Pete Golding, aka “Brilliant,” was one of Nick Saban’s best interviews

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Pete Golding, aka “Brilliant,” was one of Nick Saban’s best interviews

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Pete Golding was often criticized by fans during his four seasons as Alabama’s only defensive coordinator, but Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin spoke highly of how Golding is perceived by other coaches in the industry — including Nick Saban.

“This is a great coach who everyone who worked with him always said from the beginning — even when he was in smaller places before that — that he was brilliant, the future,” Kiffin said Wednesday. “Coach Saban even called it one of the best interviews he’s ever seen in the first interview when he interviewed him.

“Just a very unusual situation where someone at the top of their game can come here.”

Wednesday’s national signing day news conference marked the first time Kiffin has spoken publicly about Golding, the Rebels’ new defensive coordinator, other than a written statement when Ole Miss announced the hire on Jan. 14.

Kiffin called the hire “really great” and compared it to the star rankings often associated with recruiting.

“That’s as five stars as you can get,” he said.

CONNECTED: Former Alabama players surprised by Pete Golding move, Ole Miss alumni ‘thrilled’

Golding, 38, was under contract through the 2023 season at Alabama and said two weeks before his departure that he “absolutely” planned to return.

Kiffin said Golding’s lateral move from one SEC team to another had “nothing to do with you beating Alabama and all that” and instead involved personal considerations.

“There was some family stuff that helped us,” Kiffin said. “His wife’s family is from here. That was great. Just like recruiting, there are advantages. We’re really excited for him to come, for him and his family to be here.”

Golding’s wife, Carolyn, is a Mississippi native who attended Ole Miss. Golding graduated from Delta State in Mississippi and later coached there as well as Southeastern Louisiana, Southern Miss and UTSA before Saban hired him in 2018.

“[He can] really helps us not only defensively, schematically — obviously, like he’s going to do,” Kiffin said. “But he was also a phenomenal recruiter that we had to go up against.”

Alabama’s defense allowed the ninth fewest points per game, 18.2, among 131 FBS teams last season. That ranked second in the SEC behind Georgia at 14.3.

Saban did not hold a national signing day press conference this week because Alabama did not sign any players and he has not yet spoken publicly about Golding’s departure. Alabama has yet to hire his replacement as defensive coordinator.

Saban said in mid-November that Golding did a “really, really good job” even after Alabama lost to Tennessee and LSU.

“He’s very smart,” Saban said. “He communicates well with the players. He is a good teacher. I think he is a good motivator. I think the players respond well to him. He added some things that helped us get better.

“I think he’s done a very good job with the personnel we have. I just really appreciate the really good job he did. I think he’s made really positive steps every year since he’s been here. I like to hire younger guys and let them grow and develop in the organization. He certainly did a fantastic job in that regard.”

Mike Rodak is an Alabama beat reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @mikerodak.



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