Alabama’s offensive coordinator is headed to Michigan, and that is a good thing for the future of Alabama football.
The vacancy created by fired Michigan OC Al Borges (just how many places has this man been fired from?) was filled by Doug Nussmeier who served in the same post under Nick Saban for the past two seasons.
Under Nussmeier Alabama’s offensive was stable, but never potent. The Tide posted points and wins against the teams it should’ve blown out with the talent that’s in Tuscaloosa.
But in big games playcalling became tight, if not questionable. The 2013 Iron Bowl will forever go down as one of the most puzzling offensive game plans in Alabama history. The Tide showed its hand time and again on 3rd and 4th and short, giving the opponent a clear advantage to run blitz to stop obvious, stubborn, one set-back between-the-tackles runs at the end of the game. Some of that falls on Nick Saban. But the rest falls on the man who he entrusted with scoring enough points to win the game: Doug Nussmeier.
Simply put, Alabama’s 2013 offense had no identity. Zero. Zilch. Notta. And that has to change as football continues to evolve. Alabama’s defense will continue to put pressure on high scoring, potent offenses, and win the battle more times than not. But having an offense that can blister you with points is a must for 2014 and beyond. Gene Stallings-style football is dead. Period.
Immediate reaction from Tide recruits seems to indicate that the needle isn’t moving on the decision. Top quarterback commitment Ricky Town (a 2015 recruit) of Ventura-St. Bonaventure, CA indicated his approval:
Early candidates for the OC job include a host of well-known names. Lane Kiffin was in town reportedly for about a week over the holidays consulting with the Tide’s offensive staff. Strong sources indicate that Kiffin will be interviewing for the job as early as today. Kiffin’s pro-style fits with Saban’s offensive philosophies. Kiffin failed as a head coach at Oakland (where everybody else fails too) and ultimately at USC, where NCAA sanctions had him bound from day one. But the one year he spent in Knoxville made Tide fans happy to see him head west. His game plan for the 2009 Tennessee-Alabama game was stellar, almost pulling off the miracle to dethrone the eventual BSC National Champs.
Kiffin’s past personal antics have earned him his fair share of critics, so his insertion into the Tide’s staff would be interesting to say the least. Alabama is already the most hated program in the country due to its prolonged dominance and success, something not quenched by one season that fell short. The national ire over the hire, especially from Knoxville, would be an interesting seasoning to things at Alabama.
Other strong possibilities are surfacing as well.
Billy Napier would be a promotion from within, currently the Tide’s wide receiver’s coach. Napier has served as OC and quarterbacks coach at Clemson. An offensive analyst on the Tide’s 2011 staff, Napier followed then Tide OC Jim McElwain to Colorado State as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. After one season he chose to return to the Capstone as wide receiver’s coach.
Rick Neuheisel has a storied history in the game, serving as head coach at Colorado, Washington and UCLA, as well as coordinator at at UCLA, Colorado and the Baltimore Ravens. In his prime while at Colorado, Neuheisel was one of the names in college football, reportedly ready to accept the Alabama job following Gene Stallings had Bama fans not committed one of our many infractions of stupidity with the “fax campaign for Mike Dubose” in 1997. This option would be an interesting one for Alabama, as Neuheisel’s history with having offensive heavy teams that offer little defensive resistance led to his undoing at UCLA.
The other sexy pick is Clemson OC Chad Morris, who is making $1.4 Million. Tide defensive coordinator Kirby Smart already makes about that, a precedent proving Bama will pay what’s necessary for the right leader. Morris would bring a completely different style to Tuscaloosa, which could be a good thing. Again however, history points to Saban keeping things close to the way they are from a philosophy standpoint. But if the game is changing, might his philosophies be changing with it?
With national signing day looming, one would expect Alabama head coach Nick Saban to act quickly. However, that hasn’t always been the case with Saban, who opts for the clean, clear decision over knee-jerk reaction. Still, good indications are that the job will be filled in the next 48 hours, and that the man taking the post is named Lane Kiffin.