Stepping Over the Line

It’s always fashionable for the college football world to bash Nick Saban for “roster management” and all that falls within that concept, namely oversigning, greyshirting, medical redshirts and pulling scholarships.

I generally defend these practices, especially when coach Saban is mentioned, by saying a couple of things: 1) these things aren’t necessarily illegal, immoral or unethical; 2) we don’t usually know all of the story.

Regarding #1, most of the complaints seem to come from one particular side of the political spectrum and I’ll leave it at that.

Regarding #2, most of us never know the details of coach and player (prospect or current) conversations.  My belief is that if a coach is caught lying to his players, word gets out and that will eventually hurt recruiting.  In the case of Nick Saban, that would even more so seem to be the case.  I call that the free market of college football.

There must be a reason players are flocking to Alabama to play for Saban.  The type of player being recruited by Alabama could play anywhere in the country and would certainly flee if what Saban was selling didn’t turn out as he said.

Which brings us to one Lane Kiffin who seems to be having a run-in with the free market:

Fitts spoke to several of Kiffin’s assistants at the Under Armour All-America game, and across the board all were excited to have the player with the rest of the team as soon as possible. That was on January 5. Two days later, and thus three days before Fitts’ life was supposed to change forever as he entered college, he received a phone call saying his scholarship was no longer available for the spring semester.

That’s right.  Ole Laner got caught a scholarship short and had to renege on his word with a highly touted recruit.  What did the recruit do?  He’s going somewhere else:

Fitts will not be heading to Los Angeles in the fall. Instead, the young man is looking for an entirely new place to play. His coach told the Riverside Press-Enterprise that Notre Dame, Washington and UCLA were all back in the mix for the player’s services.

(Actually, if Fitts goes to UCLA he will be in Los Angeles.)

When we start to routinely hear stories about coach Saban, then we can start worrying.  My guess, though, is that we won’t.