Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban "runs into" high school recruit Barry J. Sanders in Oklahoma City on Wednesday when decided to stop in and tour the Heritage Hall campus.
Anyone that is familiar with football is familiar with the name Barry Sanders. Now college football fans are getting acquainted with Barry J. Sanders. The son of the former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL Hall of Famer is making a name for himself while following in his father's footsteps. The 5-11/190 running back from Heritage Hall High School in Oklahoma City has drawn interest from 18 different schools and has received scholarship offers from twelve of them. One of the schools to offer Sanders a free ride is Alabama and it just so happens that Nick Saban was at Heritage Hall on Wednesday to visit with the highly touted running back. The problem is though, Sanders is only a junior.
According to the NCAA recruiting guidelines, "A college coach is only permitted to contact you in person off the college campus only on or after July 1 when you have completed your junior year of high school. If the coach meets with you or your parents and says anything to you or them, then this is considered a contact. Anything more than a very basic hello is a contact."
Sanders told the Daily Oklahoman that Saban informed him that he believed Heisman winning running back Mark Ingram was turning pro and would make his decision on Friday. Guess what happened on Friday? Ingram announced that he was turning pro!
That's a lot more than a very basic hello! That's a, "Hey, we're putting running backs in the NFL and you could be one of them and we've got a spot for you son!" type visit. Not a problem if the kid is a senior but a huge problem when he's a junior. Saban also inquired about the condition of Sander's foot following a surgical procedure he had on his right foot. Again, that's more than a very basic hello.
Now with word circulating about Saban's visit and a photo of the two chatting popping up on message boards the story is changing a bit. Now Heritage Hall defensive coordinator Mark Adams says that Saban was talking to him when he said that he believed Ingram wasn't coming back and Sanders was in the vicinity and overheard the conversation.
Adams also said that Saban was on campus for only around fifteen minutes and just happened to run into Sanders while touring the campus.
"He took a tour of the campus, and we walked in the commons area (cafeteria area), and he crossed paths with Barry. He asked about his foot, and that was it and started talking with me again."
Saban says he doesn't believe that he violated any recruiting rules and apparently the Heritage Hall coaches agree with him. Yes Coach Adams, its all about you. Nick Saban came all the way to Oklahoma City for you to give him a tour of your campus and to talk with you, a high school, defensive coordinator about his current running back situation. It was just mere coincidence that he happened to run into one of the most highly touted recruits in the nation while there. Keep telling yourself that, buddy!
This is why the NCAA is a joke. Nothing will ever come of this matter and you'd better believe Saban will continue to do this kind of stuff and get away with it.