Eight (Somewhat) Reasonable Candidates to Replace Pete Golding
If you're part of the rather vocal majority that would rather the Alabama Crimson Tide find a new defensive coordinator, surely you've been asked "Well, who would you replace him with?"
It's a fair question, and intentionally a difficult one to answer. After all, the best defensive minds are all taken during the season, and many of them are rooted down to their current positions for one reason or another.
Still, when Nick Saban calls, there are a few names that would have to think very hard about turning down an opportunity to coach in Tuscaloosa. Here are eight names (in no particular order) that are (somewhat) reasonable to be the next defensive coordinator for the Crimson Tide, should a change take place.
Charlie Strong - Jacksonville
Alabama fans were excited to hear prior to the start of the 2020 season that former Texas head coach Charlie Strong was joining the Crimson Tide as an analyst.
While his impact with the Crimson Tide isn't easily quantifiable, there's no doubt that his name carries weight. After helping the Crimson Tide win a national championship from behind the scenes, Strong took a position with Urban Meyer and the Jacksonville Jaguars as an assistant head coach and linebackers coach.
If Strong is looking for another opportunity to be a defensive coordinator, most Alabama fans have a positive view of him.
John Heacock - Iowa State
John Heacock is a more veteran condidate than some on this list, having just turned 61 years old. However, he may have found a late prime in his 36-year career.
Heacock's Cyclone defenses have been at the top of the Big 12 stat rankings since he joined Matt Campbell's staff in 2016. His Cyclones have ranked second (20.9- 2017), first (22.9- 2018), third (25.9- 2019) and second (21.4- 2020) in scoring defense in the Big 12. His defenses prevent big yardage too, ranking third in the Big 12 in total defense (366.2) in 2017, second in 2018 (349.2) and second in 2020 (340.4).
Pretty good for a conference known for shoddy defense. Imagine what his defenses could do with 5-star athletes instead of scrappy underdogs?
Heacock runs a multiple front defense, switching between 3-4 and 4-3, so odds are he'd do just fine learning Saban's defense and relaying the schemes to the Crimson Tide defense.
Ed Orgeron - LSU
It's a bad joke, but make no mistake, Ed Orgeron needs an all expense paid trip to the Nick Saban Coaching Rehabilitation Center.
Coach O is the least likely on the list, and would likely draw the ire of many a Crimson Tide fan. Still, he's a big deal in recruiting. Enough to improve Saban's staff? Who knows.
Did you just say out loud something in the ball park of "Now we're talking!"? Congrats, you just won a McDonald's gift card.
Well, not really.
All jokes aside, Pruitt will likely land somewhere in 2022. Why not Tuscaloosa? He's already had two stints as a coach with the Crimson Tide, what's a third?
Fans look back fondly on the 2016 Crimson Tide defense which led the nation in scoring defense (13.0 ppg) and rushing defense (63.9 ypg), while ranking second in total defense (261.8 ypg).
Many fans believe Golding isn't getting the most out of his talented players and Pruitt has a proven track record in that regard.
Chad Staggs - Coastal Carolina
For those curious in hiring a younger coach, Chad Staggs is a name to watch. While some fans may have been scared off by Pete Golding's lack of experience when he took over as Alabama's defensive coordinator, Staggs has a young proven track record.
His 3-4 scheme has been mighty impressive for the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. In 2020, Coastal Carolina defeated two top-25 teams and fielded a top Sun Belt defense, leading the conference in turnovers (25), and ranking second in defensive scoring (20.2 points per game) and in sacks per game (2.83).
So far in 2021, it's more of the same for Staggs. The Chants lead the Sun Belt with just 15 points per game and second in yards allowed per game at 283.
Staggs may not be a notable name just yet on the national scene, but his time is coming.
DeMeco Ryans - San Francisco
How about a former All-American Crimson Tide linebacker as the next defensive coordinator? This one may be just as unlikely as Ed Orgeron because of the fast track DeMeco Ryans is on in the NFL, but it sure is nice to think about.
Ryans played for Alabama in the mid 2000s and was the 2006 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. He joined the coaching ranks just four years ago as a defensive quality control assistant in 2017 for the San Fransisco 49ers. Today, he's the defensive coordinator for the Niners.
So far, things haven't gotten off to a terrific start, San Fran is second to last in turnovers, 26th in passing yards allowed, 16th in rushing and 16th in points allowed. But, that's just five games into what should be a phenominal coaching career.
Ryans's name may pop up a bit if anything happens with Golding after the season, but a return to Tuscaloosa isn't likely.
Dan Quinn - Dallas
Guess who was Nick Saban's defensive line coach when he was with the Miami Dolphins. Yep, former Atlanta Falcons head coach and current Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
Now, Quinn's defenses have been wildly inconsitent since he left the 'Legion of Boom' Seattle Seahwaks defenses that won a SUper Bowl, but his 2021 Dallas Cowboys have been pretty fantastic. Just ask Trevon Diggs.
Quinn hasn't been at a college program since 2012 with Florida. His two seasons with the Gators are the only ones he's spent at the college level since taking his first NFL gig in 2001. Given the success of the Cowboys and his time being tied to the NFL, it's not likely he'll opt for Tuscaloosa if his former boss gives him a ring next Spring.
Of course, folks probably said the same thing about Bill O'Brien and Doug Marrone.