Alabama Football: No surprise Nick Saban proved naysayers wrong – again

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports /

Going back to at least last January, writing off Alabama football coach, Nick Saban has been a popular theme. The general assessment was Nick Saban was out of touch with the game of college football. Many reasons why were offered, the loudest being at Saban’s age he could no longer connect with teenage recruits.

A less loud, but recurring claim was, less than two seasons past a National Championship, other elite teams and their brash coaches no longer feared the Alabama Crimson Tide.

On the first day of the Early Signing Period for the 2023 class, evidence shows Nick Saban still has what it takes. By early afternoon on Wednesday, Alabama Football officially had 27 new players. More might be added on Thursday or later Signing Days or through the Portal. Rosters are often unsettled until August.

What can be said at this point is Alabama Football has loaded up with its 2023 class. Based on the On3 Consensus ratings, the Crimson Tide has added six, 5-Star recruits. It is possible the count could go to seven, 5-Stars when Desmond Ricks announces on Thursday.

Alabama Football and SEC 5-Stars

How impressive are six 5-Stars for the Alabama Crimson Tide? Through day one of the Early Signing Period, the rest of SEC, combined had landed a total of five, 5-Stars.

Based on the 247Sports Consensus, Alabama has landed 14 of the top 77 players in the 2023 class. Added to that bonanza, the Crimson Tide gained the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked JUCO players in the nation.

There is little doubt over the next few weeks or months Nick Saban will again match immediate needs with Transfer Portal additions. The Crimson Tide’s recent transfer exits have worried some Alabama football fans. As happened with Drew Sanders last year, some highly talented players have exited through the Portal.

Nick Saban has learned how to manage the new norm of annual transitions. The Alabama Crimson Tide roster usually improves overall and in almost every position group.

Don’t say Nick Saban didn’t warn everyone. When Saban supported NIL for college athletes, he asked about what he knew would become free agency. “Is this what you want” is what he said.

Opposing fans were giddy with anticipation that NIL would bring Saban and Alabama down. Many of them must be crest-fallen today.

Speaking to the media on Wednesday afternoon, Nick Saban said,

"I do think that it did have an impact on recruiting with some players."

The rest of the college football and perhaps some Alabama football fans likely believe Nick Saban grossly understated the impact of NIL on recruiting. It is possible to believe Saban underplayed the influence of NIL money in recruiting and also believe, for some players and their families, money is not the primary deciding factor.

On Wednesday, 5-Star Kadyn Proctor was asked how much NIL money was a factor in his flip from Iowa to Alabama. He gave an interesting response.

"I’m not getting paid that much (more) as Iowa was going to give me."

Proctor said Iowa was “willing to pony up.” In summary, Proctor added he and his family were more concerned about long-term value through development by the Alabama football program.

Next. What signing Caleb Downs means to the Tide. dark

It is not unrealistic to believe that Nick Saban has little (or no) interest in recruits that put money first.