Nick Saban Goes Retro: Hires His Original Alabama Defensive Coordinator From 2007 - Kevin Steele

Alabama football coach Nick Saban is apparently starting over again at 71 - at least on the defensive side.

Saban has hired his original defensive coordinator from his first season with the Crimson Tide in 2007 - Kevin Steele, who is 64. Chris Low of ESPN first reported the news.

Steele served as Miami's defensive coordinator in the 2022 season. The Hurricanes finished No. 65 in the nation last season in total defense with 376.5 yards allowed a game. Steele replace Pete Golding, who was the Tide's defensive coordinator from 2018 through 2022 before leaving for the same position at Ole Miss.

Saban offered the job to defensive analyst Todd Grantham, a former defensive coordinator at Florida, Mississippi State and Louisville and a defensive line coach under Saban at Michigan State from 1996-98. But Grantham turned the job down to take an assistant coaching job with the New Orleans Saints. He is expected to coach the Saints' defensive line. Grantham has much NFL experience with stops as a defensive line coach at Indianapolis and Houston in the early 2000s and at Dallas in 2008 and '09. He was Cleveland's defensive coordinator from 2005-07.

Nick Saban Completes Coordinator Staff

The hiring completes Saban's coordinator hires going into the 2023 season - his 17th at Alabama. On Friday, Saban went young and hired Notre Dame offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, 30, for the same job with the Crimson Tide. Rees replaces Bill O'Brien, who left to be New England's offensive coordinator.


Steele, like quite a few of Saban's assistants, had a brief stay in his first stint with Saban. But as is often the case with Saban assistants, he came back to Saban. Steele is Saban's only defensive coordinator hire at Alabama to last only one season in that capacity.

Saban promoted defensive backs coach Kirby Smart to defensive coordinator following the 2007 season, and Steele coached inside linebackers. Smart had coached under Saban at LSU and with the Miami Dolphins. He left following the 2015 season to become head coach at Georgia, where he has won the last two national championships.

Nick Saban's Coaching Rehab Center Took Kevin Steele In 2013

After the 2008 season, Steele left to become Clemson's defensive coordinator in his home state of South Carolina. He is a native of Dillon.

Following three seasons at Clemson and a year out of football, Steele joined Saban's coaching rehabilitation center in a non-coaching role as director of player personnel in 2013. In 2014, Steele coached linebackers for Saban. Steele then became LSU's defensive coordinator for one season and Auburn's defensive coordinator from 2016-20.

Steele was Baylor's head coach from 1999-02 and has NFL experience, having coached the Carolina Panthers linebackers from 1995-98.

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Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests. A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention. Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at, and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.