13 January 2010
On the heels of the great news that Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart has decided to stay at Alabama, it looks as though inside linebackers coach James Willis will not. The folks at the Tuscaloosa News are reporting that he will accept the position of defensive coordinator at Texas Tech, under former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville.
Willis was fantastic for the Tide in his one season on the coaching staff. He did a great job as both an on-field coach and as a recruiter. Coach Saban has indicated numerous times in his career that he will always support a coach leaving his staff if that coach is making a step up in the coaching ranks. That is absolutely what would be happening for Willis, as he would move from being a position coach to being a coordinator.
Willis worked for Tuberville at Auburn, where he was also a star player. He will leave Tuscaloosa with an SEC Championship and a National Championship having been added to his resume. Congratulations and good luck to Coach James Willis.
While it might seem appropriate for me to give you a list of possible names to replace him, it really wouldn't do any good. At this point last year, when the Tide was looking to replace both Kevin Steele and Lance Thompson, neither Willis's name, nor the name of Sal Sunseri, appeared anywhere on the radar. This move did not come as a shock to anyone, and I am certain that Coach Saban already has a list of candidates in mind.
It is my guess that he will have someone in place before National Signing Day (Feb 3). We'll let you know more as this story develops.
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