TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama coach Nick Saban always is looking for ways to improve the Crimson Tide’s coaching staff even if that means bringing in coaches who have beaten his team in the past.
This offseason, Saban added former Florida State quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke along with former Ole Miss offensive coordinator Dan Werner to the Tide’s staff as offensive analysts.
Werner and a high-powered offense helped Ole Miss to back-to-back wins (2013, 2014) over Alabama for the first time in program history.
“We’ve always had a lot of respect for Chris Weinke. The guy was a great player,” Saban said Tuesday. “He played a long time in the league. He’s very knowledgeable. He’s very smart. He was a great high school coach at IMG. He went to the NFL and got a couple good years of experience in the NFL. So we thought he’d bring some knowledge and experience and certainty be helpful to us off the field and helping us with game plan.
“Dan Werner and Ole Miss. Do I need to tell our fans or anybody on our staff the issues that we’ve had with their offense that last couple of years?”
Under Werner in 2015, Ole Miss set program records for scoring (531 points), touchdowns (68), total offense (6,731), passing yards (4,351), passing touchdowns (35), 50-plus point games (4) and games with more than 600 yards of offense (3).
Ole Miss led the SEC and was top 10 nationally in scoring (40.8), total offense (517.8 ypg) and passing (334.7 ypg).
“I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for what they do, how they coach it,” Saban said of Werner and Ole Miss. “I think it’ll help us on offense and defense to have a guy around here that can add some knowledge and experience to the way they do RPOs. Some of the things they did in the passing game. So I’ve always had a lot of respect for Dan and we’re glad to have them here to help.”
Alabama is breaking in a new offensive coordinator in Brian Daboll. The majority of Daboll’s coaching experience came in the NFL so Saban believes both Weinke and Werner should help Daboll make the transition to college.
“I think those two guys, having coached in high school and college, certainly helps a guy that’s coached in the NFL be able to balance some of the things that will help us have a well-rounded, pro-style offense that has the college elements that helps you take advantage of some of the college rules,” Saban said.
Alabama co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Mike Locksley and outside linebacker coach Tosh Lupoi are two examples of coaches who have worked as analysts on Saban’s staff before earning on-field positions.
Former offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian turned his career around in Tuscaloosa last year as an analyst. Sarkisian jumped from analyst to offensive coordinator in the national championship game before taking the same position with the Atlanta Falcons.
As long as NCAA rules permit it, Saban and Alabama will continue to bolster their staff analysts and interns.
Saban explained his philosophy on bringing in analysts and the different roles they play within the staff.
“We’ve learned a tremendous amount from all of those guys. I think that’s the No. 1 thing,” Saban said. “I think their knowledge and experience and I think they’re very much respected. I think we need different types of people. We have guys that do nothing but break down film. We have guys that do nothing but draw plays and we have guys that make contributions based on their knowledge and experience formulating a game plan.
“They’re somebody that other guys on the staff certainly respect, so I think that experience is really, really good. And I think it’s a great learning experience for all of us.”