Nick Saban: No recruiting violation in visit with Barry Sanders

Heritage Hall administration says it's a common occurrence to have coaches in for short visits. The Alabama coach ran into the Chargers' junior running back while at the school on Wednesday.
By Robert Przybylo, Staff Writer, bprzybylo@opubco.com Modified: January 7, 2011 at 7:53 pm •  Published: January 7, 2011
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“What sparked the conversation was we were talking about the last touchdown Alabama scored (in a 49-7 win against Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl) and how tough it is to still compete without trying to make the other team look bad.”

Alabama running back Eddie Lacy, not one of the Crimson Tide's main options this season, scored and brought the conversation to talking about running backs and Ingram's situation.

Ingram, who won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore, was one of three Alabama players to declare Friday for the NFL Draft.

Heritage Hall head coach Andy Bogert spoke with Saban and Alabama recruiting coordinator Curt Cignetti on Monday morning before he went on vacation in Mexico. Bogert texted Sanders that Saban would be in town Wednesday and told Sanders to call Cignetti for the details.

“This situation happens all the time,” Bogert said in a text message. “A coach calls and says he's coming, and I text Barry to call the coach (Cignetti).”

Neither Bogert nor athletic director Rod Warner were at Heritage Hall on Wednesday. Instead, it was Adams and strength and conditioning coach Chris Gfeller that led Saban and Cignetti on a tour of the Heritage Hall campus.

“I would say he arrived at right around noon, I don't have the exact time,” Adams said. “He was probably out of there by 12:15 or just past 12:15.

“He took a tour of the campus, and we walked in the commons area (cafeteria area), and he crossed paths with Barry. He asked about his foot, and that was it and started talking with me again.”

Adams said he gave Saban a highlight video of Shepard, and that was supposed to be the end of the trip.

However, once students realized Saban was at the school, they began asking for pictures and tweeting the information.

“We're aware of the fact that coaches cannot talk to players,” Warner said. “We know the rules, and the college coaches know the rules. This happens all the time where coaches come through our offices for short visits.”

Said Adams: “I let Barry baby-sit my 10-year-old son. I talk to Barry all the time, and he's very astute about this stuff. He would never knowingly do something wrong.”

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