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Alabama Crimson Tide’s Endless Coordinator Carousel

The only constant around the Alabama Crimson Tide coaching staff recently has been change. It seems the price of victory may be consistently losing both offensive and defensive coordinators.

The off-season has brought swirls of drama to the Alabama Crimson Tide coaching staff with so many assistant coaches moving on to other schools. Perhaps as Bear Bryant put it, this is just one of the prices of victory. Perhaps, it is a result of Nick Saban’s perfectionist, never-good-enough attitude. While the cause may never be clear, let’s take a look back at what the last ten years have brought for the coaching staff.

  • 2009, 2010, and 2011 Seasons
    • Offensive Coordinator: Jim McElwain
    • Defensive Coordinator: Kirby Smart
  • 2012 and 2013 Seasons
    • Offensive Coordinator: Doug Nussmeier
    • Defensive Coordinator: Kirby Smart
  • 2014 and 2015 Seasons
    • Offensive Coordinator: Lane Kiffin
    • Defensive Coordinator: Kirby Smart
  • 2016 Season
    • Offensive Coordinator: Lane Kiffin- Steve Sarkisian took over for the National Championship game
    • Defensive Coordinator: Jeremy Pruitt
  • 2017 Season
    • Offensive Coordinator: Brian Daboll and Michael Locksley
    • Defensive Coordinator: Jeremy Pruitt
  • 2018 Season
    • Offensive Coordinator: Michael Locksley and Josh Gattis
    • Defensive Coordinator: Tosh Lupoi and Pete Golding

The coaching carousel appears to have sped up more in recent years with fewer and fewer coordinators staying longer than two seasons with the Crimson Tide. The 2019 coaching staff will bring more new faces to both coordinator positions with Locksley taking over as head coach at Maryland, Gattis moving on to OC at Michigan, and Lupoi joining the Cleveland Browns staff.

In Saban’s early years of replacing coordinators, many left to become head coaches elsewhere. Kirby Smart took over at Georgia, Jim McElwain at Colorado State, Lane Kiffin at Florida Atlantic University, and Jeremy Pruitt at Tennessee. However this season, many of the coordinators are making lateral moves in terms of their career.

Saban’s inability to maintain coaching consistency is beginning to raise some eyebrows with the Alabama Crimson Tide faithful. For comparison sake, Clemson’s defensive coordinator Brett Venables has been at Clemson since 2012. Clemson’s offensive coordinator, Jeff Scott, has been on staff since 2008, while Clemson’s other offensive coordinator, Tony Elliot, has been on staff eight seasons.

There is no doubt that coaching consistency was likely a significant behind-the-scenes factor in the National Championship game last month where the Alabama Crimson Tide suffered a beating at the hands of the Clemson Tigers. After all, the same Clemson coaching staff prepared for that game that prepped for the first match-up in the 2015 National Championship game. Alabama has cycled through multiple coordinators since then.

Nick Saban’s remarkable ability to maintain the level of excellence he has despite the constant coaching turnover proves to be his greatest accomplishment. With his sidekick Scott Cochran leading the strength and conditioning, the two have continued to produce championship caliber teams year after year regardless of what other assistants come in and out.

The coaching drama is stronger than ever right now, but Bama fans need to trust the process and believe that Nick Saban, the greatest of all time, has everything under control.

Next: Tide may not need a big-name DC

As Bear Bryant said, “The price of victory is high… but so are the rewards.” It is amazing those words can be used to describe two different eras of Alabama football.

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