TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It looked a little weird to see Burton Burns on the University of Alabama sideline and not putting running backs through drills during the first spring practice Tuesday.
He was the only remaining assistant coach from Nick Saban’s initial staff in 2007, with the title of associate head coach/running backs coach. Granted, he’s still around in an off-field capacity, as is former offensive line coach Joe Pendry, but otherwise the only other person who has been with Saban for all 11-plus years has been strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran.
To give an idea to the kind of turnover Saban’s experienced, mostly due to people being hired away, defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi is now the dean of the assistant coaches. He was hired as an analyst in 2014 and became the outside linebackers coach a year later.
He’s the only assistant coach remaining from the Crimson Tide’s 2015 national championship team.
Alabama has six new assistant coaches this season, one thanks to the NCAA allowing teams to have a 10th assistant coach, and all three coordinator spots are being manned by someone different from a year ago.
Yet Saban used the word “excited” three times when describing all the new additions, and the coaching staff definitely got significantly younger with the likes of co-defensive coordinator/inside linebackers coach Pete Golding, special teams coordinator Jeff Banks and receivers coach Josh Gattis (who also has the co-offensive coordinator title).
“I think they’re all working hard, and they’ve got a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of new ideas,” Saban said. “I’m excited about them and I like every one of them, and to be honest with you we’re very, very fortunate and hit a home run with the guys we were able to hire.”
The other additions were associate head coach/quarterbacks coach Dan Enos, associated head coach/defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski and defensive backs coach Karl Scott.
Craig Kuligowski built D-Line-Zou under Gary Pinkel. Fantastic hire by Alabama and Nick Saban.
— Alec Lewis (@alec_lewis) February 22, 2018
As for Burns, his new title is assistant athletics director for football, which means he’ll probably do a little bit of everything.
“He’s watching the film every day,” Saban said. “I think if we got too far off base in any way, shape or form, he’d certainly speak up in a staff meeting and all that type of thing.
“Everything that affects a player, and every person who affects a player, is something I want Burton to have constant interaction with. Whether it’s medical staff, nutritionists, academic folks, recruiting, just in every way, shape and form to bridge the gap a little bit between administratively, organizationally, so that we’re all staying on the same page.
“He wanted to do this, this is not something I made him do, and you know it’s worked out very well so far. It’s been very, very helpful to me.”
Nick Saban’s 2007 coaching staff
- Major Applewhite, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks
- Kevin Steele, defensive coordinator/inside linebackers
- Burton Burns, associate head coach/running backs
- Joe Pendry, assistant head coach-offense/offensive line
- Kirby Smart, assistant head coach-defensive/secondary
- Curt Cignetti, receivers/recruiting coordinator
- Ron Middleton, tight ends/special teams
- Bo Davis, defensive line
- Lance Thompson, outside linebackers