The no-Kiffin look: Alabama will be better with Sarkisian calling plays

Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian answers questions during media day for the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Clemson Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Sarkisian in the spotlight. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

TAMPA — Steve Sarkisian was downright serene at Saturday’s Media Day, which only made sense. This isn’t his first rodeo. He was an assistant coach and co-offensive coordinator (with Lane Kiffin, about whom more shortly) at USC under Pete Carroll in the glory years of Bush and Leinart, which nearly yielded three consecutive national championships. He has been head coach at Washington, a big-time program, and also at USC, which is among the very biggest.

That Sarkisian became Alabama’s offensive coordinator on short notice won’t faze him. That was set to happen anyway. Owing to Lane Kiffin’s inherent brattiness, it’s just happening sooner than expected. But plays are plays and headsets are headsets, and Sarkisian — not to put too fine a point on it — isn’t Kiffin.

Trying to juggle two jobs — he’d accepted the head coaching position at Florida Atlantic — and wrangle his considerable ego, Kiffin lost the plot against Washington in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Everybody in the world could see that Alabama needed only to hand the ball to Bo Scarbrough except for the guy charged with ordering handoffs. Kiffin had been late to meetings, which YOU DO NOT DO under Nick Saban, and loose with his just-unzipped lip in Pete Thamel’s eye-opening story for SI.com.

Dr. Nick’s diagnosis: Distraction.

Remedy: Riddance.

Enter Sarkisian, who was one of two fired USC head coaches on staff in Tuscaloosa. His story is even stranger than Kiffin, who’s simply an entitled jerk. Sarkisian was dismissed by the Trojans for coming to work inebriated. He got word he’d been fired on his way to a rehab facility.

Amid all the questions about play-calling posed Saturday, someone asked Sarkisian how he was getting along. “I’m doing great,” he said. “Thanks for asking.” No brattiness here.

For all those who believe Kiffin might be missed in Monday night’s game against Clemson … he won’t be. He brought some very good things to Alabama’s offense, but his play-calling could stump the band. (Go back to Bama’s loss to Ohio State on Jan. 1, 2015.) As Saban said post-Washington: “We had 25 plays for negative yardage, so what do you think I saw?”

The guess here is that Sarkisian will need no prodding to hand Scarbrough the ball. His predecessor did. (Against Washington, with eight minutes remaining in a 17-point game, Kiffin ordered a pass on first-and-10.) The guess here is that Alabama will be better for the change in both the short and long run, no pun intended. Sarkisian is working to get his life squared away. It’s unclear whether Kiffin ever will.

College Football Playoff reading:

Clemson might win. But it’s playing Alabama.

Jeremy Pruitt: From UGA to another title game with Alabama.

Good riddance: Saban gives the brat Kiffin the boot.

This is the Clemson we’ve been waiting to see.

Meanwhile, in Glendale: I like Ohio State over Clemson.

Washington has a real chance. Alabama has Nick Saban.

The 1926 Rose Bowl: Alabama beat Washington, changing a sport.

Reader Comments 0

65 comments
Wascatlady
Wascatlady

I find it hard to believe that FAU hired Kiffin. His"work" at UT was a tell!

TideDawg
TideDawg

Atlanta Sports writers are something! They want something negative about Sarkisian to happen so they can continue to try and bury a man that is trying hard to overcome an addiction. They almost say something nice and then bring up his addiction problem and that he was fired from USC. You writers are unreal.....let it rest.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Clemson winning would make the ACC the top conference in 2016. However, that would be akin to Georgia Tech beating Georgia......it might happen every 5 years.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@TideDawg And news flash...ACC is the strongest conference this year regardless of tonight's outcome.

TOJacket
TOJacket

ACC,ACC,ACC.....Tigers surf to victory tonight!!! Top Conference 2016!!!

GTroller
GTroller

@TOJacket Hope you're not betting anything you can't afford to lose on that T(r)O(ll)Jacket.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@Big Wally @TOJacket Going to wait till we beat TN in the Mercedes.....we will actually be SEC East champs then I think?

FlatTire
FlatTire

2- 17 and The Coatail riders of the AP

AP AP AP AP .....31- 0hi0

TOJacket
TOJacket

@FlatTire Oh no!!!!!!....I take a couple of days off from the blogs and I'm right back where I was?

TideDawg
TideDawg

I read what seems to be the attitude of all Atlanta Sports writers. Most are picking Alabama, but all seem to want Alabama to lose. Why? It's that inborn mentality of Atlanta Sports writers. If one of their own was up for Sports Writer of The Year, they would say I hope he loses but I'm picking him to win it....darn it! So how do they feel about the Falcons? The Falcons are turning into a winner. When will the writers start saying "We don't want a dynasty here" "We want them to lose". Why? Because negative writing is their specialty. They never won anything so they don't understand winning...only losing. I'll bet they have already written their articles on how Atlanta lost and why. Same thing with Alabama. One writer admitted he would rather write about Alabama losing than Alabama winning. So, here's the bottom line...what they write doesn't make it so, it doesn't make it happen, and it means little. Both Alabama and Clemson have proven who they are and why they are in the NC Game. One will win and one will lose but they are both great college teams. A great game will go down in history as one of the greatest games played. Picking a winner....not my expertise....but I am a Bama fan for life.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Yeah! Urban's chest pains suit his personality. He is also a pain in himself....a pain in the butt. But, he is a good coach. Another but, he is like a kid that says "Give me all of the marbles and I will beat you". I don't think I would like to be associated with Urban or his kind. I'll stick with Saban and his fiery, demanding, don't give me excuses, give me your best, and oft times entertaining personality. I served my time in the military and if I was going into battle he's the guy I would want to train me.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@TideDawg Marbles don't mean shat Tide...Richt ans Kirby had a pocket full and didn't do squat.

Big Wally
Big Wally

ESPN is reporting that when J.T. Barrett announced he was coming back to 31-0hi0 state, Urban started having chest pains again.

SaulK
SaulK

calling plays for a bunch of 5 star elites is not difficult---alabama will not miss kiffin---he was overrated from the beginning.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@SaulK He called a great game against Clemson last year...Clemson wins tonight.

Big Wally
Big Wally

@OH:IO Your right, 31-0hi0 was undeserving a playoff spot.  Thanks for agreeing.

DawginLex
DawginLex

@OH:IO 0 HI 0 (31-0)

UNimpressive

UNdeserving

UNderwhelming


Need I go on? 0 HI 0 (31-0) had no business being anywhere near a playoff bid. 

TOJacket
TOJacket

@DawginLex @OH:IO Funny thing is...UGA could move to the Big10 next year and still be unnoticed by all....can't even win the East for heavens sake.

Big Wally
Big Wally

@TOJacket @DawginLex @OH:IO Neither did 31-0hi0 State, and that lousy division went 0-5, but you were still sucking up to them all year long now weren't ya?.  The SEC East was also 2-0 against the mighty Big 10.  Care to retract that foolish comment?

Big Wally
Big Wally

@TOJacket @Big Wally @DawginLex @OH:IO UGA won it's bowl game, something that none of the Big 10 Least teams can say.  Rather ridiculous to say we would be unnoticed.   You crack on the SEC East, which was 2-0 against your mighty Big 10.   Don't you just hate it when I destroy you with facts?

Big Wally
Big Wally

@TOJacket @Big Wally @DawginLex @OH:IO You suck up for the Big 10 so much you might as well be one of their big fans.  I seem to remember you yacking about them having all those teams in the top 10 at one point.  How'd that sucking up work out for ya champ?

twelveofthirteen
twelveofthirteen

Little ten 0-5 in bowl games.

0-2 against the sec east.

Haven't scored a point in two years.

Talk about overrated! It's the little ten.

BetterDog
BetterDog

Tide rolls.  Strong Defenses win big games.  Doesn't matter who calls the plays.  Alabama beats Clemson more than the 3 point spread.  If that is still the line.  The Crimson Tide can not be beat this year.  Roll Tide!