A brief word on 10 others
We could spend literally 1,000 pages talking about any number of coaches who might fit what Alabama’s looking for, but we feel fairly comfortable that if there’s a hire to be made within the next five years or so, the name is going to come from the above list.
If not, then we’ll list a few more names below just to help fill out a list and give everyone something to talk about. The chance Alabama gets down to a true “coach to watch” is pretty slim, because if it comes down to it, we don’t expect the process would ever get past Jeremy Pruitt. If he’s asked, he’ll come. Here are a few other names for consideration anyway:
1) Geoff Collins, head coach, Georgia Tech
Assistant to Saban and Muschamp, he just completed his first season, a 3-9 year at Georgia Tech, as the Yellow Jackets continue to transition away from the triple-option. But he turns 49 in April, so he’s not a young pup.
2) Mike Locksley, head coach, Maryland
He came to Alabama with baggage but left with a whole bag full of offensive records. He also seems to have burned no bridges behind him, and he’s a top-flight recruiter. But he’s never had success running a program, and that didn’t change at Maryland in 2020.
3) Pete Golding, defensive coordinator, Alabama
Heads would explode if Golding was named head coach right now, but Nick Saban has reportedly identified him as a coach with a bright future. Ideally, he needs to leave and prove himself elsewhere first, but he might not have enough time to do that.
4) Urban Meyer, retired
Two truths about Urban Meyer: He doesn’t want to be done with coaching just yet, and he loves blue-blood opportunities. Meyer was briefly considered as part of Alabama’s 2003 opening that eventually produced Mike Price, but Utah snapped him up first. The Alabama job would be one of the few that could coax him out of retirement.
5) Butch Jones, Alabama QC assistant
This would take some threading of the needle, specifically Jones being given another opportunity quickly, and then excelling at it. He wasn’t ready for the job at Tennessee, but in retrospect probably outperformed his ability. If he’s grown as a coach, it’s not the longest shot on the board. But no one really knows.
The first outside candidate we’ll list, Stoops has impressed people with a 10-win season followed by a year the Wildcats made a bowl game essentially without being allowed to throw the ball due to QB injuries. His brother Mike is a current QC coach for Alabama, and the whole Stoops family are good recruiters.
7) James Franklin, head coach, Penn State
Before he went to Happy Valley, the question was which SEC blueblood would eventually grab the former Vanderbilt coach. Franklin has done enough to prove himself, and he is an ace recruiter. The one negative that follows him, though, is a scandal at Vandy that found several football players accused of sexual misconduct, with the role of the coaching staff never having been completely explained. If Alabama deems that to be a non-factor, Franklin has the best resume of anyone on this list save for Swinney and Fisher.
You knew we were going to list Kitchens. He’s a former Alabama player with experience as an NFL head coach. Unfortunately, he was fired after just one season because the Cleveland ship he was piloting completely broke apart at sea. Kitchens, like Will Muschamp, probably advanced one step too far up an organizational chart. If so, there’s no chance he’d find Alabama any easier to manage.
From the category of small-school fliers that Alabama could take, Creighton is probably on top of that list. He has a wonderfully oddball resume that involves coaching in Europe, the NAIA and Division-III. He also coached Eastern Michigan to its first winning season in more than 20 years and then qualified for bowls in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history. Three of his former assistants are now head coaches. Like another coach we used to profile, Nevada’s Chris Ault, Creighton is likely to toil in obscurity for life. The biggest question for him at Alabama would be the ability to recruit.
10) Matt Campbell, head coach, Iowa State
This is the current mid-major du jour, as Campbell, like Saban, parlayed a successful tenure at Toledo into a Power 5 job at has been successful there as well. Campbell played at small-school powerhouse Mount Union and his teams completely embody the concept of never-say-die. Recruiting is the only unknown. Timing is not on Alabama’s side here, as Campbell will likely be snapped up before Saban is ready to call it quits.
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