According to Chris Low of ESPN, Ole Miss has hired Alabama’s defensive coordinator. Pete Golding, to replace Chris Partridge.
While Golding and Rebel head coach Lane Kiffin never overlapped at Alabama, clearly there’s a tie between the two as reports surfaced weeks ago that Golding was being considered as a replacement.
Pete Golding is leaving @AlabamaFTBL to replace Chris Partridge as defensive coordinator at @OleMissFB, sources tell ESPN. Golding has been with Nick Saban at Alabama since 2018, the last four seasons as defensive coordinator.— Chris Low (@ClowESPN) January 13, 2023
Golding has been at the helm of the Crimson Tide defense for the past four years with strong success, even if Alabama fans don’t love the dude. His defense in 2020 led the SEC in scoring (19 points per game), and his defenses have consistently ranked among the top ten in the SP+.
Let’s look at the fanbase we’re talking about through a wide lens - there’s Tide fans who think Nick Saban needs to go, so there’s always going to be people upset with outcomes and coordinators. Whether Golding is the reason for the Tide not making the playoff is suspect at best.
How did Ole Miss get Golding? Well, that’s up for discussion, but the Red Cup staff has some educated guesses here. First off: the Rebels will almost certainly be paying him more than he was making at Alabama. Rumored contract numbers put him in the $2 million range, which is a whole lot for a coordinator. Still, if this is who Kiffin wanted manning the other side of the ball, it’s good that Ole Miss had the money to do it.
On top of the additional salary, there’s the pesky issue of how Alabama has lost multiple games for two years in a row, something unheard of previously during Saban’s tenure. Some of that is related to a defense that struggled to adjust to some of the more high powered offenses in the SEC, including losses to LSU and Tennessee this season after giving up 84 combined points. But the Alabama offense was only ok too. The team lacked significant playmakers outside of Bryce Young, and it’s pretty clear that did them in more than defensive shortcomings.
Either way, Golding will be asked to turn around a defense that got blown out several times this season. He’ll also be asked to hit the ground running on rebuilding the roster. The Rebels have been pretty quiet on that side of the ball this offseason, and the transfer portal is about to close its first window. It will open again after the spring, but getting a few quick transfers to follow Golding to Oxford could make a huge difference in Ole Miss’ chances next year.
There’s one other element of this hire that’s truly noteworthy: Golding spent time coaching at Delta State and Southern Miss. He has some connections in this state and is often the recruiter Alabama relied on in the state of Mississippi. Having him working for us and not against us should reap benefits. For instance, maybe had Golding not personally recruited Jaheim Oatis last season the Rebels could have signed him. While Ole Miss will always struggle to recruit against Alabama, that might have just become a tiny amount easier.