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Who is Robert Bala? Alabama’s new inside linebackers coach

Alabama football logo at Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel prior to 2018 CFP title game versus Georgia
Adam Hagy - USA Today Sports

Alabama football had Austin Armstrong for eight days, but Nick Saban is hopeful to have the new inside linebackers coach for more time.

ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported on the Crimson Tide targeting Liberty staffer Robert Bala to coach linebackers, and his colleague, Chris Low confirms by reporting that Bala has accepted the offer. Alabama finds its new inside linebackers coach before spring practice, and Bala is another young name on the rise. The California native was a defensive analyst for the Flames last season.

Bala coached under Hugh Freeze at Liberty, but he earned his bachelor’s degree in 2008 from Southern Utah. His bachelor’s came in physical education while his master’s degree was in coaching and athletic administration in 2013 from Concordia. 

RELATED: Report: Alabama expected to hire Liberty’s Robert Bala to coach inside linebackers

Bala primarily worked with safeties in 2022, guiding the position to seven interceptions — including five from Robert Rahimi.

He witnessed the Flames record 121 tackles for loss, ranking first in the nation.

Liberty’s defense averaged 9.31 tackles for loss per matchup last season. Bala also saw the Flames rack up marquee numbers for sacks. Liberty finished third in college football with 45 sacks, averaging 3.46 per game. Bala coached at a few small schools in Utah and California, including Snow College, Palomar College, and his Alma mater, Southern Utah. He spent two seasons at Ottawa University Arizona and one year in the National Football League (2014) with the Oakland Raiders as a linebackers coach and special teams intern. Bala has experience with linebackers, safeties, cornerbacks, running special teams, and coordinating defenses. He is between 36 and 38 years of age, so he can relate to players. Saban will have him focused on one responsibility, especially after the five-year experiment with Pete Golding did not work out. Bala will give Alabama an ace recruiter for California with his knowledge of the area. He inherits a talented inside linebacker room, but can he get the most out of the players? 

We will see his coaching philosophy first-hand when spring practice starts.

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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.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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