TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Brian Daboll has thrived under one of the most demanding, intense and successful coaches around. Now, he’s working for another.
The new Alabama offensive coordinator left Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots to come work in the college ranks for the first time since graduate school under Nick Saban. Some things haven’t changed: Daboll still is working with a team that’s expected to contend for championships every season and Saban is again his boss.
Daboll (rhymes with table) is comfortable working for taskmasters partly because he was “raised by some old-school grandparents” who expected much from him.
“I’ve had a tremendous amount of respect for Bill and Coach Saban, they’ve been great mentors,” Daboll said at Saturday’s media day, his first visit with reporters since his hiring. “Obviously extremely smart, extremely successful. And I appreciate the way they do things. They make it easy to work for them. There’s a standard, you know the standard. You’ve got to meet it every day. And if you don’t, there’s consequences. I think it’s very fair, demanding, but I like the work environment from those guys.”
Chances are, he feels pretty good about the talent level, too.
Daboll might not have a Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski, but he inherits an offense loaded with returning playmakers. The group is led by quarterback Jalen Hurts, who was the Southeastern Conference offensive player of the year as a freshman. Then there’s receiver Calvin Ridley and a running game powered by tailbacks Bo Scarbrough and 1,000-yard rusher Damien Harris.
Daboll replaced Steve Sarkisian, who left for the Atlanta Falcons after replacing Lane Kiffin, it turns out, just for the national championship game. The Tide averaged 38.8 points and 455.3 yards last season.
Saban turned to Daboll, who worked for him as a graduate assistant from 1998-99 with Michigan State. Daboll spent the past four seasons of a 17-year NFL career as an assistant with Belichick and the Super Bowl champion Patriots. It was his second stint in New England.
Belichick has won five Super Bowl titles and Saban has claimed just as many national championships. As Daboll says, when it comes to figuring out how to attack other teams and take advantage of matchups, those are “two pretty good guys to learn from.”
Saban has praised Daboll for his “great personality” and for his work with Hurts.
“I think Brian’s done a really, really good job,” Saban said. “He’s a good teacher. I think the players have a lot of respect for him. He’s very enthusiastic about what he does. Systematically, we’ve carried over a lot of things that we’ve done in the past, but the new additions that we’ve made, he certainly has great teaching progressions for. He does a great job of helping coach the other coaches so that they can do a good job of coaching players.
“I think he’s a very, very good quarterback coach. I think he’s helped Jalen mentally.”
Hurts passed for 2,780 yards and 23 touchdowns last season with nine interceptions. He also ran for 954 yard and 13 touchdowns.
Now he can’t wait to work with his new offensive coordinator and position coach.
“He has a great mentality, very encouraging, great coach,” Hurts said. “He builds a great relationship with all the offensive players — even some of the defensive players. He’s a great guy to be around and a great leader.”