Alabama will have a new offensive coordinator in the College Football Playoff title game.
The program announced Monday that Lane Kiffin will immediately move on to his new role as head coach of Florida Atlantic. With that move, which Tide head coach Nick Saban said on ESPN was a decision reached mutually on both sides, Steve Sarkisian will assume the role of offensive coordinator against Clemson.
“We appreciate all that Lane has done for our football program over the last three years,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. “We sat down following the Washington game and talked about the time demands of managing both jobs, and we recognized that it is best for our players, and for Lane, that we allow him to turn his full attention to his new head coaching role at FAU.
“This wasn’t an easy decision and we appreciate the way Lane handled this in terms of doing what is best for our team. At the end of the day, both of us wanted to put our players in the best position to be successful. Obviously, we are in a unique situation here where we have our next offensive coordinator already on staff. We have full confidence that Sark will step in right away and make this a smooth transition.”
Kiffin, who has been the OC at Alabama the last three seasons, accepted the head-coaching gig at Florida Atlantic last month but said he would stay on with Alabama through its College Football Playoff run. On Dec. 16, Alabama announced that Sarkisian, who has been an offensive analyst for the program this season, would succeed Kiffin as the Tide’s offensive coordinator in 2017. Now, he’ll assume those duties earlier than we thought — and on the biggest stage.
“After going through these last couple of weeks, trying to serve the best interests of two universities as an offensive coordinator and a head coach, it became apparent that both programs would be better served by me giving all my time and efforts to being the head coach at FAU,” said Kiffin.
“After meeting with Coach Saban during preparations last night and this morning, we mutually decided that it was in everyone’s best interests for the players and the program for Coach Sarkisian to take over all responsibilities as offensive coordinator for the championship game. This was a very difficult decision, but it’s a decision made in the best interests of the program. I look forward to helping Alabama win another championship, and would like to thank Coach Saban, the staff, and all the players and fans for the past three years at UA for an unforgettable time and championship run. Roll Tide!”
Kiffin coached the Alabama offensive in Saturday’s College Football Playoff semifinal win over Washington. The Tide won 24-7, but struggled on offense with just 17 points (Alabama also scored on a pick-six) and 57 passing yards. Throughout the game, Saban seemed frustrated with Kiffin and his play-calling. Alabama punted eight times in the game, including three straight times to end the first half and four straight times to open the second half.
The offense finally broke through when Bo Scarbrough reeled off a 68-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 24-7. Scarbrough rushed for 180 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.
There was apparently more behind Kiffin’s departure than just play-calling, however.
There was talk at SEC title game about Kiffin being gone after that game. Some folks w ear to the ground said Saban had had enough of him.
— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) January 2, 2017
Late to meetings, getting left behind at media day, public “ass-chewing” comments contributed to Lane Kiffin’s exit, sources told @ESPN
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) January 2, 2017
Sarkisian is no stranger to play-calling. He was the head coach at Washington for five years before landing the head-coaching job at USC, where he previously spent seven seasons as an offensive assistant, including two seasons as offensive coordinator. Sarkisian landed the role as head coach at USC in December 2013, but his tenure was short-lived. He was fired in October 2015 because of reported issues with alcohol. He had a 12-6 record with the Trojans.
After nearly a year away from college football, Sarkisian was hired by Saban in September 2016 and has served as part of the offensive staff throughout the year.
For more Alabama news, visit TideSports.com.
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