Alabama Crimson Tide: Jeff Stoutland

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama went to the well once more when it hired offensive line coach Mario Cristobal. Two years ago, coach Nick Saban stole Jeff Stoutland away from the University of Miami, and with Cristobal he did the same. He can only hope the move pays off as well the second time around.

[+] EnlargeFlorida International head coach Mario Cristobal
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic Mario Cristobal's strong recruiting background is expected to benefit the Tide.
On the face of it, it should. Cristobal is already being hailed as a home-run hire, and with good reason. The former Florida International head coach has a strong resume and well-rooted ties to the South Florida recruiting scene, an area Stoutland patrolled for two years at UA. Cristobal is young (42 years old), ambitious (he all but built the FIU program from nothing) and energetic. He was hired by Miami as its tight ends and assistant head coach on Jan. 11 and some of the first words out of his mouth were about hitting the recruiting trail hard.

"With three weeks to go in recruiting, it’s about attack mode," Cristobal told reporters at his introductory press conference."Wherever I need to go, wherever I need to be sent, whatever I need to accomplish, anything involving 2014 or ’15, it’s ‘,Go!’ There’s no time to rest."

Said Miami coach Al Golden at the time: ""Clearly his expertise as an O-line coach, a tight ends coach, a guy that has coached many positions and obviously has cultivated talent and recruited in this area, it was just too good a package for us to pass up."

It was too good for Saban to pass up as well. That type of aggressiveness is music to the 61-year-old head coach's ears. Enthusiasm goes a long way on the recruiting trail and in the UA football offices. Cristobal helped the Hurricanes have the 21st-ranked recruiting class in the country, according to ESPN. Four-star receiver Stacy Coley surprised many by choosing Miami on signing day.

Saban praised Cristobal in a news release on Wednesday, calling it "an important hire in terms of working with our offensive line and we feel fortunate that we were able to hire a coach of Mario’s caliber."

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland has accepted the same position with the Philadelphia Eagles under new head coach Chip Kelly, the school announced on Friday.

[+] EnlargeJeff Stoutland
Richard C. Lewis/Icon SMIBefore coming to Alabama, Jeff Stoutland spent four seasons at the Univeristy of Miami.
“Coach Stoutland did an excellent job with our offensive line along with each and every responsibility he had while he was here at the University of Alabama," coach Nick Saban said in a school news release. "We appreciate all that he did in terms of his time and his dedication in contributing to the success we’ve had over the last two years. He’s an outstanding coach and he will do a great job with the Eagles. We wish him and his family the best.”

Former All-Pro offensive lineman and Alabama great Chris Samuels joined the UA staff as an offensive line assistant in 2012 and could be a potential replacement for Stoutland. Another possibility is Georgia offensive line coach Will Friend, who was an All-SEC lineman at Alabama in the mid-1990s.

The replacement for Stoutland will be faced with a big challenge at Alabama, rebuilding an offensive line that powered the Tide to its second national championship in a row. Three starting positions are up for grabs with few experienced players waiting in the wings.

Stoutland, a nearly 30-year veteran of coaching, helped form the Crimson Tide offensive line many considered to be the best in college football, if not in the history of the game, in 2012. Former Alabama linemen Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker and Barrett Jones all are expected to be taken in the NFL draft. Warmack is currently the No. 2 offensive lineman, according to ESPN's Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr.

Stoutland was an assistant under head coach Nick Saban for the past two seasons in Alabama, taking over for Joe Pendry when Pendry retired after the 2010 season. Stoutland earned a base salary of $395,000 in 2012.

Before joining Saban's staff, Stoutland held the same position and was the interim head coach at Miami. Stoutland was part of the staff that would come under NCAA investigation, though no punishment was placed on Stoutland or Alabama. However, when many Alabama staffers received raises following the 2011 national championship, Stoutland noticeably remained at the same salary.

Stoutland was heavily involved in Alabama's No. 1-ranked 2013 recruiting class, which became official Wednesday. UA signed three offensive linemen in the class:

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BATON ROUGE, La. -- Before Alabama center Barrett Jones trotted onto the field for the No. 1 Crimson Tide's season-defining drive at No. 5 LSU on Saturday night, he offered offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland one final suggestion.

"Hey, don't forget about the screen," Jones told Stoutland.

With about 1? minutes to play, LSU had a 17-14 lead and was threatening to knock off defending BCS national champion Alabama, which probably would have ended the SEC's hopes of winning a seventh consecutive national title.

Along with most of a record crowd of 93,374 fans at Tiger Stadium, college football fans from Eugene, Ore., to Manhattan, Kan., to South Bend, Ind., (and everywhere else outside the Southeast) were probably roaring for the Tigers to make one more defensive stop.

After LSU's Drew Alleman missed a 45-yard field goal with 1:34 to play, the Crimson Tide took possession at their 28-yard line. They probably needed to drive more than 40 yards for a tying field goal attempt or, even better, 72 yards for a winning touchdown.

And they didn't have much time -- or any timeouts -- to do it.

"I just looked at everybody on the sideline," Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron said. "We got down for a minute, but we pulled it together. I told them, 'We do it every Thursday in practice. It doesn't matter how many people are in the stands. The field is still 100 yards long, and we have to go put it in the end zone.'"

To read Mark Schlabach's full column, click here.


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