Alabama Coach Jay Graham Resigns to Address Mental Health

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The Alabama Crimson Tide are no strangers to change and chaos. Just a few practices into Spring Training, the Crimson Tide are having to adjust their coaching staff. On Wednesday, March 24th, tight end/special team coach Jay Graham resigned from his duties with the football team due to personal issues. As described by coach Graham later on Twitter, the reason for his departure is to seek professional help for mental issues. This was an issue that needed to be addressed immediately as well as highly supported by head coach Nick Saban. While this leaves the team with some questions to be addressed later on, it is the right motive to have coach Graham seek the help he needs.

 

Alabama Coach Jay Graham Resigns to Address Mental Health

Coach Graham’s Journey to Alabama

At the age of 45-years old, Graham already has an extensive coaching resume right after his professional football career. Graham was hired by coach Saban at the beginning of February as the Tide’s tight end coach and special teams coordinator. The University of Alabama was his eighth different program to be coaching with since becoming a coach in 2005. Graham has been a running backs coach but his first year at Tennessee in 2005 and this season. This season would have been his second stint as the tight ends coach and his first since 2011 with South Carolina. This season would have been Graham’s sixth season as the special teams coach. Graham was Florida State’s special teams coach from 2014 to 2017, where the Seminoles accounted for a 30-13 overall record. Last season, Graham coached his third stint with the Tennessee Volunteers, his alma mater, as the running backs coach.

Jay Graham, Alabama Going Forward in 2021

Coach Graham is resigning on good terms with coach Saban and the Crimson Tide. His impact as a well-respected and smart coach would have been highly significant for a talented tight end group. The biggest fight isn’t what is to transpire on-the-field for coach Graham. The fight for mental health has been on the back burner for several leagues and sports organizations. The ongoing fight with mental health issues has cost the lives of many current and former players, coaches, and personnel alone. Coach Graham getting the professional help he needs is the first victory for himself and with the Alabama program.  The Tide are now having to take on the remaining bulk of spring camp without coach Graham.

Former Tennessee Volunteers director of football programming Todd Watson is taking over the responsibilities of the tight end/special teams coach. New offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien will also likely help ease the transitions considering the potential new roles for the tight ends. With O’Brien coming in to build the offense, he could a dynamic and explosive tight end like junior Jahleel Billingsley in more complex schemes and routes. Last season, Billingsley averaged 15.9 yards per reception. The last time a tight end averaged more than 15 yards per reception was Irv Smith Jr. (16.1) in 2018. The Tide will use the remaining majority of the spring to assert themselves and feel comfortable with their position groups. This will include the tight end position group as they will have to move on from this sudden but understandable situation.