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Alabama, Nick Saban eye Vols assistant for Tide super-staff

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Alabama's staff turns over. Nick Saban reloads.

When every move is finalized in this coaching cycle, Saban just might have his best coaching staff ever at the University of Alabama – on the backside of the Tide's sixth national championship with Saban at the helm and his record seventh as a head coach.

After adding the highly regarded Robert Gillespie as running backs coach, snatching the former Florida Gators player and most recently Mack Brown's running backs coach and top recruiter at North Carolina, Saban is working to potentially add another key Southeastern Conference legendary player and assistant to his staff.

Multiple sources, at both Alabama and Tennessee, as well as in college football, tell FootballScoop that University of Tennessee running backs coach Jay Graham, a former Vols' standout, is being strongly considered for the Tide's special teams coordinator position.

Gillespie replaced Charles Huff, the Tide's popular running backs coach who landed his first head coaching job last week when he was hired to follow Doc Holliday at Marshall.

Tennessee, per sources, is motivated in its attempts to retain Graham, who is under contract at his alma mater for one more year. But it remains unclear if the Vols -- amid an ongoing head coaching search with new athletics director Danny White -- can hang onto the beloved former star player and fan favorite.

Saban and the Tide are in the process of replacing a litany of assistant coaches, a rather routine process as Saban's staff is routinely plundered by college programs seeking to duplicate Alabama's unprecedented success.

In the case of Graham, an All-SEC tailback at Tennessee in the mid-1990s, he is on the short list to replace Jeff Banks, who's becoming Steve Sarkisian's special teams coordinator at Texas. Sarkisian, the Longhorns' new head coach, is positioned to have both Banks and former 'Bama offensive line coach Kyle Flood on his inaugural Texas staff.

Graham has previous experience as a special teams coordinator, running the third element for Jimbo Fisher's Florida State program from 2014-17. A North Carolina native, Graham has 12-straight years of assistant experience in the ACC and SEC.

Saban's already worked to replace Sarkisian as the Tide's offensive play-caller with Bill O'Brien, a former Penn State and Houston Texans head coach. O'Brien's deal has been formalized by Alabama.

Additionally, Doug Marrone, the Jacksonville Jaguars former head coach fired earlier this month, is the Tide's new offensive line coach, the school announced Monday. Marrone is a former Tennessee assistant who also was head coach at Syracuse prior to running the Jaguars for four-plus seasons.

The O'Brien-Marrone combo has more than 10 years of NFL head coaching experience combined, as well as six seasons as head coaches at the collegiate level.

Saban also lost offensive analyst Butch Jones to the head coaching post at Arkansas State, and Charlie Strong to a spot on Urban Meyer's new Jacksonville staff. Both Jones and Strong owned Power-5 head coaching experience; additionally, A.J. Milwee, another offensive analyst the past two seasons at Alabama, accepted the quarterbacks coaching position at Texas with Sarkisian after initially agreeing to become Jones' offensive coordinator at Arkansas State.

Major Applewhite, also initially in line to be Jones' offensive coordinator, instead is in line to be Kane Wommack's offensive head at South Alabama.

Still, Saban's defensive staff has largely remained intact after coordinator Pete Goulding was linked to the same spot at Texas, associate defensive coordinator Charles Kelly was considered for a number of coordinator openings but thus far has remained in T-Town and cornerbacks coach Karl Scott was approached regarding multiple opportunities in other programs as well, sources told FootballScoop.