All signs point to Alabama making a quick hire at defensive coordinator following Jeremy Pruitt taking the head coaching position at Tennessee.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban announced Thursday during the College Football Playoff Awards Banquet that Pruitt will remain with the team for the duration of its run in the playoffs. No. 4 Alabama will play No. 1 Clemson on Jan. 1 in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. If the Crimson Tide wins that game it will move on to the College Football Playoff Championship Game on Jan. 8 in Atlanta.
Still, Alabama will have to find a replacement. Here are four possible candidates for the job:
Tosh Lupoi (36)
Currently: Co-defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach at Alabama
The favorite to replace Pruitt is most likely Tosh Lupoi who is in his third year as Alabama’s outside linebackers coach. Lupoi just makes a lot of sense here, especially since he is already making $950,000 per year, more than most defensive coordinators. In fact, according to a list of salaries released by USA Today earlier this year, he would actually rank No. 73 among college head coaches.
Lupoi’s resume isn’t bad either. Since he took over as outside linebackers coach in 2015, Alabama led the nation in sacks the past two seasons with 54 in 2016 and 52 in 2015. However, Lupoi's lofty salary is also based on his recruiting ability. He is viewed as one of the Crimson Tide’s top recruiters and was named Rivals Recruiter of the Year during 2010 while serving as the defensive line coach at California.
Lupoi, 35, started his coaching career at California, his alma mater, where he became the youngest full-time coach in Cal history at the age of 26 in 2008. After serving as the Bears’ defensive line coach for four years, he worked as the defensive line coach and defensive run game coordinator at Washington from 2012-13. He then joined Alabama’s staff as a defensive analyst for a season before taking over the outside linebackers.
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