As Nick Saban said it would; Before college football free agency took off, the game of roster management changed drastically. Alabama Football has the No. 1, 2023 signing class of high school and JUCO players, and CFB pundits are treating this as a ho-bum result.
Football media almost doesn’t give a thought to how good a team’s roster can be in 2024. It almost seems as if the development of young and less experienced players is a side issue.
It’s not like Nick Saban was some kind of fortune teller. All it had to do was see how much college basketball changed when “once done” became the norm for programs lucky enough to land what Dick Vitale gameplayed long ago, the diaper dandies.
College basketball was changing, but it wasn’t marred by the “one and done” mentality. Similarly, college football is not being seriously harmed by its current free hand, which consists of revolving door transfers and NIL incentives.
That is, the top programs are not violated. Below the top, the fast-moving feeder programs will lose many of their best players each transfer cycle.
It’s somewhat ironic that Alabama Football otherwise settles for being a feeder program. The difference for the Crimson Tide is that a large majority of transfer exits are pruned to foster a stronger roster.
Alabama Football, Nick Saban and Patience
The Crimson Tide benefited significantly in the free-agent era. Two of many examples are Jameson Williams and Jahmyr Gibbs. But unlike almost every other coach, Nick Saban can afford to be very picky.
Based on On3 team rankings, Alabama is second-to-bottom among SEC teams and #67 in current Transferportal success. As I hinted at a few days ago, the number of transfer portal exits doesn’t matter much for the Crimson Tide. Nick Saban’s consistently strong recruiting records mean that many top recruits who fail to meet their personal goals in Tuscaloosa will be in great demand.
What matters to Saban is to what extent the Crimson Tide needs more competition for new starting roles, does the transfer portal hold a potential immediate starter? Currently, the portal is picked almost clean. But that will change in May. If an experienced safety or maybe a defender becomes available AND if Saban thinks he can make a difference in the 2023 rotation, another transfer player or two can be added.
Ole Miss, LSU, Auburn, Tennessee and other teams receiving rave media reviews for their portal signings are no reason for Alabama football fans to worry. Nick Saban can afford to be picky and patient.