Alabama fans have been a bit on edge since news broke that Bill O’Brien and Pete Golding vacated the two coordinator roles, leaving open critical positions with spring approaching. One of those is now filled.
Sources: Notre Dame OC Tommy Rees has accepted the Alabama offensive coordinator job.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) February 3, 2023
Dees is definitely a departure for Saban in that he is only 30 years old and has no discernible connection to Nick’s vast coaching tree. There are a couple of connections, however. Tommy’s father, Bill, serves as Notre Dame’s Director of Scouting and is close friends with Alabama Director of Player Personnel Bob Welton, as reported by FootballScoop.
Sources told FootballScoop that the Welton-Bill Rees connection this week was key, and Tommy Rees likewise has already garnered NFL coaching experience before his time at his alma mater, Notre Dame.
Another connection for Tommy Rees is with Alabama Director of Sports Performance David Ballou. The two worked together in South Bend, Indiana, during the 2017 football season, when Rees served as offensive coordinator Chip Long’s quarterbacks coach and the Irish generated a 10-win season.
We will be along later with some film study of Rees’ offenses, though it always comes with the caveat that Saban requires his coordinators to play within his framework. Nick did say late in the season that he preferred to get back to the RPO game that was so successful in previous seasons, but took a backseat in favor of more dropback passing to suit the strengths of QB Bryce Young. Rees spoke in November about the Notre Dame RPO game and where Irish QB Drew Pyne could improve in execution.
Rees has been running the Notre Dame offense for three seasons and coaching the quarterbacks for three prior. His most accomplished protege is Ian Book, who became a fourth round draft pick under Rees’ tutelage. Tommy led the Irish offense against Alabama in the 2020 semifinals and earlier that season put up over 500 yards and 47 points in an upset win over Clemson.
The overall stats are a bit underwhelming. The Irish finished 27th, 46th, and 60th in total yards for the past three seasons, struggling at the quarterback position after Book went pro. The talent at his disposal at Alabama will be substantially better than what he had in South Bend, and not just in the QB room. He will also gain the benefit of Saban’s player development structure and offensive framework that is already built.
Reviews on the hire have been mixed, but this is the man that Saban has chosen to run his offense. May he do it well.