“It’s an opportunity to find the next good guy to come along.”

With Jeremy Pruitt’s departure, Nick Saban faces a problem he hasn’t had in a while.

It’s why the last two defensive coordinators for Alabama were Saban proteges.

He groomed Smart, nurturing him as a defensive back coach at LSU, the Miami Dolphins and Alabama while teaching him the nuanced pattern-matching coverages that are a staple of a scheme that dates back to Saban’s days as an NFL coordinator.

As a result, Smart was able to step in for Kevin Steele in 2008 and run Saban’s defense through the Tide’s 2015 national championship victory.

He was immediately succeeded by Pruitt, who had also developed a firm understanding of Saban’s complex system as a secondary coach before moving on to become a coordinator at Florida State and Georgia.

Presiding over a unit that has led the nation in scoring defense each of the last two seasons, Pruitt has distinguished himself. The void he leaves is considerable, because there isn’t anyone in Alabama’s organization with the credentials Pruitt had when he came back to the Tide in 2016.

Derrick Ansley has supervised the defensive backs, but he has been a position coach at Alabama for merely two seasons. Tosh Lupoi has worked with the team’s pass rushers, yet has only been an on-field assistant with the Tide one year longer than Ansley has.

That’s why hiring Pruitt’s successor could be one of the most challenging pursuits Saban has faced as Alabama’s coach.

Obviously, this is more like don’t cry for me, Tuscaloosa, than anything.  Saban’s going to have a wealth of choices to select from and if anyone ought to know what he’s looking for, it’s Nick Saban.  Still, the recent situation this reminds me of in a weird way is what Georgia faced in 2015 when the quarterback well ran dry.  In the very short run, that didn’t work out too well.

14 Comments

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14 responses to ““It’s an opportunity to find the next good guy to come along.”

  1. I’m a bit surprised he hasn’t tried to lure Mel back to Tuscaloosa (shhhhh!).

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    • Kirby is the only guy I can think of that went back to Saban. Everyone else seems to move on permanently.

      I don’t know what it says about our coach that he put up with that guy longer than anyone else by a long shot, but it says something.

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      • I think Kirby knew as a coach’s son, you have to put up with idiosyncrasies of the head coach. Keep your head down and do your job. Everything will turn out right if you’re in the right situation. He had to know working for Saban was the best way to prepare himself for the job he really wanted. Otherwise, he takes the Georgia DC job in 2013.

        Now he seems to have taken the Process and put a players’ coach spin on it. Everyone here was raising hell about the players and recruits calling him Kirby rather than Coach Smart. I think he knows he’s going to get the best out of his players if he treats them as professionals.

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      • Mayor

        Pruitt went back to Saban.

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  2. Every guy he’s trained up is either a head coach or a DC somewhere else.

    He’s either has to put an unknown quantity in that spot or someone who will want some degree of autonomy.

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  3. W Cobb Dawg

    If I’m bama looking down the road I’m more concerned with saban’s age than replacing an assistant coach. The guy has a rolodex full of past assistants, as well as a small army of current assistants and analysts.

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    • sniffer

      Saban wants to pass Bryant soon so he can get on to retirement. That’s the truth. He thought he would get the tie last year and be playing for the record soon enough. We don’t have long to see him motor off in his boat to the Bahamas. I feel like he’s out in 3 years regardless.

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  4. HiAltDawg

    The article didn’t mention the fact that with Pruitt and Kirby leaving, that Saban’s DC always functions as an ace recruiter, too. Many regard Lupoi in that light but is he more recruiter than coach?

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  5. Go Dawgs!

    Nick Saban will just take more of a role in coordinating the defense until he thinks the holder of the coordinator title can handle it himself. Basically, he’ll do what Mark Richt should have done when Bobo left. Instead of bringing in a new coordinator and giving him the keys, Saban will take full control of the quality control aspects of the operation.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. A10Penny

    I assume that Saban has heard from dozens of good candidates who would love to work for him and make $1M

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  7. Macallanlover

    I think we are closer to the end of Saban’s career than most think. The continual staff turnover, new recruiting changes, higher number of transfers from kids not willing to wait, more talented/equal competition, advancing age, etc. makes me think it close to a time to pull the plug. I think he might regret not leaving after the last MNC against Clemson. May just be me but the grip seems to be slipping. If he wins this one, wouldn’t surprise me to see him decide to go out on top.

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    • Mayor

      I had the sense that if Bama had won the national championship game last year over Clemson, and Saban had tied Bryant for the most natties in history, Saban might have stepped down after that game. He sure as hell wasn’t going to do that when the team lost though.

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