There comes a time when it’s okay to admit mistakes. The No. 8 Alabama Crimson Tide made these mistakes when the call for new coordinators didn’t go ahead. Head coach for years Nick Saban has struggled to keep some of his assistants from going to other teams or the NFL as head coaches. Alabama has gone through five different offensive coordinators in seven seasons and four defensive coordinators in eight seasons. Still, the Tide have managed to win three College Football Playoff National Championships and appeared in three other title games since 2015. That doesn’t change the fact that Alabama’s season is considered disappointing.
Alabama brought back a reigning Heisman Trophy winner as quarterback Bryce Young, a solid group of pass rushers, top-flight playmakers from the NCAA transfer portal and one of the greatest head coaches of all time in Nick Saban. The advantage this season was that Alabama brought back their offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien and defensive coordinator Peter Golding.
The team’s experience was insufficient, as Alabama would come into big games unprepared, either physically or mentally. This season has a different feel as Alabama suffered two mentally draining losses to rivals Tennessee and LSU. Alabama also encountered fears from Texas and Texas A&M. There’s a definite lack of focus and assertiveness that starts with the coaching staff. While Saban is responsible for Alabama’s failure to playoff and SEC championship guilt, there’s no shortage of blame on O’Brien and Golding as it may be time for a fresh start for Alabama after this season.
Is it time for Alabama to make a coaching change?
Alabama’s high-level production doesn’t mean consistency
The Crimson Tide were among the top teams in the nation in terms of productivity on both sides of the field. Alabama ranks 6th in the nation in points per game (40.6) and 15th in points per game allowed (18.9). While they were productive in producing big results, there was a definite lack of efficiency at crucial moments. In five key games this season, Alabama has struggled on both offense and defense.
In the win over Texas, the Tide struggled on the offensive side of the ball as the Tide needed a Heisman Trophy performance from Young. The offense accounted for just 374 yards. In the narrow win over Texas A&M, it was the same situation as the offense quarterback Jalen Milroeaccounted for just 397 total yards.
In the loss to , the Tide defense gave up big plays left and right. Tennessee rallied 567 total yards as they rallied with Alabama’s secondary. After all, in the overtime loss to LSU, it was offense and defense that failed. Alabama rushed LSU by a total of 98 yards, but the offense rarely capitalized on the running game. O’Brien put too much on Young’s arm, which often found pressure. On defense, Golding called terrible plays and the Tigers completed clutch plays. The nail in the coffin for Alabama’s season was the LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels to battle for the 25-yard rushing touchdown in the first game of overtime. The players looked too stunned to retaliate and stop the game-winning two-point conversion play to give LSU the 32-231 win.
There is still pride in the players
This coaching staff dysfunction continued last week as Alabama trailed 11th-ranked Ole Miss for most of the game. Alabama allowed 191 rushing yards from the Rebels’ offense. It took a three-touchdown effort from Bryce Young and a fantastic defensive effort from defensive lineman Byron Young to help Alabama secure a 30-24 away win over Ole Miss. Alabama surpassed Ole Miss 6-0 in the fourth quarter. Byron Young had one of his best games of the season, accounting for 11 total tackles, six solo tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss, a pass breakup, and two quarterback pressures. Saban was even prouder of his players in the game this season because they collected themselves and helped lead the team to the big win.
What might happen to the coaching staff for Alabama after this season?
There’s still plenty to play for this season, including a home matchup against Auburn and a possible trip to the New Year’s Six Bowl game. If the coaching staff doesn’t prepare players physically and mentally for Auburn, Alabama could be in serious danger of losing. A season of losses to Tennessee, LSU and Auburn would be heartbreaking for the Tide Nation. For the remainder of the season, O’Brien must lead a balanced offense led by Young. Golding, a Broyles Award nominee, must secure his defense for all four quarters.
After this season, Alabama could make changes in the coaching staff. It’s true that Alabama’s defense didn’t end the season by conceding 20 or more points per game, except last season when the defense conceded 20.1 points per game. At the same time, there is a noticeable difference in clutch play and the need for a turnover or stop over the last couple of seasons. Golding is a coach most likely to return next season due to his professional relationship with Saban.
O’Brien, on the other hand, is the coach, leaving the duet more to mutual decisions. He’s considered a candidate for the Nebraska head coaching job or for a Big 12 program if anyone wants to Matt Campbell leaves in Iowa State. Recently it was rumored that O’Brien is a strong candidate to replace Matt Patricia as offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots. From 2007 to 2011 he was offensive assistant, from the 2011 season offensive coordinator. It’s not confirmed if he will stay or leave, but there are aisles towards O’Brien’s post-season departure.