News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Saban interviews 3 Tide aides
Source says Woods, Connelly, Ball discuss jobs with new coach

By Josh Cooper· 340-2460

Mike Shula’s former Alabama assistant coaches cleaned out their offices Saturday, but according to a source, three have interviewed with new head coach Nick Saban.

According to the source, Saban spoke with defensive backs coach Chris Ball, running backs coach Sparky Woods and offensive line coach Bob Connelly.

Saban apparently is waiting on whether LSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher will come to Alabama. Fisher reportedly has an offer from Florida State as well as Alabama, and according to published reports, he will receive at least $400,000 no matter which school he chooses. Fisher played at Samford University.

While Alabama has made no public announcement, Saban already has hired former Florida State linebackers coach Kevin Steele to serve as his defensive coordinator and former Alabama assistant coach Lance Thompson, although it’s uncertain what spot he will fill on Saban’s staff.

Thompson coached defensive line at Alabama during 1999 and 2000 under Mike DuBose. He coached at LSU under Saban during 2002-03, serving as assistant head coach, tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator during his last season there.

He then moved to Central Florida to serve as defensive coordinator under George O’Leary. However, O’Leary demoted Thompson at the end of the 2006 season, during which the Golden Knights went 4-8 and finished 106th out of 119 NCAA Division I-A teams in total defense.

Steele’s major experience came as Baylor’s head coach from 1999-2002 where he went 9-36. He joined Florida State’s staff in 2003.

He coached linebackers for Nebraska during 1989-1994 and the Carolina Panthers during 1995-99.

With the Panthers, Steele became involved in an incident when linebacker Kevin Greene, grabbed Steele on the sidelines of a game.

A Dec. 14, 1998, article in The Washington Post described it as Greene, a former Auburn player, grabbing Steele’s jacket with both hands, yelling and pushing him back about 10 feet.

“Football is an emotional, aggressive game,” Steele told The Washington Post in the article.

“Those guys are out there fighting. Kevin is a good person. We’ve talked about it and worked it out. That’s all I have to say about it.”

According to published reports, Saban has hired Kirby Smart, who coached safeties during Saban’s two seasons leading the Miami Dolphins.

A source also indicated that Saban interviewed Mississippi State running backs coach Shane Beamer, but did not offer him a position.

Three other candidates for jobs on Saban’s staff include former Michigan State coach and Dolphins running backs coach Bobby Williams and Dolphins defensive assistant Travis Jones.

LSU offensive line coach Stacy Searels has accepted a job with Georgia.

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