Alabama coach Nick Saban has collected the nation’s No. 1 freshman class in each of the past five years, which should be evidence enough that strong recruiting equates to on-field results.
As such, fans have always taken an interest in how the Crimson Tide fare in players’ living rooms.
The current culture includes countless websites, blogs and other forms of media completely devoted to prep rankings, interviews and a 24/7/365 news cycle that people eat up. But Saban is a tad uncomfortable with it all.
“I do think that all the media attention (high school players) get nowadays compared to years past, you know, creates an expectation for the player, which probably is a little bit unfair,” Saban said during Wednesday’s SEC teleconference.
“You’d like the guy to come in and focus on developing,” he added. “To improve and be a better player and try to be a good college football player. But sometimes the expectation is so great that they feel a lot of pressure to get results. They’re more worried about playing time than they are developing.
“It affects their ability to improve, and that’s something that we try to insulate them from, to some degree, by trying to focus with them on what they need to do to get better and be a good player at this level.”
There are plenty of places to get rankings of every star player in the country, but Saban said his staff doesn’t use any of that information when on the recruiting trail.
“The rankings mean nothing to us,” he said. “We try to evaluate players based on how they fit the criteria for what we’re looking for at certain positions. What kind of people they are. What kind of students they are, and all that kinda stuff. I just don’t know how accurate that information is sometimes, in terms of how you rate guys.”
Saban spent plenty of time in the National Football League, and said evaluation at the professional level is much easier.
“I know the NFL spends millions of dollars and has a combine and works out every player they’re gonna draft,” he said. “We still have a hard time getting players rated right. I think it really creates a lot of interest and positive self-gratification for players.
“Some of it’s beneficial. Some of it isn’t.”