Having the best college football program in the state of Alabama has traditionally started with winning the in-state recruiting battle. Under the Nick Saban regime, however, this is one tradition that no longer exists.
It has gone largely unnoticed, what with the three BCS titles in the last four years and all, but Alabama has taken it's recruiting game to a national level.
High school recruits from across the land are now setting their sights on playing for the Tide in what is clearly a result of the continued show of dominance displayed by Alabama in recent years.
When Saban took over as head coach of the Crimson Tide in 2007, 60 percent of the 'Bama roster consisted of in-state recruits. On the BCS championship 2012 roster, however, a mere 41 percent hailed from the state of Alabama.
Eleven of Alabama's 23 recruits in Saban's first class of 2007 stayed home to play for the Tide. Of the current commitments that the Tide is counting on signing this week on National Signing Day, less than 25 percent are home state kids.
Maybe it is the incredible 61-7 record that Saban and the Tide have put together over the last five years. Maybe it is the great Saban himself that attracts them. Or it could be the neutral site games Alabama has participated in that include Jacksonville, Atlanta and Dallas.
Whatever it is, one thing is clear. Saban and the Tide are a national brand.
More importantly, these out of state recruits aren't just bodies either. They are purebred, bonafide superstars.
Statistics gathered from Scout.com show that in the 2007 recruiting class, Saban did not sign any 5-star recruits and grabbed just five 4-star players. Since then, however, Alabama recruiting classes have averaged three 5-star kids and 13 4-star athletes per year.
On the 2012 roster, Alabama players originated from as far as Connecticut to California to Australia. The Tide roster included 20 who played their high school ball in Georgia and 10 out of Florida. There were at least four each from Maryland, Texas, Ohio and North Carolina.
It was not so long ago when a player that hailed from outside the SEC borders was little more than a fluke. These days, it is all a part of the plan.
I refer regularly to what Saban calls "The Process." Shortly after he arrived in Tuscaloosa, we began to see what he means by this.
The Tide began to see significant success in his second season at Alabama. Offseason disciplinary issues and arrests virtually disappeared. Graduation rates skyrocketed.
What we didn't realize, though, is that "The Process" truly has no end.
For many coaches, the first BCS title could have signified the completion of "The Process." Instead, it was still in its infancy.
The incoming class that Alabama is expected to sign later this week currently includes players from 13 different states according to Scout. They will come from as far as Pennsylvania, New York, California and Utah.
Saban is building an empire at Alabama. He is the master and commander. To opponents, he is Darth Vader. To the 'Bama Nation, he is the ultimate super hero. He is Spiderman, Superman and Batman rolled up into one unstoppable force.
With every nationally televised game, every dominant victory and every BCS title Saban stretches his stronghold on the nation a little bit more. Like a python, he tightens his grip on the nation every time his prey inhales.
As the Tide continues to win and the recruiting base continues to grow, one thing is abundantly clear. "The Process" is never ending.
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