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Alabama’s 2015 offseason changes

Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban is preparing the program for another national championship run. It parted ways with Kevin Steele, Lance Thompson and Mark Hocke, in hopes of selecting individuals that can add a different dynamic to the program. Alabama achieved success offensively in 2014, but its coaching staff wasn’t on the same page defensively.

The Crimson Tide allowed 18.4 points per game, second-most in the Saban era (2007, 21.8). Alabama’s secondary was doomed by the deep ball this season. Opposing quarterbacks completed 54.4 percent of their passes, averaging 226.1 yards. Alabama surrendered 328.4 yards of offense.

Tosh Lupoi, OLBs coach, Alabama

Tosh Lupoi has accepted a position at Alabama as an outside linebackers coach. The California native worked as an intern on Alabama’s staff in 2014. Lupoi was a defensive end for the California Golden Bears from 2000-05. He appeared in three bowl games, and guided the team to a 10-win season in 2004.

Lupoi received an opportunity on the Golden Bears’ staff first as a graduate assistant and then as defensive line coach. He became a household name as a recruiter, bringing California a top 20 class in his final two seasons. Lupoi’s efforts earned him the 2010 Rivals.com Recruiter of the Year award.

Lupoi hooked up with Steve Sarkisian at Washington in 2012. His career was in jeopardy when Sarkisian left for Southern California because of off-the-field issues (NCAA investigations, improper benefits). Lupoi is a solid recruiter, but he also brings youth and energy to Alabama’s staff. The 32-year-old has an edge to him that Saban likes. He looks to develop a better pass rush with Alabama’s outside linebackers.

Mel Tucker, DBs coach, Alabama

Alabama’s defensive coordinator Kirby Smart has had eight seasons with the secondary. It’s time for some new blood to take over. Mel Tucker, 43, has a lot to ties to Nick Saban. He worked as a graduate assistant at Michigan State from 1997-98. Tucker landed on Saban’s staff at LSU in 2000 as a defensive backs coach. He helped the Tigers achieve an 8-4 record, resulting in a Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl appearance. Tucker struck gold when he landed in Columbus, Ohio.

He was Ohio State’s defensive back coach from 2001-03, and its Co-defensive coordinator in 2004. Tucker posted a 40-10 record in four seasons, including a national championship in the 2002 season. He appeared in four bowl games and placed six Ohio State defensive backs in the NFL Draft.

Tucker’s success translated to the National Football League. He worked first as a defensive backs coach and then defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns from 2005-08. Under Tucker, Cleveland’s defense consistently ranked fifth in the league. It accounted for 73 interceptions.

Tucker transitioned to South Beach in 2009 as a defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars. His style took root and in two seasons, Jacksonville quickly became the fourth highest rated defense in the NFL. Tucker became Jacksonville’s assistant head coach in 2012, but the dream didn’t pan out well.

Chicago noticed Tucker’s success as a defensive coordinator and hired in 2013. Two sub-par defensive seasons drew Tucker negative reviews from the media. He was replaced by former San Francisco defensive coordinator Vic Fangio under Chicago’s new head coach John Fox.

Tucker has strong ties to Ohio. The addition of him to Saban’s staff adds another state that Alabama can potentially dominate in recruiting. He is an old school coach when it comes to training defensive backs.

Lane Kiffin, OC, Alabama

Lane Kiffin’s commitment to Nick Saban was the biggest news of the weekend. He was a front-runner for an offensive coordinator position with the San Francisco 49ers, but Kiffin announced Saturday that would return to Tuscaloosa because of “unfinished business.” 2014 saw Alabama’s offense total 36.9 points and 484.5 yards offensively per game. Its 484.5 yards was the most in program history since 2000.

Alabama had a 3,000-yard passer (Blake Sims, 3,487), a 1,000-yard receiver (Amari Cooper, 1,727) and two running backs that neared 1,000 yards (T.J. Yeldon—979, Derrick Henry—990) in 2014. It has a lot of talent returning, and a quarterback battle to decipher. Kiffin’s return gives this offense a chance to be more explosive in 2015.

Alabama’s 2015 coaching changes
Name Position Predecessor
Jody Wright Director of Player Personnel Tyler Siskey
Kirby Smart Inside Linebackers Coach Lance Thompson
Jeff Dilliman Associate Strength Coach Mark Hocke
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