Alabama hires new offensive coordinator to replace Lane Kiffin
Alabama has made it official, announcing Friday that offensive analyst Steve Sarkisian has been promoted to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, replacing Lane Kiffin, now head coach at FAU.
Sarkisian was formerly the head coach at Southern Cal, but was fired for incidents related to his alcoholism. He joined the Alabama staff as an offensive analyst, and several are saying he’s made the most of it this fall.
Once the University of Alabama released the news, Nick Saban and Sarkisian released statements.
“I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to join Coach Saban’s staff, and I can’t thank The University of Alabama enough,” Sarkisian said in a release. “I have always admired the Alabama program from afar and getting to be part of this football team these past few months has only reinforced my belief that this is the best college football organization in the country. There are many outstanding coaches and athletes at The University of Alabama, and I am extremely excited to start working with them in my new role. This is a very special place to have the opportunity to coach when you consider the program’s rich tradition and the unrivaled passion of the fan base.”
Saban boasted Sarkisian’s past experience when discussing the hire. It’s not everyday programs get the caliber of experience Alabama will get with Sarkisian as an offensive coordinator.
“We are pleased to be able to hire an offensive coordinator with the pedigree and experience of Steve Sarkisian,” Saban said in the release. “He has a tremendous offensive mind and is someone we believe will do a great job of teaching and developing our football team on the offensive side of the ball. He has been a great asset to our coaching staff this season and brings a great deal of energy and enthusiasm to his job. Steve will be a phenomenal addition to our coaching staff and someone who can seamlessly transition into the job with a full understanding of how our organization works.”
While previous reports indicated that Sarkisian had a “slim chance” of becoming Kiffin’s successor, it appears that Alabama could not ignore Sarkisian’s impressive resume. Sarkisian first joined USC in 2001, and was the position coach for 2004 Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer. He became the team’s offensive coordinator in 2007 for two seasons before taking the University of Washington job. After turning around the UW program from a team that had won 12 games in the past five years to 34-29 over the next five years, he returned to USC as the head coach in 2014.
Saban continues hiring troubled coaches and putting them in big-time positions. It happened with Kiffin when he was fired at Southern Cal. It happened with LB Coach Tosh Lupoi, who allegedly cheated at Washington, and now, it’s happened with Sarkisian. Once Saban knew Kiffin would likely leave after the 2016 season to become a head coach, the gears started turning to bring in his replacement and groom him.
Nick Saban remains one step ahead of the game in every aspect, and his ability to see things before they happen are just part of the reason why he’s the best coach in the country … and maybe ever. The decision to bring in Sarkisian as an analyst wasn’t risky, and with his ability see him in a coaching role first-hand this fall, Saban had to have felt comfortable with promoting him as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Alabama’s offense is unlikely to skip a beat with Sarkisian, as Kiffin has noted the two are cut from the same cloth when it comes to Xs and Os.