Plenty of scrutiny has been given to Nick Saban choosing a young coach as Alabama Football’s Offensive Coordinator. From age and experience, Tommy Rees is a significant change from Bill O’Brien.
Conventional wisdom is a team with two new Coordinators is vulnerable. The fact is coaching continuity has ceased to be achievable in many programs, especially at the top where assistants are often lured away.
The 2023 version of SEC football shows coaching continuity is a non-issue. In terms of tenure in current jobs, the Dean of SEC OCs is Joey Lynch at Vanderbilt. Lynch has been the Vandy OC since the 2021 season.
Three SEC programs have offensive coordinators going into their second seasons. Mike Denbrock will be the LSU OC for a second season. Denbrock does have deep connections to Brian Kelly, going farther back than Notre Dame. Many seasons ago when Kelly and Denbrock were coaching Grand Valley State, the pair traveled to Florida to learn the Fun ‘n’ Gun from Steve Spurrier.
Also going into a second season are Rob Sale at Florida and Lane Kiffin’s duo of Co-OCs, Charlie Weiss Jr. and John David Baker. Of course, in Oxford, Kiffin remains the architect of the Ole Miss offense.
Mike Bobo will technically be in his first season as Kirby Smart’s OC. But Bobo was an analyst for Georgia in 2022 and was Georgia’s OC for many years in the Mark Richt era of Bulldogs football.
Other ‘first season’ SEC OCs are Bobby Petrino at Texas A&M; Kirby Morre at Missouri; Dowell Loggains at South Carolina; Philip Montgomery at Auburn; Dan Enos at Arkansas; Kevin Barbay at Mississippi State; Liam Coen at Kentucky and Joey Halzle at Tennessee.
In Halzle’s case, it is an expanded role at Tennessee because he was already part of the Vols’ offense going back to Josh Heupel’s first season in Knoxville. Liam Coen returns to Lexington after being Mark Stoops’ OC in the 2021 season.
Alabama Football and a New Offensive Coordinator
While Alabama is another of the several SEC teams with a new OC, the transition in Tuscaloosa will be easier than most. Tommy Rees will not change Nick Saban’s Alabama Football offense. He will add to it, adapt it, and bring his own play-calling inclinations, but Crimson Tide players will not face a learning curve from the installation of a new offense.
So who will be the best SEC OC in 2023? Bobby Petrino, followed by Philip Montgomery have reputations not to be ignored. Though not recently, that is also true for Mike Bobo. At the same time, there is no reason Tommy Rees cannot become the SEC’s best in 2023.
Many Alabama football fans are already sold on Tommy Rees, believing him to be a better fit for the college game than Bill O’Brien.