There’s a famous* scene in the classic* film “Mean Girls” where Lizzy Caplan’s character explains to Lindsay Lohan’s character her plan to destroy Rachel McAdams’s queen bee empire inside the fictitious North Shore High School:
“Look she’s not gonna get away with this again, OK? We’re gonna do something.
“Regina George is an evil dictator. Now, how do you overthrow a dictator? You cut off her resources.”
(*adjectives may be subject to interpretation)
Saban isn’t an evil dictator, but he has been compared to the SEC’s Michael Jordan and the sun the entire SEC rotates around, the reason Mark Richt got pushed out Georgia and LSU tried to do the same to Les Miles. And instead of high-status man candy, technically good physique and an ignorant band of loyal followers, Saban’s empire runs on players, an army of talented coaches and the ruthless precision of the Alabama Football Machine.
But like George, Saban’s resources may be under assault like never before starting after Saturday’s SEC Championship.
Start with Kirby Smart, the only defensive coordinator Saban’s employed in his now nine seasons in Tuscaloosa. Smart was viewed as the front-runner for the South Carolina job until Georgia came open, and he’s now widely reported as the leading candidate for that job. Regardless of where he actually lands, it appears this will be Saban’s decade-long lieutenant finally leaves.
“This is Kirby’s defense,” Saban said Monday. “I try to be a good graduate assistant whenever I can, to sort of help him out.”
But it’s not just Smart that could leave Tuscaloosa later this month. A source told FootballScoop Alabama’s defensive game-planning meetings consist of three people: Saban, Smart and Glen Schumann. Schumann is a well-hidden gear in the machine, titled only “player development/player personnel” on Alabama’s staff directory. There is no bio to be found. A Google web and image search bring nothing. But Schumann is a key member of the Tide’s defensive staff, tasked with taking Saban and Smart’s ideas and putting them into words the rest of the staff and players can comprehend.
But that’s just defense. Saban will never struggle to find replacements on defense, either from within or with an outside hire. If all else fails, he’d pull his sleeves up and run the darn thing himself.
In addition to potentially losing Smart and Schumann, it’s widely believed Smart would bring strength coach Scott Cochran and could very well ask wide receivers coach Billy Napier to run his strength and conditioning and offense, respectively.
And beyond just what Smart would pull away from Alabama, offensive line coach/recruiting coordinator Mario Cristobal and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin are possibilities to leave as well. Cristobal is in the mix at Miami and could ultimately be the guy at Rutgers. Kiffin will be a head coach again soon enough.
But Saban’s lost offensive coordinators before. Heck, Jim McElwain said Alabama got better on offense when he left for Colorado State. There’ll be a line out that door of coaches waiting to call plays for Nick.
All true, Weird Italics Speak Man. Saban has lost assistants before and has yet to miss a beat. But potentially losing his longtime defensive coordinator, another trusted defensive confidant, his strength coach, his offensive coordinator, offensive line coach and his top recruiter, all in the same off-season? That’s a serious brain drain, the type of pillaging Saban’s never endured.
That’s exactly the type of attack one would make if they’re trying to bring down a dictator, whether they be a fictitious teenage socialite or a hegemonic football coach.