There comes a time when it is okay to admit mistakes were made. The #8 Alabama Crimson Tide made those mistakes when the call for new coordinators didn’t happen. For years, head coach Nick Saban has struggled to keep some of his assistants from going to other teams as head coaches or in the NFL. Alabama has gone five different offensive coordinators through seven seasons and four defensive coordinators through eight seasons. Still, the Tide have managed to win three College Football Playoff National Championships since 2015 and appeared in three other title games. That doesn’t change the fact that Alabama’s season is considered disappointing.
Alabama returned a reigning Heisman Trophy winner in quarterback Bryce Young, a solid set of pass rushers, high-volume playmakers from the NCAA Transfer Portal, and one of the best head coaches of all time in Nick Saban. The advantage going into this season was that Alabama brought back their offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien and defensive coordinator Pete Golding.
The experience of the team was not enough as Alabama would come into big games physically or mentally unprepared. This season has a different feel as Alabama suffered two mentally fatiguing losses to rivals Tennessee and LSU. Alabama also encountered scares from Texas and Texas A&M There is a definitive lack of focus and assertiveness that begins with the coaching staff. While Saban is to blame for Alabama’s failure to go to the playoffs and the SEC Championship, there is no shortage of blame with O’Brien and Golding as it may be time for a fresh start for Alabama after this season.
Is it Time for Alabama to Make a Coaching Staff Change?
Alabama’s High-Level Production Doesn’t Mean Consistency
The Crimson Tide have been among the top teams in the nation in terms of productivity on both sides of the field. Alabama ties for 6th in the nation in points per game (40.6) and 15th in points allowed per game (18.9). While they have been productive at creating big results, there was a definitive lack of efficiency at key times. In five key games this season, Alabama has struggled on offense or defense.
In the win over Texas, the Tide struggled on the offensive side of the ball as the Tide needed a Heisman Trophy performance from Young. The offense only accounted for 374 total yards. It was the same situation in the close win over Texas A&M as the offense, under backup quarterback Jalen Milroe, only accounted for 397 total yards.
In the loss versus, the defense of the Tide was giving up big plays left and right. Tennessee accumulated 567 total yards as they had their way with Alabama’s secondary. Finally, in the overtime loss to LSU, it was the offense and the defense that failed. Alabama outgained LSU by 98 total yards, but the offense rarely utilized the running game. O’Brien put too much on the arm of Young, who found pressure often. Defensively, Golding called terrible plays and the Tigers completed clutch plays. The nail in the coffin for Alabama’s season was LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels to scramble for the 25-yard rushing touchdown in the first play of overtime. Players looked too stunned to retaliate and stop the game-winning two-point conversion play to give LSU the 32-231 win.
There is Still Pride in the Players
This dysfunction from the coaching staff continued last week as Alabama trailed through most of the game at #11 Ole Miss. Alabama allowed 191 rushing yards from the Rebels’ offense. It took a three-touchdown performance from Bryce Young and a fantastic defensive performance from defensive lineman Byron Young to help Alabama secure a 30-24 road win over Ole Miss. Alabama outscored Ole Miss 6-0 in the fourth quarter. Byron Young had one of his best games of the season by accounting for 11 total tackles, six solo tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss, one pass breakup, and two quarterback pressures. Saban was more proud of his players in the game this season for composing themselves and helping carry the team to the big win.
What Could Happen with the Coaching Staff for Alabama after this Season?
There is still plenty to play for this season, which includes a matchup at home against Auburn and a potential trip to New Year’s Six Bowl game. If the coaching staff does not have the players physically and mentally prepared for Auburn, Alabama could be in serious danger to lose. A season of losing to Tennessee, LSU, and Auburn would be heartbreaking to Tide Nation. For the remainder of the season, O’Brien has to manage a well-balanced offense, led by Young. Golding, a nominee for the Broyles Award, needs to secure his defense for all four quarters.
After this season, Alabama could be making changes to its coaching staff. It is true that the defense of Alabama has not allowed the season to end by allowing 20 or more points per game with the exception of last season when the defense allowed 20.1 points per game. At the same time, there is a noticeable difference in clutch play and needing a turnover or stop within the past couple of seasons. Golding is a coach that is most likely to return for next season due to his professional relationship with Saban.
O’Brien, on the other hand, is the more likely coach to leave duet to mutual choices. He is considered a candidate for the head coaching job at Nebraska or a Big 12 program if someone like Matt Campbell leaves at Iowa State. Recently, O’Brien is rumored to be a heavy candidate to replace Matt Patricia as the offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots. From 2007 to 2011, he was an offensive assistant with the 2011 season being the offensive coordinator. It is not confirmed if he will stay or depart, but there are gears turning towards O’Brien leaving after the season.