As consumers of Alabama football, we get hung up on names and styles.
Nick Saban cares about one thing when he hires a coach: can this guy get the job done and be the right fit for our program?
He saw both aspects upon choosing to return Kevin Steele to the Crimson Tide as a defensive coordinator.
The move was not sexy as fans looked for names such as Jeremy Pruitt, Glenn Schumann, Jim Leonhard, or Jimmy Lake, but Saban went with somebody he could trust. Steele, 64, helped start the run of championships with Saban as he brought toughness, grit, and tough love to players. The groundwork he laid in 2007 and 2008 as a coordinator and linebackers coach assisted the Tide to its first BCS National Championship of the Saban era in 2009. His style in 2013 and 2014 set Alabama up for a College Football Playoff National Championship in 2015, despite Steele being at Louisiana State University when the Tide won the title.
He is not a young name that Alabama fans are accustomed to seeing Saban get, but he is a proven individual who knows the standard and culture. Several former players, including Reggie Ragland, Marquis Maze, HaHa Clinton-Dix, Ryan Anderson, and Christian Miller, laud the toughness Steele brought to the program during his time with the Tide. He made the teams early in the Saban era mentally tough, and it allowed Alabama to set up a dynasty in college football. Kirby Smart, Glenn Schumann, Will Muschamp, and Scott Cochran have brought mental toughness to Georgia, and the Bulldogs are back-to-back national champs.
Alabama wants to regain the mental edge, and returning Steele is a good start. He will have defensive players motivated, disciplined, energized, and prepared to execute at the highest level. Steele will have guys playing fast, flying to the ball, making prime-time tackles, and having fun. Saban is willing to sacrifice sexy for get the job done and win.
Steele represents getting the job done. Alabama’s defense should look much better next fall.
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