With Brian Daboll leaving to take on the Buffalo Bill offensive coordinator job, who might be next to handle Alabama’s offense?
Daily Five: Brian Daboll Replacement Ideas
It’s as high-risk, high-reward as it gets.
For anyone who dares to take on the challenge of being Nick Saban’s offensive coordinator … dilly, dilly.
It might be a Spinal Tap drummer situation lately with Lane Kiffin, then Steve Sarkisian, and then Brian Daboll – leaving to become the Buffalo Bills’ offensive coordinator – all owning the gig over the last 13 months, but if you can handle being screamed at, and it you’re cool with sticking your ego in the closet, you get a chance to handle the No. 1 team in the country coming into 2018.
And the O will be more loaded than ever.
Forgetting for a moment that Daboll didn’t exactly do anything amazing with the Bama O this year, it all worked out nicely for him. And for Kiffin, and if Julio Jones doesn’t fall down in Philly, life isn’t that bad for Sark – to a point.
So without wasting your time suggesting Kiffin should come back, here are five ideas to throw out there to take on the job, starting with …
5. Rich Rodriguez
Work with me here.
Whether it’s Urban Meyer taking on Greg Schiano and Kevin Wilson as assistants, or Saban adding Sarkisian to the equation late last year, or bringing in Kiffin, the only thing the made guys care about is coaching talent.
Of course there are issues, and of course this is a rehab job, but that’s what the coordinator gigs like this are for.
Say what you will about RichRod, but man knows how to crank up an offense – especially a rushing attack run by quarterbacks who can move.
Do this, and the 2018 season might be over before it starts – no one would stop the Bama backfield. But that’s not going to happen, and neither will …
4. Sterlin Gilbert
He’s not quite a big enough name yet, but he’s getting there.
Charlie Strong’s offensive coordinator late in the Texas era and last year at USF, Gilbert’s offenses move the ball with mobile quarterbacks who can mix things up.
His quick rise up the ranks got a boost with a solid 2014 season running Bowling Green’s attack. He then took over the Tulsa offense – it finished 13th in the nation. That was enough to be Strong’s man at Texas – the Longhorns finished 16th in the country in 2016 – and last season, USF finished sixth.
3. Chip Long
Just 34 at the moment, the Notre Dame whiz kid took a stale and stodgy Irish offense and turned it into something amazing for the first few months of the season – at least on the ground.
Josh Adams turned into a fringe Heisman candidate for a while, and QB Brandon Wimbush did some nice things, but for this to work, Long would have to be able to tone down the tempo a bit to fit with Saban’s world views.
With a meteoric rise, Long went from being a little know assistant, to the Memphis offensive coordinator for a year, to Brian Kelly’s OC last season. It might be a risky hire, but Daboll wasn’t exactly a cookie-cutter pick, either.
Okay, enough speculation. Here are the two guys who’ll really be in the running.
2. Jim McElwain
This is too easy.
Of course, his Florida teams didn’t make anyone forget about Steve Spurrier, but he was Saban’s offensive coordinator for four years during the rise up the ranks – there were a few national titles during the marriage.
McElwain left for Colorado State before getting the Gator gig, and now he’s been exiled after a rough season in Gainesville – but without a few of his key offensive starters.
But it’s Saban and it’s Alabama – expect the Tide to go forward and not back, so …
1. Mike Locksley
Just how much does Saban want to keep him around? Locksley handled the receivers and was the second banana to Daboll this year, but he’s also a phenomenal recruiter and master motivator.
Forgetting for a moment that he’s wanted by other places if this doesn’t work out – Florida State is on the radar – and blowing off a disastrous run as the New Mexico head man, the players like him, he knows how to work under Saban, and the continuity wouldn’t be a problem.
But it’s Saban. When this is all done, expect a name you’ve probably never heard of – and expect the hire to work.