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Nick Saban crosses a milestone in staff hiring

In bringing in four new assistants, Saban has now employed more than 50 full-time assistant coaches

Do you think they'll do a ceremony at some point? If so, would be a cookies-and-punch thing at the office, or a happy hour at a bar nearby? Because this is certainly the type of milestone worth celebrating, an occasion that calls for getting the family back together to swap stories about the old days. 

With the hiring of four new assistants this winter, Nick Saban has now employed more than 50 full-time, on-the-field assistant coaches as he prepares for his 16th season at Alabama.

By my count, the official number now sits at 52. 

Alabama 2022 staff
Bill O'Brien -- Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks (2021 hire date)
Holmon Wiggins -- Assistant head coach of offense/wide receivers (2019)
Robert Gillespie -- Running backs (2021)
Joe Cox -- Tight ends (2022)
Eric Wolford -- Offensive line (2022)

Pete Golding -- Defensive coordinator/inside linebackers (2017)
Charles Kelly -- Associate defensive coordinator/safeties (2019)
Coleman Hutzler -- Outside linebackers/special teams (2022)
Freddie Roach -- Defensive line (2020)
Travaris Robinson -- Cornerbacks (2022)

Though a 40 percent roster change may sound like a lot, it's actually par for the course in the Alabama staff room. In 15 offseasons, Saban has averaged 3.1 changes per year*. At no time has he ever brought back the same nine or 10 men from one year to the next. 

OffseasonPersonnel ChangesResult

2007-08

1

SEC West champs, Sugar Bowl

2008-09

2

National Champions

2009-10

1

4th place SEC West, Citrus Bowl

2010-11

3

National Champions

2011-12

2

National Champions

2012-13

3

2nd place SEC West, Sugar Bowl

2013-14

3

SEC champs, CFP semifinalist

2014-15

2

National Champions

2015-16

4

SEC champs, CFP finalist

2016-17

3

National Champions

2017-18

6

SEC champs, CFP finalist

2018-19

7

2nd place SEC West, Citrus Bowl

2019-20

1

National Champions

2020-21

6

SEC champs, CFP finalist

2021-22

4

TBD

* In getting to 52 total coaches, a handful of coaches have done multiple stints in Tuscaloosa. One coach (Jay Graham) was announced as a full-time assistant but left before coaching a game; he was replaced by Drew Svoboda. 

Thirteen former assistants have become FBS or NFL head coaches, a rate of over 30 percent when considering 10 of the 52 are on Saban's staff right now. 

As you can see, the rate of change has slowed down, relatively, on the defensive side of the ball, thanks to Pete Golding's longevity. 

Offensive Coordinator -- 5 in the past 7 seasons
Quarterbacks Coach -- 5 in the past 7 seasons
Wide Receivers Coach -- 4 in the past 7 seasons
Running Backs Coach -- 4 in the past 6 seasons
Offensive Line Coach -- 4 in the past 5 seasons
Tight Ends Coach -- 5 in the past 7 seasons

Defensive Coordinator -- 3 in the past 6 seasons
Inside Linebackers Coach -- 3 in the past 8 seasons
Defensive Line Coach -- 4 in the past 6 seasons
Safeties Coach -- 7 in the past 11 seasons
Cornerbacks Coach -- 8 in the past 11 seasons
Special Teams Coordinator -- 6 in the past 8 seasons

But the past 15 years have shown us it doesn't matter if the staff room carousel slows down or speeds up, Alabama will win anyway. Change is inevitable, and so change is good. The faces change, but the voice remains the same.

"When you come here, you’re running Alabama's offense," Bill O'Brien said last year. "You’re not bringing your offense in here. And it’s a great offense with a great history. And it was really awesome to learn it, but it was very challenging.”

Who helped O'Brien learn the offense he was purportedly running? Bryce Young. 

“For someone to have the track record that he has and still come in and be humble enough to say, ‘hey, how do you guys read this?’” Young said. “‘How do you guys feel about this? Do you like this play? How has this worked in the past?’ I think having that conversation early on was really big for us, really big for me. And I think that was kind of big for us learning together.”

Young was recruited to Alabama by Steve Sarkisian, but the SoCal native and childhood Trojan fan never would've donned the crimson in the first place had Lane Kiffin not opened up Alabama's offense, had Tosh Lupoi not gone to Hawaii and gotten him, had Brian Daboll, Mike Locksley and Sarkisian not effectively coached him within the constraints of Alabama's offense.

Now consider where each of the men mentioned in the above paragraph are now:

- Bryce Young is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.
- Tua Tagovailoa is the Miami Dolphins quarterback.
- Kiffin, Sarkisian, Locksley and Daboll are the head coaches of Ole Miss, Texas, Maryland, and the New York Giants.
- Tosh Lupoi is the defensive coordinator at Oregon.
- And Bill O'Brien is the offensive coordinator at Alabama, earning one of the highest wages in the sport while he bides his time until the next move. 

The Process is hyper-focusing on the micro, fully trusting that, in doing so, the macro will take care of itself. The above list is the proof positive that The Process works. No matter how uncomfortable the short-term may be, the long-term results make it a price worth paying. 

Finally, here is a full accounting of Saban's coaching staffs, dating back to his inaugural year of 2007:

YearOCQBsRBsWRsOLTEs

2007

M. Applewhite

M. Applewhite

B. Burns

C. Cignetti

J. Pendry

R. Middleton

2008

J. McElwain

J. McElwain

B. Burns

C. Cignetti

J. Pendry

B. Williams

2009

J. McElwain

J. McElwain

B. Burns

C. Cignetti

J. Pendry

B. Williams

2010

J. McElwain

J. McElwain

B. Burns

C. Cignetti

J. Pendry

B. Williams

2011

J. McElwain

J. McElwain

B. Burns

M. Groh

J. Stoutland

B. Williams

2012

D. Nussmeier

D. Nussmeier

B. Burns

M. Groh

J. Stoutland

B. Williams

2013

D. Nussmeier

D. Nussmeier

B. Burns

B. Napier

M. Cristobal

B. Williams

2014

L. Kiffin

L. Kiffin

B. Burns

B. Napier

M. Cristobal

B. Williams

2015

L. Kiffin

L. Kiffin

B. Burns

B. Napier

M. Cristobal

B. Williams

2016

L. Kiffin

L. Kiffin

B. Burns

B. Napier

B. Key

M. Cristobal

2017

D. Daboll

D. Daboll

B. Burns

M. Locksley

B. Key

J. Pannunzio

2018

M. Locksley

D. Enos

J. Pannunzio

J. Gattis

B. Key

J. Banks

2019

S. Sarkisian

S. Sarkisian

C. Huff

H. Wiggins

K. Flood

J. Banks

2020

S. Sarkisian

S. Sarkisian

C. Huff

H. Wiggins

K. Flood

J. Banks

2021

B. O'Brien

B. O'Brien

R. Gillespie

H. Wiggins

D. Marrone

D. Svoboda*

2022

B. O'Brien

B. O'Brien

R. Gillespie

H. Wiggins

E. Wolford

J. Cox

And now the defense.

YearDCILBsOLBsDLDBsSTC

2007

K. Steele

K. Steele

L. Thompson

B. Davis

K. Smart

R. Middleton

2008

K. Smart

K. Steele

L. Thompson

B. Davis

K. Smart

B. Williams

2009

K. Smart

K. Smart

J. Willis

B. Davis

J. Pruitt

B. Williams

2010

K. Smart

K. Smart

S. Sunseri

B. Davis

J. Pruitt

B. Williams

2011

K. Smart

K. Smart

S. Sunseri

C. Rumph

J. Pruitt

B. Williams

2012

K. Smart

K. Smart

L. Thompson

C. Rumph

J. Pruitt

B. Williams

2013

K. Smart

K. Smart

L. Thompson

C. Rumph

G. Brown

B. Williams

2014

K. Smart

K. Steele

L. Thompson

B. Davis

K. Smart

B. Williams

2015

K. Smart

K. Smart

T. Lupoi

B. Davis

M. Tucker

B. Williams

2016

J. Pruitt

J. Pruitt

T. Lupoi

K. Dunbar

D. Ansley

B. Key

2017

J. Pruitt

J. Pruitt

T. Lupoi

K. Dunbar

D. Ansley

J. Pannunzio

2018

T. Lupoi

P. Golding

T. Lupoi

C. Kuligowski

K. Scott

J. Banks

2019

P. Golding

P. Golding

S. Sunseri

B. Baker

C. Kelly/K. Scott

J. Banks

2020

P. Golding

P. Golding

S. Sunseri

F. Roach

C. Kelly/K. Scott

J. Banks

2021

P. Golding

P. Golding

S. Sunseri

F. Roach

C. Kelly/J. Valai

D. Svoboda*

2022

P. Golding

P. Golding

C. Hutzler

F. Roach

C. Kelly/T. Robinson

C. Hutzler

Alabama should have a reunion for all of Saban's acolytes. They should drink punch (or something stronger), trade war stories, compare their jewelry, and celebrate the degrees and NFL dollars they've collectively produced for the hundreds of players in their charge over the past 15-plus seasons. And Papa Nick should pick up the tab. 

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