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Alabama Coaching Turnover: A Deeper Look

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Is working for Nick Saban really such a toil?

NCAA Football: Alabama-A Day
This guy gets it.
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Another day, another reason for Alabama critics to create a false narrative about Nick Saban. As I am sure you have heard, the Crimson Tide has had a bit of coaching turnover since the season ended. None of the assistants from the 2017 staff will be a part of the 2019 version. And quickly the villagers get out their torches and pitchforks to attack the castle.

Upon closer examination, the positive reasons for departures heavily outweigh those of a negative variety.

2015

Coach Position Reason For Departure
Kirby Smart Defensive coordinator, inside linebackers PROMOTION: Head Coach Georgia
Mel Tucker Assistant head coach and defensive backs PROMOTION: Georgia DC (now Colorado head coach)
Burton Burns Associate head coach, running backs Retained
Lane Kiffin Offensive coordinator, quarterbacks Retained
Mario Cristobal offensive line Retained
Billy Napier Wide receivers Retained
Tosh Lupoi Outside linebackers Retained
Bobby Williams Tight ends and special teams Moved to off-field position
Bo Davis Defensive line NCAA issues

2016

Coach Position Reason For Departure
Lane Kiffin Offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach PROMOTION: Head Coach FAU
Billy Napier Wide receivers PROMOTION: Arizona State OC (now ULL head coach)
Mario Cristobal Offensive tackles and tight ends, recruiting coordinator PROMOTION: Oregon OC (now head coach)
Burton Burns Associate head coach, running backs coach Retained
Karl Dunbar Defensive line coach Retained
Jeremy Pruitt Defensive coordinator, inside linebackers Retained
Tosh Lupoi Outside linebackers Retained
Derrick Ansley Defensive backs Retained
Brent Key Interior offensive line and special teams Retained

2017

Coach Position Reason For Departure
Jeremy Pruitt Defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach PROMOTION: Head Coach Tennessee
Derrick Ansley Defensive backs PROMOTION: Colorado State, defensive coordinator
Tosh Lupoi Co-defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach Retained
Mike Locksley Co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Retained
Joe Pannunzio Tight end coach and special teams coordinator Retained
Brent Key Offensive line Retained
Burton Burns Associate head coach and running backs coach “Retired” to off-field
Karl Dunbar Defensive line coach Personal preference; Move back to the NFL
Brian Daboll Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Alleged personality differences

2018

Coach Position Reason For Departure
Mike Locksley Offensive coordinator PROMOTION: Head Coach Maryland
Dan Enos Associate head coach/quarterbacks coach PROMOTION: Miami OC
Josh Gattis Co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach PROMOTION: Michigan OC
Brent Key Offensive line coach PROMOTION: Georgia Tech Assistant Head Coach/OL
Pete Golding Co-defensive coordinator/inside linebackers coach Retained
Jeff Banks Special teams coordinator/tight end coach Retained
Karl Scott Defensive backs coach Retained
Joe Pannunzio Running backs coach Believed to have health issues
Craig Kuligowski Associate head coach/defensive line coach Alleged personality differences
Tosh Lupoi Defensive coordinator/outside linebackers coach Alleged inadequacies as a DC

The narrative goes that mean ol’ Nick Saban is a grumpy old grouch and hard to get along with. But when spelled out, the results come to a different conclusion.

POSITIVE

4 Former assistants left because they got head coaching jobs. (Quick math tells me that is one per year.)

6 Former assistants got promoted to coordinating jobs upon leaving Alabama. Three of those six are now FBS head coaches.

1 Former assistant promoted to Assistant Head Coach at his alma mater.

That is ELEVEN coaches who left for better jobs, seven of whom are currently FBS head coaches. I dare anyone to find a success level of any coach or program over the last four seasons that even approaches that.

NEUTRAL

2 Former assistants were moved to administration jobs within the University of Alabama (assumptively due to age).

1 Pending move probably due to age and health.

1 Personal choice

NEGATIVE

1 Former assistant was forced to leave due to NCAA issues.

1 Former assistant allegedly underperforming but left on good terms.

2 Former assistants allegedly had personality issues and did not want to buy into the Process®.