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Nick Saban welcomes Steve Sarkisian back to UA as offensive coordinator

Steve Sarkisian at CFP media event for Alabama in 2016
Steve Mitchell - USA TODAY Sports

Clearly, Nick Saban is not concerned about Steve Sarkisian’s past. 

After two years with the Atlanta Falcons, the 44-year-old is back in college football at the University of Alabama and Saban made it clear on Friday about the team being fortunate to hire someone that was offered an offensive coordinator position for the Arizona Cardinals.  

He was dismissed from University of Southern California and University of Washington because of off-field issues; however, it was Saban who reached out and provided Sarkisian another chance. 

A native of California, Sark was an offensive analyst for the Crimson Tide in 2016 and due to Saban and Lane Kiffin drifting apart – he was forced to run the offense in the College Football Playoff National Championship meeting with Clemson at Tampa, Fla.  

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Even with him leaving after one season, there was a method to the madness. 

Sarkisian became a head coach at a young age (early 30s) and probably was not prepared for the responsibilities that come with it.

He needed time to observe the better business minds in football and with that, it would position him to be better – upon getting a call to his next opportunity. 

When it comes to quarterbacks, he is one of the best developers.  

Sarkisian has witness eleven 3,000+ passing yards (college and NFL) and helped crown two Heisman winners in Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart.

He coached Matt Ryan to two 4,000-yard seasons in 2017 and 2018, including 4,924 yards last year – which was third in the league. 

Atlanta had the NFL’s sixth-best total offense (389.1 ypg) and fourth-best passing offense, collecting 291 yards per game. In pairing him Sark with Tua TagovailoaSaban said he has a tremendous amount of respect for him and he doesn’t criticize Sark for what happened in 2016. 

“As an offensive coach, I don’t think it’s fair to criticize when a guy takes over a job one week before a game and has to try to implement something because of the circumstance we were in,” Saban said of Sarkisian. “There has to be some level of expertise to allow the Falcons to do what they did last season and the players I talked to over there said he did a really good job and he’s a good coach. I think he’s a tremendous asset on our staff.” 

While there was a list of guys that Alabama wanted to hire, getting someone that Tagovailoa is familiar with may have been a huge blessing.

The combination of Sarkisian and new offensive line coach, Kyle Flood will put together a system for the returning junior to thrive in.  

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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