Alabama football coach Nick Saban woke up Tuesday with an offensive coordinator and a co-offensive coordinator on his staff.
By Tuesday afternoon, he was down to co-coordinator Mike Locksley following the departure of Steve Sarkisian to become the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons. Sarkisian replaced Kyle Shanahan, who left Dan Quinn's staff after Sunday night's 34-28 overtime loss to New England in Super Bowl LI to become the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
Sarkisian worked this past season as an offensive analyst for the Crimson Tide but became the offensive coordinator on Jan. 2, when Saban and Lane Kiffin parted ways. In the one game when he called plays for Alabama, the Crimson Tide amassed 376 yards but just 16 first downs in a 35-31 loss to Clemson in the national championship contest on Jan. 9.
"We appreciate all Coach Sarkisian did for our program during his time here," Saban said Tuesday in a released statement. "He is an outstanding coach, and we wish him the best in his new role as Atlanta's offensive coordinator. As always, when we have an opening on our staff, we will use it as an opportunity to go out and hire the best coach available."facebook
Quinn said in a news conference Tuesday afternoon that he reached out to Saban on Monday.
In his one media opportunity with Alabama, which occurred two days before the Clemson game, Sarkisian said he visited the Falcons last summer along with other NFL and college teams. He had been out of work since being fired as Southern California's head coach midway through the 2015 season due to multiple alcohol-related incidents.
"I had never had an August in my life that I can remember when I wasn't at training camp," Sarkisian said. "I visited the Atlanta Falcons, the University of Florida, the Tampa Bay Bucs and Alabama. My first stop was Atlanta, and it took one practice. As soon as I got out on that field with Dan Quinn and that staff, I knew this is where I needed to be and that this is where I wanted to be.
"This is what I love doing. Football is in my blood. I knew right away. Man, I love being around it."
Hiring offensive coordinators in Tuscaloosa is nothing new for Saban, who will be looking for his sixth after a first five of Major Applewhite (2007), Jim McElwain (2008-11), Doug Nussmeier (2012-13), Kiffin (2014-16) and Sarkisian, who was named Alabama's offensive coordinator for the 2017 season on Dec. 17. That announcement occurred four days after Kiffin was introduced as Florida Atlantic's head coach for 2017.
Sarkisian's successor could be Locksley, the former New Mexico head coach and Maryland offensive coordinator, who also was an offensive analyst at Alabama this past season. Locksley was named co-offensive coordinator by Saban on Jan. 17, but his specific responsibilities have yet to be detailed.
Billy Napier was Alabama's receivers coach the past four years and was Clemson's offensive coordinator during the 2009-10 seasons, but he left late last month to become the offensive coordinator at Arizona State. Saban has not filled that vacancy, either.
Should Saban choose to hire an offensive coordinator without previous ties to him, he has two former Oregon head coaches — Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich — to select from. Another option could be George Godsey, a former Georgia Tech quarterback and the Houston Texans' offensive coordinator until last month.
Godsey was a Yellow Jackets teammate of current Alabama offensive line coach Brent Key.
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.