Alabama coach Nick Saban made the most of his Monday appearance on the ManningCast of the Cowboys-Eagles game. He not only turned it into a recruiting pitch for his program — counting 73 former players on NFL rosters — but also used his stage to send a subtle message to the nation’s top recruit, Arch Manning.
Because of the SEC affiliations of Saban and the Manning brothers, much of their discussion during the “Monday Night Football” broadcast centered on their time in college, including the times Saban, then at LSU, coached against Eli Manning’s Ole Miss teams. Eventually, Saban made an ever-so-subtle declaration about his coaching career:
“I wish I was coaching at Alabama when Peyton and Eli Manning were recruits so you guys could have played for the Tide,” Saban said. “I’d certainly like to coach a member of the Manning family.”
At face value, Saban merely expressed his desire to be able to coach either Peyton or Eli Manning — certainly not an outlandish wish, considering they both went No. 1 overall in their respective NFL drafts. But Saban also could have been speaking indirectly to their nephew Arch, the No. 1 recruit in the country for the class of 2023, per 247Sports’ Composite rankings.
Of course, NCAA rules prevent college coaches from speaking directly about recruits. So that means Saban — who has been known to bend rules to the benefit of his team — would have to find a workaround if he wanted to make a recruiting pitch on national TV. Whether that was his intention may never be known, but this is not the face of someone who doesn’t know what he’s doing:
Nick Saban on ESPN2 just now…
“I wish I was coaching at Alabama when Peyton and Eli Manning were recruits so you guys could have played for the Tide.
I’d love to coach a member of the Manning family.” pic.twitter.com/NLAoPx05HN
— James T. Yoder (@JamesYoder) September 28, 2021
It certainly was coincidental that Saban also said any quarterback should “go to the team where he’ll be surrounded by the most talent.” (Unrelated, but Alabama signed the top-rated class in modern history with its 2021 signees and has several top-rated recruiting classes under Saban. Also unrelated, but Arch Manning will be in Tuscaloosa on Saturday for the Alabama-Ole Miss game).
Of course, Saban isn’t the only coach who wants the youngest Manning on his team. There are obviously Ole Miss and Tennessee connections with granddad Archie, dad Cooper and uncles Eli and Peyton. And LSU should be in play too, considering Arch Manning plays out of Isidore Newman High School in New Orleans.
Indeed, Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin has even gone so far as to make Arch Manning one of only two people he follows on Instagram, the other being current Rebels quarterback Matt Corral.
Regardless of where Arch Manning decides to attend school, one thing is certain: His recruitment is setting up to be one of the wildest in college football history.