Alabama Close To Hiring Tommy Rees as OC; DC Candidate Todd Grantham Hired By Saints

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Alabama football coach Nick Saban has offered his offensive coordinator position to Notre Dame offensive coordinator Tommy Rees after interviewing him in Tuscaloosa on Thursday, sources confirmed to OutKick on Friday.

Details are being worked out, and Rees, 30, is close to accepting the job. But Alabama may not make an official announcement of the hire – if it happens – for several days after Saban makes other hires.


Saban is also looking for a new defensive coordinator. He recently offered that job to Crimson Tide defensive analyst Todd Grantham, a former DC at Georgia, Louisville, Mississippi State and Florida. Grantham turned the job down for a return to the NFL with the New Orleans Saints, according to a report by ESPN’s Chris Low on Friday.

It hasn't been a great year for Nick Saban, Alabama.
Alabama coach Nick Saban is trying to hire two coordinators at the same time for the first time at Alabama since after his first season in 2007. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Washington offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb interviewed with Saban early this week and reportedly turned down the job.


If Rees takes the job, he will be the youngest Alabama offensive coordinator since Major Applewhite was 28 in Saban’s first season in 2007. Applewhite left after one season to be Texas’ running backs coach.

Tommy Rees’ Offense Was Not Great At Notre Dame

Rees has been Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator since the 2020 season. A starting quarterback at Notre Dame from 2010-13 under coach Brian Kelly, Rees coached quarterbacks under Kelly from 2017-19 before a promotion to OC.

Kelly tried to bring Rees with him as OC to LSU when Kelly left Notre Dame following the 2021 season, but Rees decided to stay with the Fighting Irish and new head coach Marcus Freeman. Notre Dame promoted Freeman from defensive coordinator to replace Kelly.

Rees’ offense did not fare well statistically at Notre Dame in 2022. In a 9-4 season, the Irish finished No. 98 in the nation in pass offense with 207.1 yards a game, No. 60 in total offense with 396 and No. 42 in scoring with 31.8. Senior quarterback Drew Pyne finished No. 20 in the nation in passing efficiency at 155.3 on 164-of-254 passing for 2,021 yards and 22 touchdowns with six interceptions. Pyne became the starter after Tyler Buchner was lost to injury in the second game of the season.

The talent at Rees’ disposal at Alabama will be much greater than what typically came through Notre Dame, however. The Irish tended to focus on the run under Rees.

In addition, Rees had a different starting quarterback in each of his three seasons with the Irish. Ian Book started in 2020 and finished No. 33 in efficiency at 144.3 on 228-of-353 passing for 15 touchdowns and 2,830 yards with only three interceptions. The Saints selected Book in the fourth round of the 2021 draft and waived him shortly before the 2022 season. Philadelphia soon claimed him off waivers.

In 2021, Jack Coan finished No. 32 in the nation in efficiency at 151.8 on 253-of-386 passing for 3,150 yards and 25 touchdowns with seven interceptions.

Nick Saban And Alabama Will Have New QB In 2023 Season

Alabama is losing junior quarterback Bryce Young to the 2023 NFL Draft, where he is expected to be one of the first players taken. But the Tide returns sophomore Jalen Milroe, who played in eight games last season as the backup. He completed 31-of-53 passes for 297 yards and five touchdowns. There is also 2022 signee Ty Simpson, the No. 3 quarterback in the nation from Westview High in Martin, Tennessee, by Sports 247.

And there are incoming freshmen from the No. 1 class of 2023. Those are No. 8 quarterback Eli Holstein of Zachary High in Zachary, Louisiana, and No. 13 quarterback Dylan Lonergan of Brookwood High in Snellville, Georgia.

Rees is young, but known for his confidence, if not cockiness.

A native of Los Angeles who grew up in Lake Bluff, Illinois, Rees started 30 games at Notre Dame under Kelly from 2010-13. After serving as a graduate assistant in 2015 at Northwestern, Rees coached as an offensive assistant with the San Diego Chargers. He coached quarterbacks for Kelly at Notre Dame from 2017-19 before his promotion to offensive coordinator.

Alabama May Be Can’t-Miss Opportunity For Tommy Rees

Should Rees’ offense succeed at Alabama as most have in recent years, he will be on the fast track to a major college head coaching job, considering the success of so many former Saban assistants. And who knows? Rees could get consideration to replace Saban, who will be 72 next Halloween.

Rees will be Saban’s ninth offensive coordinator at Alabama. The first eight and their seasons with the Crimson Tide follow along with their present job:

-Major Applewhite … 2007 … South Alabama offensive coordinator.

-Jim McElwain … 2008-11 … Central Michigan head coach.

-Doug Nussmeieir … 2012-13 … Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks coach until recently.

-Lane Kiffin … 2014-16 … Ole Miss head coach.

-Brian Daboll … 2017 … New York Giants head coach.

-Michael Locksley … 2018 … Maryland head coach.

-Steve Sarkisian … 2019-20 … Texas head coach.

-Bill O’Brien … 2021-22 … New England offensive coordinator.

-Tommy Rees … 2023-? … ?

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

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