FORT WAYNE – Notre Dame and Alabama could go into the BCS championship game on Jan. 7 in Miami without the teams’ full staffs.
As of now the No. 1 Irish (12-0) and No. 2 Crimson Tide (12-1) still have all of their assistant coaches, but Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly and Alabama’s Nick Saban understand that with success comes the potential to lose assistant coaches.
I think first, you’re not surprised that your talented coaches are going to have opportunities. So I think you go into the process understanding that, Kelly said during a news conference with Saban at NASDAQ in New York on Wednesday. I think second is that you want to be there for them to counsel them through the process, but really, it’s got to be handled with a great deal of professionalism because they are still employed by that university. They still have a job to do, and so we talk about, in particular, that those opportunities will present themselves, as long as you handle them in the right way.
So they are encouraged, but they are also cultivated from within in terms of how they handle it on a day-to-day basis.
The Irish and Tide had their defensive coordinators targeted for vacant head coaching jobs.
Notre Dame’s Bob Diaco was reported to be in the final three at Boston College before the Eagles hired Temple coach Steve Addazio on Wednesday.
Alabama’s Kirby Smart was reported to be in the running for Auburn’s vacancy before the Tigers hired Gus Malzahn, their former offensive coordinator and Arkansas State coach.
Neither coach seemed too worried about the possibility of losing an assistant before the championship game.
I think those folks have every right to receive positive self-gratification professionally by taking advantage of some opportunity they have created for themselves by doing a good job, Saban said. And I think it’s just a matter of professionalism where you can separate yourself for a day or two, not affect the performance of what you’re trying to do at your job, evaluate the circumstance.
Both Kelly and Saban were confident their teams would be able to handle losing an assistant or dealing with an assistant on staff that would be leaving after the game for a head coaching job.
We know that we are prepared regardless of the circumstances, and if we were to lose somebody, we’ve got great coaches on board that are ready to step up, Kelly said.