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Alabama hiring former Michigan LB coach George Helow ahead of Rose Bowl is a notable subplot

An interesting game just added another layer of intrigue.

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Everyone is always looking to get an edge in college football, and it looks like that’s what No. 4 Alabama (12-1) is doing just a couple weeks before their Rose Bowl matchup against No. 1 Michigan (13-0).

Per multiple reports, Alabama is set to hire former Michigan linebackers coach George Helow. The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman noted that Helow is “expected to begin work immediately.”

Helow was with Michigan for two seasons (2021, 2022) on a staff that won back-to-back Big Ten championships and had consecutive playoff appearances. Helow did not coach this season, until Alabama scooped him up on Thursday.

There’s no doubt there’s an element of gamesmanship to this hire. Helow has insights into the Michigan program that some outsiders may not. Whether that moves the needle for the Crimson Tide or proves to be a benefit remains to be seen, but the hire does represent a notable Rose Bowl subplot.

Alabama hiring Helow at this juncture in the season does seem peculiar on the surface, but there are more practical reasons he was hired as well. Helow was a defensive intern at Alabama in 2012. Alabama’s defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt was a defensive backs coach for ‘Bama back then and Helow would go on to coach with Pruitt at Florida State in 2013 where Pruitt was FSU’s defensive coordinator and Helow was a graduate assistant. In short, prior relationships exist between Helow, Pruitt and Saban.

There’s also another reason someone with linebacker coaching expertise was hired — Alabama outside linebackers coach/special teams coordinator Coleman Hutzler will be leaving Alabama to become the defensive coordinator of Mississippi State.

Of all people for Alabama to hire, head coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide just had to snatch up someone with recent ties to Michigan and their defensive schematics. Was the main reason Helow was hired to divulge intel about Michigan? Or does Alabama value his coaching prowess? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.