Why Nick Saban should hire Glenn Schumann, not Jeremy Pruitt, as defensive coordinator | Opinion
Nick Saban needs two new coordinators, and he couldn't do better than Joe Brady and Glenn Schumann for the jobs.
To be clear, these aren't predictions for who will fill the roles of offensive and defensive coordinators for Alabama next season; they're merely endorsements. Predicting what Alabama's head coach will do when it comes to staff hires has proven to be pretty dangerous business. He's turned to the foreseeable and familiar for some hires, sure, but over the years he's also left a lot of so-called "hot boards" shivering in the cold.
Speculation, as always, is leaning way out over its skis. Office water coolers all over Alabama are ready to regain some privacy. A couple days ago, I asked the Sounding Board − my trusty contributors to an occasional mailbag column − to submit their own endorsements. You'll see their feedback in this space very soon. But I wouldn't ask the Sounding Board to do anything I wouldn't do, which brings us back to Brady and Schumann.
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Brady's an easy choice, but for Saban, perhaps not an easy get.
He's now the quarterbacks coach of the Buffalo Bills, and gets to work with one of the NFL's elite quarterback talents in Josh Allen. He's reportedly an interview target for offseason openings in the NFL, and the modern tumult of the college game can be a hard sell to in-demand NFL assistants.
When last the SEC saw Brady, he was blistering the league as the first-year passing coordinator of the juggernaut 2019 LSU Tigers. Although the offensive coordinator was Steve Ensminger, Brady rightly got a great deal of credit for an offensive turnaround on the Bayou that ignited the Tigers' national championship. Star quarterback Joe Burrow, few may recall, was positively pedestrian in his first year as an LSU starter under Ensminger in 2018.
Enter Brady, who spread out the attack and installed an RPO game that nobody, not even Alabama, could stop.
He grabbed a Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant, and was quickly off to the NFL after one season. About the only way to knock his impact on LSU would be to point out that his offense was so talent-loaded, just about anyone could've run it: two unstoppable receivers in Ja'Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson, a 1,400-yard rusher in Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Burrow slinging 60 touchdown passes.
On to Schumann.
The Georgia co-defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach got his start at Alabama, spending eight years in Nick Saban's program in roles from analyst to graduate assistant to director of player personnel. He knows plenty about how Saban runs things, and he ran the best defense in the college game for two years. The very same thing can be said for fan-favorite Jeremy Pruitt: he broke in under Saban, and ran the best defense in the game at Alabama in 2016-2017.
Ultimately, the new defensive coordinator will be running Saban's system, which renders the recruiting aspect of the job all the more important. And Pruitt could face significant restrictions as a recruiter if the NCAA hits him with a show cause penalty when it finally adjudicates recruiting violations at Tennessee. Violations that came not only on Pruitt's watch but, according to UT, were perpetrated by Pruitt himself.
If a coach with a show cause commits another misstep at a new school, it puts that school even more in harm's way. A Pruitt hire would generate big enthusiasm with much of the UA fan base, but the rest would twitch with memories of what NCAA violations did to Alabama football pre-Saban. Common sense says a show cause is coming for Pruitt, eventually.
Does Saban want to deal with that uncertainty? Does he want that headache? He might, if he's sold on the idea of reuniting Pruitt with Alabama football. He knows Schumann well too, and a Schumann hire would come with none of the trap doors that Pruitt would bring. He'd be the safe hire.
And the right one.
Reach Chase Goodbread at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @chasegoodbread.
This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Who Nick Saban, Alabama should hire as defensive coordinator