Alabama coach Nick Saban announced the addition of seven new assistant coaches to the staff. The coaches were announced in a news release Friday.
Steve Sarkisian was named offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Pete Golding, who spent last season as inside linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator, was promoted to defensive coordinator.
Charles Kelly was named associate defensive coordinator and safeties coach. Brian Baker was named defensive line coach and associate head coach. Sal Sunseri was named outside linebackers coach. Kyle Flood was named offensive line coach and Holmon Wiggins was named wide receivers coach.
Check back for full bios on Alabama’s new assistants.
Steve Sarkisian – offensive coordinator/quarterbacks
Steve Sarkisian rejoins Alabama’s staff as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach after spending the 2016 season with the Crimson Tide. This is the fourth change for Alabama at offensive coordinator since late in the 2016 season, when the program parted ways with Lane Kiffin and named Sarkisian as his successor before the national championship game.
Sarkisian called that one game before leaving to be offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons in 2017 and 2018. Alabama employed Brian Daboll as offensive coordinator in 2017 and Mike Locksley in 2018. Both moved on after one season.
Alabama lost the national championship game to Clemson 35-31 to conclude the 2016 season. The Crimson Tide posted 376 yards of offense against the Tigers and the offense scored a go-ahead touchdown with a little more than two minutes to go, but couldn’t seal the win.
Sarkisian will inherit one of the nation’s most talented groups of skill position players. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa returns as the Heisman Trophy runner-up after breaking most of the school’s single-season passing records as a sophomore. His top four wide receivers, led by Biletnikoff Award winner Jerry Jeudy, are also back. Junior running back Najee Harris is the leading returning rusher.
The Atlanta Falcons finished 10th in the NFL in scoring in 2018, averaging 25.9 points per game. They averaged 389.1 yards per game, the sixth-best mark in the league. Atlanta’s passing game was especially potent, ranking fourth with 290.8 yards per game.
They averaged 22.1 points per game and 364.8 yards per game in 2017, good for 13th and eighth in the league, respectively. The Falcons went 10-6 in 2017 and 7-9 in 2017
Sarkisian first joined Alabama’s staff as an analyst early in the 2016 season. He spent most of the season in that role before being promoted to offensive coordinator.
Sarkisian rose to prominence as an assistant coach under Pete Carroll at Southern Cal. He was quarterbacks coach for the Trojans from 2001-03 and again from 2005-06 after spending the 2004 season coaching the quarterbacks for the Oakland Raiders. He was promoted to offensive coordinator for the 2007 and 2008 seasons.
Washington hired Sarkisian to be head coach in December 2008. He went 34-29 in five seasons with the Huskies, qualifying for bowl games in each of his last four seasons but never going better than 8-4.
USC hired him as head coach for 2014 after firing Kiffin. He went 9-4 in 2014 and began the 2015 season 3-2 before being fired. Several reports stated Sarkisian’s trouble with alcohol led to his dismissal. He sat out the rest of the fall and the offseason before Alabama hired him in 2016.
Charles Huff – associate head coach/running backs
Charles Huff, who was the assistant head coach, run game coordinator and running backs coach at Mississippi State in 2018, was named Alabama’s new running backs coach.
Huff previously worked at Penn State from 2014-17, the last two of those seasons with current MSU head coach Joe Moorhead. Huff coached and recruited All-America running back Saquon Barkley. In addition to MSU and Penn State, he has served at Western Michigan (2013), the Buffalo Bills (2012), Vanderbilt (2011), Hampton (2010), Maryland (2009) and Tennessee State (2006-08).
Huff was considered one of Mississippi State’s strongest recruiters in 2018. He’s the second Bulldog assistant to join the staff along with defensive line coach Brian Baker.
Holmon Wiggins – wide receivers
Alabama named Holmon Wiggins as its new wide receivers coach. Wiggins spent the last three seasons at Virginia Tech. He has worked with head coach Justin Fuente for the last seven seasons, including four seasons at Memphis before that.
He helped coach the Hokies’ top two all-time leading receivers, Cam Phillips and Isaiah Ford. Three of the top four seasons in school history in receiving yards came while he coached in Blacksburg, Virginia. Ford had 1,094 receiving yards in 2016, while Phillips posted 983 yards in 2016 and 964 yards in 2017. He also helped coach Memphis’ all-time receiving leader, Anthony Miller.
Prior to working at Memphis, Wiggins coached running backs during the 2011 season at Tulsa. He spent five seasons as running backs coach at Illinois State from 2006-10. He began his career as a student assistant and a graduate assistant at New Mexico.
He played running back at New Mexico from 1998-01.
Kyle Flood – offensive line
Alabama named Kyle Flood as its offensive line coach. He replaces Brent Key, who left for the same position at Georgia Tech after spending three seasons at Alabama.
Flood is best known for his time at Rutgers, where he was head coach from 2012-15. He was an assistant there from 2005-11. More recently, he was assistant offensive line coach for the Atlanta Falcons in 2017 and 2018.
In 2017, Flood helped Atlanta produce an offense that allowed only 24 sacks, tied for the third-lowest amount in the NFL.
He was fired from Rutgers at the end of the 2015 season, during which the Scarlet Knights went 4-8. He received a one-year show-cause order from the NCAA that expired in September 2018 after an investigation determined Flood “failed to monitor his operations staff” and their oversight of a group of mostly female student recruiting hosts.
He was suspended three games by the university during the 2015 season after an internal investigation found Flood had intervened with a professor on behalf of a football player to maintain the player’s eligibility.
Rutgers went 27-24 under Flood with bowl games in his first three seasons. He was chosen as the 2012 Big East Coach of the Year after getting Rutgers tied for the Big East title and finished 9-4.
Flood was Rutgers’ offensive line coach from 2005-11. He kept that role along with additional responsibilities — assistant head coach, run-game coordinator and co-offensive coordinator — until he was ultimately promoted on Jan. 31, 2012 after Greg Schiano left to become the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ head coach.
Before Rutgers, Floor was at Delaware for three years as an assistant head coach and offensive line coach. He was a member of the Fightin’ Blue Hens’ 2003 national championship team. He was there from 2001-04.
Charles Kelly – associate defensive coordinator/safeties
Former Tennessee assistant Charles Kelly was named to Alabama’s staff as safeties coach and associate defensive coordinator. Kelly was the Vols’ special teams coordinator and safeties coach.
Kelly originally turned down the opportunity to work for former Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley at Maryland as the Terrapins’ defensive coordinator to stay at Tennessee.
Kelly succeeded Jeremy Pruitt as defensive coordinator at Florida State. He was linebackers coach for the Seminoles in 2013 while Pruitt was the coordinator, then became coordinator from 2014-17.
His defenses ranked in the top 25 nationally during Kelly’s last three seasons. FSU was No. 18 in 2017 with its 333.1 total yards allowed per game. It led the nation in sacks in 2016 (3.92 per game) and was No. 22 in total defense (349.1 yards allowed per game). In 2015, FSU was No. 9 in scoring defense (17.8 points per game) and No. 19 overall (336.9 yards allowed per game). FSU won the ACC in 2014, starting 13-0 before losing in the College Football Playoff semifinals.
Kelly was at Georgia Tech prior to FSU. He coached several positions there. Kelly was interim defensive coordinator in 2012, was defensive backs coach from 2010-12, cornerbacks coach from 2008-09 and special teams in 2007.
Kelly split time as defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator at Nicholls State from 2002-05. He was at Eufaula (Alabama) High School in 2000 and 2001 as an assistant coach after spending 1999 at Henderson State as the defensive coordinator.
Kelly was at Jacksonville State from 1994-98. He coached the running backs and defensive backs for a season each to start. Then, he was the offensive coordinator for a season and the defensive coordinator for two seasons.
In 1993, Kelly worked at his alma matter, Auburn, as an assistant coach. He played as a defensive back there from 1986-89.
Kelly’s first coaching job came in Tuscaloosa. He worked at Central High School from 1990-92.
Sal Sunseri – outside linebackers coach
Former Alabama assistant Sal Sunseri is returning to Tuscaloosa as outside linebackers coach. He spent the 2018 season as defensive line coach at Florida. Overall, he has 36 years of coaching experience, including 10 seasons in the NFL.
Last year, the Gators forced 11 fumbles and made 37 sacks, marking the first time the team achieved those combined totals since 2015.
Sunseri was linebackers coach for the Oakland Raiders from 2015-17. Prior to that, he was defensive ends coach for Florida State in 2013 and 2014, winning two ACC championships and the 2013 national championship with the Seminoles. He worked under former FSU coach and current Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher.
Sunseri previously worked at Alabama from 2009-11 as the assistant head coach and outside linebackers coach, helping the Crimson Tide win two national championships. After that, he spent a season at Tennessee as defensive coordinator.
Sunseri’s son, former Alabama safety Vinnie Sunseri, joined the staff this offseason as a graduate assistant.
Brian Baker – associate head coach/defensive line coach
Alabama named former Mississippi State defensive line coach Brian Baker as its defensive line coach. Baker and Huff both arrive in Tuscaloosa after spending 2018 with the Bulldogs. That was just one of three seasons Baker was in Starkville, Mississippi.
In 2018, Baker’s personnel claimed five of the 13 SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week Awards. Montez Sweat got it three times, and Jeffrey Simmons was chosen twice.
The year before there was even more success with those two being coached by Baker. It was the first time in MSU history more than one player was named a first-time All-SEC defensive lineman. Only one other school in the SEC West has produced multiple first-team All-SEC defensive linemen since 2003, and that was Alabama in 2015.
During Baker’s first season with the Bulldogs, the defensive line ranked in the SEC’s top five in tackles for loss, tallying 81. Three of Baker’s player signed NFL free agent contracts in May 2017 (Nelson Adams, Johnathan Calvin and Nick James.)
Simmons was a freshman in 2016, and Baker helped him accomplish a Freshman All-SEC season. A MSU freshman hadn’t earned the honor since Chris Jones in 2013. Simmons led the league’s first-year players in forced fumbles (two) and was fifth in tackles. He had 40 stops, 3.5 for a loss, and four quarterback hurries.
Before college ball, Baker had a lengthy NFL coaching career. He spent 19 years in the league as defensive line coach or outside linebackers coach for the San Diego Chargers, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams, Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys, Celveland Browns and Redskins from 1996-2014. Baker coached eight Pro Bowlers, including DeMarcus Ware and Julius Peppers.
Baker made the leap to professional football after spending 12 years at the college level. He was an assistant coach at Georgia Tech from 1987-95, Army in 1986 and Maryland from 1984-85.
While he was Georgia Tech’s linebackers coach, the Yellow Jackets won the 1990 national championship as the nation’s only undefeated team (11-0-1). Tech beat Nebraska 45-21 in the Citrus Bowl to finish off the season.
Baker is originally from Baltimore. He played as an outside linebacker at Maryland from 1980-83 and helped the Terps win the Atlantic Coast Conference during his final season. That’s where he started his coaching career, too. He was a student coach and then a graduate assistant from 1984-85. He earned his marketing degree in 1985.