Big thanks to Joey Burton for sharing this article on Nick Saban and the science of recruiting as he has set it up at Alabama. The article comes from the Wall Street Journal and was written by Rachel Bachman and Ben Cohen:
The stunning volume of victories and championships and NFL draft picks has Alabama redefining college-football success as we know it. How, exactly, does the Tide do it?
Recruiting is paramount. Saban sets aside time every day for assistant coaches to make phone calls, write letters and discuss the country's best blue-chippers. His system focuses on collecting reliable, exhaustive information on players—not always easy to find when NCAA rules forbid coaches from measuring players' vertical leaps or timing them in the 40-yard dash.
To make up for those restrictions, Alabama's coaching staff is as strict as any in the country about gathering information, recruiting experts say. Crimson Tide coaches consult track times and encourage prospects to add the sport in the football off-season. Coaches invite prospects to attend Alabama's summer camp, since they tend to offer scholarships to high-schoolers they have seen in person and not just on highlights.
And before Alabama recruits a player in earnest, coaches produce a comprehensive report on everything from whether he fits their preferred physical prototypes—a cornerback should be about 6 feet and 185-190 pounds—to his ankle, knee and hip movement. If a lineman's heels are raised when he is crouched in a stance, he is probably too inflexible for Alabama.
Finally, coaches talk to family, friends and others to go "seven-deep into a guy's life" to gauge his mental strength, said former Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain, who is now the head coach at Colorado State.
Saban also embraces technology for his multipronged pitch. He started using videoconferencing as a recruiting tool several years ago—early enough in the software's life that some players spoke to him using equipment at their local libraries. CoachSaban.net, Saban's website, plays a Crimson Tide-themed hip-hop song called "4th Quarter" from the Tuscaloosa group 63 Boyz that features the lyric, "Since we landed Saban in T-Town, it's hard to go unnoticed."
Even Saban's current players are foot soldiers in college football's recruiting war. Cooper Bateman, a top-ranked quarterback from Utah, took a tour of SEC schools in the spring before he committed to Alabama. What stood out to his family during his visit? All of Alabama's players made sure they took off their hats when meeting his mother.
"He's incredibly honest in the recruiting process," said former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy, the starter on the 2009 national-title team who now plays for the New York Jets. "He tells kids, 'Hey, you're going to come in and redshirt. Look, you're going to do this. You're going to do that.' He tells them exactly what he thinks. I think a lot of people respect that because so much of the recruiting process is an unknown."
Read the entire article here.