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Alabama looking at elite Big 12 coach as offensive coordinator target

MFB Practice Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban Photo by Kent G
Photo by Kent Gidley of Alabama Athletics

Is Alabama going after its 1B option to replace Bill O’Brien as offensive coordinator?

Close sources confirmed to Touchdown Alabama Magazine last week that Jeff Lebby is alongside Joe Brady as a top option for offensive play-caller. ESPN’s Pete Thamel is thinking along the same line. He shared with Paul Finebaum Wednesday that the Crimson Tide could trend toward Lebby, especially after Josh Heupel’s offense torched Alabama’s defense last season.

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The Volunteers scored 52 points in a 52-49 victory at Neyland Stadium.

“I would think that Nick Saban saw the fits that Tennessee and Josh Heupel gave him this year,” Thamel said, “and offensively, I think they’ll probably trend a little bit and maybe overcorrect a little bit more that way as they go. Now, I’m not saying they’re going to turn into the Baylor offense from the mid-2000s. But one name I’ve heard is (Jeff Lebby), the Oklahoma offensive coordinator. He’s obviously had success in the SEC West footprint. 

“He’s obviously learned from Lane Kiffin and branched out to Oklahoma last year — to some mixed results in a rebuilding year. But I do think that if the option schematically is to go faster or slower, my expectation is Alabama’s going to end up going faster.”

Lebby, 39, is a native Texan and a University of Oklahoma alum.

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He is one of the brightest offensive minds in college football, recording success at Baylor, Central Florida, Ole Miss, and Oklahoma. Lebby served in several roles at Baylor – including offensive quality control coach, running backs coach, offensive recruiting coordinator, and passing game coordinator – from 2008 to 2016. In nine years, he helped transform the Bears into one of the most entertaining offenses in the sport. His recruiting, scheming, game-planning and manipulation of matchups allowed Robert Griffin III, Nick Florence, and Bryce Petty to excel as 3,000+ yard passers. Griffin captured the Heisman Memorial Trophy in 2011 after posting 4,293 passing yards and 47 total touchdowns. Lebby’s offense allowed running backs such as Jay Finley, Terrance Ganaway, Lache Seastrunk, Shock Linwood, and Terence Williams to total over 1,000 rushing yards. Kendall Wright, Terrance Williams, Antwan Goodley, Corey Coleman, and KD Cannon were 1,000+ yard receivers. Baylor averaged over 40 points per game under Lebby from 2011 to 2015. Lebby was an offensive coordinator, passing game coordinator, and quarterbacks coach for the University of Central Florida in 2018 and 2019.

UCF averaged over 43 points per game in both seasons and had 10+ wins. Lebby coached a 3,000-yard passer in 2019 (Dillon Gabriel, 3,653), while McKenzie Milton accounted for 34 total touchdowns in 2018. Greg McCrae rushed for 1,182 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2018. Eight receivers caught at least 20 passes, and Gabriel Davis led Central Florida for receptions (72), receiving yards (1,241), and touchdowns (12) in 2018. Lebby assisted Lane Kiffin in making Ole Miss a balanced offense in 2020 and 2021.

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He turned Matt Corral into a two-time 3,000-yard passer and an NFL Draft selection. Lebby’s scheme allowed Jerrion Ealy and Snoop Connor to excel as running backs. Both combined for 31 rushing touchdowns in Lebby’s two seasons in Oxford, Miss.

Elijah Moore (1,193) and Dontario Drummond (1,028) totaled over 1,000 yards receiving.

Oklahoma had a rebuilding year in 2022, but Lebby produced marquee numbers. He took Dillon Gabriel as a UCF transfer and made him a 3,000-yard passer (3,168) again with 25 passing touchdowns. Eric Gray had 1,366 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns, while Marvin Mims tallied 54 catches for 1,083 yards and six scores. Lebby has been successful at every coaching stop.

He could take Jalen Milroe or Ty Simpson to the next level if given the opportunity.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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