July 1, 2011

Roundtable: Saban, Pelini most intimidating

MORE ROUNDTABLES: June 24 | June 17 | June 10

Rivals.com football recruiting analysts weigh in on topics in a roundtable format.

Who is the most intimidating college head coach to recruits and is it a good or bad thing to be viewed as intimidating to prospects?

Mike Farrell:Nick Saban is probably the most intimidating head coach in college football and it's a good thing. Players are awed at times by his two national titles with two different teams, his NFL experience, his ability to evaluate and recruit talent and his simple, straight-forward demeanor. It used to be Paterno, but those days have passed, now it's Nick.

Adam Gorney: Jim Tressel would have been on that list solely based on his sternness and seriousness when it came to football. From a historical perspective, I bet sitting in the same room as Paterno is awe-inspiring for a lot of kids. Nebraska's Bo Pelini and Alabama's Saban are probably two intimidating forces. Whether it's a good or bad thing is specific to each prospect. Some kids like tough coaches who demand a lot from them. Others shy away from that and want a cool, laid-back guy who doesn't come off as strict. It's all player-specific but I prefer coaches who are strict but also aren't so locked up in the game that they cannot see the bigger picture.

Chris Nee: It is fair to say that Pelini at Nebraska is an intimidating figure. I don't think his passion and fire for the game hurts him an ounce with recruits, but it may with those who aren't willing to be challenged and be asked to give more than they have given before. Pelini's results on the field and ability to develop players speaks for itself.

Keith Niebuhr: I can't recall the last time I heard a recruit say a coach intimidated him. But the one they seem most impressed by right now is Saban. The prospects I've talked to all seem to get a real thrill when they make any sort of contact with the Alabama coach. You can hear it in their voices.

Brian Perroni: I would have to go with Saban. Though Alabama does not heavily recruit my region, I have talked to a few prospects that have shared stories about how serious he gets. To a man, they have all said they really liked him, though, despite the fact they had almost a "healthy fear" of him. I think it's just part of his mystique now and it probably helps land the prospects that really want to play on a winning team as they know they have a coach who does not mess around.

If you could take different parts of various schools, things that help land recruits, what pieces of which schools would you take?

Mike Farrell: My combination would be as follows - the academics at Stanford, the uniforms at Oregon, the tradition at Notre Dame, the co-eds at Arizona State, the glitz and glam of USC, the TV exposure at Texas, the assistant coaching staff at Auburn, the gameday atmosphere at LSU, the stadium noise of Penn State, the facilities at Ohio State and Nick Saban as my gameday head coach.

Adam Gorney: I would take Stanford's academics mixed with USC's weather, throw in the tradition at Notre Dame and the hostesses at Tennessee, and we'd be cooking. It would be hard to turn down playing for Joe Paterno, though, and saying no to Alabama, Texas and Michigan would be difficult. I really think that Oregon has an edge with some kids mainly based on their uniforms. That could be a good thing or a bad thing when it comes to social commentary but each player has to make their own decisions.

Chris Nee: A combination of Alabama's coaching staff and tradition combined with UCLA or USC's location and Oregon's variety of uniforms would be a pretty easy thing to sell to recruits. As for a stadium to play in on every Saturday, it would be tough to pass on a place as big as Tennessee or as loud as the Swamp.

Keith Niebuhr: My perfect combination would be: The weather at Stanford, the charm of Chapel Hill, N.C., the nightlife in Tempe, Ariz., the history of Notre Dame, the cheerleaders at UCLA, the coaching staff at Alabama, the leadership of Joe Paterno at Penn State, the passion of the fans in Columbus, Ohio., the scenery of West Point, N.Y., and the uniforms of the Tennessee Volunteers.

Brian Perroni: Texas Tech's high-powered offense, even though it has been tweaked a bit by new head coach Tommy Tuberville is always a big draw for skill position players. Players who go to night games in Baton Rouge always come back raving about the environment at LSU. USC just has the whole Southern California scene going for it. Notre Dame has an aura of mystique going for it, especially with players that have seen the movie "Rudy". Though it may seem a little silly to older fans, high school prospects really do like the blue turf at Boise State. It helps set the school apart.

What's the craziest recruiting tactic - make that legal recruiting tactic - that you've heard about recently?

Mike Farrell: When Lane Kiffin and his staff ripped off their shirts in front of recruits to pump them up on a recruiting trip. There was also the rumors that Urban Meyer told a recruit that he had a dream of coaching him and it was what brought him out of retirement the first time he quit. There have been some crazy things recently, but nothing compared to the "no holds barred" days of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Those were crazier days.

Adam Gorney: I know I'm talking about Paterno a lot but the 84-year-old using Skype to recruit players is either awesome, or scary, or maybe a little of both. According to The Altoona Mirror, Paterno has used Skype to communicate with at least three recruits and this comes off as funny because Paterno is known for downplaying his use of technology - whether it's cell phones or e-mail. His son and assistant coach, Jay Paterno, knew what Skype meant and what it was used for, and according to the Mirror, Paterno asked, "What exactly does it mean?"

Chris Nee: A few recent commitments to Temple have said that the Owls will be part of the Big East, again, starting in 2012 when they arrive on campus. To the best of my knowledge, that move from the MAC to the Big East has not been officially announced. Just seems to be putting the carriage before the horse.

Keith Niebuhr: Everything about recruiting is crazy, so honestly, nothing stands out at the moment.

Brian Perroni: The NCAA outlawed out-of-state satellite camps a few years ago as some colleges from outside of Texas held camps in Houston and Dallas every summer. It allowed those schools to have a chance to evaluate a lot of prospects that would not have made the drive to their campuses otherwise. Every in-state FBS school save for Texas and Texas A&M still hold multiple camps around the state for this very reason. Oklahoma State used to have several camps in Texas until the rule was passed. They proved incredibly fruitful for the Cowboys as they signed numerous players who had attended the camps. Now, since they are not allowed to host camps in the state, the Cowboys simply team up with local colleges and help coach their camps. They had a partnership with Mary Hardin Baylor this summer. The prospects received UMHB camp shirts but got a lot of instruction from the OSU coaching staff while at camp. It benefited both schools. Oklahoma State has always been out front of the rest of the pack with ideas like this.

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