Alabama Football: Auburn recruiting foretells Iron Bowl futures


Alabama Football fans are enjoying the plummeting fortunes of Auburn recruiting. Even so, some Alabama Crimson Tide fans remain wary of the voodoo that has led to Auburn, Iron Bowl wins. Though there have been some fluke Auburn victories, the outcomes are generally predictable.

Alabama football fans remember well the Tigers’ six-win run from 2002-2007. It resulted from a Crimson Tide program that was vulnerable from coaching and player weaknesses. No matter what happens in Auburn’s so-far, bleak 2022 class, a downward trend in player talent has been established. The disparity between the Tide and Tigers programs could lead to a calamitous Auburn losing streak. Might that streak match the six losses for the Crimson Tide? Reviewing the recruiting classes going back to 2020 indicates such a losing streak could happen to the Tigers.

Alabama Football vs. Auburn 5-Star Disparity

No matter how good the player development and the coaching, programs cannot win without a requisite amount of elite player talent. The Auburn Tigers have not signed a 5-star player since Owen Pappoe and Bo Nix in the 2019 class. Since then, the Crimson Tide has added 11, 5-stars, with two more in the pipeline from the 2022 class.

Not only does Auburn have no 5-Stars among its 2022 verbal commits, but the highest-rated freshman Bryan Harsin has attracted is No. 229 in the class.

Another essential ingredient for championship quality teams is Top 100 talent. In the Auburn signing classes going back to 2020, Auburn has brought in a total of five Top 100 players. In fairness to Harsin, getting a 2022 verbal commit from kicker Alex McPherson is a big pickup, equal to a Top 100 player, even though kickers are oddly rated. The way Auburn is trending, McPherson may get more field goal opportunities than PATs.

Roster building is changed by the Transfer Portal and the one-time immediate eligibility rule. Bringing in JUCO players has long been a mainstay for new coaches, needing an immediate infusion of talent. Combining JUCOs and transfers through the Portal allows coaches to build rosters without being so dependent on incoming freshmen. Like many coaches, Bryan Harsin is using the new approach.

So far the problem for Harsin is the players he is getting are far from game-changers. They are mostly (some say totally) a rag-tag bunch of former 3-Star recruits. Sometimes such players blossom. Alabama Football has shown 3-Star players can turn into top performers. Even with such successes, the majority of them do not excel competing against elite talent.

The future for Auburn is rapidly becoming clear. A lack of elite talent means not being able to compete with the Alabama Crimson Tide. Unless Harsin is one of the best developers of players in college football, the talent gap may make also make the Tigers uncompetitive against Georgia, Florida, Texas A&M and Florida. Though not to the same magnitude, the Tigers may also struggle against fast-developing Missouri and Ole Miss and an increasingly more solid Kentucky team.

All the player ratings in this post are from the 247Sports Composite.

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Bryan Harsin is not to blame for the mess Auburn is in. He might be able to forge a path to respectability for Auburn. Or, he could be Auburn’s best coach ever and still fail.