New Year, New Changes: A Timeline of Recent Events That Will Impact Alabama
The 2013 football season was one of the most remarkable and historical football seasons in recent history. The BCS system went out in style even though most will remember it as a flawed system that should have been put to death a long time ago. Now we have reached that point in the year where the coaching carousel cranks up a notch, players declare for the NFL Draft, and recruits make their final decisions on what college they will attend.
The team that has seen a little bit of everything so far this off-season is the Alabama Crimson Tide. Many changes have occurred within the program and it is time to take a look on what kind of long-term effect these changes will have.
Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier is hired at Michigan.
The announcement that Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier would accept the same position at Michigan came as quite a shock to most. The Wolverines fired Al Borges after the team finished 87th in total offense for the 2013 season. Nussmeier was slated to begin his third season as Alabama's offensive coordinator. The reason for the sudden change is unclear, but the overall conclusion was the pay raise he will receive by bolting to Michigan. According to media reports, Nussmeier will be one of the highest paid assistants in the country. The departure may affect Alabama depending on what changes are made to the offense, but the move has yet to take a toll on Alabama in recruiting.
Lane Kiffin is hired to be Alabama's new offensive coordinator.
Nick Saban brought authority to the phrase "out with the old and in with the new" when he immediately hired former USC head coach Lane Kiffin to replace Doug Nussmeier. There was not much shock to the hire because Kiffin was truly one of the only candidates ever mentioned. Kiffin had stints as head coach in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders and in college with Tennessee and USC. While he has not had gleaming success as a head coach, he found success as an offensive coordinator for the USC Trojans in 2005 and 2006.
He is faced with the daunting task of replacing AJ McCarron and adding more temp to Alabama's pro-style offense. One downside to Kiffin is his reputation as being the Miley Cyrus of college football, but he is a phenomenal recruiter and has a great offensive mind. Some believe Saban took a big risk with this hire, but Kiffin's track record as an offensive coordinator should put those thoughts to rest.
Four Juniors Declare for the Draft In Press Conference
Four players officially declared for the draft in a press conference held by the university. Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan, linebacker Adrian Hubbard, and offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio. While most expected this move, it was still not certain. Kouandjio debated staying another year with his brother, Arie, while Pagan and Hubbard debated staying to strengthen their draft stock. Clinton-Dix is a projected first-round pick and his decision was no surprise.
Replacing these players will be no easy task especially with weaknesses on the offensive line and secondary. Seeing players leave early is a common occurrence for the Crimson Tide and is never too much of a concern, but Saban and his coaching staff have work to do on both sides of the ball next season.
Vinnie Sunseri Declares for the Draft
Most expected a few Alabama juniors to declare early for the draft, but Vinnie Sunseri was not one of them. After suffering a season ending injury during last year's game against Arkansas, it was assumed that Sunseri would stay and finish what he started at Alabama. Sunseri has rehabbed his torn ACL to the point where he feels he is healthy enough to compete in the NFL Combine.
There is not an official word from the university that he is gone, but all signs point to him leaving. This is another big blow to an already vulnerable secondary that Alabama will attempt to piece back together next season. Sunseri was a team leader and his shoes will be hard to fill, but it also opens the door of opportunity for younger players to step up.
Defensive Line Coach Chris Rumph Leaves for Texas
Alabama defensive line coach Chris Rumph decided to leave Alabama to accept the same position at Texas. Rumph leaves the Tide after three seasons. Coaches come and go this time of year, but the toll it would take on recruiting was the biggest concern. Fortunately, no major commits or targets did anything drastic because of Rumph's departure. Quickly after the move was made the rumor mill began swirling that Alabama was looking to hire Ed Orgeron as his possible replacement. It was not long after that before those rumors were put to rest.
Bo Davis Hired as New Defensive Line Coach
Bo Davis was quickly hired by Nick Saban to replace Chris Rumph. Ironically, Davis left Alabama in 2011 to become the defensive line coach at Texas. Davis was officially hired by USC after Mack Brown coached his last game for the Longhorns. Davis stayed with the Trojans for 6 days before coming back to Alabama to be the defensive line coach for the second time. Davis is an excellent coach and will have the opportunity to develop players like A'Shawn Robinson, Jonathan Allen, and Da'Shawn Hand.
Quarterback Luke Del Rio Decides to Transfer
One of the more shocking decisions so far this off season came from walk-on quarterback Luke Del Rio. Del Rio announced via his Twitter account that he would no longer play for the Crimson Tide. This came as a surprise because many believe Del Rio was the frontrunner to replace AJ McCarron. There is no official word of where he will transfer although most believe he is headed to Oregon State to play for Mike Riley, an Alabama alum. Oregon State, Oklahoma State, and Colorado State offered Del Rio scholarships before he eventually decided to walk on at Alabama. The reasoning behind the decision is unclear, but the assumption is the competition he would face with other quarterbacks like David Cornwell, Alec Morris, and Blake Sims might have been the ultimate factor.
With a few weeks until Signing Day and another few weeks more until Spring practice begins, we might not have seen the end of the turnover following a disappointing 2013 season.