The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

July 19, 2013

SEC coaches weigh talent vs. potential for trouble

(Continued)

In the heated arms race of recruiting, coaches also bear the responsibility for signing a player who might have had off-the-field troubles.

Mississippi's Hugh Freeze brought in one of the nation's most surprising and highly rated talent hauls in February. Weighing risk vs. reward is a factor in recruiting decisions, he said, not just whether a kid is deemed a four- or five-star talent.

"I do think you have to be very calculated in the risk you take because you're under such scrutiny and you're bringing them into your team," Freeze said. "We try to minimize the number of at-risk issues you might have, but you're going to have some. I have a gut feeling. I look at his support system, who he has and listen to him talk about what he wants to be known for. Then I have to make a decision on whether I think we can trust one another with our core values."

Alabama dismissed four players from school following their arrests stemming from two violent robberies on campus barely a month after the Crimson Tide claimed its second straight national title.

Saban said every player he has kicked off has been someone the team's leadership group felt needed to go.

"With events of today and the attention on some of the people who have been arrested in sports in the last couple of weeks, it's even going to be more critical to players' future that they make good choices and decisions," Saban said. "And they have to realize that."

Saban said Alabama has a 12-course program in behavior for success and has psychiatrists or sports psychologists talk to troubled players.

"I always talk to our players about being a blinking light," he said. "If you look at a Christmas tree, when all lights shine bright, it's beautiful. But if one light's going like this (flickering), your attention is just to that light. Nobody should be a blinking light. The players always bring that up to me: 'This guy is a strobe light, man.'"

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