What The Latest Alabama Coaching Hires Bring To The Table


Even though only one of the latest Alabama coaching hires are “official” from the school, we thought we would take a look at what new outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi and secondary coach Mel Tucker brings to the table.

Most Alabama fans probably remember Tucker from the past two seasons with the Chicago Bears, where Tucker’s defense was rated among the worst in the league. One of the bright spots of that defense was defensive back Kyle Fuller. Fuller was named to NFL.com’s 2014 All-Rookie Team.

From that link:

"Fuller started the season extremely well, posting three picks in his first three games, before injuries got in the way and slowed him down. He’s a good cover corner who can come up and make tackles; he seems to have a good sense of where the ball is. Fuller has a bright future."

If you look past the the Bears’ defense and do a little more digging, you come up with some more positive things. Tucker played defensive back under veteran coach Barry Alvarez at Wisconsin before working as a graduate assistant under a pretty good defensive coach at Michigan State: Nick Saban.

May 14, 2013; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker during organized team activities at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Saban must have like what he saw because when Saban made the move to LSU, Tucker was hired as the defensive backs coach. While at LSU, that defense recorded 16 interceptions during the season in a defense that ranked in the top third in the country while playing the tenth most difficult schedule. That’s not to mention an SEC title.

During a three year stint with the Browns coaching defensive backs, that unit ranked fifth overall in interceptions (73) and fourth overall in passes of over 20 yards allowed (78). He was promoted to the Browns’ defensive coordinator in 2008. While the overall numbers aren’t that great, the Browns’ had the second most interceptions in the league that season.

The major difference in being an NFL coach and a college coach is recruiting and according to Sports Illustrated’s Thayer Evans, that part looks good as well with what he did at his last college job.

"The 43-year-old Tucker is beloved by players and a renowned college recruiter, landing NFL first-round pick Ted Ginn Jr. and Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith while coaching at Ohio State."

Speaking of a recruiter that knows what he is doing and you got the Tide’s new outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi. Lupoi has spent a year on Saban’s staff in an off the field role but still learning under Alabama’s head man. He knows what is expected from the organization and can now hit the ground running on the recruiting trail which he already has. When a Rivals Recruiter of the Year hits the road, folks start paying attention.

Dec 27, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; Washington Huskies coach Tosh Lupoi during the 2013 Fight Hunger Bowl against the BYU Cougars at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Also as Thayer Evans noted in his article on the hire, Lupoi has relationships across the country with recruits and Lupoi even stole one out from under Alabama while he was at Washington when he pulled the top rated safety Keenan Allen away from his Alabama commitment.

During his time as an intern on Alabama’s staff, Lupoi helped with the electronic media part of recruiting but with the promotion, he can get back on the field.

Prior to arriving at Alabama, Lupoi served as the running game coordinator and defensive line coach at Washington during the 2012-2013 seasons. During that time, the Bears’ defense ranked in the top four in scoring defense in the PAC-12 and ranked fourth in the country in sacks per game (3.15) in 2013. He also coached two players that earned All-American honors at Washington that season. Outside linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha led the country with 19 sacks and defensive lineman Danny Shelton ranked near the top among interior defensive lineman with nine sacks.

From Lupoi’s bio on RollTide.com, here is a bit on his time at Cal before arriving at Washington.

"Lupoi was the defensive line coach at California for four years, becoming the youngest full-time coach in Cal history when he joined the staff at the age of 26 in 2008. The Golden Bears led the Pac-12 in total defense in 2011, allowing just 332.9 yards per game. They were third in sacks that year with 34 and gave up the fewest first downs per game (17.4) and fewest passing yards per game (204.2). Cal also led the conference in defense and ranked among the top 25 nationally in per-game averages for sacks, total defense and pass defense. Lupoi was the Rivals Recruiter of the Year in 2010 and helped sign Cal classes that ranked No. 11 nationally in 2011 and No. 14 in 2010. He helped develop multiple NFL draft picks during his tenure at Cal, including future first round selections Cameron Jordan and Tyson Alualu."

As a Tide fan, I could not be any more pleased with these hires. Both coaches are familiar with Saban and from all accounts, kids connect with them. It is also some new blood in the system which can be a good thing to bring some fresh ideas.

Can we start the 2015 football season?