The Process: How Alabama whittled its football roster from 30,000 to 85

USA TODAY Sports

Have you ever wondered how Alabama is able to oversign until the cows come home? Well, I'll tell you. It's part math, part Odyssean epic and part magic.

In a feat impossible for mere mortals, Alabama has once again reduced its roster to the NCAA-mandated 85. Which is even more striking when you consider how many the Tide started with. Let's take a peek inside the numbers.

30,000

Some may find this number a bit high, but you need to cast a wide net to catch wide backsides. (Am I right, Mike Mayock?) In the first days, the entire group is told to start walking through the Kentucky Bourbon Trail without cell phones or access to basic toiletries. It is a cold, hard march, one that typically only Russian soldiers are prepared for. But this is Alabama football we are talking about.

7,000

These are worthy signees indeed. Nick Saban has a long way to go to get the roster he truly wants, so he ships 50 to Starkville in exchange for free crane rentals and another 50 to pay for a pizza party. One hundred are told they have entrepreneurial spirit and are encouraged to major in barbecue.

6,800

A thousand of the willing men take to the high seas to import Saban's favorite kind of West Virginia cigarettes (technically banned in the US). It is a dangerous mission and one many will not return from. Saban gets his smokes (the brand name loosely translates to Angry Buddha 100s in Appalachian), but at a cost. He does not smoke them, because smoking is a waste of time.

5,903

Don't say Saban doesn't have a heart. A batch of signees are donated to the Linemen for Memphis drive, which is such a good cause.

4,403

Some defensive backs start their own utopian society off the coast of Louisiana, based on the perceived hidden meanings in Wright Thompson articles.

4,005

Unfortunately, a few of the survivors from the Great Cigarette Import contracted jaundice and will not be attending the University of Alabama.

3,955

Nick Saban wants to do team-building with the remaining brave men, so he sends them on a hike just outside Gatlinburg. The papers the next morning claim Saban had no knowledge of the vacationing bears in the Smoky Mountains, but there are whispers. One brave columnist at Birmingham Weekly writes: "There are no coincidences when it comes to Crimson Tide football."

2,433

An entire fleet of offensive tackles transfer to Wisconsin.

2,002

Some recruits just don't want to play football anymore. They have other passions. Alabama's listed passion for each departee is "water filtration."

1,218

Permanent greyshirt WR Edgar Wallace and a couple of TEs have a really good idea for an iPhone app that can tell you which bars have karaoke on which nights. An angel investor seems pretty interested, so boom.

1,214

Several members of the Alabama football team are investigated by the IRS for running a tontine gambling ring based on Alabama's oversigning. They are quietly told they will not be welcome on the team next season.

1,183

The worst 85 are left outside with a Craigslist curb alert. In a matter of minutes, they are all gone. I bet UAB took them.

1,099

The Skittles Four aren't aren't coming back any time soon, and Danny Woodson, Jr. transferred.

1,094

A group formed University of Alabama People's Liberation Movement, which rivaled the University of Alabama Order of Revolution and allied with the University of Alabama Worker's Coalition. One result was a snack machine being moved three feet closer to the UAPLM-UAWC compound, and another was a trimmed football roster.

883

QB Ponce De Le DaDevereaux ate some bad shellfish.

882

After being forced to tears during the spring game, 13 loyal but unathletic safeties made a pact to transfer to Devil's Canyon State, a DIII school somewhere out west.

869

There is an a bank error in your favor, please collect $100 and roll again.

369

The Barber of Tuscaloosa is finally caught, but at a cost. At least we can finally close the book on the Bama Bangs Murders.

134

Backup quarterback Phillip Ely wants some MACtion®TM.

133

Most of the punters were reportedly selling fraudulent iPads out of a white van just outside town and fled town before Johnny Law got ahold of them. One duped customer said, "I opened the box and there was just an Etch-A-Sketch in there."

87

Bronson McDaniels and Case Ewing went on Real World: Knoxville.

85

See, now that wasn't so hard was it?

Roll Tide.

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