First, in case you haven’t seen it, it appears as though Alabama has zeroed in on offensive coordinator, New England Patriots TE Coach Brian Daboll.
Go read Josh’s story first. Tell him what you think. I’ll wait on you...
Now, for my part, I have serious reservations about this hire for reasons outside of Xs and Os. Alabama’s talent alone and a half-competent scheme should be able to generate points and move the chains. But, Daboll has absolutely no track record as a recruiter, a job just as important as dialing up plays. There is absolutely no track record of excellence as a play-caller, throat-clearing about translation of NFL offenses aside (and Josh does a thorough job explaining some of Daboll’s apparent lack of success.) There is absolutely no track record of developing quarterbacks. In short, there is no indication that Daboll can attract and then mentor the most important position on the field.
Is this hire by Saban a reaction (even overreaction) to the losses against Clemson and Ohio State? Maybe. Saban’s an old school, though not conservative, coach — he doesn’t like the defense put in bad positions. Is it in response to hiring elite college guys with their eye on another job who then predictably leave? I covered this Tuesday, and I’m almost certain that’s some of it — Saban probably wants some degree of continuity at the position. Is it an overreaction to the less physical style of play that horizontal modern offenses bring to the table? Absolutely; he wants an aggressive team that wins between the tackles. So, why not go for an NFL guy, seems to be the reasoning. But, Daboll was allegedly in position to be the OC for the Patriots, so Alabama could just as easily find itself in this position a year from now after months on the road, administrative and fund-raising commitments, compliance, the psychotic zeal of a football-obsessed fanbase, the national media scrutiny that comes with the Script A, and the strain of mentoring 19-year olds all take their toll to drive Daboll back to the “purer” football of the NFL. This is no sure deal, in other words.
Again, Alabama should be fine on the scoreboard (although, as Brent pointed out a week ago in a group text, people tend to misremember the efficiency of those McElwain and Nussmeier offenses). Alabama will score. Alabama has the talent to win against most teams with a merely competent effort by an offensive coordinator. However, whether Daboll can continue to attract that talent, whether Daboll can develop the talent that is already on-hand, whether Daboll can forge a relationship with teenagers and very young adults, and whether Daboll can scheme and win games against elite competition are all valid questions. Unfortunately, we have no answers at the moment, and I sincerely hope my anxiety over this hire will be unfounded.
In other RBR news, Alabama beat Missouri last night. Go read the recap of the 57-54 GRANTSKETBALL-fest Alabama put on display against one of the worst teams in major college basketball. How bad is Missouri? Alabama’s RPI dropped from 67th to 70th by the mere act of playing them. It doesn’t get better Saturday, as the SEC’s other worst team, the LSU Tigers, come to town. Forget the NIT, the SEC needs to get a lot better down the stretch, and the Tide need to win those games, elsewise Alabama will be staring down the barrel of the CBI.
A low-key Big Deal.
For almost a year it’s been all-but-certain that a 10th field coach would be widely approved for the 2017 year effectively immediately as of the April Meetings. However, owing to the budgetary constraints of the G5 and smaller P5 programs, that may not happen:
According to an NCAA report released today, there is an amendment to move the effective date of the 10th assistant coach from April (immediate upon vote) to Jan. 9, 2018. The Football Oversight Committee is the source of the amendment, and another form lists the Mid-American Conference.
The rationale is related to timing in the calendar, the budget and the job market.
“There are many concerns with the timing of the current immediate effective date,” the amendment reads. “An April effective date is in the middle of the budget year for the membership and is late in the hiring period for a football staff. If the effective date is amended to occur to the conclusion of the 2017 football season, member institutions will have the opportunity to budget for the addition of a full-time countable coach and associated costs related to recruiting.
The reason offered by supporters of the amendment is not just budgeting salary for a 10th coach (something that frankly should have been done in Sept. of 2016 before FY2017 began,) but also budgeting for the increased recruiting costs associated with another traveling coach (again, something that should have been seen and planned for last summer when it was apparent the rule change would be near-unanimous.) This has really screwed some schools that have made personnel changes or wish to do so based on the 10th coach: Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Alabama all to some extent have planned for this. I understand money is tight at many programs, but, again, this is a change that was known well before the beginning of FY2017, so the amendment strikes me as the result of dilatory planning, if anything. Let’s hope that the Big Guys get their way on this rule, and the opportunity to improve teams begins immediately.
Speaking of Special Teams
Saban has apparently hired/is today hiring former Alabama Director of Football Operations, Joe Pannunzio, to be the Tide’s ST/TE coach. Pannunzio comes back to the Tide after a stint as the Director of Player Personnel with the Philadelphia Eagles.
And, speaking of Director of Football Operations
It is a revolving door at Alabama: AL.com is reporting that Justin Dickens, who was hired to replace Joe Pannunzio in 2015, is leaving the program as Director of Football Operations.
This may be the busiest offseason in Alabama history under Saban: Director of Ops, WR coach, offensive coordinator, offensive coordinator No. 2, OL/TE coach all on the outs -- and you really wonder how many of those were voluntary.
What is targeting?
It seems as though the NCAA’s director of officiating is willing to offer, what he describes as, a middle-ground, one which I think will become the default call in all-but the most egregious cases:
“If the replay official has more time and more angles and says, ‘I can’t really confirm it’s targeting,’ the default position is the call on the field is correct, so it stands,” Redding said. “But we’re not gonna throw him out. … The idea is that certainly the officials on the field saw something. We can’t say, ‘No, it’s not targeting,’ but there’s more middle ground.”
Under a new proposal, the 15-yard targeting penalty would be enforced, but the player would not be ejected if a replay official doesn't see enough proof to overturn the call.
SBN tried to put together the best classes of the past 15 years; for whatever reason 2008 Alabama, considered one the best of the modern era (with UF 2010, UA 2015, and UA/OSU 2017) isn’t on the list. If you want to know why recruiting rankings in a vacuum are nigh-useless, take a look at
all that wasted LSU talent that NSD2010 class for the Gators. It’d be hard to find a lower-achieving, poorly-coached group: Counting 5th year players, that RS Sr. class won a total of 34 games in five seasons, never won the SEC, tied for first the SEC-East crown just once, never made it to Atlanta, and lost its only BCS/New Year’s Six bowl appearance. In fact, 11 of those 34 wins came in just one season — 2012. Yuck.
The Pass Rush: It seems someone at SI reads RBR
On Monday, Josh discussed one of the most critical question marks of the 2017 Alabama Crimson Tide. Later this week, it becomes a national question of interest. While SI points to D’Shawn Hand, Josh notes that there are far more pieces at play in stepping up and in to generate the rush. I’ll give you both articles below.
That’s it for today: Go forth to puppies and Skittles.