It did not take long after Ted Roof's departure from the University of Oklahoma for the program to announce the 29-year-old Zac Alley as the new defensive coordinator for the Sooners. Alley may have the highest potential for young coaches in College Football, and this move may prove to be a long-term solution for the Sooners' defense.
The last two years under Roof, the Sooners finished 99th and 49th in opponent points per game. Not where you want to be as you head into the SEC. During his tenure, Roof allowed the Texas Longhorns to put up 49 points against the Sooners, the most the Sooners have allowed Texas to score in the history of their rivalry.
According to the Jacksonville State Sports Page, Zac Alley started his coaching career as a student assistant in 2011 as a Freshman at Clemson University. This is likely when he and Venables were introduced to one another. He spent the next four seasons working with the Dabo Swinney-led Tigers, which led to him securing an internship with the Carolina Panthers as a Defensive Coaching Intern.
After Alley's time with the Panthers, he returned to Clemson for the next four years as a Graduate Assistant and primarily worked with defensive tackles and linebackers. Clemson won two National Titles and lost only four games during this time.
Alley soon landed his first Coordinator job as the co-special teams coordinator at Boise State, where he was named a Special Teams Coordinator of the Year. Alley then landed the Defensive Coordinator Job at UL Monroe, where he turned the 125th-ranked rushing defense to the 69th in 2021. Nice.
He then moved on to Jacksonville State where he helped introduce the program to the FBS. This last season, the Gamecocks finished 9-4, losing only to a competitive Coastal Carolina, a near-perfect Liberty, South Carolina, and a New Mexico State team that competed in the CUSA Title Game this year. The Gamecocks also finished 33rd in Opponent Points Per Game at 21.2.
Though young, this is a great hire for the Sooners. Over his young career, he has proven that he can do his job effectively and assist in building winning teams. The difference is the Sooners are not looking to improve gradually over the next three to four years. They are looking to compete for National Titles.
Entering the SEC will be a considerable challenge for Alley and the entire program. That's not to say they won't be successful. They will just be challenged. Bringing Alley in now is a good move because we are allowing a young coach to learn and grow into the coach the Sooners need him to be.
Alley may be the Sooners' long-term solution for the Defensive Coordinator position because the plan may be to have him learn under Venables and then take over as the Head Coach further down the road. This depends on how well he and Venables do together at Oklahoma, but it's a thought to refer back to in about ten years.