an SEC title under Mike Dubose. In 2005, Alabama had a 10-win season under Mike Shula. In 2008 and in his second season at Alabama, Nick Saban took the Tide to an undefeated regular season, an SEC West title and a berth in the Sugar Bowl. Alabama doesn’t need to catch lightning in a bottle to win titles. Right now, there are only two programs in the SEC that can make that claim, both have Nick Saban’s footprints in their sand, and Yeldon wasn’t a big priority for LSU.
All of these pesky facts will be ignored, especially by the most annoyed of the rival fans. Never mind all of the above, and never mind that without the lightning in a bottle, 7-5 is looking like the new normal. Those aren’t my words. Those are the words of the usually Auburn-friendly Birmingham News columnist, Kevin Scarbinsky. Never mind that the offensive genius who designed the offense that made the lightning in the bottle season work is gone. Never mind that six players have been dismissed from the team for serious violations of team rules and/or criminal offenses.
Ignore all of that, lazy reasoners. Alabama must have cheated.