Saban Makes Steele Return Official

There's official news on the worst kept secret in Alabama football this month. Almost everyone expected Greg Brown to leave Alabama as safeties coach and for Defensive Coordinator Kirby Smart to return to coaching safeties, clearing the way for Kevin Steele, a former Tide defensive coordinator, to return to the field as inside linebackers coach.

Alabama Football Coach Nick Saban announced Wednesday that Kevin Steele, who spent last season as director of Player Personnel at UA, will make the transition back to linebackers coach and will also serve as special assistant to the head coach. Steele, who spent the 2007 and 2008 seasons on Saban's staff at Alabama, helped the Crimson Tide put together the nation's top-ranked 2014 recruiting class.

There has been a bit of reformation of the Alabama coaching staff this year, but with only one truly unfamiliar face. In addition to the return of Steele to the field, Bama got Bo Davis back from Texas. Interestingly, he replaced Chris Rumpf as defensive line coach when Rumpf went to Texas.

The totally new man, of course, is Lane Kiffin, new quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, having replaced Doug Nussmeier, who left Alabama for a similar position at Michigan. Kiffin's most recent work had been as head coach at USC. He was fired by the Trojans during this past football season.

The three new coaches and all other coaches and all players will be taking part in spring practice beginning in about five weeks. A-Day is April 19.

It is interesting that Alabama will open the 2014 season against West Virginia in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Aug. 30. Steele's last game at Clemson was in the Orange Bowl at the end of the 2011 season against West Virginia. It was not a good day for Steele and the Clemson defense as the Mountaineers set numerous records in a 70-33 win.

When Saban brought Steele back into the fold in the Player Personnel area, the Tide coach noted that an important aspect of the move was that Steele was familiar with the Alabama process. That was also key in Steele's move back to on-the-field coaching.

"I've known Kevin for a long time and he will do an excellent job for us in this role," said Saban. "Kevin is very familiar with our program from an organizational standpoint as well as our defense from coaching here previously so he'll be able to jump right in and not miss a beat. He possesses outstanding organizational skills along with great people skills which make him an excellent coach, teacher and recruiter."

Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart will move back and coach the secondary and Steele will coach the inside linebackers as they both did in 2007-08. The 2008 Alabama defense was second nationally in rush defense, allowing just 74.1 yards per game. That unit was third in total defense (263.5 ypg) and seventh in scoring defense (14.3 ppg) as the Crimson Tide went 12-2 and earned a BCS bowl bid.

"I'm really looking forward to getting back into an on the field coaching role and I want to thank Coach Saban and the University of Alabama for all they have done for me and my family through the years," said Steele. "I've been lucky enough to work with probably three of the best to ever coach the game from Coach Osborne to Coach Bowden to Coach Saban, so there is a great appreciation that comes when you have a special opportunity like this."

Steele spent three years (2009-11) as the defensive coordinator at Clemson. The Tigers won the 2011 Atlantic Coast Conference Championship, which was their first league title since 1991. The 2010 defense led the ACC and ranked 13th nationally in points allowed, surrendering 18.8 points per game. Clemson claimed the Atlantic Division Championship in 2009.

Prior to Clemson and Alabama, Steele worked at Florida State under head coach Bobby Bowden for four seasons (2003-06). Steele went to Florida State after serving as the head coach at Baylor University from 1999-2002.

Steele coached linebackers for the Carolina Panthers in the NFL from 1995-98 before taking the head job at Baylor. He has held assistant coaching jobs at Nebraska under Tom Osborne (1989-94), Tennessee (1987-88), Oklahoma State (1984-86) and New Mexico State (1983).

The Dillon, S.C., native is a 1981 graduate of the University of Tennessee. He spent his freshman year at Furman before transferring to Tennessee, where he was a member of Johnny Majors' 1978 and 1979 squads. He was a student assistant coach in 1980 and then a graduate assistant the following year (1981) before being promoted to outside linebackers coach in 1982.

Steele and his wife, Linda, have one son (Gordon) and one daughter (Caroline).

BamaMag Top Stories