Pete Goulding was often the target of fan criticism during his four seasons as Alabama’s sole defensive coordinator, but Ole Miss coach Len Kiffin spoke highly of how Goulding is perceived by other coaches in the industry – including Nick Saban.
“It’s a great coach that everyone who worked with him, as always said from the beginning – even when he was in smaller places before that – that he was brilliant, forthcoming,” Kiffin said Wednesday. “Coach Saban even talked about it when he interviewed him, he talked about it in the first interview as one of the best interviews he’s ever done.
“Just a very unusual situation that someone at the top of their game could come here.”
Wednesday’s National Signing Day news conference was the first time Keffin spoke publicly about the Rebels’ new defensive coordinator Goulding, in addition a written statement When Ole Miss announced the hire on Jan. 14.
Kiffin called the hire “really awful” and compared it to the star rankings often associated with recruiting.
“It’s as five-star as you can get,” he said.
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Goulding, 38, was under contract at Alabama for the 2023 season and said two weeks before his departure that he “absolutely” planned to return.
Kiffin said that Goulding’s lateral move from one SEC team to another “has nothing to do with you beating Alabama and all that” and instead involved personal considerations.
“There were some family things that helped us,” Kiffin said. “His wife’s family is from here. that was great. Like recruiting, it has its advantages. We’re really excited for him to come, for him and his family to be here.
Goulding’s wife, Carolyn, is a Mississippi native who attended Ole Miss. Goulding graduated from Delta State in Mississippi and later coached there, and coached at Southeastern Louisiana, Southern Miss and UTSA before Saban hired him in 2018.
,[He can] Really help us schematically, not only on defense — obviously, like he would,” Kiffin said. “But he’s also been a phenomenal recruiter, and one that we’ve had to go up against.”
Alabama’s defense allowed the ninth-fewest points per game, 18.2, among 131 FBS teams this past season. He ranked second in the SEC behind Georgia at 14.3.
Saban did not hold a National Signing Day news conference this week because Alabama did not sign any players, and he has yet to speak publicly about Goulding’s departure. Alabama has not yet hired his replacement as defensive coordinator.
In mid-November, Saban said that Goulding had done a “really, really good job” even after Alabama’s losses to Tennessee and LSU.
“He’s very bright,” Saban said. “He talks well with the players. He’s a good teacher. I think he’s a good motivator. I think the players respond well to him. He’s added a few things that have helped us get better.” Got it.
“I think he’s done a great job with the personnel we have. I really really appreciate the good job he’s done. I think every year since he’s been here, he’s really Positive steps have been taken. I love hiring young people like that and letting them grow and develop in the organization. They’ve definitely done a fantastic job of it.”
Mike Rodak is the Alabama beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. follow him on twitter @mikerodak,