Alabama football coach Nick Saban didn't have to go far to find Lane Kiffin's replacement.
Former Southern California head coach Steve Sarkisian, who joined the Crimson Tide staff in September as an offensive analyst, was named Friday as Alabama's new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Kiffin was recently hired as Florida Atlantic's head coach but will remain as the Tide's offensive coordinator through this season, which continues on New Year's Eve with the national semifinal against Washington in the Peach Bowl.
"I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to join Coach Saban's staff, and I can't thank the University of Alabama enough," Sarkisian said in a statement released by the school. "I have always admired the Alabama program from afar, and getting to be part of this football team these past few months has only reinforced my belief that this is the best college football organization in the country.
"There are many outstanding coaches and athletes at the University of Alabama, and I am extremely excited to start working with them in my new role. This is a very special place to have the opportunity to coach when you consider the program's rich tradition and the unrivaled passion of the fan base."
Sarkisian became Southern California's offensive coordinator in 2007 after Kiffin was hired by the Oakland Raiders and was the Trojans' play-caller for two years before becoming head coach at Washington, which had gone 0-12 in 2008. He went 34-29 with the Huskies from 2009 to 2013 before being lured back as head coach of USC, where he followed Kiffin a second time.
USC went 9-4 in 2014, capping the year with a 49-14 rout of Notre Dame and a 45-42 outlasting of Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. Before the 2015 season, however, Sarkisian was intoxicated and acted erratically at the program's annual "Salute to Troy" event, which resulted in national headlines.
That was followed by multiple reports of Sarkisian showing up at practice after consuming alcohol. He took a leave of absence but was dismissed five games into the season with the Trojans struggling at 3-2.
"We are pleased to be able to hire an offensive coordinator with the pedigree and experience of Steve Sarkisian," Saban said. "He has a tremendous offensive mind. He has been a great asset to our coaching staff this season, and he will be a phenomenal addition to our coaching staff and someone who can seamlessly transition into the job with a full understanding of how our organization works."
After bringing Sarkisian aboard in September, Saban said, "He's gone through some personal things to get himself in a very positive position. He loves coaching, and we thought it would be a great thing for our organization. I've known him for a long time, and he's a very good coach."
Sarkisian assisted an offensive staff that began shaping a unit that had lost quarterback Jake Coker and Heisman Trophy-winning tailback Derrick Henry from last season's national champions. The Crimson Tide will enter the Peach Bowl averaging 471.3 yards and 40.5 points a game, with true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts leading the way.
Following the Crimson Tide's 54-16 demolishing of Florida in the Southeastern Conference championship game earlier this month, Kiffin offered his appreciation for Sarkisian.
"He's just given me the comfort of having someone who's easy to game plan with, because you're kind of raised together," Kiffin said. "It's very easy and helpful to have someone like that."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.