It is a combination of many factors, including Nick Saban being very, very good at what he does. And yes, being on top is always an advantage. Where I think Saban really excels is in player evaluation. He places a premium on this area over actually coaching the game. The bottom line is he has never deviated from the philosophy that it isn’t the X’s and the O’s, it’s the Jimmys and the Joes.
Does Alabama have a premier staff of coaches that can instruct and teach? Yes, but more importantly they are relentless grinders in evaluation and recruiting. One of the reasons why Saban is not a fan of all these early offers that have accelerated the recruiting process is because it interferes with their process of evaluation. When you feel the pressure to have to offer a player before you have fully evaluated him just to be in the running for that player, it can lead down a path that is not comfortable. This has created challenges for Alabama when it comes to sticking to the process.
Fortunately Alabama has resources, almost unlimited resources, to overcome challenges. The Tide have a very specific set of critical factors they adhere to when it comes to selecting not only the best player available, but the right player. Height/weight requirements per position, competitive temperament, mental makeup, competitive character, personality traits among other areas of importance are strictly adhered to in order to ensure they minimize the chance of errors in evaluation and missing on prospects. Evaluation is subjective and inexact. What is right for one program, might not be the right fit for another. Alabama sticks to the plan.