Tommy Rees had been virtually everything at Notre Dame, a starter and backup, a solution and problem, credited for quarterback development and questioned for why he couldn’t land better material. There were game plans that hit so well they turned heads nationally, including in Tuscaloosa. There were performances that bombed so badly they made the 30-year-old assistant appear out of his depth.

As Rees departs his alma mater after 10 seasons spread among quarterback, quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, he’ll bring a decade of battle scars to a program known to hand out battle wounds. Rees is young enough that he was a sophomore in high school when the dynasty of Nick Saban at Alabama began construction. He’s old enough to have played against the Crimson Tide in the BCS National Championship Game and coached against Alabama in the College Football Playoff.

Now Rees may be these multitudes all over again after accepting Saban’s offer to join the sport’s preeminent program, or perhaps one working to retake Georgia following Kirby Smart’s back-to-back-national championships. This is the challenge Rees wanted, though, which says more about how he’s wired than usage of 12 personnel sets or playing at tempo. Rees left a program where he’d always have a home for one that evicts offensive coordinators biennially, usually for better environs.

An industry source told The Athletic that Rees had eyed this shot at the sport’s summit a year ago when Notre Dame promoted Marcus Freeman from defensive coordinator to head coach. Rees wanted to be considered for that job more than he ultimately was, which spurred him to figure out how he could be in better position next time around. Two programs came to mind for Rees. The one that just hired him and the one he’s been hired to beat in the SEC Championship Game.

When Brian Kelly begged Rees to join him in Baton Rouge, the former Notre Dame quarterback stayed put, much to Kelly’s aggravation. Remaining at Notre Dame without Kelly gave Rees autonomy, the kind that let him stand on his own in a new way. Rees’ professional development last season was succeeding and failing without a safety net. Now it will be working for perhaps the greatest college coach ever, with Saban a finishing school that’s turned offensive coordinators into Power 5 head coaches (Texas, Ole Miss and Maryland) or NFL head coaches (New York Giants) and NFL coordinators (New England Patriots).

There is nothing but success there, which isn’t to say Rees will automatically be next. But Rees has seen enough in South Bend to believe those experiences will translate in Tuscaloosa.