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Bulls react to Saban's shot
By Greg Auman, Times Staff Writer
Published October 3, 2007
TAMPA - USF is the talk of college football, and in some cases the words aren't kind.
Alabama coach Nick Saban took a shot at the Bulls Tuesday in the Birmingham News, suggesting that they admit players who don't qualify in other programs.
"The distribution of players is not the same for everybody," he told the News. "There's a significant amount of players who don't qualify (at some schools) and they end up being pretty good players at some other schools. I think there are six guys starting on South Florida's defense who probably could have gone to Florida or Florida State but Florida and Florida State couldn't take them. And if you do a good job of recruiting that way ..."
USF coach Jim Leavitt and his players defended the program. Leavitt said only two Bulls were non-qualifiers to play as a freshman and both are on track to graduate.
"For a guy to make a statement like that is ... not right," he said. "It's a knock on our program."
Senior cornerback Mike Jenkins found Saban's statement ironic because Jenkins had spurned a scholarship offer from the coach, then at LSU.
"I was a SuperPrep All-American (recruit) coming out of high school. I picked USF because I wanted to pick USF," Jenkins said. "I could have gone to the Floridas, the Florida States, the Alabamas, the LSUs. (Saban) offered me a scholarship (at LSU). I didn't go there. He offered me a full scholarship and I picked USF. So I disagree with that."
Senior center Nick Capogna said Saban's comments are insulting to all USF players, on offense or defense.
"Where's he getting that research off? Did he open up our records?" Capogna said. "It's a shot at me. I don't know if I can play at Florida State, but it says I'm not academically smart enough to play at another school. It's disrespectful. He's entitled to his opinion. I got a good SAT score, had a good GPA in high school. If he wants to look at transcripts, I'll give him mine gladly."
Jenkins said he's noticed more criticism of USF since the Bulls jumped into the national rankings.
"That's just coaches talking," he said. "I don't know if he said these exact words, but (FSU) Coach (Bobby) Bowden said he'd be surprised if we hold onto the No. 6 ranking. That's their opinion. Coach Leavitt's doing a heck of a job right now."