Alabama Football: Coaching staff performance will define ’19 season

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Assistant coaching staffs play a major role in championship success or failures. Why Nick Saban believes this season’s Alabama football staff is up to the task.

Recruiting, player development and coaching create game performance. As Alabama football fans know, sometimes there is a little luck involved. Game luck is easy to see, especially when it brings fortune to opposing teams.

Last season Alabama football suffered from the bad luck of injuries to key players. Less easy to see was the bad luck Nick Saban had with some assistant coaches.

Saban said recently, there was lack of focus on the staff after the LSU game. The reason was individual agendas getting in the way of team agendas. Saban took some heat for using exiting assistant coaches as an excuse for the Crimson Tide’s poor performance against Clemson. He responded by accepting full responsibility for the Tide’s weaknesses in the national championship game.

There is no value in pointing fingers at any individual coach who chose to leave after the 2017 or 2018 season. More important is the loss of continuity from the sheer number of attrition. Twelve Alabama Football assistants have exited the staff over the last two seasons. The fact close to half (or more) of them failed to meet Saban’s demanding,  championship standard does not diminish the negative impact.

Established relationships with players and recruits were harmed by the turnover. Not even the greatest coach in the history of college football can fill such a void.

We should no go further without mentioning who left for good reasons after the 2017 season. Burton Burns was lost to a deserved retirement from coaching. Jeremy Pruitt delayed being fully engaged in his first head coaching job, to lead the Tide defense to a national championship.

Other assistants were nudged out, sometimes not too gently. A few exits were a surprise to Saban.

Looking back at the 2018 staff, Saban may have erred choosing a coach or two for recruiting prowess rather than coaching skills.

What about the 2019 Alabama football staff?

To the extent Nick made mistakes, he learned from them. This season’s staff has a balance between coaching and recruiting talent. A fair comparison is 2017 since that staff was part of a national championship.

The strength of the 2017 staff came from Burton Burns (Running backs), Derrick Ansley (Defensive backs) and Jeremy Pruitt as Defensive Coordinator. Comparing the 2019 staff, there are four positions: Charles Huff (Running backs); Charles Kelly (Safeties), Karl Scott (Cornerbacks) and Pete Golding as Defensive Coordinator.

Golding is no match for Pruitt yet, but Nick Saban believes his young DC can become every bit as good. Based on numbers and experience, the other three 2019 assistants are at least equal to the 2017 pair – and maybe better.

What should not be discounted is the wealth of defensive staff experience aiding Golding this season. Sal Sunseri, Brian Baker and Charles Kelly have extensive knowledge to help with game-planning.

There is even more experience on the offensive side. Few will debate Sarkisian being more proven than Brian DaBoll. Sark also has strong help from Kyle Flood, Jeff Banks, Holman Wiggins and the aforementioned Charles Huff.

Next. Top 10 Wide Receivers in Tide History. dark

It is easy for Crimson Tide fans to believe the 2019 staff is close to being at least as good as the 2017 staff. If Saban is correct about Golding, the 2019 staff could be better than the Crimson Tide’s last national championship staff.