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Nick Saban

Nick Saban will have two new head coaches to compete against in SEC next season

Alabama head coach Nick Saban runs to midfield after defeating Tennessee
John David Mercer - USA Today Sports

He is prepared to battle Steve Sarkisian and Brent Venables as Texas and Oklahoma join the Southeastern Conference next year; however, Nick Saban is also bracing himself to face two more new head coaches in the conference.

Texas A&M and Mississippi State hired new leaders for their football programs.

RELATED: Nick Saban gives injury update on Alabama RB Jase McClellan

Texas A&M replaced Jimbo Fisher with Mike Elko.

Elko, 46, returns to College Station (Texas) after spending two seasons at Duke University as head coach. Elko was the Aggies’ defensive coordinator and safeties coach under Fisher from 2018 to 2021. Elko helped Fisher defeat Saban and the Crimson Tide in 2021 at Kyle Field. He is known as a marquee recruiter, but we will see how a defensive mind will improve Texas A&M. 

Mississippi State hit a home run with Zach Arnett’s replacement.

The Bulldogs pulled a coach who was once on the staff of its in-state rival. Jeff Lebby, 39, lands his first head coaching opportunity after being an offensive coordinator for a long time. He spent two seasons under Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss (2020-21) and two years under Venables at Oklahoma (2022-23). Mississippi State suffered a tragic loss with the death of Mike Leach on Dec. 12, 2022, and it has not recovered. The Bulldogs need a young, innovative offensive coach, and Lebby is perfect for them.

Elko and Lebby have faced Saban multiple times as assistant coaches, but both get a crack at him as head coaches next 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.

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