Alabama Football: Coaching staff continuity unsettling to some Tide fans

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

After one, not earth-shattering change, it appears Nick Saban is satisfied with the Alabama football staff for the 2020 season. More than a few Tide fans disagree.

For several months the Alabama football fan base has had two opposing camps. One wants Pete Golding to be fired. The other trusts Nick Saban and is content with either a retain or terminate decision by the head coach. A small and not very vocal few think, given an injury-depleted roster, Pete Golding’s abilities have not been fairly measured.

The ‘fire Pete immediately’ group has media cohorts who loudly champion the termination argument. Stepping back from the fray, a question can be posed. How valuable is coaching staff continuity?

After Alabama football was not just soundly defeated, but embarrassed by Clemson, coaching turnover was blamed. It was a fair claim. Compared to Dabo Swinney’s stable staff, Nick Saban’s staff had seen many changes. The Alabama football staff in 2018 included only four assistants from the 2017 season. Only three of them went back to the 2016 season and just one had been on the 2015 staff.

Success and Nick Saban’s ‘Alabama Football Factory’ drove much of the turnover. Eight of the assistant coaches on the Crimson Tide 2015 and 2016 staffs have become head coaches.

After the one, off-year in recruiting (the 2018 class) in what seemed like a forever run of No.1 classes, Saban chose a major re-shuffling. Jeremy Pruitt and Derrick Ansley left. Burton Burns chose a move to an off-field role. Karl Dunbar and Brian Daboll returned to the NFL. Only Mike Locksley, Brent Key, Tosh Lupoi and Joe Pannunzio were retained.

Dan Enos, Josh Gattis, Pete Golding, Jeff Banks, Craig Kuligowski and Karl Scott were hired. Half of the six were gone after one season. A couple with acrimonious exits. The three remaining are viewed by Nick Saban as excellent recruiters. Karl Scott did an outstanding job with the 2020 signing class. Some of Scott’s success must be shared with Pete Golding. As Defensive Coordinator, Golding was involved with every defensive player signed.

Many Alabama football fans give Golding no credit. They are also quick to heap blame on the young coach for the weakness of the 2019 defense. Perhaps he had failings as defensive play-caller. But the fans who fault his schemes forget those are Nick Saban schemes. Maybe he had much to learn for his Alabama football role. Let’s not forget he has one of the game’s best teachers.

Getting back to continuity, it appears Nick Saban sees value in it. For the sake of Alabama football, we all might try to avoid Twitter and talk radio whenever the conversation centers on Pete Golding. Whichever camp a fan is in, the media/social media, fueled flames serve no purpose.

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There is a remaining short window for Nick Saban to make more staff changes. He has a few weeks until spring practice begins. It is very unlikely he will do anything later.