Nick Saban needs to restore Alabama’s defensive culture

They want creative offense, but Alabama fans are craving elite defense again.

Nick Saban seeks defensive coordinator to replace Pete Golding; however, should he be considering other names to bring to the defence? The Crimson Tide was once college football’s bully, but now Georgia has adopted its style under Kirby Smart.

Coach Saban needs to get back to his plan of having people who have been below him in the trenches or in Alabama football history who understand the standard of the program. People on the outside don’t know what it means to play around the “A” written on the chest. A player who graduated from the University of Alabama can speak deeply to today’s Tide athlete.

Saban should consider three names as a defensive coach, including two who have won national championships as players under him.

Nico Johnson, Shaun Dion Hamiltonand Rudy Griffin know what it means to shine in Alabama.

Johnson and Hamilton hail from Alabama, while Griffin (a native of Georgia) was transferred from the Citadel to Tide. Johnson entered Saban’s third draft as a linebacker in 2009 and helped the Tide win three BCS National Championships in 2009, 2011 and 2012. Hamilton joined the University of Alabama in 2014 as a four-star linebacker and assisted the program at two College Football Playoff National Championships in 2015 and 2017. Griffin played his first season in Alabama in 2003 in the redshirt, but in his last two years he became a more impactful Defender. He was a pivot for the 2005 tide and recorded 258 snapshots.

He totaled 16 tackles, three tackles for losses, a fumble recovery, and an interception returned for a 17-yard touchdown against Mississippi State. Griffin helped The Tide to a 10-2 record before the sanctions in 2005. No one knows the specific roles Saban might offer them, but having former Alabama players on the program is a big deal. They can talk about aspects of the game and motivate current players in ways that coaches cannot. If further changes are made to defensive personnel, Saban should consider at least one or all three names. Johnson is a graduate defense assistant at the University of Texas.

The Longhorns finished last season 8-5 and their defense allowed 21.6 points per game. Johnson improved Texas’ defense by allowing nearly 10 fewer points per game. Hamilton is a defensive assistant for the Detroit Lions. He led the Lions to a winning record (9-8) in the 2022 season despite missing the playoffs. Griffin has trained at several high schools and junior colleges, but he would love the chance to help out his alma mater. Alabama needs to bring more of its boys back into the program.

If it reinvests in the athlete with former players who know the standard, The Tide will once again be the most feared team.

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Stephen M. Smith is the senior editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can “like” him. Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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