Very late in the churning of the 2019-20 coaching carousel, Nick Saban could find himself with a significant opening on his Alabama Crimson Tide football coaching staff. Maybe.
When Mel Tucker left for the Michigan State head job earlier this month, it triggered an unexpected coaching search at Colorado. Current Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator and former Colorado running back Eric Bieniemy was immediately considered the front-runner, although it’s now expected that he’ll stay in the NFL. Air Force’s Troy Calhoun has now taken that front-runner mantle in some corners — he interviewed for the CU job this week — while former Arkansas and Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema is in the mix as well.
Steve Sarkisian‘s name has been connected to the Colorado opening as well. It was reported by CBS Sports that the Alabama Crimson Tide football assistant interviewed for the job Wednesday, with ESPN.com confirming that development Thursday morning.
Sarkisian, of course, has experience as a head coach in the Pac-12. His unceremonious exit from his last job in the conference, though, could make him a hard sell to the Buff faithful.
In mid-October of 2015, USC announced that Sarkisian had been dismissed as the Trojans’ head football coach, one day after he was given an indefinite leave of absence because of alleged and ongoing alcohol issues. It was alleged that USC had instituted a zero-tolerance policy when it came to Sarkisian and alcohol use. Leading up to his dismissal, Sarkisian allegedly showed up to meetings intoxicated.
From 2009-15, Sarkisian was a head coach in the Pac-12 — at Washington (2009-13) and USC (2014-15). He went 46-35 during his time in that league. He also spent two separate stints totaling seven seasons (2001-03, 2005-08) as an assistant at USC.
Following his ugly exit from USC, Sarkisian joined the Alabama Crimson Tide football program as an offensive analyst for the 2016 season. When Lane Kiffin took the head job at FAU prior to the national championship game that year, Sarkisian served as the play-caller in the loss to Clemson.
Expected to take over as the Crimson Tide’s coordinator, and after reports that his relationship with Saban had deteriorated surfaced, Sarkisian instead left a month after the title game for a job in the NFL as the coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons. Sarkisian lasted two years in that job before he was fired in December of 2018.
A month later, he rejoined the Tide as offensive coordinator.