Alabama defensive coordinator is expected to be named Tennessee’s next head coach as soon as today, according to multiple reports. That leaves Alabama looking for a coordinator for the third straight season.

There should be no shortage of coaches who would jump at the chance to work in Tuscaloosa, and Nick Saban may choose to elevate an assistant already on staff as well. The next defensive coordinator will likely have experience with Saban’s system and be a strong recruiter.

Here are five candidates to watch, listed alphabetically:

Todd Grantham
Current position: Florida defensive coordinator
Salary: Reported at $1.1 million at Mississippi State
2017 – Mississippi State defensive coordinator
2014-16 – Louisville defensive coordinator
2010-13 – Georgia defensive coordinator
2008-09 – Dallas Cowboys defensive line coach
2005-07 – Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator
2002-04 – Houston Texans defensive line coach
1999-01 – Indianapolis Colts defensive line coach
1996-98 – Michigan State defensive line coach
1994-95 – Virginia Tech defensive line coach
1992-93 – Virginia Tech defensive tackles coach
1990-91 – Virginia Tech defensive ends/inside linebackers coach

Resume: Grantham is known for bringing his 3-4 defense from the NFL to several different college programs, and Florida would be his fourth. He worked with Nick Saban at Michigan State in the 90’s and has spent plenty of time in the SEC between Georgia and Mississippi State. He joined Dan Mullen at Florida when he was hired there and may not want to move on so quickly but is a possibility.

Alabama co-defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi talks to the Crimson team during a timeout during the 2017 A-Day game. [Staff Photo/Erin Nelson]
Tosh Lupoi

Current position: Alabama outside linebackers coach, co-defensive coordinator
Salary: $950,000
2015-present – Alabama outside linebackers coach
2014 – Alabama defensive analyst
2012-13 – Washington defensive line coach
2008-11 – Cal defensive line coach

Resume: Lupoi has been a rising star on Alabama’s staff since he moved on the field for the 2015 season. Alabama set school records for sacks in 2015, then broke the record in 2016. He’s one of the nation’s best recruiters as well. Lupoi had multiple offers to become a defensive coordinator elsewhere after last season, but instead stayed in Tuscaloosa with a major raise. He’s the youngest candidate on this list by a wide margin but should receive strong consideration. If Saban believes he’s ready, Lupoi might be the easiest transition to make on the list.

Kevin Sherrer
Current position: Georgia outside linebackers coach
Salary: $375,000
2014-present – Georgia outside linebackers coach
2013 – South Alabama defensive coordinator
2010-12 – Alabama director of player development
2005-09 – Hoover High School defensive assistant
2001-04 – Spain Park High School defensive backs coach
1998-00 – Alabama graduate assistant
1996-97 – Tuscaloosa County High defensive assistant

Resume: Sherrer is an Alabama alum who has significant ties to the program and the state. He worked with Saban as an off-field staffer and has gained experience elsewhere in the last five seasons at Georgia and South Alabama. He’s never been a defensive coordinator at this level, but neither had Pruitt or Kirby Smart when Saban elevated them to the position. A promotion to defensive coordinator would mean a huge raise for Sherrer.

Alabama football players take part in a practice session under the watch of defensive coordinator Kevin Steele in 2008. (Dan Lopez/ The Tuscaloosa News)

Kevin Steele
Current position: Auburn defensive coordinator
Salary: $1.1 million
2016-present – Auburn defensive coordinator
2015 – LSU defensive coordinator/linebackers coach
2014 – Alabama inside linebackers coach
2013 – Alabama directory of player personnel
2009-11 – Clemson defensive coordinator/linebackers coach
2008 – Alabama inside linebackers coach
2007 – Alabama defensive coordinator
2003-06 – Florida State linebackers coach
1999-02 – Baylor head coach
1995-98 – Carolina Panthers linebackers coach
1989-94 – Nebraska linebackers coach
1987-88 – Tennessee defensive backs coach
1984-86 – Oklahoma State linebackers/tight ends coach
1983 – New Mexico State linebackers coach
1982 – Tennessee outside linebackers coach
1980-81 – Tennessee graduate assistant
1980 – Tennessee student assistant

Resume: Saban has hired Steele once before as defensive coordinator and brought him back on staff in 2013. He was also considered a candidate for Tennessee’s head coaching position this offseason. Auburn ranked 10th in the nation in scoring defense this year and seventh last season. He’s a veteran assistant with experience throughout the southeast and a reputation as a strong recruiter. Steele would probably fit well on Alabama’s staff and slide directly into Pruitt’s role as inside linebackers coach.

Assistant head coach Mel Tucker works the team on the field during warmups for the 2015 SEC Championship game. Staff Photo | Gary Cosby Jr.

Mel Tucker
Current position: Georgia defensive coordinator
Salary: $900,000
2016-present – Georgia defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach
2015 – Alabama defensive backs coach
2013-14 – Chicago Bears defensive coordinator
2012 – Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator/assistant head coach
2009-11 – Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator (interim head coach in 2011)
2008 – Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator
2005-07 – Cleveland Browns defensive backs coach
2004 – Ohio State co-defensive coordinator
2001-03 – Ohio State defensive backs coach
2000 – LSU defensive backs coach
1999 – Miami (Ohio) defensive backs coach
1998 – Miami (Ohio) graduate assistant

Resume: Tucker was well-regarded during his one season in Tuscaloosa and built Georgia into one of the nation’s elite defenses in a short period of time with Kirby Smart. He would be familiar with the defense and many of Alabama’s staffers. He doesn’t have experience as a linebackers coach and the defense already has a defensive backs coach, but the coaching carousel can always turn and change things in the next few weeks to open a spot for him.

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