Now that Lane Kiffin is the head coach at Florida Atlantic, Nick Saban needs to hire a new offensive coordinator.
Who should he bring in to run the Tide offense? Here’s a list of four candidates that Alabama should interview for offensive coordinator (although it doesn’t mean the school will interview them!)
4. Sterlin Gilbert
Even though he’s best known for successfully implementing the spread offense at Texas, Tulsa, and Bowling Green, hiring Gilbert would make sense. In one season as the OC at Texas, the Longhorns improved from 92nd to 14th in total offense. Despite this significant improvement in total yardage, UT was still a running team with Gilbert calling the plays, as the team attempted 195 more running plays than passing plays. Although his offensive scheme might look a little different than what we’ve seen out of Alabama in the past, there’s no reason to think that it won’t be just as effective. After all, his Tulsa squad racked up 603 yards against College Football Playoff-bound Oklahoma in 2015.
3. Brian Wright
Unless you’re a MAC or Conference USA fan, your first question is, “who is that?” Wright is currently the offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach at Toledo, which ranks fourth nationally in total offense and sixth in yards per play. Under his leadership, Logan Woodside became one of the most dangerous passers in the country, leading the nation with 43 touchdown passes, while completing 69.1% of his throws with an impressive 9.9 yards per attempt. Yet, Toledo also ran the ball effectively this season, averaging over 200 yards per game. He would be an intriguing hire that would bring balance to the Crimson Tide offense.
2. Mark Helfrich
Say what you want about Helfrich’s record as a head coach, but the bottom line is that the guy knows how to move the ball down the field. In his three seasons as the Ducks’ head coach, Oregon never finished lower than 18th nationally in total offense, ranking in the top 10 three times. The Duck ground game was especially dangerous under his watch, averaging 5.78 yards per carry and 253.39 yards per game. However, if he were to get the job, Alabama’s offense would probably resemble what Oregon’s looked like when Marcus Mariota was the starting quarterback, since Jalen Hurts is just as dangerous as both a passer and a runner. That’s not something that opposing defensive coordinators want to prepare for anytime soon.
1. Steve Sarkisian
Sarkisian would be a perfect candidate to succeed Kiffin. He’s currently an offensive analyst for the Crimson Tide, so he’s already familiar with the team’s personnel, as well as each player’s strengths and weaknesses. In addition, his offensive philosophy is somewhat similar to Kiffin’s, which would help ensure a smooth transition. Although he had some off-the-field problems in the past, Sarkisian has head coaching experience with a proven track record of developing 1,000-yard rushers. If Saban wants to promote from within, Sarkisian is the most logical choice.