There were some rumors before about some changes being made to the coaching staff after the season. The only coaching position that I could think of that would seem justifiable would be D-Coordinator. (Mel Phillips is retiring anyway - so secondary coach is obvious).
The reason I say this is because Smith, while he has been in the league a while, he is pretty inexperienced as the person calling the shots for the entire defense. While it's widely believed that Saban is the one truly pressing the defensive buttons, I somewhat disagree. There is no doubt that the defense is being ran (or an attempt is being made at it) how Saban wants it to be ran. And there is plenty of communication during the games and all that. But there were quite a few questionable calls during the year that cost us ALOT of big plays through the air. Granted I realize that our secondary was weak. But this is what makes me question some of the defensive play calling and makes me wonder if perhaps Saban was miffed by some of the calls. Specifically, the blitzes. It seems that the vast majority of the times we blitzed, we were unsuccessful and it left our already weakest area in an even bigger disadvantage. My thougts are, would you not try to cover up your weakness as opposed to expose it? This happened alot and ultimately cost us a lot of points and alot of big plays. Now I do also recognize that the defense had it's limitations and that coaches have to do the best they can with what they have to work with. BUT, since we led the league in sacks and broke a team record, you would have thought that more emphasis would have been put on pressure from the front four and less emphasis on blitzing LBs who help in shorter coverages. When the LBs are not there for the short passes, such as crossing routes, it forces our safties to play up and as a result, leaves our corners one on one deep. I questioned this all season.
I do know that Saban loves to blitz. But I also feel confident that Saban knows better than to expose the team that way. So who is responsible? I think Smith is. I think he made alot of bad calls at inopportune times that cost the defense and the team. Now this is just my opinion and I'm sure there will be plenty of disagreement. But I'm sure some will agree as well.
Keep in mind also that Saban, after a year in the league, probably realizes that he can't spread himself so thin. Of course he will be involved in all aspects of the game. But how involved can he be, in depth at each position and each team (offense, defense, special teams, and individually). I think Saban needs, and may want, someone he feels he can trust better with running the entire defense as a part of his philosophy without having to constantly keep ties on him. Just some random thoughts. Hack away or agree or add your own thoughts..