In case you missed it, Alabama had a flurry of players enter the transfer portal following the National Championship loss. Most are expected cases, though it is disappointing to see Drew Sanders go as a guy that’s been a key depth piece and rotational player.
Moving on, the coaching staff changes are beginning:
Alabama cornerbacks coach Jay Valai is headed to Oklahoma in the role of co-defensive coordinator/pass defense, the Sooners announced Tuesday evening.
Oklahoma said Valai will coach cornerbacks and nickel backs under new head coach Brent Venables.
When guys move on from Alabama to a lateral role, it usually means he wasn’t a great fit on the staff the move is a mutual parting. Alabama’s corners this year were generally good in coverage but the whole group struggled with playing the ball in the air, while the Star guys busted a lot of zones until the final 1⁄3 of the season. Saban now has the chance to find a slam dunk hire to take over.
While Vic Fangio of the Denver Broncos, Brian Flores of the Miami Dolphins, Matt Nagy of the Chicago Bears and Mike Zimmer of the Minnesota Vikings were fired the day after their teams completed the 2021 NFL regular season, the Giants waited two days before pulling the trigger on Judge.
A former Birmingham-Southern and Alabama assistant coach, Judge had spent eight seasons on the staff of the New England Patriots, including working with three Super Bowl-winning teams, when he came to New York in 2020.
Speaking of possible future Alabama staff, Joe Judge has been fired from the Giants. He’s a linebacker coach who’s worked with both Saban and Bill Belichick in the past, so don’t be surprised to see him join the army of analysts as part of the Saban Coaching Rehab Program.
Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams tore the ACL in his left knee in Monday’s national championship game, ESPN reported Tuesday.
ESPN’s report added that Williams will have surgery within the next 10 days and is expected to make a full recovery, which is typical for ACL injuries.
It’s now confirmed that Jameson Williams tore his ACL. The reports are all doing their best to say that he’s expected to make a full recovery that won’t affect his career. Hopefully, some NFL GMs will buy in and somebody goes ahead and drafts him where he deserves to be drafted.
“But to do what he did this year, with that team, I told him after the game, I said, ‘I really believe that this was probably the best job you’ve ever done.’ And people don’t understand that, media don’t respect that because they didn’t win the national championship. But the job he did, with that team? Incredible. Incredible.”
Throughout the 2021-22 season, Saban has made mention of Alabama having a young team. Last year’s national champs, the Crimson Tide lost eight starters on the offensive side alone and had two sophomores, Young and Will Anderson, step up as its biggest leaders this fall.
I said after the game that it was by far the least painful big loss of the Saban era, and Kirby Smart vocalized what we were all thinking. This was an extremely young team that, quite honestly, most of us didn’t even expect them to get as far as they did.
And Alabama will return nearly their entire team in 2022, plus the reinforcements of a #2 recruiting class and two superstar transfers, with the best two players in college football with a taste of unfinished business. That’s something to be extremely excited about this offseason.
“I think it’ll help them a lot,” head coach Nick Saban said. “I think these kinds of experiences are invaluable. The thing that’s tough about it is we played some guys tonight that didn’t get to play much during the season, so they didn’t have much experience going in.
“And they had some opportunities and they made some plays and I’m sure that’ll help their confidence and they’ll grow and learn from this, and it’ll be a positive experience for them and their development in the future.”
One of those players, linebacker Keanu Koht, was on crutches while his foot was wrapped in a cast during the game. In more positive injury news, tight end Robbie Ouzts was in uniform for the national title game after suffering a stress fracture in his foot prior to the Iron Bowl.
If you want a nice list of reasons to be excited, check out this list of true freshmen that contributed in the national championship game. The last time that happened (2017), they wound up dominating college football for the next three years.