These are just some thoughts I have had since learning of Billy Neighbors' death and reading an article in today's paper attempting to shift blame away from Cheezit for AU's fail in this year's draft, reminding us that we are four years removed from Tubby's last <strike>duck-hunting</strike> recruiting jaunt. It pointed out that the only other SEC teams not to have multiple picks this year were Ole Miss and UT. We all know who Ole Miss is, but it reminded me of the freakin' mess Barbara Dooley's boy inherited (BTW, I'll get back to Billy Neighbors in a bit).
It also made me think about how weird recruiting is.
Mike Shula did not have the experience required to be the head coach at Alabama, and he coached his entire career weighted down by NCAA sanctions. His recruiting classes were generally considered sub-par by Tide standards. He had one player earn first team All-American during his tenure (DeMeco Ryans, recruited by Franny) and a handful he recruited who earned it after his departure (Caldwell, Smitty, Javy, M. Johnson, Ro). Rashad Johnson, a walk-on under Shula, also earned A-A status under CNS.
Conversely, Mike Dubose's classes were considered excellent classes, so much so that it was the recruiting practices during his time at the helm that brought on the worst probation this side of Craig James, who did not kill any prostitutes. How many first team All-Americans did those classes produce? Exactly zero (two Gene Stallings recruits, Shaun and Big Sam, did earn that honor under his watch in 1999).
I know that's not the best measurement of talent, but ain't that weird?
BTW, Coach Bryant brought in 38 All-American players (42 if you want to count the class of '86), which is a staggering figure, especially when you consider that we had only had 27 in all the years preceding his regime. That's roughly 1 1/2 per year. His first All-American was recently departed Billy Neighbors, part of the crucial 1958 class that won Coach Bryant's first title and lay the foundation for his record-shattering championship run. Stories of Coach Bryant's recruiting are legion, so it's no surprise so many of his players earned A-A status.
There were 19 between Coach Bryant and CNS (or 23 if you want to include the class of '86 here). That's less than one per year. Kinda dry.
And CNS? So far, he's coached 16, at a pace of over three per year. He didn't recruit all those guys (see above), so if you just count the guys he brought in, the number goes to eleven (and that's not including what he did for Rashad Johnson's career), which is still better than two per year. Still better than any coach in the history of the most storied program in college football.
Remember how you cried (if you were alive yet) when Coach Bryant died? You think there will be a few tears when CNS decides to hang 'em up? If you're an atheist, you should still pray for that man's good health. Our first hour without him will be a dark one indeed. These are the days, people. Bask in them. Enjoy them. Celebrate.