The offseason for the Alabama Crimson Tide is officially in full swing, and just like anything else in college football, it certainly hasn’t lacked for drama.
We’ve already seen a bevy of staff changes, juniors declaring for the draft (with potentially more to come) and the silly season that is the lead-up to National Signing Day.
While Alabama enjoyed a successful season by most metrics—11 wins, BCS bowl appearance, Heisman Trophy finalist—late-season losses to Auburn and Oklahoma will no doubt be on the minds of the Alabama program from now until kickoff against West Virginia in late August.
With that in mind, here are a few things that Alabama will put a focus on this offseason to get back in the national championship hunt for next season.
Integrate New Staff
The big name in this group is, of course, Lane Kiffin. Kiffin takes over for departed offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier and will be tasked with calling plays next season under head coach Nick Saban.
But there will be more newcomers than just Kiffin.
The departure of defensive line coach Chris Rumph leaves another hole in the assistant coaching department. And the hiring of Todd Grantham to Louisville from Georgia has raised speculation that Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart could make a lateral move back to his alma mater.
Regardless, Alabama will have at least two fresh faces on its coaching staff when it reconvenes for spring practice. Getting everyone on the same page will be an important task for Saban, even before they start to work with the players.
Finish Strong in Recruiting
While Alabama is just about finished with its 2014 class, there are still a few names out there that would take this year’s group to another level.
There are several top prospects still on the market considering Alabama, with most coming on the defensive side.
Bleacher Report’s Sanjay Kirplani laid out a few of the top uncommitted prospects that Alabama is after, and it is an impressive group, to say the least.
For a defense that was uncharacteristically picked apart at times this season, locking down a few more prospects on that side of the ball would certainly be welcome.
Find a Quarterback
The ongoing quarterback battle will, without a doubt, be the No. 1 biggest story of the offseason and will likely trickle over into the beginning of the season, too.
When a record-breaking, Heisman Trophy-contending quarterback like AJ McCarron leaves after a three-year stint that included two national championships and an SEC title, there is a big hole to be filled.
Saban, Kiffin and co. will have plenty of talent to choose from, but they will be under immense pressure to make the right call.
The last time Alabama had a quarterback battle, back before the 2011 season, a decision wasn’t made until the second week of the season, when the Crimson Tide went to Penn State to face the Nittany Lions. McCarron grabbed the reins in that game and never looked back.
Expect this one to be a similarly lengthy process.