Alabama Football: Experience on Nick Saban's Staff Will Help Roster Turnover

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterFebruary 13, 2014

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What was long assumed to be a formality became a reality on Wednesday for the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Veteran assistant coach and one-time Baylor head coach Kevin Steele will move on to the field and serve as Alabama's linebackers coach for the 2014 season. Steele spent last season in an off-the-field role for the Crimson Tide as director of player personnel. 

Steele was the head coach of the Baylor Bears from 1999-2002 and has previously served as the defensive coordinator of the Crimson Tide (2007) and at Clemson (2009-12).

Head coach Nick Saban commented on Steele's promotion in a release from Alabama.

Kevin is very familiar with our program from an organizational standpoint as well as our defense from coaching here previously so he'll be able to jump right in and not miss a beat. He possesses outstanding organizational skills along with great people skills which make him an excellent coach, teacher and recruiter.

Steele's move back down to the field gives Saban four coaches on his on-the-field staff who have experience as head coaches at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level.

Alabama Assistants With Head Coaching Experience
Lane KiffinOCOakland Raiders, Tennessee, USC2007-2008, 2009, 2010-2013
Mario CristobalOLFIU2007-2012
Kevin SteeleLBBaylor1999-2002
Bobby WilliamsTE/STMichigan State2000-2002

That will be a huge benefit for a Crimson Tide team that will navigate through a good bit of personnel turnover this season.

Alabama LB coach Kevin Steele
Alabama LB coach Kevin SteeleRichard Shiro/Associated Press

Steele will focus on inside linebackers, which is a group that will be without former superstar and co-SEC defensive player of the year C.J. Mosley and, aside from returning "Mike" linebacker Trey DePriest doesn't have much game experience at all.

Reuben Foster, Reggie Ragland, Dillon Lee and several incoming freshman can play inside, but having a veteran coach that knows the game not just from a positional standpoint, but from a head coaching standpoint, too, will help the younger players prepare for the bigger role.

Left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and right guard Anthony Steen are gone from the Tide offensive line, and having Mario Cristobal's experience will help the replacements—one of which could be a true freshman, early enrollee offensive tackle Cameron Robinson.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban
Alabama head coach Nick SabanGerald Herbert/Associated Press

This is what good head coaches do.

They surround themselves with quality assistants that they don't have to micromanage. Saban has the reputation as a bit of a control freak, but so much head coaching experience on his staff gives him the luxury of relinquishing control when his duties as a head coach divert his attention to other aspects of the program.

Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin
Alabama offensive coordinator Lane KiffinChristian Petersen/Getty Images

Attracting quality assistants is nothing new in the SEC. 

Seven of the 13 highest-paid assistant coaches in the country last season were from the SEC, according to the USA Today coaches' salary database. The resources being poured into coaching staffs makes jobs in the conference more attractive to former head coaches looking to stay in the business.

Saban chose to load his staff up with former head coaches, which is never a bad thing—especially in a season in which Alabama is dealing with roster turnover at several key spots.



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