The Nick Saban coaching tree is obviously massive in college football — four SEC schools currently have his former assistants as head coaches, including South Carolina with Will Muschamp.
Athletic directors and programs are hungry to replicate, or just get a piece of, the success Saban has brought to Alabama, and one of the most obvious ways that happens is by looking to recruit players with the specific qualities and traits that Saban values in building his own program.
As a result, Saban’s acolytes often identify and pursue the same recruits, Muschamp said Tuesday, just days before he faces a Tennessee team coached by another former Saban assistant, Jeremy Pruitt.
Obviously, recruiting can vary on a coach’s personal preferences or location, but Muschamp said he still notices a similar profile in the kind of players all former Saban assistants recruit.
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“I would say that sometimes I think our recruiting diagram is a little different, geographically speaking as far as where we’re recruiting more guys,” Muschamp said. “That may change a little bit, but certainly the traits that we’re looking for and the description of the player ... certainly, absolutely, the job description by position, the critical factors at each position that we look for, probably a lot of similarities.”
But Saban’s influence extends beyond just his former subordinates — Muschamp didn’t come right out and say it, but he heavily implied that certain programs looking to replicate Saban’s formula simply wait to see who he and coaches like Muschamp offer before swooping in with offers of their own.
“It’s really interesting, when we offer somebody, they get offered real quick by a lot of schools, and I can normally tell you the ones that do,” Muschamp said. “I don’t know that they‘ve watched the tape but they’ve seen that we offered, so they end up offering. That’s kinda the world we’re in right now with social media.”
Why opposing teams would want to copycat the recruiting of Saban and his assistants is obvious — in the classes of 2019 and 2020, the five SEC teams either coached by Saban or former members of his staff all rank in the top 27, according to 247Sports. Most are among the top 15.
Muschamp didn’t say which schools he thinks shadow USC’s recruiting, but regardless, it doesn’t seem to be affecting his success in that area — the general consensus seems to be that South Carolina’s recruiting is on the upswing.