College football's national championship showdown between Alabama and Ohio State on Jan. 11 will be the last with Steve Sarkisian as the offensive coordinator for Nick Saban's Crimson Tide.
Sarkisian was introduced Saturday afternoon as the new head coach at Texas, which parted ways Saturday morning with Tom Herman after four seasons. Herman's tenure with the Longhorns yielded a 32-18 record with four bowl victories but also a not-so-dominant 22-13 mark in Big 12 games and a 1-4 record against rival Oklahoma.
"Steve Sarkisian is one of the top offensive minds in the game of football, which he has proved over and over during his time with USC, Atlanta, and most recently, Alabama," Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte said through a release. "We are confident our players and coaches will thrive under his leadership and in response to his energy and passion for the game."
Sarkisian, 46, is a former head coach at Washington and Southern California who was named last week as the recipient of the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation's top assistant coach in college football. In his two seasons calling plays, the Tide had scored 35 or more points 24 straight times until Friday's 31-14 win over Notre Dame at the Rose Bowl in Arlington, Texas, a College Football Playoff semifinal.
Alabama this season has averaged a program record 535.0 yards and 48.2 points per game, which have transpired against 11 Southeastern Conference opponents and the Fighting Irish. The Tide have produced 72 offensive touchdowns, an average of six a game, and they possess three of the top five finishers in the Heisman Trophy balloting with receiver DeVonta Smith, quarterback Mac Jones and running back Najee Harris. The award winner will be announced Tuesday night on ESPN, with quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence of Clemson and Kyle Trask of Florida joining Jones and Smith as the four finalists.
"This is a unique and compelling opportunity to lead this storied program to the next level, competing once again amongst the best in college football," Sarkisian, who was offensive coordinator for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons in 2017-18, said in the Longhorns' release.
Sarkisian had opportunities a year ago to be a head coach but elected to remain in Tuscaloosa. He received a pay bump to $2.5 million in August after making $1.65 million in the 2019 season.
"At the end of the day, I've just tried to be a sponge here," Sarkisian said last week. "Coach Saban is the best to have ever done this, and I've just tried to be the best version of Steve Sarkisian every day that I show up and be a sponge into all the aspects of the program that he has his fingerprints on, which is literally everything.
"The biggest thing I've learned from him is his ability to balance all aspects of the program."
Next season's Tide offensive coordinator will be the fifth in six years.
Herman was Ohio State's offensive coordinator for that program's most recent meeting with Alabama, which was the Buckeyes' 42-35 upset triumph in the Sugar Bowl national semifinal after the 2014 season. The Buckeyes would go on to thump Oregon 42-20 in the championship game of the inaugural four-team playoff.
Texas, which has a home-and-home series scheduled with Alabama in 2022-23, reportedly will spend nearly $25 million buying out Herman and his staff.
Alabama opened as an eight-point favorite against Ohio State. ... Jones has set a Tide single-season record with 4,036 passing yards, topping the 3,966 that Tua Tagovailoa amassed in 2018. ... Sophomore kicker Will Reichard has made 14 consecutive field goals, matching BYU's Jake Oldroyd for the longest active Division I streak.