Rich Rodriguez, the head football coach at West Virginia, is considered a leading candidate for the job of head football coach at Alabama. Although he was a defensive back as a player at West Virginia and spent some time as a defensive coach, his greatest fame prior to becoming a head coach was as an offensive coordinator under Tommy Bowden, first at Tulane and later at Clemson.
One of his most important appointments at Alabama will be his defensive coordinator. In 2007, Alabama's defense will be reeling from two consecutive years of huge losses. An early prognosis would be that Bama will have an uncharacteristic weak defense, which will put a great deal of pressure on the defensive coordinator–particularly if it is a new man.
The most obvious choice for Rodriguez would seem to be the Crimson Tide's current defensive coordinator and interim head coach, Joe Kines.
Kines, 62, is highly-respected for having had excellent defensive teams at Alabama the past few years. This is his second stint as defensive coordinator with the Crimson Tide, having previously served in the mid-1980s under Ray Perkins. He also has an impressive resume with previous coaching stops at Jacksonville State, Clemson, Florida, Tampa Bay, Arkansas, Georgia and Florida State.
Kines was head coach for a year at Arkansas and also wore the hat of assistant head coach at Alabama before taking over for Mike Shula as interim head coach. He was an assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Jacksonville State (his alma mater), Florida, Arkansas, and Georgia.
It is also possible Rodriguez would offer the position to his West Virginia defensive coordinator, Jeff Casteel. Like Kines, Casteel also coaches linebackers.
He was elevated to co-defensive coordinator prior to the 2002 season, in charge of all defensive personnel. In 2001, his first season at WVU, Casteel served as the coach of the WVU defensive line.
Casteel came to WVU from Texas-El Paso; he coached the defensive ends there, as UTEP won the 2000 WAC title and a bid to the Humanitarian Bowl.
From 1991-99, he was assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Shepherd College; Shepherd won six WVIAC championships during that time. He served as defensive line and strength coach at Shepherd from 1988-90. In 1987, he was defensive coordinator at Miami (Fla.) Palmetto High School.
A native of Paden City, W.Va., Casteel holds bachelor's and master's degrees from California (Pa.) University. He served as a student and graduate assistant coach at his alma mater from 1984-86, and also worked in the training camp of the CFL's Baltimore Stallions for two seasons.
Particularly intriguing is Paul Randolph.
Randolph is associate head coach and defensive coordinator at Rice under Owls Coach Todd Graham. Rice won its final six games of the year and finished 7-4 and will play Troy in the December 22 New Orleans Bowl. He, too, coaches linebackers.
Randolph, 40, went to Rice after three seasons as the defensive ends coach at Alabama. And he came to Alabama from Rodriguez's West Virginia staff (where Rice Coach Graham also served). Randolph also has previous coaching experience at Toledo, Illinois State, Valdosta State and Tennessee-Martin.
He is the only offensive or defensive coordinator in Conference USA who is a member of an ethnic minority.
At West Virginia in 2002 Randolph coached the defensive line and special teams.
Randolph played 10 seasons in the Canadian Football League, eight with Winnipeg (1988-95). He helped the Blue Bombers to Grey Cup titles in 1988 and '90. Then came two seasons (1996-97) as team captain and player-coach with the Montreal Alouettes. He was inducted into the Blue Bombers' hall of fame in 2002.
He received his degree in engineering technology from the University of Tennessee-Martin in 1990.
And, of course, Rodriguez could seek out Bill "Brother" Oliver, the Alabama defensive coaching legend. Oliver was last in coaching as head coach at Auburn eight years ago. The 67-year-old Oliver has a deserved reputation as a defensive genius. Oliver was a member of Coach Paul Bryant's first recruiting class (with Bama Athletics Director Mal Moore) and a player on his first national championship team in 1961. He returned to Alabama as an assistant coach (hired away from Auburn) in 1971. He was a member of three Alabama staffs that won national championships (1973, 1978 and 1979), then became head coach at Tennessee-Chattanooga. He then went into pro ball with the Memphis Showboats (1984-85), went to Clemson as secondary coach (1986-89), and returned to Alabama as secondary coach (and later defensive coordinator) under Gene Stallings, winning another national championship in 1992.
Oliver then went to Auburn as an assistant to Terry Bowden and was named head coach following Bowden's resignation. Oliver was passed over for the permanent job when Auburn selected Tommy Tuberville and Oliver retired from coaching in 1998.