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ESPN Didn’t Understand the Alabama at the Start of the Season

Alex Scarborough (on the left) didn’t know what he was seeing when he visited Alabama during spring practice.

ESPN Didn’t Understand the Alabama at the Start of the Season

By: Larry Burton

A lot of people in the media, including myself, made some assumptions about Alabama at the start of the year that just weren’t true. I was sure that Jacob Coker would be the starting quarterback by now, but that was about the only mistake I made concerning the Crimson Tide.

One thing jumped out at me recently when I was at my attorney’s office and was looking over a preseason college football issue by ESPN. They really didn’t understand the depth and quality of not only the entire team, but of the quality of the recruiting that Nick Saban does year in and year out.

The biggest blunder was done ESPN’s Alex Scarborough who wrote, “…Nick Saban is all in on the three star prep.” (Coker) “This isn’t a move of choice, but of desperation. If it fails, the blame goes to Saban and staff. After three straight No. 1 recruiting classes, you’d think there would be a decent arm on the roster. But if Coker hadn’t transferred, the Tide simply wouldn’t be in the playoff mix. ”

Saban needs Coker to be as advertised, if not, Bama will be an outsider looking in at the new playoffs.” (end of quote)

First of all, Saban didn’t need Coker as we all now know and the cupboard was obviously not as bare as Scarborough thought. Sims has not only gotten Alabama into the playoff mix, but actually is one of the statistical leaders in many quarterback rating criteria.

This is the deepest team Alabama has fielded in many years. It boasts one of the nations top group of running backs, perhaps the best receiving corps in all of football and it fields a nationally leading defense year in and year out.

At least on ESPN writer said something that made sense and ended up being true. Writer Travis Haney said in talking about all the talent of this team that, ” Bama won three of the last five BCS titles without a Tebow or a Johnny or a Jameis. Coker doesn’t even have to be a Greg McElroy – that’s how much rival coaches believe in Saban’s ability to develop at every other position.” (end of quote)

We all came to see that Blake Sims didn’t have to be a Greg McElroy either, although statistically he has done better in some areas.

ESPN missed the mark on Saban and his staff to develop the talent they have and underestimating the genius of his recruiting for his needs. While I missed on who the starting quarterback would be, there was never a doubt that whoever it was would lead Alabama into the playoff hunt and though there are two game remaining before that happens, it’s clear that they are already in the discussion of being there at the end.

My apologies to Blake Sims if my picking Coker over him seemed like a lack of faith him him. That was not my thinking and I had faith that whoever got the job would do well. It was just that I had a lot more faith in Coker based on everything I had seen and heard about both players from former and present coaches of Coker. I always had faith that this team was solid top to bottom and that all the parts were in place for another championship. How they were plugged in was not as important.

Perhaps in the future now, ESPN will have a little more faith in Saban, his process and his recruiting, especially his recruiting. As long as Nick Saban roams the sidelines at Alabama, the shelves will never be empty at any position.

Larry has been published in almost every media outlet for college sports and now primarily writes here for Touchdown Alabama. Follow Larry on Twitter for inside thoughts and game time comments at

Larry Burton is a member of the Football Writers of America Association (FWAA) and was the most read SEC and Alabama football writer during his time at Bleacher Report. He has been credentialed by all the major bowls and the University of Alabama. Larry provides some of the best insight in the business through his "Larry's Lowdown" segment with TDA.

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