- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
We knew from his visit with the Tuohy family in the film version of The Blind Side that Nick Saban has a gentler, more sensitive aspect than he allows the outside world to see. "This is an incredible home," he tells Michael Oher's adoptive mother, Leigh Anne Touhy (played by Sandra Bullock). "The Windsor valances are a nice touch."
In addition to his passion for interior decoration, it turns out, the Alabama coach is a noted belletrist. Saban and members of his staff strained both credulity and the hinges of at least one family's mailbox in Norcross, Ga., in February 2012 when they sent four-star running back Alvin Kamara 105 letters in a single day.
That unofficial record was broken last month by the coaches at Kentucky, who occluded the Hebron, Ky., postbox of quarterback Drew Barker with 115 letters. (Had the Wildcats sent just one more missive, the total would've matched their 2012 national ranking in scoring offense: 116.)
While these mass mailings are noteworthy and attention getting, they pale in comparison to the one-day haul harvested by Allie Hamilton in The Notebook. Recall how, in that treacly romance, the lovelorn swain Noah (portrayed by Ryan Gosling) writes a letter to Rachel McAdams's Allie every day for a year. Those communiqués, alas, are intercepted by Allie's meddling mother (Joan Allen), who seven years later hands her daughter a bundle of 365 letters, setting a standard that even Saban will find difficult to approach.
Noah's love for Allie is feeble and halfhearted compared with the ardor coaches like Saban and first-year Kentucky head man Mark Stoops feel for such difference-makers as Kamara and Barker. Yet this exchange from The Notebook captures both the promise-'em-anything ethos of the recruiting process, and the jaded attitudes of the athletes:
Noah: "I could be whatever you want. You just tell me what you want, and I'm gonna be that for you."
Allie: "You're dumb."
While they don't often go over the century mark, coaches across the country indulge in such mass mailings. Of course it's overkill. But is it dumb?
"If [recruits] are getting a hundred pieces of mail and they're not opening them," says Mississippi State defensive coordinator Geoff Collins, "is the message really getting through?" Indeed, if a tree falls in the forest, and its pulp is used in a thousand unread recruiting letters, did it make a sound?
At least it didn't break a rule. The bylaw-obsessed NCAA is very particular about the size of "institutional note cards" with which schools may deluge a prospect (they "may not exceed 8½ by 11 inches") and the contents thereof: They may include "only handwritten information (e.g., words, illustrations) on the inside." But nowhere in the NCAA's tome of rules does it say how many such "cards" members are allowed to send out. Entire forests have been felled by that loophole.