Urban Meyer vs. Nick Saban: Who's the King of Recruiting?

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterSeptember 18, 2012

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 06:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide congratulates head coach Urban Meyer of the Florida Gators after the Gators 31-20 win in the SEC Championship on December 6, 2008 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It was once a heated SEC rivalry, but Urban Meyer's retirement, un-retirement, retirement and move to Ohio State has transformed it to a national rivalry.

Nick Saban vs. Ohio State—who's the king of the recruiting trail?

The answer is Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

While that battle is heated, the stats don't lie: Saban is a recruiting machine.

Nothing against Meyer, who has reeled in some fantastic classes at Florida and did so in his first season at Ohio State, but Saban is the best of the best.

Since taking over at Alabama in 2007, Saban's Alabama teams have finished higher than Urban Meyer's Florida and Ohio State teams in the Rivals.com team recruiting rankings. Saban has bested Meyer in the rankings in three of the five years in which both coaches were in the business. 

In three of those seasons (2008, 2009, 2012) Saban has reeled in the nation's No. 1 overall class. Meyer signed the nation's top class only once, and that was in 2007—Saban's first year at Alabama.

Above all else, Saban is relentless.

If it takes sending 105 letters in one day to make an impression on a recruit, he will do it. If it takes going on Skype for 90 minutes, he will do it. It has even been reported that he offered safety Landon Collins' girlfriend a job, which would be illegal in basketball, but not football (via Yahoo! Sports).

Not all of these tactics work. His Skype conversation with Brice Ramsey hasn't swayed the Georgia commit from Athens, and his letter barrage to Alvin Kamara hasn't resulted in a commitment yet.

But they get the attention of recruits, and that's what matters.

It was this type of tenacity that has resulted in the flip of several key contributors, including freshman running back T.J. Yeldon, who signed with Alabama in 2012 after being committed to Auburn earlier in the process.

In his first three games in Tuscaloosa, Yeldon has 191 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

Meyer is a stud on the recruiting trail too. He has already forced Big Ten recruiting to evolve into the 21st century by recruiting players that are committed elsewhere, drawing the ire of his fellow Big Ten coaches in the process.

Both coaches are consistently elite, but Saban's ceiling has proven to be higher than Meyer's. 

They were the rivals in the SEC, they are rivals on the recruiting trail, and don't be surprised if they become rivals in the national title mix once Ohio State gets through its current sanctions.