Top 5 candidates to replace former Alabama OC Brian Daboll
Former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has accepted the same position for the Buffalo Bills. That leaves Alabama looking for its third play-caller in the past 12 months.
Yes, that can be frustrating, but there are a lot of quality candidates who are more than capable of making an impact.
The good news is that there shouldn’t be a shortage of coaches wanting a chance at the opportunity. Why? The Tide will not be short on offensive talent anytime soon.
Six true freshmen — including at the quarterback, running back, wide receiver and left tackle positions — made a significant impact in Alabama’s second-half comeback against Georgia in the national championship last Monday night.
Here are 5 of the top candidates to replace Daboll.
1. Mike Locksley: Locksley should be considered the No. 1 candidate to replace Daboll. He was already a co-offensive coordinator for Alabama — as well as the wide receivers coach — this past season.
He has been with the Tide since coming over from Maryland after being the offensive coordinator — and interim head coach — before the 2015 season. In addition to his experience as a play-caller at Maryland, Locksley also served as an offensive coordinator for Illinois from 2005-08.
Locksley reportedly is drawing interest from FSU as well.
He might not be as well known as some of the other people on this list, but Locksley is an excellent recruiter. He is extremely well liked within Alabama’s program, and he has the experience factor needed.
If you want to know just how much he is respected, check out these endorsements from Tide running backs Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs:
🗣 Locksley for OC!! https://t.co/HLLiSNp4nw
— Damien Harris (@DHx34) January 14, 2018
— Josh Jacobs (@iAM_JoshJacobs) January 14, 2018
2. Matt Canada: When LSU named Canada its offensive coordinator, most people considered it a home run hire. That marriage lasted a year.
The Tigers finished No. 9 in the SEC in scoring (27.2 points per game). A lot of that had to do with yet another anemic passing game; the Tigers tossed just 17 TD passes (tied for No. 10).
A lot of that might have been the surrounding talent. Derrius Guice and Darrell Williams were considered one of the conference’s top running back duos. On top of that, starting quarterback Danny Etling was effective, but never explosive.
With the talent that he would be in command of at Alabama, Canada’s success as a play-caller would likely yield better results in Tuscaloosa.
3. Jim McElwain: McElwain guided Florida to two consecutive SEC championship games in his first two years. The problem was that the defense had a more to do with that success than an anemic offense.
There’s no denying the connection between McElwain and Alabama makes sense, though. He was the offensive coordinator 2008-11. In that four-year run, Alabama won two national championships — including the first (and only) undefeated season under Saban in 2009.
The marriage between Saban and McElwain excelled before, so why can’t it again?
4. Hugh Freeze: Here’s where things get a little bit far-fetched. Hiring Freeze would generate serious criticism. But let’s not act like Freeze isn’t capable — if you consider his ability as an X’s and O’s coach. Alabama certainly had trouble stopping his Ole Miss offenses.
Freeze is in on a short list of coaches who beat Saban in back-to-back years at Alabama.
Let’s also not forget that Ole Miss had a top 5 passing offense in all five seasons under Freeze. Think about combining that with Tua Tagovailoa, the young wide receivers and Alabama’s stable of quality running backs.
5. Mike Shula: As if Freeze wasn’t already a stretch, we decided to include former Alabama head coach Mike Shula. Here me out on this one, though.
Shula was most recently the offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers. During that time, he was forced to come out of his shell a little bit after coaching a quarterback with the ability to make plays with his arm and lengths. You may know his name … Cam Newton ring a bell?
Yes, there were stretches where the Panthers got a little predictable with their play selection, which is why fans would be reluctant to welcome him back. He has evolved to a degree, however.
He also has experience as a left-handed Alabama quarterback.