Pete Golding, who has been the defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach for the Alabama Crimson Tide since 2018, accepted the same position under Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss on Friday. All weekend, Tide fans have been throwing out possible candidates to replace him, but we have narrowed it down to three potential guys who would all be a good fit to call Nick Saban’s defense:
The Hot Pick: Jeremy Pruitt
Pruitt has probably been the most common name thrown out, and for good reason. In his two seasons as Alabama’s defensive coordinator, the Crimson Tide defense excelled. In 2016, they were ranked second in the nation in total defense as well as leading the nation in rushing and scoring defense. In 2017, they again led the nation in scoring defense and ranked second in total defense as well as obviously winning a National Championship.
The obvious elephant in the room with Pruitt is the NCAA violations committed during his time as the head coach of Tennessee. While the investigation is still pending, it is unclear how many hoops Alabama would have to jump through to get Pruitt back on the sidelines and if Nick Saban would decide that it’s even worth the headache. Even if Saban determines that Pruitt is the man for the job, there will be other steps that need to be taken in order to make sure he is eligible. While Pruitt is a fantastic defensive coordinator whose resume speaks for itself and I would fully support the hire if the NCAA allowed it, I believe that Pruitt’s baggage ultimately will take him out of the running.
The Outside Pick: Jim Leonhard
Jim Leonhard is considered to be one of the game’s young rising star assistants. A 10-year NFL veteran, Leonhard began his coaching career by coaching the defensive backs at Wisconsin starting in 2016. He was elevated to defensive coordinator by 2017 and was named the interim coach for the Badgers once they parted ways with Paul Chryst earlier this season. He went 5-3 as the head coach including a win over Oklahoma State in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl.
While there appeared to be interest between new Badgers head coach Luke Fickell and Leonhard in keeping him off the staff, it ultimately didn’t work out and Leonhard is now effectively a free agent. While working under Saban previously is generally a feather in the cap for hires like this, the GOAT has not hesitated to go rogue and hire new people before, and Leonhard would be a fantastic hire.
The Best Pick: Glenn Schumann
If you aren’t familiar, Schumann is a 32-year old graduate of Alabama (class of 2011) who just so happens to be the co-defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach for Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs. Schumann worked under Saban previously during his time at the Capstone as a student assistant and eventually an on-field graduate assistant, working directly under defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. When Smart got the job at Georgia, Schumann was the first hire he made.
Known widely as a defensive guru, Schumann has been a critical part of coaching Georgia’s back-to-back championship defenses, and hiring him as the defensive coordinator would not only make Alabama stronger, but deliver a blow to the Bulldogs as well. If he would be willing to take the job, bringing back Schumann is the best move Alabama can make as it tries to stop the Dawgs from college football’s first three-peat since 1936.