When Nick Saban met with the media on his first full day as Alabama head football coach Thursday, he said that he was not yet ready to make any announcements about his coaching staff. He also said it would be a deliberate procedure, though he would like to complete the staff as quickly as possible.
Although he said, "When we hire someone, we'll let you know.," it may be that some have already been added.
Lance Thompson, who coached the defensive line for Alabama under Mike DuBose and then went to LSU under Saban, has been at Central Florida. He was reportedly in the Mal Moore Athletics Administration Building Thursday while Saban was meeting with the media. One source said Thompson would coach tight ends and also have the title of recruiting coordinator.
A few hours later Mitch Dobbs of ‘BAMA Magazine and BamaMag.com spotted Kevin Steele going into the building. Steele has been executive head coach and linebackers coach at FSU, and it was announced from Tallahassee that Steele has left Florida State for the job of defensive coordinator at Alabama.
Saban said, "Obviously what we want to do right now is, is hire a good staff. I think having good people is the most important thing you can do in having a successful program. There's a lot of good people here that we would like to get to know. We will have to hire a coaching staff. We'll interview the coaching staff that's here, see if there's anybody that has the characteristics we're looking for that would contribute to the kind of staff we want to have."
Conventional wisdom is that Saban will keep few, if any, from Mike Shula's Alabama staff. Some think that Charlie Harbison, who coached wide receivers under Shula, has the best chance of staying. Harbison was secondary coach under Saban at LSU.
Saban said, "I want to hire the best staff we possibly can. We've already started to hire some people. We've got some other people coming in. But I don't really think you put a timetable on hiring a staff. We'll try to get the best people. There are process and procedure you go through. We're not going to take shortcuts to hire someone because once you're married to them they are here–you are with them.
"So I'd rather get the best people, do the due diligence that we have to do to get the best people, then end up having the best quality of staff–recruiting staff, coaching staff, teaching staff–we possibly can.
"We want to do it as quickly as possible, but we also want to do it as efficiently and effectively as possible to get the best product."
The greatest interest centers on Jimbo Fisher, currently the offensive coordinator at LSU. Numerous sources report that he will fill that job at Alabama. Fisher helped LSU to a romp over Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl Wednesday night. He had earlier been considered for the job as head football coach at UAB and is also thought to be in the mix as offensive coordinator at FSU.
Asked specifically about Fisher, Saban said, "There are a lot of coaches out there who have coached with me before that we would be interested in having on our staff here who have a track record of being successful in whatever their responsibilities have been.
"Jimbo is certainly one of those guys
"I am not going to comment specifically because of the circumstances they are in right now in their jobs that would jeopardize a protocol that we would need to go through professionally to make it happen with any coach that we were interested in."
It is no surprise that staff who have been with Saban at LSU and/or Miami and who are still at one of those spots are prominently mentioned among those who might end up in Alabama. There are also a few with Alabama connections being mentioned.
Among those who have been mentioned as possibly candidates for various assistant positions are:
Tom Clements of the Green Bay Packers as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator (obviously depending on the Fisher situation).
No fewer than four men with Bama ties have been mentioned for wide receivers coach, including Harbison, former Tide players A.C. Carter (now at UTEP), Dabo Swinney (Clemson), and Freddie Kitchens (Dallas Cowboys).
Kitchens, a quarterback at Alabama who has coached at several stops, including LSU under Saban, is also listed as a possible running backs coach, as is Bobby Williams of Miami.
Former Auburn player and LSU assistant coach Stacy Searels has been listed as a possible Bama offensive line coach.
Another former Auburn player, Tracy Rocker, the defensive line coach at Arkansas, has been mentioned for that job at Bama. Travis Jones, an assistant under Saban at both LSU and Miami, has been a defensive line coach and linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator. Also listed as a defensive line coach possibility is Todd Stroud, on the staff of recently-fired Head Coach Chuck Amato at North Carolina State. He is a former head coach at West Alabama.
Harbison could be in the mix for secondary coach, but the smart money seems to be on Kirby Smart of Miami for that job. Smart was also at LSU under Saban.
For several months there have been reports that Alabama Strength and Conditioning Coach Rocky Colburn wanted to return to the NFL. That spot may be filled by Bo Davis of the Dolphins, who is assistant strength coach and an assistant with the defensive line and who was an assistant strength coach at LSU.