Steve Sarkisian was officially named Alabama’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach on Friday, completing his return to the college football coaching ranks. Sarkisian was fired by USC midway through the 2015 season after issues related to his alcohol abuse. He went to rehab and spent this season as an “analyst” for the Crimson Tide. Now he has a chance at redemption under Nick Saban and replaces his old friend Lane Kiffin as the team’s OC.
By virtually all accounts, Sarkisian is a good guy whose demons got the best of him at USC. He was likable and people were rooting for him to succeed during his time in Los Angeles. A messy divorce and battles with alcohol turned his dream job into a personal nightmare before former Trojans athletic director Pat Haden fired him on October 12, 2015.
Now he has a chance to redeem himself with one of college football’s glamour programs. Much like Kiffin did, if he can prove himself worthy of the position, he could wind up as a head coach somewhere again. Frankly, we should all be rooting for Sarkisian to stay clean and prosper. It would be a great story if he truly turns his life and career around.
Sarkisian isn’t the X’s and O’s egghead Kiffin is. He’s more of a motivator and an energy guy. That’s why the two worked so well when paired as co-offensive coordinators under Pete Carroll at USC. They balanced each other out. Sark has always been a great recruiter because of his endearing personality and enthusiasm. His play-calling can be sloppy at times and he doesn’t make the best personnel decisions. But with Saban looking over his shoulder, Sarkisian could thrive.
The move by Saban is an interesting one. He’s choosing to put a lot of faith in a guy who is a year removed from a stint in rehab that nearly wrecked his career and personal life. Clearly he believes Sarkisian is up to handling the immense responsibility and stress that comes with running the offense at Alabama. And he’s showing a lot of trust by betting on the 42-year-old staying clean.
I truly hope this is a sign Sarkisian has really turned his life around. I’ll be rooting for him.