Despite all of the unreported drama around Alabama and Lane Kiffin for the past few weeks, there’s really only one reason he’s headed for Florida Atlantic a week ahead of schedule: Nick Saban thinks he can win that way.
“We made the decision because it was in the best interest of our players, our program and for Lane for him to assume his duties at Florida Atlantic,” Saban told ESPN on Monday. “We mutually agreed that this was best for both programs.”
Steve Sarkisian, named a couple of weeks ago to replace Kiffin, will take over for Monday night’s national championship game against Clemson.
Saban said Sarkisian, who had already been named Kiffin’s successor, will be in charge of Alabama’s game plan for the championship game.
Kiffin said he expects an easy transition for Sarkisian, noting how Sarkisian’s personality should mesh better with Saban’s than his did.
“I’m not saying it’s bad with him at all,” Kiffin said earlier about the change. “I would say Sark manages people better than I do.”
“This wasn’t an easy decision and we appreciate the way Lane handled this in terms of doing what is best for our team,” Saban said in a statement from Alabama. “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.”
Kiffin this is the best move for everyone.
“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 in the statement. “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!”
In the semifinal game against Washington,
Saban could be seen on the sideline yelling at Kiffin during the first quarter after a three-and-out on the opening series.
Against Washington, the Crimson Tide’s offense struggled as quarterback Jalen Hurts had a season-low 57 yards passing.
Make no mistake about it, Saban felt something wasn’t right.
And making the change gives Alabama the best chance to win the game.
In an unprecedented move, Saban will add another notch to his coaching lore if it works by making the coordinator change at a time most wouldn’t dare.
But that’s only if it works.
Which Saban feels it will.