Steve Sarkisian’s tenure as Alabama’s offensive coordinator will last all of one game, as the Atlanta Falcons announced Tuesday that he will replace Kyle Shanahan as the team’s offensive coordinator. As expected, the San Francisco 49ers officially hired Shanahan as their new head coach Monday, one day after the Falcons’ loss to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
Sarkisian, whose only previous NFL experience was a one-year stint as the Oakland Raiders’ quarterbacks coach in 2004, replaced Lane Kiffin as Alabama’s offensive coordinator for its loss to Clemson in the College Football Playoff championship game last month. He previously had been an offensive analyst on Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban’s staff during the 2016 regular season but was promoted after Kiffin’s departure for Florida Atlantic.
Alcohol problems derailed Sarkisian’s head coaching career in 2015, when Southern California fired him in the middle of the season after a number of instances in which he reportedly was drunk at university events or during team meetings. Sarkisian came to USC from the University of Washington, where he was head coach from 2009 to 2013.
Sarkisian was set to become a television analyst for Fox Sports 1 before taking the Alabama job and visited a number of NFL teams during training camp last year, the Falcons among them.
“I was planning on doing TV this fall,” Sarkisian said before the national title game, per CoachingSearch.com. “I just had never had an August in my life where I wasn’t at training camp. So I visited a few places in August and looked at things and wanted to see how other people did things. One of my stops was Alabama. I had a great visit with Lane and Coach Saban. The talks were in play after that. When the job opportunity came, I felt like this would be a good spot to learn different things.”
According to Rapoport, Falcons Coach Dan Quinn had talked with Sarkisian earlier this winter.
Alabama now will be on its third offensive coordinator of the year, which is all of five weeks old. Kiffin, who had accepted the FAU job before the College Football Playoffs, led the Crimson Tide’s offense in its national semifinal win over Washington but then left for his new job before the title game against Clemson. Alabama surrendered a 24-14 fourth-quarter lead and was outgained by 135 yards in a 35-31 loss.