Well, now. Suddenly the Internet’s abloom with all sorts of chatter about Tosh Lupoi joining Kirby Smart’s staff in Athens, possibly as defensive coordinator.
That would be an interesting development, to say the least. Lupoi is highly regarded as both a position coach and a recruiter, but it’s worth remembering how he first showed up at Alabama, and why.
Who is Tosh Lupoi? He’s the latest in a line of eventual assistant coaches who started their respective careers at the Capstone as graduate assistants or “analysts.”
In Lupoi’s case, it was the latter, as he joined the Crimson Tide defensive staff as an analyst for the 2014 season after serving in various defensive coaching capacities primarily in the PAC12. On January 26, Lupoi became the youngest member of the Alabama Crimson Tide coaching staff with his promotion from analyst to outside linebackers coach…
After an unfortunate end to his career at the University of Washington in 2013, Lupoi was snapped up by Saban for an Alabama defense in need of a return to its previous level of dominance…
Er, “unfortunate end”, you say? What’s that all about?
A week before Christmas, Tosh Lupoi was eating dinner with his girlfriend at a Seattle restaurant. It was an exciting time for the 32-year-old Washington D-line coach. The Huskies were preparing to play BYU in the Fight Hunger Bowl.
Lupoi also knew an interesting decision loomed on the horizon. Steve Sarkisian, his former boss at UW, had just taken the head coaching job at USC. Lupoi was well aware that several of his colleagues were headed to join the Trojans staff after the bowl, and that USC’s former D-line coach was paid a reported $1 million a year. Lupoi, though, loved Washington and loved living in Seattle. He was intrigued by the prospect of working with the Huskies’ new head coach Chris Petersen, who was coming from Boise State, where he had a 92-12 record. He knew he had some very good options in front of him.
Then, Lupoi glanced down at his phone and got an alert regarding a story on Twitter about himself. It was a Los Angeles Times report about a man alleging Lupoi had paid him $4,500 for tutoring services and online classes for a former Washington signee (who had never qualified.)
Lupoi was forthright in his defense and was ultimately cleared by the NCAA. But the incident left his reputation toxic enough that he wasn’t retained by Petersen at Washington and wasn’t hired by Sarkisian, his boss at UW, when he moved to Southern Cal. Which is how he wound up at Alabama as a highly-paid analyst. Can you say second chance? I thought you could.
He’s clean and he’s good. But he’s got “abundance of caution” written all over him as a potential Georgia hire. If Smart’s allowed to bring on Lupoi, that will tell us much about the authority Smart’s managed to negotiate for himself as the head coach. Stay tuned for further developments.