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Kevin Steele details his decision to return to Nick Saban, Alabama

Kevin Steele during his time as a linebackers coach and defensive assistant for Alabama.
Photo by Kent Gidley of Alabama Athletics

Kevin Steele has been everywhere in college football and the National Football League.

In the spring, he returned to a familiar coach and program.

He was Nick Saban’s first defensive coordinator at the University of Alabama in 2007. Steele brought toughness and physicality that set the blueprint for BCS National Championships in 2009, 2011, and 2012, despite him being with other teams. He returned as a player personnel director in 2013 and a linebackers coach in 2014, assisting the Crimson Tide to a Southeastern Conference Championship. He has been a defensive play-caller at Auburn, LSU, and Miami while serving as an interim head coach at Tennessee. Steele told reporters at a Team Focus Fundraiser in Mobile (Ala.) it’s Saban that makes Alabama different.

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“The process, the plan that he has, and the way he implements that plan is second to none,” Steele said about Saban.

“It is. He does it better than arguably anybody’s ever done it. But then the commitment of the university and that when you walk in, everything that touches us as a staff or touches our players is first-class. There are not nine fabulous things. And then one thing is like … why is this like this? Everything that touches our players daily is the best of the best. And that’s what we are supposed to do for the players.”

Steele, 65, can retire in the state of Alabama after this season, but he could not pass up another opportunity to work with Saban.

He did great things with Auburn’s defense from 2016 to 2020, and Tide fans want to see an elite defense return after five frustrating seasons under Pete Golding. Steele said it is about doing things you feel good about.

“It’s the third time,” he said about being back with the Tide. “I understand what (Saban) wants, and the reason is, it’s Alabama and it’s Coach Saban. You know, without those two things (his return) probably wouldn’t have happened.”

Saban hardly lets assistant coaches talk to the media so hearing from Steele was refreshing.

It will be entertaining to see how productive will Steele have this Alabama defense in the fall.

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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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