What Alabama coach Nick Saban said about former Notre Dame OC Tommy Rees at SEC Media Days

On3 imageby:Tyler Horka07/19/23

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It’s going to take some getting used to for Notre Dame fans to see Tommy Rees as Alabama head coach Nick Saban’s right-hand man in Tuscaloosa. Rees is a Notre Dame lifer having played quarterback in South Bend from 2010-13 and having spent five seasons there as an assistant coach from 2017-22.

Rees was Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator the last three years. Now he’s Alabama’s. Saban, sitting on the set of SEC Now at SEC Media Days in Nashville on Wednesday, told the network why he’s excited to have Rees leading the Crimson Tide’s offense into the 2023 season — and possibly beyond.

Here is everything Saban said.

“I love Tommy Rees. He’s a really good offensive coordinator. He’s bright. He does a great job of presenting to our players. He has a really good relationship with the players. He’s got that overall view of things. He’s not stubborn about things. Very open to new ideas, how we’re going to make it work. And he’s humble. When you’re humble, you’re always looking for a better way.

“He’s got enough experience, and he’s been around some really good people. Brian Kelly is a really good coach, and he’s done a good job for some really good people. All of those things contribute to him being very successful and helping our players have success.”

Saban also took time to speak about Rees at the main podium in the Media Days ballroom.

“Tommy Rees is a bright young guy who has done a really, really good job, players relate well to him,” he said. “He relates well to them. He’s a good presenter. He’s very bright and understands the game conceptually very, very well and has done a really good job of implementing our offense and adding to it things that I think will benefit us in the future.”

Saban added, “Tommy Rees is one of the brightest young guys that I’ve seen in a long time in this business and he’s been a great addition and brought a lot of positives to the offensive side of the ball in terms of his ideas and how he relates to players, how he presents to players, his energy and enthusiasm on the field has been contagious. I think I see a great trust in our players with Tommy and what he tries to do from a leadership standpoint on offense.”

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Alabama also poached former Notre Dame quarterback Tyler Buchner from the transfer portal this offseason. Rees was instrumental in the Irish landing Buchner as a high school recruit, and he was definitely a player in getting Buchner to choose Alabama as his new home.

Buchner is battling incumbent options Jalen Milroe and Ty Simpson for the starting job. Buchner started three games for Notre Dame in 2022. The Irish went 1-2 in those games with losses to Ohio State and Marshall in the first two weeks of the season. He injured his shoulder and missed Notre Dame’s next 10 games because of surgery.

Buchner was the MVP of the Gator Bowl with five total touchdowns. He also threw three interceptions, two of which were returned for South Carolina touchdowns, in his first appearance since the Marshall loss. Notre Dame won, 45-38. Buchner threw the game-winning touchdown pass with less than two minutes left.

Buchner is the elder statesman in comparison to Milroe and Simpson, but the quarterback competition will linger well into the fall. Rees will be charged with overseeing it.

“All of those players are getting better, and it’s important for us that all those players get better,” Saban said. “I don’t think anybody has actually separated themselves yet, and I don’t think it’s something that we are trying to rush.”

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