With one game left in the college football season, the Crimson Tide’s offense ranks No. 6 in the nation. The man calling the plays has been Bill O’Brien in his first season with the program.
O’Brien sparked some buzz when he got the job because he was tasked with following up Steve Sarkisian as the offensive coordinator, and had seen success in his time at Penn State and in his earlier days with the Houston Texans.
Nick Saban has a vast coaching tree that can only be compared to Bill Belichick’s. Now, his coaching tree may be ready to expand, as O’Brien’s name has been brought up as a candidate for the LSU head coaching job.
Here are five names Alabama fans may want to get familiar with.
5. Jason Garrett
Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett on the sideline during an afternoon scrimmage at MetLife Stadium on September 3, 2020. The New York Giants Hold An Afternoon Scrimmage At Metlife Stadium On September 3 2020. Chris Pedota, NorthJersey.com-Imagn
Jason Garrett is famously known for his nearly 10-season stint as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. Since being relieved of his duties from the Texas team, he served as the offensive coordinator for the New York Giants for a season and a half, but was recently let go. Nick Saban was willing to bring in Bill O’Brien after an ugly exit in Houston, is Garrett next?
4. Dan Mullen
Nov 20, 2021; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Florida Gators head coach Dan Mullen watches play against the Missouri Tigers during the first half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Now, this one will certainly divide the fanbase. Dan Mullen had a very solid 2020 season with Kyle Trask, Kadarius Toney and Kyle Pitts at Florida, but other than that, he hasn’t got much to show for his few years in Gainesville.
Mullen has a vibrant personality, but has numerous flaws as a coach, which were spotlighted in the 2021 season, which ultimately led to his firing. Maybe he needs a chance to start over in the SEC, this time as an assistant coach. (This could also help him learn how to recruit.)
3. Robert Gillespie
Alabama running backs coach Robert Gillespie, center, grey cap, gives direction at Alabama’s first fall camp football practice, Friday, Aug. 6, 2021, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The team allowed media a window to see individual drills. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
This is a name that may be new to Alabama fans. However, while you have not heard his name, you have definitely felt his impact. Gillespie is currently in his first season as the running backs coach at Alabama. He has coached at six total programs, always getting a better opportunity at his next stop.
While he has only served as the running backs coach in his coaching career, it may be time for him to take the next step. It also would not be unlike Coach Saban to promote and hire from within the program.
2. Freddie Kitchens
The former Alabama star on the field has had a lengthy coaching career, a majority of which was spent in the NFL. He has worked as a tight ends coach, an offensive assistant and even the head coach of the Cleveland Browns.
Currently, Kitchens is serving as the interim offensive coordinator for the New York Giants. If the remainder of the 2021 season shows that Kitchens has what it takes to call plays, maybe an offer letter from Tuscaloosa will be sent his way.
1. Garrett Riley
SMU offensive coordinator Garrett Riley greets some of the players before the team’s NCAA college football game against Tulane in Dallas, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Garrett Riley may not be someone Alabama fans are all too used to hearing, but they have heard of his brother: Lincoln Riley, head coach at Oklahoma.
At 32, Riley is very young, but has found success at offensive play calling. He has served as SMU’s offensive coordinator for the past two seasons and has electrified the offense in Dallas. Currently, SMU’s offense ranks No. 13 in the nation, which is a higher ranking than 11 of the 14 SEC programs.