South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier took the podium at SEC media days—a place that's become his second home—and although his press conference was less incendiary than previous editions, it was still a great deal of fun.
The Old Ball Coach did throw a decent amount of shade—former Auburn coach Gene Chizik and the Big Ten Conference catching most of it—but for the most part, he spent time complimenting fellow coaches such as Gus Malzahn, Kevin Sumlin and Derek Mason.
The coach who got the biggest compliment, though, was Alabama's Nick Saban, whom Spurrier called the greatest recruiter in college football history, per Bruce Feldman of FoxSports.com:
How many SECs has (Saban) won there in eight years? He’s won two. He’s won three nationals, but he’s only won two SECs in eight years. Now, if you had the No. 1 recruiting class every year and so forth, I don’t know if he has maxed out potentially as well as he could.
Spurrier didn't back of this sentiment, necessarily, but reinforced his premise by continuing to praise Alabama's talent. "If the recruiting services are correct," he said, per Paul Myerberg of USA Today, "(Alabama has the) greatest collection of talent ever assembled.
And he's right.
According to the 247Sports team rankings, Alabama has finished first, first, first and first in the last four respective recruiting classes. The overwhelming majority of players on its roster have come from the top-ranked group of prospects in the country.
Even at a school like Alabama—a program with every conceivable recruiting resource, from money to facilities to tradition—that type of dominance is unprecedented. It runs counter predictable logic.
Why? Because 5-star prospects want to play. And they want to play soon. They don't want to sit behind other blue-chip underclassmen. There are enough prestigious programs to choose from, enough teams with a realistic shot to compete for a national championship.
Why choose the one with the most difficult path to playing time?
Spurrier touched on these topics during his presser. He harkened back to the top-ranked class he landed at Florida in the early 1990s, saying it was difficult to recruit the following season because kids didn't want to sit behind players from the previous year.
Saban has been able to sidestep that obstacle, which requires a unique recruiting aptitude. It's something neither money nor success can really buy. And he doesn't show signs of letting up this current cycle, as Spurrier himself made sure to point out:
Calling anyone the "greatest in college football history" at anything sounds hyperbolic, but with Spurrier and Saban, it seems fair enough. In 2014, teams from the Southeast must hold off sexy options such as Oregon on the other side of the country—something coaches in the pre-recruiting-service days of yore did not have to deal with.
That Saban might land his fifth straight No. 1 class is remarkable.
It's a feat worthy of the "greatest in history" discussion.
Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT
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