Former Central Florida offensive coordinator and running backs coach Brent Key is expected to become Alabama’s new offensive line coach, according to sources.
As part of the move, Crimson Tide assistant head coach and offensive line coach Mario Cristobal is expected to move to tight ends and tackles coach, per the sources. The addition of Key would mean Alabama coach Nick Saban would have to move another current assistant to another role to comply with NCAA rules that limit an FBS coaching staff to nine assistants.
It would be a return for the 37-year-old Key to his native Alabama. New Central Florida coach Scott Frost did not retain Key after the Knights had an 0-12 record this season, which included former coach George O’Leary retiring after the first eight losses.
Prior to this year, Key had been Central Florida’s offensive line coach for six seasons and was also recruiting coordinator for five years. He was promoted to assistant head coach in 2012 and added the title of assistant head coach of offense two seasons later. The latter followed the Knights winning the Fiesta Bowl and the American Athletic Conference championship in 2013 on the way to a 12-1 record behind star quarterback Blake Bortles.
The move of the highly respected Cristobal would come after his offensive line helped Alabama win the College Football Playoff this past season and paved the way for running back Derrick Henry to win the Heisman Trophy. An invaluable recruiter, he has coached the Crimson Tide’s offensive linemen the past three seasons.
Before that, the dynamic Cristobal was Florida International’s coach for six seasons, reviving the downtrodden program and leading it to its first conference championship and bowl victory.
Key also worked at Central Florida from 2005-08. He was the program’s tight ends and special teams coordinator in 2008 after serving as recruiting coordinator the previous year and tight ends coach in 2006.
He got his start at Central Florida as a graduate assistant following a season as Western Carolina’s tight ends and running backs coach in 2004 and being a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Georgia Tech, from 2001-02.
A Trussville, Ala. product, Key was a former starting offensive right guard for the Yellow Jackets under O’Leary from 1997 through 2000, earning all-ACC honors his senior year.