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AP file photo by Butch Dill / Alabama football coach Nick Saban joked that he hopes the fact he isn't on Twitter or other social media hasn't hurt the Crimson Tide's recruiting efforts. Alabama has had 13 straight signing classes ranked in the top four nationally.

This continues to be the Nick Saban era in college football. This is also the social media generation.

The two have never met.

Starting with Saban's first full recruiting cycle at Alabama in 2008 that yielded talents such as running back Mark Ingram, receiver Julio Jones and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, the Crimson Tide have produced 13 straight signing classes ranked among the top four nationally in the 247Sports.com team rankings. Alabama's 2020 class that was completed Wednesday finished No. 2 behind Georgia, marking only the second time in the past decade that the Tide didn't assemble the nation's No. 1 haul.

Saban has cemented himself as the greatest recruiter the sport has ever known, with the 68-year-old having accomplished this without ever using social media, which is popular with counterparts such as new Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin.

"There is obviously a generation gap between the two of us," Saban said this week in a news conference. "The way I grew up communicating was talking. When I pumped gas at my dad's service station, I went to the window and would say, 'May I help you please?' I didn't text them.

"I kind of feel sorry for people who I see walking around and looking down at their phone and running into a wall and not even knowing somebody is getting shot across the street. I'm in the other camp. I feel sorry for people like that."

The additions of Kiffin at Ole Miss and Mike Leach at Mississippi State have given the Southeastern Conference two of the most prominent Twitter forces in college football, with Kiffin having a league-high 479,000 followers and with Leach next at 328,000. Kiffin and Leach repeatedly provide entertainment through their accounts, with Kiffin not hesitant when it comes to communicating with fans at two of his previous SEC stops — Tennessee and Alabama.

Leach trends toward the more bizarre, just this week posting a Suffolk Gazette satirical headline that read, "Girl, 9, disappears using cream that makes you 10 years younger."

Other league coaches such as Georgia's Kirby Smart (297,000 Twitter followers) South Carolina's Will Muschamp (280,000), Auburn's Gus Malzahn (229,000) and Florida's Dan Mullen (206,000) use social media for a more straightforward purpose. When his signees became official Wednesday, Mullen would tweet "Welcome to the Florida family," while Smart posted an even more direct "Go Dawgs."

Saban's comments about social media occurred less than 24 hours after his good friend, Michigan State men's basketball coach Tom Izzo, expressed his frustration with it following Tuesday night's 75-70 home loss to Penn State.

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Alabama photo by Kent Gidley / Alabama football coach Nick Saban has assembled 13 consecutive signing classes ranked in the top four nationally, including eight that finished No. 1, without the use of social media often employed by his SEC counterparts.

"If there are any Michigan State people out there who are abusing some of my players on Twitter — I'm sick of it," Izzo said in a news conference. "I'm sick of dealing with what I've got to deal with on that. Some of the stuff my guys have put in front of me the last couple of days — we're still 16-7. We're not 5-20."

Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher is the only other SEC football coach who does not have a Twitter account. There was an "official page of FSU coach Jimbo Fisher" on Twitter that was established in May 2009 when he was at Florida State and developed 13,000 followers, but nobody ever tweeted from that page.

LSU national championship coach Ed Orgeron has 188,000 Twitter followers and Tennessee's Jeremy Pruitt has 135,000, but Saban still has zilch and wants to keep it that way.

"I hope it's not hurting us in any kind of way," Saban jokingly stated after compiling his latest elite signing class. "To develop relationships, I think it's really important to be able to communicate with people, and I think everybody out there understands that I'm not a social media person. I don't have Twitter.

"I don't communicate that way, but I do really respect and respond better to personal relationships with players after they're here and when we're recruiting them."

 

Roach rejoins Tide

Former Alabama linebacker Freddie Roach, who was an All-SEC second-team selection as a senior in 2005, has returned to his alma mater as defensive line coach after serving in that role the past three seasons at Ole Miss. Roach has been recruiting for the Tide in recent weeks, but Alabama did not announce the hiring until Thursday.

Roach returned to Tuscaloosa in 2008 as an assistant strength and conditioning coach, a position he held through 2010. He returned again in 2015 as the director of player development before leaving for Oxford in 2017.

"Freddie did a fantastic job at Ole Miss the last three years coaching their defensive line, and we are excited to welcome him back to Tuscaloosa," Saban said in a release. "Freddie played here and has been a part of our staff on a couple of occasions. He brings a tremendous understanding of what we do on defense and how we run our program while proving to be an outstanding recruiter."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.

 

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