Nick Saban has hired Notre Dame offensive coordinator Tommy Rees to fill the same role at Alabama, the school announced on Monday. Rees replaces Bill O'Brien, who left to take the same position with the New England Patriots after an 11-2 campaign. Rees is Saban's fifth offensive coordinator since Lane Kiffin left to be the FAU coach prior to the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship.
At age 30, Rees is Saban's youngest coordinator since Will Muschamp as defensive coordinator at LSU in 2002. Rees was Notre Dame's quarterbacks coach 2017-19 under former coach Brian Kelly and added the offensive coordinator role in 2020. A Notre Dame quarterback from 2010-13, he has never held a full-time assistant coaching role at another program but was an offensive staffer for the San Diego Chargers in 2016 and a graduate assistant at Northwestern.
"I have the utmost respect for what Coach Saban has built at Alabama and the tradition of this program," Rees said in a statement. "I'm excited to have this opportunity, and I'm looking forward to getting in the meeting room and on the practice field with this team."
The Fighting Irish offense thrived under Rees prior to a 2022 season that was hampered by a Week 2 injury to starting quarterback Tyler Buchner. In the other two years under Rees, the Irish averaged at least 6 yards per play. This past year, Rees oversaw an offensive shift from Buchner to Drew Pyne at quarterback while focusing on a ground-based approach. After the slow start, Notre Dame's offense cleared 35 points in six of its final seven games.
Rees' units have been characterized by their schematic versatility. The Fighting Irish ranked top 20 nationally in passing offense with Wisconsin transfer Jack Coan at the helm in 2021. When Buchner and top receiver Avery Davis got hurt, Rees flipped the script and leaned on tight end Michael Mayer and a running game that improved by 0.5 yards per carry from the previous year. At Alabama, Rees will have a talented collection of playmakers to build a unique, multiple system from scratch.
"We are excited to bring in such a gifted group of coaches to develop our players both on and off the field," Saban said while also announcing defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and linebackers coach Austin Armstrong. "Kevin, Tommy and Austin have a great mix of energy, enthusiasm and experience that will be a tremendous asset to our program. They are all excellent teachers of the game and fantastic recruiters who bring a wealth of experience and resources to our staff."
Alabama previously interviewed Washington offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb, who coached quarterback Michael Penix Jr. to being the nation's leading passer at 357 yards per game. However, Grubb reportedly turned down the job to return to the Huskies.