Nate Oats leaves Buffalo to take over as head men's basketball coach at Alabama

Alabama announced Wednesday that it has hired Nate Oats as its new men’s basketball head coach. Oats will replace Avery Johnson, who spent four seasons leading the Crimson Tide.

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Oats was a part of the basketball program at the University of Buffalo for the past six seasons, the first two as an assistant under Bobby Hurley and the last four as the head man. During Oats’ stint as the head coach, Buffalo amassed a 96-43 record, three Mid-American Conference Tournament titles and three NCAA tournament appearances. In 2018, the Bulls upset Arizona to advance to the second round. They again fell in the round of 32 this season as a No. 6 seed, this time to Texas Tech.

Hopes are high in Tuscaloosa that Oats is the coach to lead the basketball program to its first ever Final Four. Alabama has reached the Elite Eight once, in 2004. It went 18-16 this past season and missed out on the NCAA Tournament for the third time under Johnson.

Oats proved his head-coaching chops at Romulus High School near Detroit, where he was the head coach from 2002 until 2013. His teams won 81 percent of their games and, in 2013, a state Class A championship. Before he entered the coaching world, Oats played college basketball at Division-III Maranatha Baptist University in Watertown, Wisc.

He’s also a man of strong faith.

“My faith keeps me grounded. It keeps life in perspective,” Oats told Sports Spectrum recently. “Winning and losing games isn’t the ultimate in God’s eyes; knowing and loving God and being loved by a gracious God is ultimate. How we treat others and how we point others to Jesus is what really matters. My daily quiet time with God in the Word keeps those truths at the forefront of my mind on a daily basis.”

After more than two decades in leadership roles as a basketball coach, Oats knows just how important humility can be. He said every success — every win — he’s had in life is a gift from God; selfish boasting is foolish.

“I must never lose focus of the greatest victory that was accomplished through Jesus Christ’s work on the cross. Coaching can be stressful but just knowing God has the ultimate control of our lives gives us a peace we can only know through Him,” he said.

Oats hopes many more victories on the court lay in his future at Alabama, as true eternal victory is already in hand.

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