In his Monday press briefing, Nick Saban debunked the speculation raised by Lane Kiffin regarding Alabama's defense being coordinated by defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson.
“I’m sure you’ve seen the same reports of if Kevin Steele is the defensive coordinator,” Saban said. “He has all the defensive coordinator responsibilities. The only thing we tried to improve from an administrative standpoint was game day administration of getting signals in quicker. That was the only thing we worked on as a staff, and the whole staff made a contribution to it.”
In a Sunday press conference via Zoom, Kiffin raised doubts about whether Steele was directing Alabama's defense in their 17-3 victory over South Florida. Kiffin believed that the Tide's defensive scheme appeared to resemble what Robinson had run in the past.
“We’ve been against Kevin a number of times,” Kiffin told reporters. “Worked with him at Alabama and against him at Auburn and LSU. There seems that there’s been a change there."
“I don’t know what happened after the Texas game, but our guys watching the TV copy and schematically in this last game, certainly seems like T-Rob’s now calling the defense,” Kiffin said. “We played him before at South Carolina, so we’re preparing accordingly for him calling the defense. He’s done a good job too, and they’ve got really good players.”
On Monday, Kiffin was questioned about what he observed on the tape that indicated Robinson was in charge of Alabama's defense rather than Steele.
"I was asked the question what it was like going against Steele's defense," Kiffin said via the Clarion Ledger. "I wasn't really trying to start this big thing. We saw things on TV copy just where it was different, first off with the playbook, the calls and stuff. We looked into that further. It ain't no secret: People in these buildings know each other. We got some information that way too.”
Kiffin was likely referring to former defensive coordinator Pete Golding when talking about the people that know each other. Kiffin then proceeded to compare preparing for a different playcaller to preparing for multiple quarterbacks.
"It is what it is kind of like the quarterbacks. You prepare for a different quarterback and prepare for a different playcaller. I'm not sure whatever transpired after Texas, but we're going to have our hands full no matter what."
Ever since leaving Tuscaloosa, Kiffin has respected Saban, but he never misses a chance to play mind games with his former boss. Kiffin wasted no time revving up the mind games on a Monday.
Alabama will open up SEC play on Saturday when it hosts Ole Miss at 2:30 p.m. CT inside Bryant-Denny Stadium.
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