A.P. Steadham

Alabama has to replace Mario Cristobal, who is moving to Oregon

Nick Saban has been able to replenish Alabama coaching staff

It is not the place of Alabama’s athletics department to announce an employee deciding to leave, which explains why there has been no word from the Crimson Tide regarding Mario Cristobal accepting the job of offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator at Oregon

For some reason, Oregon has not yet made the announcement either

Cristobal, however, has confirmed his new position

Cristobal served four years under Coach Nick Saban at Alabama, coaching the offensive line, tackle-to-tackle, for three years, then coaching tackles and tight ends in 2016. That move was prompted by the retirement of tight ends coach Bobby Williams following the 2015 season. The Tide also brought in Brent Key, who coached guards and centers on the offensive line

Now what

First of all, men who have coached football at Alabama and, particularly, those who have coached under Saban are in high demand by schools that aspire to championships. It is good to have a coach who can go into the home of a prospect flashing his national championship ring (even if it doesn’t represent the achievement of the school he now represents)

It is to be expected that Alabama will lose assistant coaches at the end of almost every season

By now, Alabama fans should be aware of that and also aware that the same man who hired those fine coaches will hire their replacements

Nick Saban is aware of all the outstanding coaches. There is also the advantage that almost every football coach would be very, very happy to add to his resumé that he has coached at The University of Alabama under Saban. The Crimson Tide athletics department, owing to the success of the football program, has the resources to make it possible for Saban to get just about anyone he wants

The loss of Cristobal as coach can be overcome. It would not be a surprise to see Key add the tackles to his duties as offensive line coach

Saban will be able to hire a replacement for Cristobal and there is also the possibility that major college football teams are going to be able to add a 10th fulltime assistant coach, a move that Saban has championed. If that happens, Saban has more options and flexibility.

Saban’s assistants are good X and O men, but they are known primarily as recruiters extraordinaire. Cristobal was the recruiter in the talent-rich south Florida region, and it is reasonable to think that Saban might go after someone with qualifications in that area. Of course, Saban may already have someone on his staff who can be effective in south Florida.

Key has recruiting responsibilities in central Florida and the panhandle and might add south Florida. Some believe safeties coach Derrick Ansley might recruit in Florida.

Saban, of course, already has made one coaching replacement this year. When Lane Kiffin got the job as head coach at Florida Atlantic (FAU), he coached one more game with the Tide (the Peach Bowl win over Washington) and then was replaced by Steve Sarkisian at offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Sarkisian had been serving as an offensive analyst, a non-coaching position. Also serving in that capacity is Mike Locksley. Both Sarkisian and Locksley are former college head coaches. Locksley is expected to land an on-the-field position at Alabama based on him declining an offer to join the Florida coaching staff.

Several other Alabama assistants have been mentioned as possibilities to be hired away from Tuscaloosa, notably Josh Lupoi (outside linebackers) and Billy Napier (wide receivers). That may yet happen.

As has often been stated by Saban and by coaches who leave for other positions, Alabama’s head coach supports the decisions of those assistants who have the opportunity to improve their situations with a move.

And no one would doubt that Saban doesn’t have Plan B…and probably Plans C, D, E, et al.


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