Kevin Steele and Tommy Rees describe emotions of Alabama coordinator job calls

By Matt Stahl |
Kevin Steele was surprised. Alabama football’s new defensive coordinator was at Miami last season in the same job, and didn’t see himself returning to Tuscaloosa, where he was Nick Saban’s first Crimson Tide defensive coordinator in 2007 and 2008 and also worked from 2013-14.
Then, he got the call looking for him to return and replace Pete Golding, who left for Ole Miss.
“Shocking,” Steele said during a press conference Sunday. “I did not see it coming. It was not something I expected.”
But of course, Steele made the move.
“But obviously when you get a chance to coach at the University of Alabama for the best coach that’s ever done it, sometimes you look in the mirror and ask, ‘Why me?’,” Steele said. “I’m very blessed to be here, and you couldn’t ask for anything better. If you’re going to coach college football, to coach at the University of Alabama for coach Saban, that’s what you want to do.”
Steele isn’t the only new coordinator in Tuscaloosa this season. He’ll be joined by Tommy Rees on the offensive side.
Rees was obviously familiar with Saban’s work, having faced him as both a player and a coach while at Notre Dame. He said he was most impressed by the intensity that Alabama displayed during those times.
When the call came from Tuscaloosa, he said it was surreal, but he immediately had to let the feelings go.
“I want to make sure if the opportunity to interview did present itself after the call, it was something that I was prepared for,” Rees said. “Obviously just knowing coach from a distance there and what he looks for in his coaches, and what he expects of the guys in this building, I want to make sure that I was fully prepared to have an opportunity that was presented to me. You kind of try to flush the emotion as quickly as you can and just take it as another interview, because that’s really what it was. Try not to let any of that other stuff cloud your judgment or your mind.”
Both Steele and Rees enter a situation where issues were apparent at times in 2022, a year that didn’t end in the SEC championship or College Football Playoff. With Bryce Young gone, Rees has to help pick out a new quarterback, while Steele takes over a defense that lost some of its best players to the NFL Draft as well.
But that’s standard operating procedure for the Crimson Tide. And according to Saban, they’re both doing fine.
“I’m pleased with the staff, new leadership, whether it’s Kevin Steele or Tommy on offense. Those guys have both done a good job,” Saban said Sunday. “I think players have responded very well to them so far. There’s a lot of teaching, there’s a lot of installation”
Alabama’s preseason camp is scheduled to continue through Aug. 26 before the Sept. 2 season-opener against Middle Tennessee State at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

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