- College football reporter
- Joined ESPN.com in 2007
- Graduate of the University of Tennessee
Pete Golding is leaving his job as Alabama defensive coordinator for the same position at Ole Miss, sources told ESPN on Friday.
Golding had been at Alabama under Nick Saban since 2018 and served as the Crimson Tide’s defensive coordinator for the past four seasons. Golding will replace Chris Partridge as Ole Miss’ defensive coordinator.
Sources told ESPN that Golding’s decision to leave Alabama was his own and that he was not pushed out, but rather he felt this move was best for him and his family. An official announcement on Golding’s hiring at Ole Miss is expected soon.
Golding, 38, joins Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss. Kiffin is entering his fourth season as the Rebels’ head coach and recently signed a new deal that will pay him around $9 million annually, including retention bonuses.
Kiffin was one of the top candidates for the Auburn head-coaching job in November but elected to stay at Ole Miss. Similar to Golding, Kiffin also worked under Saban at Alabama.
Golding’s defense at Alabama this past season finished tied for ninth nationally and second in the SEC in scoring defense (18.2 points per game). The Crimson Tide led the SEC and were fourth nationally in yards per play allowed (4.59). All four of Golding’s defenses at Alabama ranked in the top 20 nationally in scoring defense.
The Crimson Tide haven’t had a top-five defense since 2017, when they led the country in points allowed (11.9) under Jeremy Pruitt on their way to winning the national championship.
Golding, who was consistently among the nation’s best recruiters when he was at Alabama, will be Kiffin’s third different defensive coordinator in the past three seasons. The Rebels ranked ninth in the SEC this past season in scoring defense (25.5 points per game) under Partridge, who replaced D.J. Durkin. The 2021 Ole Miss defense improved to 51st nationally from 117th in points allowed under Durkin, but Durkin left after the 2021 season to take the Texas A&M defensive coordinator job.
Ole Miss started 7-0 this past season and was ranked as high as No. 11 in the first College Football Playoff rankings. But the Rebels lost five of their last six games and gave up more than 40 points in three of those losses.
Golding is the second defensive staff member to leave Alabama this offseason. Associate defensive coordinator and safeties coach Charles Kelly left last month to join Deion Sanders at Colorado.
There’s also a strong possibility the Crimson Tide could have changes on the offensive side of the ball. Offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien is one of the top targets for the New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator job, sources told ESPN, and could also have other opportunities in the NFL.
O’Brien has been Alabama’s offensive coordinator for the past two seasons.
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