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Defensive Coordinator Pete Golding heads to Ole Miss, leaving behind a mixed legacy at Alabama

One of the most maligned coaches in recent memory is heading to Oxford.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOV 12 Alabama at Ole Miss Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After five seasons at Alabama that first saw him share duties for a year, and then helm the defense for the last four, Alabama defensive coordinator Pete Golding is heading west, to division rival Ole Miss.

During his tenure in Tuscaloosa, Golding oversaw the Tide’s transition to a 3-3-5 and 4-2-5 scheme that prioritized negative plays and getting plus-territory stops over forcing turnovers, giving up yards, or stopping nickel and dime drives. It was a less gambling approach that, when combined with Saban’s pattern matching, forced opponents to execute a full 75-yards down the field.

It usually paid off too, particularly after he finally got a roster that was built for the scheme.

Pete’s DC chops are as follows:

Defensive efficiency: 3rd
Explosive Plays allowed: 1st
Per-Play efficiency: 4th
Negative Plays Forced: 4th
Run D. Eff: 3rd
Pass D. Eff: 8th
3rd Down %: 35th
Scoring Defense: 13th (18.6 PPG)

Def. Eff.: 2nd
Exp. Plays Allowed: 2nd
Per-Play Eff.: 1st
Neg. Plays Forced: 4th
Run D. Eff: 3rd
Pass D. Eff: 5th
3rd Down %: 7th
Scoring Defense: 18th (20.1 PPG)

Def. Eff.: 5th
Exp. Plays Allowed: 5th
Per-Play Eff.: 5th
Neg. Plays Forced: 10th
Run D. Eff: 15th
Pass D. Eff: 6th
3rd Down %: 10th
Scoring Defense: 9th (18.2)

In five seasons, Alabama won three SEC titles, a national championship, and played for two more.

It was rumored that Golding was offered $2 million to stay in Tuscaloosa, a testament to how valuable Nick Saban believes him to be. Nor is Saban alone. This is the face of modern defense now: 18 PPG is damned good, and the teams above the Tide are mostly in the Big 10, and simply face different schemes and athletes. In fact, only Alabama and UGA have been in the Top 15 over this time period in the SEC.

To say that Golding leaves behind a mixed legacy is fair. However, many of the reasons that he was oft’ maligned simply were not grounded in reality, particularly given the talent deficits and youth at various positions — as well as some brutal busts and injuries in the secondary. Golding’s aggressive front also generated a ton of sacks and pressures and QBH.

But there is certainly criticism to be laid at his feet too. Under Golding, the Crimson Tide defensive front increasingly missed tackles; the team drew way too many penalties; inconsistent run-stopping; he was often slow to adjust to schemes that exploited some less-than-stellar positional talent; I don’t think he ever fully figured out how to scheme against TE and RB passes; and in a sport where turnovers determine winners, the Tide simply did not force many.

As a result, one was never quite certain whether a lead was safe when matched up against an opponent with comparable talent — Alabama would have likely been playing in the Title Game on Monday if not for two of those problem areas above that gave way to two blown leads in less than 3 minutes: defensive line tackling and rotating help for a clearly outmanned Demarcco Hellams.

Many Alabama fans will be happy to see him go. Me reaction is a bit mixed. Alabama will very much miss his recruiting chops. And, schematically, players were usually in position to get it done...and simply did not. But that Tennessee loss was a failure of coaching, every bit as much as the LSU loss was a failure of execution.

As for where we go from here? Honestly, who knows. Grantham is still in the analyst booth and is already familiar with the scheme, having run identical systems at Georgia and Florida, among others. T-Rob has DC experience with the Gamecocks, and a good G5 pedigree. Hutzler was Co-DC at Texas — there is plenty of talent on-hand already on staff. For my part, I’d like to see Nick call up the man that he interviewed already several years back: former Washington DC, Jimmy Lake.

Thanks for everything Coach Golding, and best of luck when you finally move on to that head coaching position.


What grade do you give Pete Golding’s tenure as DC?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    (9 votes)
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    (146 votes)
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    (503 votes)
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    (582 votes)
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    (272 votes)
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    (127 votes)
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    (71 votes)
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  • 1%
    It depends on the year
    (26 votes)
1750 votes total Vote Now