Nate Oats Feb 4, 2023; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nate Oats looks on against the LSU Tigers during the first half at Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

When Alabama Athletic Director Greg Bryne hired University of Buffalo head coach Nate Oats, he raised more than a few eyebrows.

Oats was a pretty good coach at Buffalo, winning two MAC championships and three MAC Tournaments, but would he be a perfect fit for a football school like Alabama?!?

Oats has since answered that with a resounding yes.

When he took over as head coach at Bama, he let it be known right off that he intended to do more than just make the field of 68. He intended to win SEC championships and go to the Final Four.

Now, Oats is on the verge of leading this team to a Final Four, which has never happened in school history. Even now, it had been 20 years since Alabama played in their one and only Elite Eight game under Mark Gottfried.

The ironic thing is, that Alabama had their best basketball team last year with Brandon Miller. That team had the most wins in program history and won the SEC regular season and tournament title. They also were the overall No. 1 seed in March Madness, but off-the-court distractions may have been too much for this team to handle and they bowed out in the Sweet 16.

This team, however, came into this season losing all their assistant coaches, lost several key players to either the transfer portal or the NBA, and at one point, seemed to lack enough bodies to field a full roster. Fans were worried, but Oats got to work in the transfer portal, getting the likes of Grant Nelson, and Aaron Estrada, while building a foundation with returning stars like Mark Sears.

Some say this might be the best job Oats has done because this team wasn’t even picked to win the SEC. But he trusted his system, based on fast play, making three-pointers, and good defense. This Alabama team broke the SEC record in scoring and managed to work through their defensive issues to get things squared away.

Many thought coming out of the SEC tournament after the Florida Gators blew them out, that the Tide and Oats would be one and done. But they didn’t give up and now they stand one game away from the Final Four.

Oats has brought excitement and energy back to a program that was nearly left for dead. He even has rival fans wishing he’d go away or wishing they had him as their head coach.

Even if the Tide loses to the Clemson Tigers, college basketball experts have already called this the best coaching job in Oats’s short career. In just five years in Tuscaloosa, he’s won two SEC regular season titles, two SEC Tournament titles, was SEC Coach of the Year in 2021, and has led his team to the Elite Eight.

Not bad for a guy who used to teach math.

About Stacey Mickles

Stacey is a 1995 graduate of the University of Alabama who has previously worked for other publications such as Sportskeeda and Saturday Down South.