Sports Outside the Beltway

Saban Continues Building Staff: Fisher Out, Applewhite In?

Nick Saban is working the phones to put together his staff, which will likely not include LSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher.

Thomas Murphy of the Mobile Press-Register reports that “Saban has so far hired Kevin Steele, likely as defensive coordinator, Lance Thompson and Kirby Smart, who will probably handle defensive backs” as well as “Todd Alles, a former program assistant for Ohio State, to be the director of football operations, one source said. Randy Ross, a 17-year veteran on the UA staff, had previously held the post, though a school is not limited to one coach in such an off-the-field position.”

Offensive coordinator is, of course, the most pressing need and there appear to be multiple irons in the fire. “Saban has approached his former assistant at LSU, Jimbo Fisher, as well as Rice offensive coordinator Major Applewhite, Southern California offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin and possibly others to gauge their interest in joining his first Crimson Tide staff.” Applewhite is especially intriguing, as he “is seen as one of the brightest young offensive minds in the game. The former Texas quarterback and Baton Rouge, La., native, helped lead Rice to its first bowl berth in 45 years this season.”

There is a growing consensus that Fisher won’t take the job. He’s hemmed and hawed around long enough that Florida State has withdrawn its offer. Ian Rapoport reports that the biggest obstacle is the desire by both Alabama and FSU to sign him to a contract with a buyout clause, whereas he wants to keep his options open in case the NFL carousel creates an opening at Georgia Tech, in addition to the already-open Louisville job.

Paul Gattis mentions some other candidates for staff openings: “Steve Marshall, who most recently coached the offensive line with the NFL’s Houston Texans. And Mississippi State assistant Shane Beamer, son of Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, has interviewed with Saban.”

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