Nick Saban (Photo by Stuart McNair)

Latest stir in college football conversation is Sarkisian leaving Alabama

Commotion is nothing new in Alabama football

Legendary Alabama Coach Paul Bryant had many close friends in the coaching profession, including John McKay at Southern Cal, Darrell Royal at Texas, and Frank Broyles at Arkansas. But perhaps his closest friend was Duffy Daugherty at Michigan State.
Daugherty once said, “I don’t know if the Bear is the best coach among us, but he sure causes the most commotion.”
Bryant, of course, was the best coach, and one reason he caused so much commotion was his knowledge of the rule book, and using it to his advantage.
Now the best coach is Alabama’s Nick Saban, who also knows and uses the rules. His use of former players to help in practice had Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer wanting someone to check the rules. No doubt there were questions and research around the nation’s football offices after signing day when it was revealed that in addition to the dozen 2017 signees who had gained early entrance to The University at the beginning of the spring semester, four more will be entering Monday under a heretofore unknown (to most) mini-mester program at Alabama.
Thus, Alabama spring practice will include 16 members of the signing class.
Saban commotion began when he was first enticed from the Miami Dolphins to be Alabama’s head coach beginning in 2007. That has resulted in four national championship for the Crimson Tide in Saban’s decade at the helm.
This is not a time when there is ordinarily a great deal of conversation about college football. The season ended with the national championship game and Clemson’s victory over Alabama and recruiting interest fell dramatically with the Feb. 1 Signing Day lists, in which Bama had another first in the nation.
But there has been commotion with newly-appointed Bama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian leaving his post after just one game to take the same position with the Atlanta Falcons, coming off their loss in the Super Bowl.
That led to all sorts of speculation attributed to those infamous unnamed sources as to a Saban-Sarkisian breakup.
Saban’s statement on the matter was to thank Sarkisian for the job he had done for Bama and to wish him well in his new post.
Congratulations to the Tuscaloosa News for reporting on Atlanta Coach Dan Quinn’s Tuesday press conference. Quinn, who was an assistant under Saban with the Miami Dolphins, said that he reached out to Saban before hiring Sarkisian and that Saban told him, “I understand what you have to do for your organization.”
Quinn added that he had great respect for Saban and “It’s fortunate that we have that good of a relationship and I was able to communicate with him about it.”
When Sarkisian met with media in Tampa where Alabama was preparing for the College Football Playoff championship game against Tampa, he described his time between jobs (he was fired in early in the 2014 season as head coach at Southern Cal) he said that he had traveled to various college and pro sites, including both Alabama and the Falcons.
Sarkisian spent last fall as an offensive analyst on the Alabama staff, then was elevated to offensive coordinator for the 2017 season when Lane Kiffin left the Tide to become head coach at Florida Atlantic. Kiffin worked the semifinal game win over Washington, then left Bama a week before the title game with Sarkisian moving up.
Saban had previously announced the elevation of Mike Locksley from offensive analyst to full-time assistant coach (with duties not yet specified).
In addition to the offensive coordinator position, Saban also lost offensive line-tight ends coach Mario Cristobal to Oregon as co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Billy Napier to Arizona State as offensive coordinator.
In national sports commentary today, the only news approaching the commotion in Alabama’s football program was the dramatic four-overtime Alabama basketball upset of No. 19 South Carolina in Columbia Tuesday night.
One might draw the conclusion that a little commotion is not a bad thing.


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