Possible Candidates to Replace Bill O’Brien
Alabama finds itself in an interesting spot headed into the meat of the offseason. For the 2023 cycle, they have absolutely killed it on the recruiting trail, finishing with arguably the best class (on paper) of the entire Saban era. However, the Crimson Tide also finds itself missing coordinators on both sides of the ball, and while this isn’t a foreign concept to Nick Saban, it does feel different. The coordinators didn’t leave to take head coaching jobs as has been the case in the past, and the entire program feels like it’s pressing a big reset button. We already discussed candidates to replace Pete Golding, so now let’s talk about some possibilities for the offensive side of the ball:
Personally, as we sit here on January 25th, I believe Lebby is the best man for the job. Perhaps the most attractive thing about Lebby as a candidate is the fact that he has experience working under arguably the two men who have given Saban’s defense the most fits over past couple of years. Lebby was Lane Kiffin’s offensive coordinator for two seasons at Ole Miss from 2020-2021, as well as Josh Heupel’s passing game coordinator at UCF. Lebby left Ole Miss after the 2021 season to coordinate Brent Venables’ Oklahoma Sooners offense and has only been there for one year, but surely could be lured to Tuscaloosa.
We all know Brady’s resume. He is credited in large part for the explosiveness of the 2019 LSU offense, one of the best the college game has ever seen. While next year’s Alabama offense in all likelihood will not feature talent like Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and Justin Jefferson, Brady would be able to maximize the strengths of the offense. The only reason why I don’t believe this will happen is that Brady, currently the QB coach for the Buffalo Bills, has a good chance to become an NFL offensive coordinator again after his first stint in Carolina did not go well. He will interview for the Chargers open OC role this week, and if offered the job, the prospect of working with Justin Herbert will be too good to pass up.
Anyone up for a round three? It would be Applewhite’s third stint in Tuscaloosa, as he served as Saban’s first offensive coordinator at Alabama in 2007, with mixed results. Applewhite returned to Tuscaloosa before the 2019 season as an analyst after he was fired from Houston, and after two seasons, was hired to be South Alabama’s offensive coordinator. Would Saban consider going back to Applewhite after he helped lead the Jaguars to their best season in program history in which they averaged over 30 points and 400 yards per game? A year that fantastic has to at least warrant consideration.
This is of course the pick that everyone has thrown out. I don’t really see it happening just because it would likely involve a major departure offensively from what Alabama does into a Kingsbury-type Air Raid system. That being said, there is something to the idea that it could be similar to the hirings of Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian and give the program a much-needed jolt in its current reset mode. While it would be a gamble, I like the idea of Kingsbury due to the fact that similar to Sarkisian, Kingsbury will get the most out of the talent on the field.
The name Adam Gase likely elicits a collective groan from football fans, but he does have experience under Saban both at Michigan State as a student assistant and at LSU as a defensive assistant and recruiting assistant. He was also the offensive coordinator of the Broncos record setting offense under Peyton Manning, which you can credit or discredit him for. He has not coached since being fired by the Jets in 2020 after a 9-23 record, but he is a good offensive mind with a background under Saban, so his name is at least worth consideration.