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In the blogosphere, you tend to get a bit accustomed to running across drivel masqueraded as legitimate commentary, but occasionally something comes up that simply takes the cake. Today I ran across one of those pieces. It seems Brian Cook, a Michigan blogger -- and no I'm not sure how in the hell he feels qualified to discuss Alabama football on that basis -- isn't too big of a fan of our latest recruiting class. In this piece of analytical garbage, if it even deserves that high of acclaim, he labels Saban a "Snake Oil Salesman," essentially states that our class is very overrated due to over-signing, and bemoans the practice of over-signing itself.

Let's see if we can delve deeper into this pile of junk, if at all possible. Be warned, put on your bullshit glasses before reading further.

"If you wandered over to the various recruiting sites on signing day you probably noticed big banners proclaiming Alabama's return to power via the nation's top recruiting class. This is due in large part to the enormous number of recruits that put pen to letter of intent for Nick Saban: 32, a full seven more than the NCAA's yearly limit of 25."

Actually, this class really only included 30 signees, not 32. See, this is where, you know, actually following Alabama football closely -- as opposed to following it via the headlines and then heading off to your computer to piss and moan on your AOL blog -- really pays off. Two of our signees, wide receiver Chris Jackson and kicker Corey Smith, graduated high school early and actually enrolled this past January. Those two signees are thus back-counters, and are part of the 2007 recruiting class, not the 2008 class. As a result, just doing the basic math, our 2008 class effectively consists of 30 signees, not 32.

And that is even if you don't consider the fact that Wesley Neighbors may very well end up on a Bryant scholarship -- since he is most likely not going to play in his first two years on campus anyway -- and therefore he will not count against the scholarship limit this year. If that is indeed the case, as many expect, this class suddenly goes down to 29 players.

"Only Miami managed to stretch the boundaries of the rule further, signing 33."

So since Miami admittedly stretched the boundaries even further than we did, why is this article not bemoaning Randy Shannon as a snake oil salesman?

Moreover, you act like Alabama and Miami are the only two programs to sign that many players, completely ignoring the fact that signing 30 or more players is a relatively common occurrence. This year alone, aside from the aforementioned two schools, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Minnesota, Ole Miss, and Kansas State also signed 30 or more players. In 2007, Tennessee, Auburn, and South Carolina all signed over 30 players, just to name a few. In other words, if you really think signing that many players is an aberration, you haven't been paying attention.

And, of course, where is the article bemoaning all of those coaches?

"Both classes are top five but in are overrated by sheer quantity."

Proofreading is fun!

"Alabama's #1 class is actually #6 by star average."

Wow, what a scandal, number six! How will we ever cope?

And for the record, our class is the number one rated class in the country not because of sheer size, but because we signed more four and five star players (20) than any other team in the country.

At bottom, there is a reason why the recruiting services do not base rankings solely off of average star ratings. Bigger classes are inherently better classes because they bring in more football players, thus meaning more quality football players will result. Smaller classes may have higher average star ratings, but once the non-qualifiers and the busts are factored out, the classes literally end up very small and often do not turn out that many good football players. Bigger classes are largely sheltered from such problems, hence why all other things being equal the recruiting services rate bigger classes higher.

Oh yeah, there is also the problem of elementary statistics. Average star ratings are just like every other average number in the universe, they can be greatly influenced by a few outliers and thus become essentially meaningless because they do not adequately represent the entire data set. I remember fourth grade, do you? If you need any more help, click here. Or I guess since you apparently can't spring twelve bucks for a haircut, you should probably click here for the free explanation.

At the end of the day, there are very good reasons why the recruiting services -- i.e. the guys who do this sort of thing for a living -- do not rate classes solely by average star rating. But I guess you've just got it all figured out though, don't you? I bet you are the first guy who ever clicked that sort button right above the average star ratings. You should probably give the recruiting gurus a call, they will undoubtedly be forever grateful for your groundbreaking discovery.

And speaking of such, I suppose that 2004 class that Saban signed at LSU -- #2 in the nation, but with 29 signees and "only" an average star rating of 3.38 -- was overrated by sheer numbers, too, right? Oh, wait... nevermind.

"Both contain large numbers of players with no chance to qualify this fall; it's all smoke and mirrors."

Um, come again?

I cannot speak for Miami -- unlike yourself I'm not going to blather on about programs I don't know about -- but I know for a fact that is not a case with us. If you believe that, either you have no idea what you are talking about, or you have been taking too seriously the opinions of those with far bigger mouths than brains.

There is not a single player in our entire class that does not have a very legitimate chance to qualify. We will have a few players that do not qualify -- and I do mean a few, maybe three or four guys -- but just about everyone in this class is close. The only one that I have heard legitimate concerns over is Jermaine Preyear, who is actually one of the lower rated guys in the class. As for everyone else, we have a few guys still on the fence, but all of them are very close. Most guys only need to improve their ACT a point or two, or perhaps raise their core GPA very slightly.

Again, I cannot speak for Miami, but in our case you couldn't be farther from the truth. Regardless of exactly how you came to that asinine conclusion, though, you are full of it either way. And rest assured I'm saving that absurd comment so you can eat those words six months from now when nearly all of this class has academically qualified.

"That's irritating, but Tim Gayle's piece on the massive 'Bama oversigning is disturbing. Gayle crunches the numbers and comes to these conclusions:
  • Four to six guys are not going to qualify.
  • Four more guys who are marginally useful can plausibly be given medical scholarships and removed from the team.
  • Six more scholarships need to be forcibly extracted from somewhere"

The only disturbing thing I've seen to date is that haircut. Moving on...

Four to six guys are not going to qualify? The bottom end may be plausible, but the upper end of that projection is completely bogus, though I suppose it is only fitting for someone as laughable as yourself to cite a source which is equally ridiculous.

And exactly what is wrong with medical scholarships, or putting players on it? It is a legitimate option for players who can no longer medically play football to continue their education on the university's dime. Every school does it, almighty Michigan included, and we have several candidates on our team that may very well need a medical scholarship. Cody Davis, after several shoulder surgeries, still has a dislocation almost immediately when participating in physical contact. Chris Lett is a diabetic who cannot participate in physical activities in the intense heat that is simply part of the territory in the deep south. B.J. Stabler has a chronic knee condition in both knees, and legitimately cannot play more than a handful of snaps at best. Zeke Knight already underwent surgery for a heart murmur, and may have recently suffered a light stroke. What in the world is wrong with any of these guys possibly going on medical scholarship? Absolutely nothing, contrary to your bogus "concerns."

And "forcibly extracted"? What are we doing here, pulling teeth? It sounds like it, anyway, with terms like that. In reality, players are going to leave and we all know it. Many of the former staffs' previous signees, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, do not fit with the current scheme and may very well end up going elsewhere. I guess since you are a Michigan blowhard, we'll call this Ryan Mallett Syndrome so it will hit a little closer to home. Others will simply leave because they cannot handle the Fourth Quarter Program. Either way, no one is being "run off" or anything sinister of the sort. Attrition is simply a part of college football, deal with it. Stop pissing and moaning about an inevitable thing that happens at all colleges, and stop singling us out in particular as if we are the only one who experiences it.

"Around six guys who are playing for Alabama now or expect to be in the fall are going to be told to get bent by the time fall practice rolls around. But let's all complain about how nasty Rich Rodriguez is, why don't we?"

Who mentioned the nastiness of Rich Rodriguez? Joe Tiller? Do you think any of us really cares what Joe Tiller thinks about anything, much less Rich Rodriguez and his recruiting tactics?

And, for the record, I can assure that no one in our collective fan base has given a second thought to Rodriguez since we sent his wife some thank you cards and hairspray last January when Saban landed in Tuscaloosa. Then again, I imagine that you figure if you are going to go off on a long, baseless rant consisting of nothing more than a bunch of ridiculous assertions, what's one little off-tangent rant, right?

Bottom line, it's simple: You obviously don't know anything about Alabama football, so shut up and stop acting like you do. Your opinion is as unsolicited as it is uninformed, and you are not fooling anyone with any actual knowledge of the situation. Just do us all a favor and stick to Michigan football, you might even know a thing or two about it.

And go Buckeyes.