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Nick Saban details why the hiring of Tommy Rees for offensive coordinator was ‘critical’ for Alabama

Tommy Rees standing next to Notre Dame QB Drew Pyne in the 2021 spring game.
Matt Cashore - USA TODAY Sports

Many fans of Alabama football rolled their eyes in disappointment when the Crimson Tide hired Tommy Rees to replace Bill O’Brien as offensive coordinator on February 3.

Nick Saban even dropped a big bag to get the Notre Dame alumnus to come to Tuscaloosa, approving a three-year deal worth $2.1 million. Alabama has had some of the best play-callers to produce greatness, including Jim McElwain, Lane Kiffin, Michael Locksley, Brian Daboll, and Steve Sarkisian. People criticize O’Brien, but he did coach Bryce Young to a Heisman Trophy.

RELATED: Nick Saban’s thoughts on Jalen Milroe and Ty Simpson on day one of Alabama’s spring practice

Could Rees cement his name as one of the best assistants to come through Saban’s program?

The 30-year-old has an opportunity to make it happen. As a former Notre Dame quarterback (2010-13), he finished his collegiate career with 7,351 passing yards and 61 touchdowns. Rees was on the Fighting Irish team in 2012 that made it to the 2013 BCS National Championship Game against Alabama. He served the last six years (2017-22) as a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for Notre Dame. As a quarterbacks coach, Rees developed Brandon Wimbush and Ian Book. He took Wimbush’s skill set in 2017 and produced 30 total touchdowns. Book became a first-year starter in 2018, and Rees’ guidance helped him push the Irish to the College Football Playoff. Rees helped Book to a 3,000-yard (3,034) passing season with 34 passing touchdowns in 2019. As an offensive coordinator, Rees positioned Book to get Notre Dame back into the CFP in 2020 while assisting Jack Coan (2021) and Drew Pyne (2022) to success. He mentored Coan to 3,150 passing yards in 2021.

Rees is a young coach, but Coach Saban said getting him was ‘critical’ for Alabama’s offense.

“The most important thing is not young or old, but good,” Saban said about Alabama’s decision to hire Rees.

“Effective, good teacher, good quarterback coach, can develop quarterbacks, can help them learn and grow at the position, and that was the most critical factor in our search for a new offensive coordinator. We wanted a guy that would be a really good quarterback coach and has a history of being able to develop quarterbacks. I think we did that.”

Saban is showing his confidence in Rees. He has the responsibility of getting Jalen Milroe or Ty Simpson ready to start.

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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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