Roll Tide Rumor Mill; Golding’s Gone, Who Does Bama Bring in as Defensive Coordinator?
The Alabama fan base largely rejoiced on Friday as ESPN's Chris Low reported that the the Crimson Tide was going to lose defensive coordinator Pete Golding to its SEC West rival, the Ole Miss Rebels.
Golding was the subject of social media ire after each contest in which the Tide's defense wasn't dominant. Alabama allowed 28 points or more in 12 of the Tide's 54 games with Golding as defensive coordinator.
On the surface you may read that to say that the Tide held opponents to 27 points or fewer in 42 games over the last four years, however a closer look tells the full picture. All 12 games that Alabama gave up 28 or more points came against SEC opponents. SEC Western foes LSU, Ole Miss and Texas A&M all did it twice under Golding's tenure while rivals Auburn, Georgia and Tennessee can also boast the scoring feat.
In Alabama's biggest games over the last four years, when the talent was as close to equal as it gets in the SEC, the the Tide's defensive game plan left much to be desired.
That sets up the next edition of the "Roll Tide Rumor Mill" - Who will be selected to replace Pete Golding as defensive coordinator and restore the Bama defense to his dominant standards?
Alabama fans have several names on their wish list but some make more sense than others.
Glenn Schumann - University of Georgia Co-defensive coordinator: Glenn Schumann appears to be one of the top candidates on everyone's wish list given his ties to Saban and the University of Alabama.
Schumann enrolled at Alabama in 2008 and served as a student assistant with the defense until graduating in 2011. He stayed at the Capstone after graduation and served the program as a graduate assistant until 2014.
In total he helped Alabama win four national championships and six SEC championships before leaving to take the inside linebackers job under Kirby Smart at the University of Georgia. Schumann has been at Georgia ever since and was promoted to co-defensive coordinator in 2019.
Poaching Schumann away from Georgia not only brings a defensive coordinator to the Capstone who's already familiar with Saban's system, but also chips away at the superstar coaching staff that Smart has assembled in Athens.
Jeremy Pruitt - Unemployed: Jeremy Pruitt is a name that all Alabama fans are familiar with. The Alabama native was a graduate assistant with the Tide in 1997 before finding success as a high school football coach.
Pruitt rejoined the Crimson Tide in 2007 as director of player development. He worked he way on the field as a defensive backs coach before departing to be the defensive coordinator at Florida State in 2013.
He won a national title with the Seminoles and then left to work at Georgia as defensive coordinator for one season. He finally returned to the Tide in 2016 as defensive coordinator and helped Alabama win the national title in 2017.
Pruitt's very familiar with working for Saban and understands the level of commitment required to meet the program's expectations. However there is ambiguity regarding his standing and status with the NCAA.
The five-time national champion was caught committing recruiting violations during his time as head coach at the University of Tennessee from 2018-2020.
Does Pruitt have a "show cause" penalty hanging over his head, or is he clear to return to campus and bring the defense back to its proper standing?
Jim Leonhard - Unemployed: Jim Leonhard has no ties to Nick Saban or the University of Alabama, however he is unemployed and has extensive defensive experience in both professional and college football.
Leonhard is a Wisconsin native and that's where he walked on and played safety for the Badgers from 2001-04. He was a three-time All-American with Wisconsin, tying the school record for career interceptions with 21.
He spent nine years playing in the NFL despite going undrafted out of college. Leonhard began his coaching career by returning to Madison to serve as defensive backs coach in 2016.
In 2017 he was handed the keys to the defense by being promoted to defensive coordinator. After the Badgers fired Paul Chryst this past October, Leonhard was named interim head coach, however he stepped away from the Wisconsin program after the administration hired Luke Fickell as the next head coach.
Will Saban go outside the family and bring Leonhard aboard?
Obviously Saban and the Crimson Tide program can choose to hire anyone as the possibilities are endless.
Other names that seem like they have outside chances of coming to Tuscaloosa include Charlie Strong, Kevin Steele or Derek Ansley.
Additionally, Saban could choose to promote a position coach or an analyst from their current roles into the defensive coordinator spot. Dave Huxtable and Todd Grantham both have experience running defenses or Travaris Robinson could be a surprise name to watch.