Let's talk about coordinators

KrAzY3

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I was going to make a post just about Alabama's defensive stats but I'm not sure there's a point in that. Alabama's defense got lit up by the previously 100th ranked scoring offense. This is the sort of team that a legit Alabama defense could have shut out, and they did that for one quarter. The problem was the other three quarters. Now Alabama's scoring defense is ranked 40th. This was a defense that on paper was loaded with talent, and yet it's continuing a trend that began with Golding's arrival.

The scoring defense has become worse every season since 2017. The end result is Golding's current defense is tied for the worst of the Saban era with the 2007 team, but he has also overseen the third worst (2020), fourth worst (2019) and sixth worst (2018). Only the 2014 defense crashes the party with the fifth worst scoring defense. I should note that 2018 Golding was co-DC so you can ponder if that defense would have been better or worse if it was his sole responsibility.

Some might argue that the game is changing and that accounts for the higher point totals. Let me put it another way. Since Saban arrived at Alabama the defense has ranked outside of the top 10 in scoring defense only five times. Four of those times Golding has been the defensive coordinator. The fifth time was Nick Saban's first season at Alabama. Alabama was a top 10 defense every single year from 2008-2017 and has not been a top 10 defense once since Golding arrived. To me the blame clearly lies on his shoulders. He took what appeared easy for Alabama and made it impossible.

Having arrived to the conclusion that Golding is clearly not doing his job well, that doesn't make the task of replacing him easy does it? The obvious replacement for him is potentially in NCAA trouble. While I would point out that hiring Pruitt would technically do no more than irritate the NCAA, Saban might not even be allowed to hire Pruitt in the same way he wasn't allowed to hire Hugh Freeze. Therein lies the complexity of Saban's task. We can look at Golding and O'Brien and conclude that they must be good because Saban hired them. To correctly evaluate the situation we have to consider that if Saban had his way Sark and Pruitt would still be coordinators. So he's not hiring who he wants, he's hiring who he is able to hire. There's a big difference.

I covered Golding but I always saw O'Brien as a short term hire anyway, so struggles in the red zone or not he's going to land a head coaching job again sooner or later. I think it's reasonable to consider his potential replacements. I will add that O'Brien can correct the red zone issues, but either way he's not going to be a long term offensive coordinator. Golding on the other hand, I think short of his finding the 2011 Alabama defense in his back pocket will be up for replacement this offseason. So that brings me to who the replacements would actually be?

I'd put Pruitt at the top of the DC list but he's also potentially on a do not hire list. Who else is out there that would be strong considerations on defense? For me the standard was always that you ran a successful Power 5 defense, and that's one thing Golding was missing. He'd had some success before but he'd never had to face off against elite offenses either. So who that might be available has the right resume?

On the offensive side, Kiffin and Sark both had issues that lead them to fall into Alabama's lap. Hugh Freeze had issues so bad Saban wasn't allowed to hire him. Who would be the right guy? It might be one of those things where you have to wait and see who has a job at the end of the year. I would like to think Saban is already pondering the possibilities though and thought I might as well but I have to confess there are not a lot of names that come to mind.
 

81usaf92

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1) Neither Kiffin or Sark’s issues were NCAA, recruiting, or SEC issues.

2) The thing about Golding is that if you think it’s a horrible hire then you are basically admitting that Saban has made two horrible hires in a row. Which really brings into question his defensive philosophy and defensive hiring process altogether. Which given the position coaches he has hired since 2018 you might consider both.

3) Right now Bill O’Brien is a lot bigger issue than what you are making it out to be. Seriously go back to the Florida game and see where it turned from a 21-3 game to a 31-29 finish. He hasn’t adjusted and it’s a sign of a Doug Nussmeier and Mike Locksley type issue in we have someone that thinks nothing is wrong in calling a predictable offense. You could bring Pruitt, Cowher, Strong, Kirby, or whoever in as a DC but you are NEVER going to win with an ineffective offense NEVER. Kiffin may have costed us in 2014, but we don’t get there in 2014 without Kiffin nor do we win the next year without him.
 
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CoolBreeze

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I always enjoy your posts. Unfortunately, we are stuck with these two dudes for this season. What we are going to see is Nick Saban magic through the rest of the year. Not sure it will be enough to beat Georgia but we will see a different product on the field.
 
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KrAzY3

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2) The thing about Golding is that if you think it’s a horrible hire then you are basically admitting that Saban has made two horrible hires in a row. Which really brings into question his defensive philosophy and defensive hiring process altogether. Which given the position coaches he has hired since 2018 you might consider both.

3) Right now Bill O’Brien is a lot bigger issue than what you are making it out to be.
First I do have to say this. NCAA isn't investigating Alabama and Alabama can't get in trouble for what someone did elsewhere. Pruitt might be toxic but no program has been punished for hiring a coach who broke the rules someplace else.

I have made several posts over the past couple of weeks expressing concern about O'Brien. The fact is he's gone one way or the other so I don't feel I need to argue the point that much. He's not a long term hire, we won't be discussing his offense four years into the job because he won't be here.

As far as the Golding stuff, Saban's hands were tied somewhat. He was basically an internal promotion that hasn't worked out. I will and have admitted though that for instance you have to weigh the risks of removing him. If he was removed last year would the defense have been better or worse? Depends on the hire right? At some point you have to get rid of the guy who managed to collect all the worst Nick Saban Alabama defenses though.
 

smokies1

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In 2007, Pruitt joined the Alabama coaching staff as Director of Player Development.[13] Following Alabama's 2009 national championship season, Pruitt was named the Tide's defensive backs coach.[14] During his first season in 2010, Alabama's secondary led the SEC in passing efficiency, and included one All-American, Mark Barron. The 2011 Alabama secondary led the nation in pass defense and passing efficiency, and included three All-Americans, Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick, and DeQuan Menzie. Both Barron and Kirkpatrick were drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Pruitt's 2012 secondary ranked seventh nationally in pass defense, and included Jim Thorpe finalist Dee Milliner.[15] He was named National Recruiter of the Year in 2012 by 247Sports.[15]
Pruitt returned to Alabama as defensive coordinator in 2016, replacing Kirby Smart, who had left to become the head coach at Georgia. His 2016 defensive unit led the nation in scoring defense and rushing defense, and was ranked second in total defense.[8] His 2017 Alabama defensive unit finished the regular season ranked second in total defense and first in scoring defense.[16] The unit was part of the team that won the National Championship in the 2017 season.[17]
just saying
 

81usaf92

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First I do have to say this. NCAA isn't investigating Alabama and Alabama can't get in trouble for what someone did elsewhere. Pruitt might be toxic but no program has been punished for hiring a coach who broke the rules someplace else.
Well like I said earlier. Byrne is different than any AD than what we have had in the last 20 years. Who really knows


I have made several posts over the past couple of weeks expressing concern about O'Brien. The fact is he's gone one way or the other so I don't feel I need to argue the point that much. He's not a long term hire, we won't be discussing his offense four years into the job because he won't be here.
He is viewed as a 2 year plan. Nuss was a 2 year plan that nearly costed us 2 championships instead of 1.


As far as the Golding stuff, Saban's hands were tied somewhat. He was basically an internal promotion that hasn't worked out. I will and have admitted though that for instance you have to weigh the risks of removing him. If he was removed last year would the defense have been better or worse? Depends on the hire right? At some point you have to get rid of the guy who managed to collect all the worst Nick Saban Alabama defenses though.
Saban was not forced to hire Golding or promote him. He promoted Lupoi the same reason he promoted Locksley. He wanted to keep recruiters. That’s on him, and if he sees something then that’s on him. Then look at the position coaches. It’s a bunch of mediocre and revolving door guys.

Personally I wish he would move on from Golding but at the same time I’m reminded how Kiffin was far more a reason that we won 2015 and lost 2016 than Kirby or Pruitt were. I told you last year that our offense was our defense but so many here were saying “Golding is going to cost us a championship”. But what happened? Did Georgia win a championship or get close to one on defense? Or did we go undefeated and only have 1 one score game all year.
Go get Brent Venables.
You Do realize the guy is guaranteed 40+ points vs good offenses.
 
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BamaFlum

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What’s the current situation with Pruitt and Freeze with the NCAA? Is the NCAA in a position to do anything if Coach really wants them at the end of the season?
 

KrAzY3

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Saban was not forced to hire Golding or promote him. He promoted Lupoi the same reason he promoted Locksley. He wanted to keep recruiters.
Forced and having your hand forced are close to the same thing but in this situation I'd say Saban's hand was forced. By recruiting concerns, by the fact that Alabama is a contender every year. He has to be far more cynical with his moves and he can't even rebuild. He has to make win now moves every single year and that's very difficult. That's one reason though why I think it is fair to criticize the coaches, and point out deficiencies. They are not necessarily there because they are the guys Saban wanted or even because they are the best guys for the job. They're who was available that met the immediate needs Saban had. Alabama had an off year in recruiting for instance, Saban adjusted to that. He has to constantly sacrifice one thing to compensate for another. So yeah sometimes he's stuck with someone that's a weakness.

If we view things cynically, Golding is still here because it would have rocked the boat to do otherwise right? He's a known commodity, that doesn't mean even Saban thinks he's the best guy for the job. Let's go over each year. 2018 he had to replace arguably the best DC in the game. He replaced him with two guys. One guy apparently struggled mightily, Saban kept on Golding, but why?

The answer might not be that Saban thought he was a great DC! That's what I feel like some people are missing. The answer might just be that Saban knew he had an amazing offense and felt like Golding's defense could be good enough to get the job done. If Tua had been 100% healthy it might have been. So may be Saban keeps Golding on just to not rock the boat.

2019, same thing really right? Great offense, except again Tua gets hurt. Defense was a liability against LSU but Alabama wins with a healthy Tua. Once again what's to say Saban wasn't just betting on the offense and trying not disturb things? Tua is healthy Alabama might have a championship. Then again great defense and Alabama might have a championship.

2020, yet again isn't it the same thing? Great offense, why rock the boat? And this time it paid off. Defense was not great at all, nearly cost the team a couple of games. But the team stayed healthy enough and Alabama won a championship. After that I'm not sure Saban really saw it as an option to replace Golding, they won a title and he already had to replace an OC.

If you go over things and look at them cynically, to me the idea isn't that Saban looks at someone and goes man I think he's great at his job. I think he does a risk assessment and Golding being a known commodity is something Saban can work around. However, in my opinion the risk has become too high. It's getting worse every year.


What’s the current situation with Pruitt and Freeze with the NCAA? Is the NCAA in a position to do anything if Coach really wants them at the end of the season?
Freeze is the head coach for Liberty now. Nothing would have happened if Saban had hired him, he was just prevented from doing so because of optics or something. Honestly Saban should have told them it's not their business. Pruitt will likely get hammered eventually by the NCAA by judging by how the NCAA works that could be 3 Alabama championships later. Alabama not hiring someone because of bad optics is foolish in my opinion, it's not like Pruitt sexually assaulted someone or did anyone harm.
 
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KrAzY3

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Im assuming that neither Pruitt or Freeze are viable options.
Pruitt wouldn't be for the same reasons Freeze wasn't. Because apparently the SEC gets to decide who Saban can hire.

Of course now that Freeze is head coach at Liberty and running the 29th scoring offense (not bad considering it's you know... Liberty) I don't see him demoting himself.

This time around I hope Saban makes the hire he wants and doesn't let anyone else decide for him. Freeze with that 2018 offense could have won a championship.
 

81usaf92

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Forced and having your hand forced are close to the same thing but in this situation I'd say Saban's hand was forced. By recruiting concerns, by the fact that Alabama is a contender every year. He has to be far more cynical with his moves and he can't even rebuild. He has to make win now moves every single year and that's very difficult. That's one reason though why I think it is fair to criticize the coaches, and point out deficiencies. They are not necessarily there because they are the guys Saban wanted or even because they are the best guys for the job. They're who was available that met the immediate needs Saban had. Alabama had an off year in recruiting for instance, Saban adjusted to that. He has to constantly sacrifice one thing to compensate for another. So yeah sometimes he's stuck with someone that's a weakness.

If we view things cynically, Golding is still here because it would have rocked the boat to do otherwise right? He's a known commodity, that doesn't mean even Saban thinks he's the best guy for the job. Let's go over each year. 2018 he had to replace arguably the best DC in the game. He replaced him with two guys. One guy apparently struggled mightily, Saban kept on Golding, but why?

The answer might not be that Saban thought he was a great DC! That's what I feel like some people are missing. The answer might just be that Saban knew he had an amazing offense and felt like Golding's defense could be good enough to get the job done. If Tua had been 100% healthy it might have been. So may be Saban keeps Golding on just to not rock the boat.

2019, same thing really right? Great offense, except again Tua gets hurt. Defense was a liability against LSU but Alabama wins with a healthy Tua. Once again what's to say Saban wasn't just betting on the offense and trying not disturb things? Tua is healthy Alabama might have a championship. Then again great defense and Alabama might have a championship.

2020, yet again isn't it the same thing? Great offense, why rock the boat? And this time it paid off. Defense was not great at all, nearly cost the team a couple of games. But the team stayed healthy enough and Alabama won a championship. After that I'm not sure Saban really saw it as an option to replace Golding, they won a title and he already had to replace an OC.

If you go over things and look at them cynically, to me the idea isn't that Saban looks at someone and goes man I think he's great at his job. I think he does a risk assessment and Golding being a known commodity is something Saban can work around. However, in my opinion the risk has become too high. It's getting worse every year.
2019 we lost to LSU because Tua had a fumble on the 1st drive and had a crappy last two minutes in the half. LSU basically had the same exact day vs Georgia. Are you suggesting that Golding is as good as Georgia’s defensive coordinator? But the offensive philosophy was never a concern and was never predictable. We just got beat by an equal team and lost because of the refs on the plains.

A DC rarely factors into a NC hunt. Atleast not anywhere near an OC.
 

KrAzY3

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2019 we lost to LSU because Tua had a fumble on the 1st drive and had a crappy last two minutes in the half.
Tua was playing hurt. Alabama gave up 46 to a team that was held to 23 the previous game.

Points defenses give up count just as much as points the offense scores. I'm not seeing the line of thought that only what the offense does matters. 46 points allowed is not ok.
 

81usaf92

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Tua was playing hurt.
When has he ever been healthy? And it still doesn’t change the fact that our defense performed the exact same as Georgia and far better than what Clemson did against LSU.

. Alabama gave up 46 to a team that was held to 23 the previous game.
Ohio St 49
Clemson 28

Ohio St 24
Alabama 52

I guess by that standard Golding is better than Venables since he held Ohio St to 25 less points than Venables a week later.



.

Points defenses give up count just as much as points the offense scores. 46 points allowed is not ok.
Maybe so, but how is this anything new from 2013? Kirby his last 3 years was the king of the 40 plus point game. Kiffin saved his butt more times than many on here wish to admit. That was in an era in which we played probably one team with a legitimate offense. Now we see about 4-6 offenses in the regular season that could put 400 yards on just about anyone.

Offense matters a hell of alot more in this era of college football.