Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Goodbye again, Willis

Less than three weeks after Gene Chizik rehired James Willis to the Auburn staff, Willis is again no longer a Tigers coach.

This time, there won't be a reunion -- at least not any time soon.

That's because on Wednesday, Alabama hired Willis to coach linebackers.

Willis' rehiring marked the first coach officially hired to Chizik's new staff. Some think Chizik rehired Willis in attempt to regain some of the recruits that were leaving. Willis leaves after one of his prized recruits, quarterback Raymond Cotton, apparently has decided on another option (Ole Miss).

Willis was considered one of the former coaching regime's strongest recruiters. He focused mostly on south Alabama and, specifically, Mobile. He coached Tray Blackmon to Freshman All-America honors and Spencer Pybus to Freshman All-SEC honors.

While surprising, the move is logical in some ways. Alabama knows Willis' track record and he has strong in-state connections. The Crimson Tide, by the way, needed a linebackers coach. Alabama knows it's getting a good coach with strong recruiting background.

Auburn, on the other hand, had yet to even name a position for Willis to coach. Defensive coordinator Ted Roof has primarily coached linebackers and he had no official position to coach either. This move could mean Roof would simply move into the linebackers coach role.

It also means Auburn's 2009 staff will almost certainly be entirely composed of new coaches and no holdovers from Tommy Tuberville's staff.

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