There have been plenty of Alabama coaching changes this offseason, some that will have more of an impact than others.
It has been a whirlwind of change this offseason for Nick Saban and the Alabama football program, as seven assistants have left the Crimson Tide since the beginning of 2017. For most programs, that fact would spell doomsday, but this is Saban, and he has an innate ability to find other assistants willing to come to Tuscaloosa and be a part of “The Process.”
The absence of four coaching assistants from this past year – also departing were Charlie Weis Jr. (offensive analyst), Justin Dickens (director of football operations), and Freddie Roach (director of player development) – will have an impact, though, but which one will Saban and the Crimson Tide miss the most? Let’s take a look.
4. Steve Sarkisian – Served as the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator for exactly one game – the College Football Playoff title game against Clemson – before bolting for the same job with the Atlanta Falcons. Sarkisian, much like Lane Kiffin, the man he was supposed to replace, had a lot of baggage when Saban hired him as an offensive analyst. The relationship didn’t last long, and his lack of presence won’t mean too much for Alabama.
3. Billy Napier – Napier’s departure will mean much more in the recruiting aspect of the program than in-game coaching. The former receivers coach had plenty of talent to work with – Amari Cooper, ArDarius Stewart, and Calvin Ridley just to name a few – but his connections with high schools in Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas will be missed.
2. Mario Cristobal – An excellent offensive line coach, much like Napier, Cristobal will be missed more for one important thing: recruiting. He has received National Recruiter of the Year recognition and routinely brought in some of the top prospects in the nation to Tuscaloosa.
1. Lane Kiffin – The unlikely marriage between Kiffin and Saban ended in a bitter divorce the week leading up to the championship game against Clemson. Still, Kiffin rejuvenated the Crimson Tide offense and brought a high pace that made Alabama even tougher to defend. His downfall? Not listening to Saban and not running the ball enough.