Running back candidates from the "family tree"

A recent post-practice Jimbo Fisher interview gave a clue to who may be considered for the running back position. Fisher seemed to emphasis the importance of hiring staff within the same coaching tree. With the two recent hires both coming from the Saban tree, and with Dawsey and Coley having coached under Saban, as well as Trickett on Saban’s LSU staff for one year, it would appear that Fisher is tying himself closer to the Saban tree than the Bowden tree.

Who might be candidates from the Saban tree? In what follows, I look at candidates assuming both prior coaching experience at running back and that Fisher doesn’t readjust his offensive staff to move someone like Craig to running back coach and hiring a new QB coach instead.

Bobby Williams – currently Alabama’s TE coach and special teams coordinator, Williams was the RB coach under Saban for the Miami Dolphins and at Michigan State. Williams also succeeded Saban as head coach for Michigan State. Fisher coached with Williams at LSU for one year, where Williams was the WR coach. Probably makes more than FSU would be willing to pay, or at least Saban will counter higher than FSU is willing to go.

Burton Burns -- Alabama’s current running back coach, who has coached two Heisman finalists for the Crimson Tide. Burns is also in the Bowden coaching tree, having coached running backs under Tommy Bowden at both Clemson and Tulane. Price would be steep.

Ron Middleton – Alabama’s TE coach and Special Teams Coordinator in Saban’s first year at Alabama, and currently serving the same role at Duke. Middleton coached running backs two years at Ole Miss in 2002-2003 before moving to the NFL coaching TEs and special teams for the Tampa Bay Bucs.Middleton is familiar with the ACC having coached at Duke since 2008; Fisher may know Middleton as an Auburn alum if Middleton returned to campus during his NFL days.

Derek Dooley – recently fired Tennessee head coach was on the LSU staff under Saban and followed him to the Dolphins. Dooley was the LSU running backs coach and special teams coordinator in ’03 and ’04; before that he was Saban's recruiting coordinator and wide receiver coach for three years. His financial buyout from Tennessee may led him to sit out some time, but could be a candidate if he is itching to coach. Dooley is familiar with the ACC having played at Virginia.

Mike Haywood – looking to get back into coaching after domestic violence charges led him to be fired from being the University of Pittsburgh head coach for only a few weeks. He was the running back and special teams coach for Saban’s first three years at LSU, and Notre Dame’s OC and RB coach from ’05 to ’08 before serving as Miami (OH)’s head coach for ’09 and ’10. Might come relatively cheap, but the domestic violence history may not be acceptable by mothers and girlfriends on the recruiting trail.

Reggie Mitchell – was wide receiver coach at Michigan State one year under Saban, but most of his career has been as a running back coach. Current RB coach and recruiting coordinator for Kansas. A single year with Saban so long ago makes for a weak tie to the tree.

I'll admit the list is not comprehensive -- I couldn't find a complete roster of coaches who worked with Saban at the Dolphins, and the lists I could find for his time at Michigan State were incomplete. I also couldn't find a list of grad assistants under Saban who haven't served as assistants under Saban later.

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