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High school coach says Saban did nothing wrong

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

The old "bump" rule has made its way into the headlines after a Memphis high school prospect told The Memphis Commercial Appeal that he "bonded" with Alabama coach Nick Saban and liked the "stuff that he was saying" after running into Saban, who was at Mitchell High School a few weeks ago.

The prospect was receiver Keiwone Malone, who became the first player in the 2010 signing class to commit to the Crimson Tide when he made his pledge on Feb. 5, the day after signing day.

It was perfectly legal for Saban to be at Malone's school. The visit came in late January, which isn't a dead period for coaches to be on the road.

The issue is how much contact Saban really had with Malone. And before anybody jumps to any conclusions or makes any accusations, the "bump" rule is one of the silliest rules out there. It's also a rule that's stretched, taken advantage of and just blatantly violated as much as any rule in the book.

College coaches aren't allowed to speak in person with high school juniors unless they just happen to cross paths with that player while visiting the high school. Hence, the "bump" rule. If you bump into them, you're allowed to say hello. But that's about it.

Rest assured that most college coaches while visiting a high school usually do bump into the top junior prospects at that school. Often times, the high school coaches make sure of it.

Some high school coaches have even been known to make sure the prospect is sitting in their office when the college coach arrives. Others make sure the prospect just happens to be working out or playing basketball nearby -- well within view of the high school coach's office.

It's a rule that's used and abused.

But back to Saban, who's a master at pushing the envelope and living in the gray area. Most of the great recruiters are.

According to Mitchell High School coach Nathan Cole, Saban didn't do anything wrong in this instance. Cole told Gentry Estes of The Mobile Press-Register that Saban simply greeted Malone after he pulled up in the parking lot as Saban was leaving.

Cole said Malone didn't commit to Saban face-to-face, either, but rather called Saban himself the day after signing day to commit to the Crimson Tide.

So, who said there's not an art to bumping?