Alabama's Nick Saban in the market for an offensive coordinator again

Alabama's Nick Saban in the market for an offensive coordinator again

January 15th, 2018 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Former Alabama offensive coordinator Brian Daboll works with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa during an August practice. Daboll was hired Sunday as offensive coordinator of the NFL's Buffalo Bills.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Alabama could have quite the publicized quarterback competition in upcoming months between Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa.

Brian Daboll won't be around to evaluate it.

Daboll, who was hired last February to run Nick Saban's offense after spending the previous 17 seasons in the NFL, is headed back to the professional ranks as offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills. His one season in Tuscaloosa resulted in a national championship that occurred in dramatic fashion, with Tagovailoa replacing Hurts at halftime of last Monday's title game against Georgia in Atlanta and rallying the Crimson Tide from a 13-0 deficit to a 26-23 overtime victory.

"We are excited to hire Brian as our offensive coordinator and welcome him back to western New York," Bills coach Sean McDermott said Sunday afternoon in a released statement. "I know how much this area means to him. He is a good coach and a good teacher and has been a part of winning programs in the NFL and in college."

Daboll played at the University of Rochester in western New York and first met McDermott at William & Mary in 1997. Daboll was a restricted earnings coach for the Tribe that season, while McDermott was a senior safety.

In their one season under Daboll, the Crimson Tide averaged 37.1 points and 444.1 yards per game. Those numbers were slightly down from Lane Kiffin's final year as offensive coordinator, when Alabama averaged 38.8 and 455.3.

"I have a great amount of respect for our players, what they do and how they go about their work," Daboll said two days before the win over Georgia. "Everyone has a role, and you never know when that one particular play is going to come up and you have to answer that bell. It's been a pleasure to work with these guys.

"From where we were in August to where we are now is night and day."

Alabama defeated Georgia on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Tagovailoa to fellow freshman DeVonta Smith.

Saban will now have to find his seventh offensive coordinator at Alabama, with his list to this point consisting of Major Applewhite (2007), Jim McElwain (2008-11), Doug Nussmeier (2012-13), Kiffin (2014-16), Steve Sarkisian (title game after the 2016 season) and Daboll (2017).

"Brian did a tremendous job for us this past season at Alabama, and I know he will do a great job for the Buffalo Bills," Saban said in a release. "He is an outstanding coach and coordinator who put us in position to be successful each week. We appreciate all that he did in terms of his time and his dedication in contributing to the success we had this season.

"We wish Brian, his wife Beth, and their entire family all the best."

McElwain is in the market for a job after being let go as Florida's coach in late October, as is former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze, who has been unemployed since last July. Former LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada parted ways with Ed Orgeron earlier this month after only one season, while another possibility for Saban is promoting receivers coach Mike Locksley.

A former head coach at New Mexico (2009-11), Locksley was an offensive analyst at Alabama in 2016 and also had the title of co-offensive coordinator this past season.

"Locksley for OC!!" Alabama running back Damien Harris posted Sunday on Twitter.

Whoever replaces Daboll will have quite the wealth from which to work, with center Bradley Bozeman and receiver Calvin Ridley representing the most notable departures. Harris has rushed for 1,000 yards each of the past two seasons, and there is plenty of potential star power at running back, receiver and tackle.

Saban is also seeking a new defensive coordinator after Jeremy Pruitt left that role last week to resume his new position as Tennessee's head coach. Alabama will have two new coordinators for the first time since 2008, when McElwain replaced Applewhite and Kirby Smart took over the defense from Kevin Steele, who remained on staff that year as the inside linebackers coach.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.