Lane Kiffin has taken his final you-know-what-chewing on the sideline from Nick Saban.
In an unprecedented stunner, Alabama announced Monday — a week before it defends its College Football Playoff title against Clemson — that Kiffin will leave the program to focus on his new head coaching duties at Florida Atlantic. Steve Sarkisian, the former Washington and USC coach who was set to replace Kiffin as offensive coordinator next season, will take over those duties for the championship game.
“We appreciate all that Lane has done for our football program over the last three years,” 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.”
Alabama’s offense struggled at times in its 24-7 win over Washington in Saturday’s Peach Bowl semifinal, and freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts completed just seven of 14 passes for 57 yards. Bo Scarbrough‘s 68-yard touchdown run and a suffocating defense bailed out Kiffin’s offense in Atlanta.
But changing offensive coordinators a week before a title game? That seems downright crazy if it were a decision made by any other coach than Saban. This may be a shocking part of the “process,” but who are we to not trust Saban?
“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,” Kiffin said. “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!”