Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien agreed to become the next offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots. This wasn’t a scenario that took fans by surprise. However, some fans felt that if the Patriots didn’t add him to their coaching staff, he could return to the program in some capacity.
This will be O’Brien’s second term as offensive coordinator for the Patriots. He previously held the same position in 2011. With O’Brien’s departure, Alabama will look to replace him soon.
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With college football constantly changing, it wouldn’t be surprising if Alabama transitioned to a new style of play. This is the fast, balanced offense that many programs run across the country. If that’s the case, it’ll be interesting to see who takes the reins in Tuscaloosa.
Roll Tide Wire breaks down 10 potential candidates who could replace O’Brien as Alabama’s next offensive coordinator.
I hate bringing up the past. However, I’m sure Alabama fans remember that LSU beat the tide in 2019. The Tigers’ offense seemed unstoppable with the likes of Joe Burrow, Ja’marr Chase and Justin Jefferson. This explosive offense was spearheaded by Joe Brady. The offensive mastermind left the program after his championship season to become the offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers. Since then he has been quarterbacks coach for the Buffalo Bills. Given the way college football is moving toward fast-paced, high-explosive offenses, Brady would be a good fit. He’s used to developing quarterbacks and implementing the right system that suits the quarterbacks’ playing style. One thing to note is that Brady is set for it interview with the Los Angeles Chargers for their inaugural position as offensive coordinator.
Byron Leftwich is a name that springs to mind when searching for The Tide’s next offensive coordinator. A Washington, DC native, he has experience at the professional level as both a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. Leftwich was most recently the offensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He saw early success on Bruce Arians’ staff but struggled last season. A change of scenery might be for the best and what could be nicer than training under Nick Saban?
It could be a stretch, but Saban could reach out to Oklahoma offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby. The former Oklahoma Sooner has held several coaching positions. His most notable stops came when he served as the offensive coordinator for Ole Miss and Central Florida. It’s worth noting that he was among two of the country’s most prominent theater makers: Lane Kiffin and Josh Heupel. With college football changing so quickly, Alabama could be trying to lure him away from Norman. It won’t be easy, but Lebby is worth the right price.
The Trickett surname may sound familiar to other college football fans as well as some Alabama fans. Why? Trickett’s brother Travis was a research assistant in Alabama in 2007. Clint played quarterback for West Virginia from 2013-2014. He has since branched out into coaching, rising to offensive marshal coordinator under former Tide assistant Charles Huff. Last season, the herd averaged 205.9 rushing yards per game. In comparison, Alabama averaged 195.7 rushing yards per game. Trickett did so with two elite running backs, Khalan Laborn and Rasheen Ali. However, he would have more guns in Alabama. If Saban prefers to return to a run-heavy offense of the past, Trickett could be his man.
According to Alabama Touchdown Magazine, Saban called Cox one of the “bright young guys” on the Alabama coaching staff. He added that he was very impressed with his knowledge. That being said, Cox could be considered as the Tide’s next offensive coordinator. He used to play quarterback for Georgia in the early 2000s. He has also coached in the SEC on two separate occasions, as South Carolina’s wide receivers coach and Alabama’s tight ends coach. His familiarity with multiple offensive positions and knowledge of the Alabama standard could allow him to have a bigger role on the coaching staff.
Despite being an NFL head coach, most people remember Kingsbury as the mastermind behind the Texas A&M offense led by Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. Since then, his success has been somewhat limited. He was the head coach of Texas Tech from 2013 to 2018 before becoming the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. His last two stops have had their fair share of ups and downs. However, he could be looking for a fresh start. His resourcefulness and ability to use his playmakers is something that stands out. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in Tuscaloosa. He has had a similar head coaching career to former Alabama offensive coordinators Steve Sarkisian and Lane Kiffin. We remember how much they helped innovate the Tide’s offense.
The name Shea Tierney is probably unfamiliar to many. However, Tierney was an offensive analyst at Alabama for two seasons. After his brief stint at Tuscaloosa, Tierney joined the Buffalo Bills coaching staff. He has since risen in the coaching ranks alongside former Alabama offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.
One name that is likely familiar to many Alabama fans is Major Applewhite. The former Texas quarterback has served on the Alabama coaching staff on two separate occasions. He was the Crimson Tide’s first offensive coordinator in the Nick Saban era. He spent a season as the team’s play-caller before accepting a new coaching job as Texas running backs coach. After six years with the program, he agreed to become Houston’s next head coach. He saw some flashes of success with the Cougars but was eventually fired in 2018. He returned to Saban’s staff for two seasons before becoming South Alabama’s offensive coordinator in 2021. The Jaguars’ offense averaged 31 points per game and over 423 yards per game. Not to mention, he led them to one of their best seasons in program history as they finished 10-3. He’s a name to watch.
One name that came up when looking for Tide offensive coordinators two years ago was Adam Gase. The former New York Jets head coach has held multiple coaching stints at both the collegiate and professional levels. One station that connects him to Nick Saban was his stint as a recruiting assistant at LSU in the early 2000s. If Saban decides to follow a path similar to Bill O’Brien, he could look to add the former NFL head coach. He has a lot of experience and was able to give a great insight into Alabama’s young quarterback room.
It might seem far-fetched that Nick Saban would go all the way to Utah to find his next offensive player. However, he could be looking in that direction given the offensive skills created by Utah offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig in Salt Lake City. Ludwig has held several positions as offensive coordinator in various locations over the years. Some of his notable coaching stints were offensive coordinators at Oregon, Cal-Berkeley, and Vanderbilt. If Alabama wants a truly balanced offensive attack, Ludwig could be the guy.