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Nick Saban coaching tree continues to grow with Tennessee’s hiring of Jeremy Pruitt

Nick Saban
Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

For the third consecutive year, Nick Saban is losing one of his coordinators to a head-coaching job.

After two years as Alabama’s defensive coordinator, Jeremy Pruitt officially was named Tennessee’s new coach Thursday.

Following a three-year stint as the Tide’s offensive coordinator, Lane Kiffin left Tuscaloosa at the end of last season to become Florida Atlantic’s coach. His departure came a year after long-time Saban assistant Kirby Smart left to take the Georgia job.

Smart and Kiffin each were wildly successful this season. Smart has led the Bulldogs to their first SEC title since 2005 and their first College Football Playoff appearance. Kiffin led the Owls to their first Conference USA championship since joining the league in 2013, and FAU will play in a bowl for just the third time in program history.

RELATED: What obscure coaching streak will Jeremy Pruitt break at Tennessee?

Meanwhile, Texas A&M recently hired former Saban assistant Jimbo Fisher away from Florida State and signed him to a 10-year, $75 million contract. Fisher’s $7.5 million annual salary ranks second nationally — behind only his former boss.

With the Aggies’ hiring of Fisher and Tennessee’s hiring of Pruitt, there will be four former Saban assistants leading SEC programs in 2018. The others are Smart and South Carolina’s Will Muschamp, a former defensive coordinator for Saban at LSU. Fisher, Muschamp and Smart were on Saban’s LSU staff in 2004.

Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio, Texas Southern’s Michael Haywood and Elon’s Curt Cignetti also are among the growing number of active Division I head coaches who previously worked for Saban during his time at Michigan State, LSU and Alabama.

Oregon interim coach Mario Cristobal, who was the Tide’s offensive line coach from 2013 until the end of last season, soon could get his second shot as a head coach. “Most” of the players in Eugene would like to see Cristobal, who used to be the coach at Florida International, become their full-time coach, as reported by The Oregonian.

Three NFL coaches — Dallas’ Jason Garrett, Atlanta’s Dan Quinn and Tennessee’s Mike Mularkey — spent time working on Saban’s staff during his two seasons with the Miami Dolphins. Current Dolphins coach Adam Gase also worked for Saban, as a graduate assistant and then recruiting assistant at LSU.

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