Roll Tide Rumor Mill; All Quiet on The Crimson Front
It's been 10 days since Chris Low of ESPN broke the news that the Alabama Crimson Tide would be losing its defensive coordinator, Pete Golding to SEC West rival Ole Miss.
It's been five days since the New England Patriots interviewed current Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien for the same position in their organization.
The Alabama fan base waits with bated breath wondering what college football's most accomplished coach will do to revamp the Crimson Tide coaching staff, but lately the news has been slow.
Welcome to the third installment of The Roll Tide Rumor Mill; All Quiet on the Crimson Front.
In the second installment of the Roll Tide Rumor Mill we looked at who the best candidates are for Alabama's vacant defensive coordinator position. While no one has been hired as of this Monday, Jan. 23, writing, it doesn't mean there haven't been tea leaves to read and rabbit trails to follow.
On Thursday the Crimson Tide received its second player from the transfer portal, Georgia inside linebacker Trezmen Marshall. Marshall will compete for playing time in Tuscaloosa, but the most interesting thing around his transfer was a tweet from current Georgia co-defensive coordinator Glenn Schumann.
Schumann, arguably the top candidate to replace Golding, took to Twitter to congratulate Marshall and note their longstanding relationship dating back seven years. Could Marshall have chosen to come to the Tide due to having inside information on Schumann's future plans?
The other heavy favorite for the defensive coordinator position is former Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt. Everyone knows Pruitt's biggest hurdle to getting hired in Tuscaloosa is his status and standing with the NCAA.
Rumor has it that Pruitt believes he will be cleared of all wrong doing by the NCAA and is proceeding as such. One must wonder if Saban will risk bringing him back to the staff if sanctions are to follow. Secondarily, I must ponder what power the NCAA really holds in a new-era of college football. Pruitt's crimes in Knoxville could now be swept away or bundled into NIL money and no one would be the wiser.
I believe that Pruitt will be on the defensive staff for the upcoming 2023 season, however I'm not willing to predict he will take over as the coordinator. I believe he'll join the staff as analyst as his NCAA battle continues to iron itself out.
Let's keep digging on the defensive side of the ball and try to connect some dots.
10 days ago news broke that the Tide would be adding Austin Armstrong as an on-field assistant for the upcoming season. Armstrong brings coordinator experience and will oversee the inside linebackers, but what does it really mean?
Well for starters, I believe it signifies that the Tide will not be seeing Bo Davis come back to The Capstone. There was speculation that current defensive line coach Freddie Roach may be reassigned to the inside linebackers and Saban may pluck Davis from Texas to reinvigorate the defensive line. For the time being, I'd say this option is off the table.
Lastly, one more note on the defensive side. The San Francisco 49ers are in the NFC Championship game, led on defense by coordinator and former Alabama linebacker DeMeco Ryans.
Ryans has been interviewed by the Houston Texans and the Denver Broncos for their vacant head coaching positions. The Arizona Cardinals and Indianapolis Colts have requested to interview the Alabama-native for their head coaching positions.
I can't believe I have to write it, but Ryans will not be coming to Tuscaloosa to take the vacant defensive coordinator position.
Let's flip to the offensive side of the football.
The Crimson Tide still has an offensive coordinator. It's Bill O'Brien.
However, the writing on the wall says that may not be the case for much longer. O'Brien's contract is set to expire in February and he spent time interviewing with Bill Belichick in New England last week for its offensive coordinator position.
If and when O'Brien moves on to other opportunities, how will the Crimson Tide move on?
Former TCU offensive coordinator Garrett Riley already took a new job with the Clemson Tigers in the same role. Former Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury has left he country and lost his cell phone.
The hottest name on the Roll Tide Radar right now is current Oklahoma offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby.
Lebby, just 39-years old, has spent time with a number of influential offensive coaches.
In college at Oklahoma he worked with then Sooner's quarterback Josh Heupel, hang on to that.
After a short stint coaching high schoolers he went to Waco to work under his scandalous father-in-law, Art Briles. Lebby spent nine seasons at Baylor helping to craft their prolific offenses, however he was a part of the coaching staff that grossly mishandled sexual assault cases that occurred during their time.
Lebby then worked one year as offensive coordinator for Southeastern before being plucked up by his former college companion, working for Heupel at Central Florida.
He spent two years with Heupel before heading to Oxford, Miss., to run Lane Kiffin's offense. In 2022 he was handed the keys to the offense in Norman, after Brent Venables was hired as head coach.
Lebby would be a hot young mind to bring to Tuscaloosa that could not only revamp the offense, but he can help Saban understand Heupel's system in Knoxville and Kiffin's idiology in Oxford.
When will Saban and the program make a move?
Time will tell, but rest assured the Roll Tide Rumor Mill is always turning.