Justin Taylor and Darius Philon. Both were commits to Alabama. Taylor had been committed to the Tide for year. Philon had stopped taking visits after making his pledge to Bama.
And both were told in the final days leading up to signing day that Nick Saban would only take them on if they waited a full year to enroll at Alabama in 2013.
Now you can say the Crimson Tide lived up to the letter of the SEC’s new soft 25-man signing cap law. It did. But that won’t mask the stink of these two players’ situations.
Taylor signed with Kentucky and admitted that he felt he’d been wronged. His high school coach — former NFL running back Stanley Pritchett who’s seen recruiting from every angle — wasn’t happy with Alabama’s actions.
Philon — after a painful to watch signing day press conference — inked with Arkansas. He’s never even been on Arkansas’ campus.
Is Alabama alone in this kind of activity? No. It’s recruiting. It’s a dirty business known for broken promises. Commitments from players and schools are steel strong… right up until a better player or a better school comes along.
But Saban and Alabama certainly get more ink than most when it comes to their methods of roster management. Talk of a signing cap was tied to UA. Chatter about unwarranted medical hardships once swirled around Bama. And now the buzz is focused on Saban for backpedaling from committed prospects like an All-America corner in an SEC title game.
Is it enough to create some bad vibes for the Alabama program? Jeff Sentell of The Birmingham News suggests as much:
“If there’s such a thing as football karma, maybe Taylor uses this diss to spark Kentucky to an Alabama upset? Maybe Philon does the same for Arkansas? What if those losses kept Alabama from both the SEC and BCS title games? That’s one way that troubled look on Philon’s face on signing day could come back to haunt Alabama’s bottom line.”
That’s not likely to happen. Instead, Saban’s juggernaut Tide will continue to roll right along. And top recruits will continue to commit to Alabama believing that what happened to Taylor and Philon could never happen to their superstar selves.
But Tide fans are going to have to learn to live with all this negative talk until Bama changes its ways. That’s got to be maddeningly tiresome. Whether UA fans will admit it or not.
The old saying goes: To make an omelette you have to break a few eggs. Well, there’s a price to pay for the eggs. There’s a cost.
And the cost is headshakes and tsk-tsks from the rest of the sporting world everytime another teenager says he was left at the altar or kicked to the curb by Saban. Nothing’s free. Not even well-made omelettes.
(Story corrected… Justin Taylor — who we’ve referenced several times here — is the Alabama commit who wound up signing with Kentucky. Jason Taylor was a future Hall of Fame defensive end for the Miami Dolphins. And I am the guy who has to have extra proof-reading time for my morning posts.)