Alabama Football: Offensive Coordinator Search Still Unclear

Sanjay KirpalaniNational Recruiting AnalystJanuary 15, 2012

Saban's top offseason priority will be finding the right play caller to guide Alabama's offense in 2012 and beyond
Saban's top offseason priority will be finding the right play caller to guide Alabama's offense in 2012 and beyondAndy Lyons/Getty Images

Now that the dust has settled after Alabama claimed its second BCS national championship in three seasons, the focus has shifted towards recruiting with National Signing Day just weeks away.

However, Nick Saban’s best pitch may not be given to any of the Tide’s blue-chip targets on their recruiting board. Instead, it may go to one of the candidates in line to replace Jim McElwain, who left to take the head-coaching job at Colorado State. 

Several options have been targeted, including three coaches with NFL experience. Unfortunately, a pair of candidates have already accepted other openings.

Alabama was rumored to be interested in Boise State offensive coordinator Brent Pease, who took the offensive coordinator position at Florida last week. 

Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter interviewed for the Alabama job last Wednesday, but he opted to accept the same opening with the Atlanta Falcons.

University of Washington assistant Doug Nussmeier has built a solid reputation as a quarterbacks coach during previous stints with Michigan State and the St. Louis Rams, before moving on to Fresno State as an offensive coordinator in 2008.

After one season in Fresno, Nussmeier followed Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian and served as the Huskies offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Despite losing first-round pick Jake Locker to the NFL, the Huskies offense averaged almost 50 more yards of total offense this season and improved from 76th to 38th in total offense in 2011. 

According to Mark Schlabach of ESPN, Nussmeier was in Tuscaloosa on Thursday to interview for the Alabama job. 

Another hot name that could take over the play-calling duties in Tuscaloosa is former New York Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.

Schottenheimer is a bright and young offensive mind with a tremendous coaching pedigree. His father, Marty, was a long-time head coach in the NFL, and he played quarterback at the University of Florida under Steve Spurrier in his college days. 

Being a coach’s son and having numerous stints as an NFL assistant, Schottenheimer has familiarity with doing his job under a microscope after his tenure with the Jets, which should serve him well if he ends up as Saban’s choice. 

Schottenheimer was present for the national title game, and made his way to Tuscaloosa to meet with Saban on Friday. 

However, reports surfaced on Sunday that new St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher met with Schottenheimer regarding their offensive coordinator position.

Plenty of questions still remain despite three candidates already having interviewed.

Alabama fans can take solace in the fact that Saban has an established track record for hiring quality assistants, as evidenced by the number of coaches who served under him and went on to ascend to a better gig elsewhere. 

Whether it is Nussmeier, Schottenheimer or another candidate, it can not be understated how important this hire will be for the Crimson Tide’s future. 

Whoever gets the job will get the keys to a finely tuned automobile, with their primary responsibility being to keep it rolling along without crashing.