A good solid coaching tiff is just the thing to close the day on, we think, and no better coach to involve than Nick Saban, Alabama coach. (By definition, being head coach at Alabama equals being a ball of tar for any tiny story to stick to like so many downy feathers. It also means being paid 4 million dollars a year. No tears, please.)
Saban irked Jim Leavitt, USF coach, with the following comments in a Ray Melick piece in the Birmingham News:
"The distribution of players is not the same for everybody. There's a significant amount of players who don't qualify [at some schools] and they end up being pretty good players at some other schools. I think there are six guys starting on South Florida's defense who probably could have gone to Florida or Florida State but Florida and Florida State couldn't take them. And if you do a good job of recruiting that way ..."
Leavitt snapped back in a response in the Tampa Tribune, not dissing Saban specifically, but certainly pooping on the idea that USF's academic standards were giving them an edge of any sort in recruiting.
"I'm not down on [Saban]. Whoever gave him that information needs to correct it. Certainly this person [Birmingham News reporter Ray Melick], what right does he have to write an article without verifying all the facts. This is why I get disturbed sometimes, because now this article goes out.
He stopped shy of calling the piece "GARBAGE" or mentioning his age in conjunction with the story, but Leavitt certainly has a point. The Bulls' starting running back Mike Ford initially accepted a scholarship offer to the Crimson Tide, as did teammate Jamar Taylor. USF also sits in the middle of America's football-mad fourth largest state, which is nice for a start-up/upstart looking to feed off some gilded trimmings from Florida/Florida State/Miami.
(Oh, and they've got Singlet Guy. You can't forget Singlet Guy.)
Saban's had a rough week with the media in general. One exchange had him getting fed back his own words by a reporter in a testy faceoff at the week's presser.
Reporter: (Oh, he's going to get his question in) "You mentioned Monday that it could affect recruiting."
We cannot overstate how awesome we think it is that Alabama really matters again as a football program, both because it's restores some certainties to the universe and gives us the docudramedy that is Alabama football fandom. Throwing the mercurial Dark Lord Saban into this mix is something special, indeed--sometimes you can almost see him consulting the "Intergalactik Gyde to Hu--Mann Behavyur" he keeps under his cape during press conferences.