Random thoughts and observations on a Monday morning:
Pruitt's impending departure shouldn't affect Alabama's BCS title game preparation.
If it had to happen, it went about as smoothly as Alabama could have hoped.
For those who spent the weekend away from their smartphones, "it" was word of UA secondary coach Jeremy Pruitt accepting an offer to take over as Florida State's defensive boss in 2013.
In short, Pruitt, whose meteoric rise in the college coaching ranks spanned three on-the-field seasons in Tuscaloosa, got what he wanted: an opportunity to make defensive calls for a top 20 program that attracts some of the very best high school talent in the nation.
As for Alabama, in keeping one of its defensive assistants around through the BCS Championship Game, the Crimson Tide, much like a year ago when offensive coordinator Jim McElwain landed the Colorado State head job, won't be forced to adjust staff duties to cover for Pruitt.
While defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and head coach Nick Saban are more than capable of coaching the defensive backfield, anything to avoid a change in routine for the players at this point in the season has to be viewed as a good thing.
From an exposure standpoint, by coaching in Alabama's third national title game in four years, Pruitt's move to FSU will be more publicized than if he coached the Seminoles' defense against Northern Illinois in south Florida's junior varsity postseason game. Besides, with a recruiting dead period freshly underway, coaches will be limited in the contact they can have with prospects until Jan. 4, so it’s not like FSU will lose much on the recruiting trail, which, where the 2013 class is concerned, has largely been run.
So with former Saban assistant and current FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher apparently on board with his new hire sticking around Tuscaloosa for a few more weeks, Pruitt effectively gave Alabama his two week notice. In the end, Fisher got his guy, Pruitt got his promotion and Saban avoided an untimely distraction.
On Sunday, everyone came out a winner.
*Have to think Pruitt's recruiting work in northeast Florida while at Alabama gave him an edge over the competition in his bid to replace Stoops at FSU. The Jacksonville area (LeRoy Butler, Laveranues Coles, etc..) has been very kind to FSU in the past and Pruitt's good work (Chris Black, Derrick Henry and DeMarcus Walker) was a feather in his recruiting cap.
*With Pruitt's impending departure in mind, here’s a "where are they now" listing of former UA assistants under Saban.
Major Applewhite (UA offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach in 2007) -- Fifth season at Texas. With Bryan Harsin taking over at Arkansas State, Applewhite recently added playcalling duties to his co-offensive coordinator/running backs coach responsibilities.
Ron Middleton (UA tight ends/special teams coordinator in 2007) -- Fifth season at Duke. Serves as associate head coach/special teams coordinator/tight ends coach for Belk Bowl-bound Blue Devils.
Kevin Steele (UA associate head coach/defensive head coach/linebackers coach 2007-2008) – Rumored to have interned at LSU in 2012 after being dismissed as defensive coordinator at Clemson following 2011 season.
Curt Cignetti (UA wide receivers coach/recruiting coordinator 2007-2010) -- Second season as head coach at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Recently capped 12-2 campaign with run to Division II quarterfinals. Has 19-5 record as IUP head coach.
Bo Davis (UA defensive line coach 2007-2010) – Completing second season as defensive tackles coach at Texas.
Joe Pendry (UA assistant head coach/offensive line coach 2007-2010) -- Retired from coaching following 2010 season. Works for the Crimson Tide Foundation as a Development Officer and NFL Liason.
James Willis (UA associate head coach/outside linebackers coach in 2009) -- After serving as defensive coordinator at Texas Tech in 2010, Willis was relieved of his duties by then head coach Tommy Tuberville. Willis' latest coaching stop was as defensive coordinator for the Virginia Destroyers of the UFL.
Sal Sunseri (UA assistant head coach/outside linebackers coach 2009-2011) -- Spent the 2012 season at Tennessee as defensive coordinator. Part of a UT coaching staff that was dismissed following the season, Sunseri appears set to team up with Pruitt at Florida State.
Jim McElwain (UA offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach 2008-2011) -- Recently completed first season as head coach at Colorado State, where his team won three of its last five games to finish at 4-8.
*Three mainstays of the Alabama coaching staff under Saban: Smart, associate head coach/running backs coach Burton Burns and strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran. Over the last six years, each has played a large role in transforming the program from .500 status to the nation’s best.
*Five former UA players found the end zone in NFL games over the weekend, including two defenders in Cincinnati defensive end Wallace Gilberry and Arizona safety Rashad Johnson. Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones (two), Cleveland running back Trent Richardson (two) and New Orleans running back Mark Ingram rounded out the quintet.
*While it’s too early to panic, the three-game slide the Alabama men’s basketball team finds itself on is very much concerning. The Crimson Tide struggled out of the blocks in losses to Dayton and VCU and didn’t defend particularly well in either game. Mix in injuries to Carl Engstrom (knee) and Andrew Steele (hernia) and you’ve got the needed ingredients for an NIT bid, which isn’t what most had in mind when looking ahead to Anthony Grant’s fourth season at the helm.
*On what was an otherwise quiet Saturday in the college sports world, Arizona fans had a day to remember. The UA football team came from 13 points down in the final 42 seconds to beat Nevada, 49-48, in the New Mexico Bowl. Later that night, Sean Miller’s basketball team erased a six-point deficit in the final minute to knock off No. 3 Florida, 65-64, in Tuscon.
*Butler’s overtime win over Indiana on Saturday gave college basketball a Big Dance feel in December. Who needs Kentucky when IU has a ready-made rival like Butler right down the street? Ironically, BU-IU was played on a neutral court, which was a deal breaker for the Hoosiers in continuing its rivalry with UK.
*Sports are often described as a diversion from reality. Well, it’s been three days since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre and my thoughts remain firmly in place with the people of Newtown, Conn. No sporting event will change that anytime soon.
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