USC Football: Historical Context of Alabama's Sanctions Sheds Light on Kiffin

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Despite the sanctions, Franchione was able to guide the Crimson Tide to a 10-3 record in 2002. As a matter of fact, the Crimson Tide finished first in the SEC West, but were ineligible to play in the SEC title game or a bowl.

Following their season, Franchione would be offered a 10-year deal worth $15 million dollars by Alabama, but he would accept a less lucrative offer from Texas A&M to coach them instead. This left Alabama, once again, without a coach.

Alabama initially hired Mike Price, but after he was caught bringing a stripper back to his hotel room, he was fired before he ever coached a game.

In an effort to rebuild their program, Alabama hired Mike Shula, the son of legendary coach Don Shula, to rebuild their image and return the Crimson Tide to their winning ways. Because of the sanctions, Shula was afforded some latitude by the program after two sub-par seasons in 2003 and 2004, and the Tide would return to their winning ways in 2005, finishing their season at 10-2 with a Cotton Bowl victory over Texas Tech.

Shula was awarded with an extension that Alabama fans praised and respected, but after a 6-6 season in 2006 that was filled with disappointment, Alabama notified Shula that his services would no longer be required at the end of the year.

What Alabama didn’t know was that they would be stripped of their victories from Shula’s final two seasons because of a textbook scandal. While this wouldn’t happen until 2009 and Shula wouldn’t be implicated, the fact that this occurred while Alabama was still on probation left the university with egg on their face once again.

Those familiar with Franchione’s reputation and Kiffin’s acrimonious departure from Tennessee would be quick to note the similarities between them.

Kiffin and Franchione have been at the center of their fair share of controversy throughout their coaching careers. While there are significant differences in the specifics surrounding Franchione and Kiffin, there are solid similarities between the two.

Now, one of the unique things about Alabama is that they are one of the few universities that “recruit themselves,” as is the term. Much like USC, Alabama is a rich and storied program with a history of winning plenty of games and a host of national titles. If there was ever a university that you might say recruits itself better than USC, Alabama would be on the short list.

So how exactly did Alabama fare in recruiting during their sanctions compared that with the current Kiffin era at USC?

School Alabama Crimson Tide USC Trojans
Year 1 #37 #5
Year 2 #45* #4
Year 3 #19* #20*
Year 4 #16* Projected #1*
Year 5 #18 TBD*

*denotes recruiting class with reduced scholarship count per NCAA sanctions

Additionally, it’s worth looking at a side-by-side comparison of how the two programs fared in a competitive sense during their sanctions.

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