Alabama football recently lost its defense coordinator Pete Golding to SEC rival Ole Miss. Now the search has begun to see who will replace the former play-caller in Tuscaloosa for the past five seasons.
Golding might not have been a fan favorite, but he has assembled and directed some of the best recruiting classes Alabama has been able to land in recent years. He was an intricate part of the Tide’s recruiting efforts in states like Louisiana and Texas.
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The search for a new defensive coordinator is likely already underway and will be kept under wraps.
Here are 10 potential candidates who could replace Golding for Alabama’s next position as defensive coordinator.
Glenn Schumann – Georgia Co-Defensive Coordinator/ ILBs Coach
One of the hottest names related to the vacant position as Alabama’s defensive coordinator is Georgia’s co-defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann. His name was rightly at the top of many people’s lists. Schumann attended Alabama College and served as a staff assistant from 2008 to 2015. However, he has a close connection with former Alabama defense coordinator and Georgia head coach Kirby Smart. If Alabama is willing to pay the price, I doubt Schumann would turn down an opportunity to coach for both his alma mater and Coach Saban.
Jeremy Pruitt – Former Alabama defense coordinator
There was a lot of smoke surrounding former Alabama defense coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. The Alabama native has trained three times in Tuscaloosa. Most recently, he served as the team’s defensive coordinator from 2016-2017. He then became the head coach at Tennessee, where he spent three seasons on the program. After the 2020 season, the program was investigated and found that recruits were being paid on their recruitment visits. Therefore, it is still unclear whether he could coach again in the SEC. Despite all the talk, many are in favor of hiring Pruitt. I’m not surprised his name was mentioned.
Jim Leonhard – Former Wisconsin Defense Coordinator
If Alabama want one of the more established defensive players in the country, they can turn to Jim Leonhard. After all, he was the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin from 2017 to 2022. His experience could be very valuable. Something to consider is how Leonhard would recruit in the South. A Wisconsin native, he has spent his entire coaching career in Madison. If he can recruit, it would be a strong hire.
Todd Grantham – defensive analyst from Alabama
Alabama wouldn’t have to look far for their next defensive coordinator if they decide to hire defensive analyst Todd Grantham. He’s made his rounds as a coach with multiple stints in the SEC in Florida, Georgia and the state of Mississippi. He was also Michigan State’s defensive line coach when Saban was the team’s head coach. There is a connection between the two, and it would be surprising if he weren’t being considered for becoming the Tide’s next defense coordinator.
Charlie Strong – Miami Assistant Defensive Coordinator/ILBs Coach
One potential candidate that stands out is Miami’s co-defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach Charlie Strong. Strong was an analyst based in Alabama in 2020. His most notable job as defense coordinator was from 2008-2009 when he was in Florida. It catapulted his career when he earned a chance as a head coach in Louisville. He hasn’t had as much success as a head coach, but has a history of being an effective defensive coordinator and recruiter with the SEC.
Manny Diaz – Penn State defense coordinator
It might be a stretch to think that Alabama could lure one of the nation’s best defensive coordinators to coach in Tuscaloosa. However, if anyone can, it’s Nick Saban. Penn State defense coordinator Manny Diaz has proven to be both a promising recruiter and an elite play-caller. His defense is always disciplined and plays with a lot of intensity. If the tides want to go back to their old ways, he might be one of the few who could do just that. However, the likelihood of him leaving Happy Valley is unlikely.
Lemanski Hall – Clemson’s defensive end coach
Clemson defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall is a former Alabama native. Hall played linebacker for the Tide as part of the 1992 National Championship team. His coaching career began and currently continues at Clemson under former Alabama walk-on Dabo Swinney. When Hall gets a call about opening, he should have a hard time turning it down. He’s a coach who can recruit and has proven that by sending several players to the NFL. I don’t think Hall will be at the top of Alabama’s list, but he’s an interesting option to say the least.
Kyle Pope – Coach of the Memphis defensive line
One “outsider” that Alabama could add as the next defensive player is Memphis defensive line coach Kyle Pope. The former Alabama assistant was a staffer when The Tide won the 2017-2018 season. He has since made stops in both Liberty and Memphis. In 2022, he led a strong defense as Memphis’ defensive line coach. According to Memphis’ official website, the Tigers allowed 122 rushing yards per game while conceding just 17 rushing touchdowns during the season. In comparison, the Tide allowed 130 yards per game and 15 rushing touchdowns.
Lance Thompson – Former Alabama assistant
This is another candidate that could be considered unlikely. However, one familiar face I wanted to add to the list of potential candidates is Lance Thompson. He was an assistant in Alabama on three separate occasions. Most recently, he was the inside linebackers coach at Florida Atlantic. In 2014, the Ultimate ESPN 300 rankings of recruiting power ranked him as the #1 recruiter in the country.
Travaris Robinson – Coach of the Alabama cornerbacks
It goes without saying that Alabama cornerbacks coach Travaris Robinson is an excellent recruiter and developer of young talent. This season we’ve seen big progress in secondary education for players like Kool-Aid McKinstry and Brian Branch. Robinson has established himself as a quality assistant in the SEC.