KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — There was a time when Alabama football was all about tradition with players joining the Crimson Tide to honor their families.
Times have changed with Nick Saban at the helm as the highest paid coach in college football.
Saban is earning every penny. He has the No .1 Crimson Tide (6-0, 3-0 SEC) primed for their game with No. 9 Tennessee (5-1, 2-1) at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Alabama still gets its share of players from the Southeast region, but it now has the power to recruit coast to coast.
Players don’t need to know a thing about Houndstooth to sign with the Tide because championships and a pro football future is a bigger motivator.
Alabama has won four of the past seven national titles, including last year’s. It has run roughshod over the rest of the SEC and makes no apologies for its dominance.
Indeed, the times the Tide hasn’t won the national title or lost in BCS or New Year’s Six level games, Saban points to players being distracted by their impending NFL careers.
Alabama had more players in the NFL (54) than any other collegiate program after this year’s draft, per Bleacher Report. There’s no question this year’s team has even more.
The Tide has more wins than any program since 2008 (104) and it’s not even close. Boise State (95), Oregon (91), TCU (86) and LSU (81) are a good bit off.
Alabama has also had more draft picks (44) over the past six drafts than any other school.
The flip side is that the Tide is among the nation’s leaders in transfers.
This explains how the team has signed 24 or more players every year under Saban despite only having 85 scholarships available.
Here’s a look at where Alabama’s recruiting class ranked, how many players were signed and how many 5-star recruits in each class since Saban was hired before the 2007 season:
(per 247Sports composite rankings)
• 2016: Ranked No. 1, signed 24, three 5-stars
• 2015: Ranked No. 1, signed 24, five 5-stars
• 2014: Ranked No. 1, signed 26, six 5-stars
• 2013: Ranked No. 1, signed 26, six 5-stars
• 2012: Ranked No. 1, signed 26, three 5-stars
• 2011: Ranked No. 1, signed 26, three 5-stars
• 2010: Ranked No. 5, signed 26, two 5-stars
• 2009: Ranked No. 2, signed 28, four 5-stars
• 2008: Ranked No. 3, signed 32, three 5-stars
• 2007: Ranked No. 13, signed 31, zero 5-stars
Location: Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Series record: Alabama leads 52-38-7
Famous alumni: Coaching icon Paul “Bear” Bryant; ESPN College GameDay host Rece Davis; NFL Hall of Famer Joe Namath; Former NFL MVP Shaun Alexander; Investment broker Bernie Madoff; Actor Jim Nabors; Clemson coach Dabo Swinney
By the numbers
1 — Alabama’s defense ranks No. 1 in the nation at stopping the run, allowing just 69.2 yards per game.
3 — The Tide’s defense and special teams has outscored Alabama’s opponent in three of six games this season.
4- Saban’s .766 win percentage (197-60-1) ranks fourth among active coaches with a minimum of 10 years of experience behind Ohio State’s Urban Meyer (159-27, .855); Washington’s Chris Petersen (112-24, .824) and Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops (182-48, .791).
8 — Alabama has scored 9 non-offensive touchdowns over the course of eight consecutive games
18 — The Crimson Tide has the nation’s longest active win streak at 18 games, a string that dates back to a loss to Ole Miss last season.
25 — Alabama leads the conference with 25 SEC Championships.
41 — Alabama has played 41 games as the nation’s No. 1-ranked team dating back to the ninth game of the 2008 season (107- game span), and it is 36-5 in those contests.
51 — The percentage of the students at the University of Alabama who are from out of state.