Two defensive coordinators were present when Alabama began its College Football Playoff practice schedule on Wednesday afternoon in Tuscaloosa.
Kirby Smart, the current defensive boss, is on his way to coach Georgia once the season ends. Jeremy Pruitt, the next man up, has already arrived from Athens to begin recruiting for the Crimson Tide.
Pruitt is technically not allowed to coach on the field until the Tide’s Playoff run ends.
“I think he’s in a learning mode right now,” coach Nick Saban said Wednesday night.
Once Smart announced he would be leaving for Georgia, Saban moved quickly to get Pruitt, who spent three seasons as Alabama’s defensive backs coach from 2010-2012, and has seven years of Crimson Tide work on his resumé.
He left town in 2013 to become Florida State’s defensive coordinator, and then held the same position at Georgia the past two seasons.
“It’s always difficult to find someone who knows our system and our scheme,” Saban said. “So to be able to bring somebody back like that I think really helps. New energy, new enthusiasm, new ideas, but somebody who really understands what we do.”
Saban got testy, however, when a reporter asked how many other candidates he interviewed for the job.
“I said it was a no-brainer,” Saban clarified. “So I didn’t… it was a no-brainer. So, when it’s a no-brainer, I don’t know that there is a process. What’s no-brainer mean to you? I don’t know. What it means to me — I’ll define it — is there was no doubt about who I was going to hire.
“Didn’t interview anybody. Didn’t talk to anybody. Just hired the guy. So… He worked here for six years. Maybe I should’ve called some people to find out how good he was or what he could do well and all that kind of stuff and get some recommendation on him.”