After only one game as the University of Alabama’s offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian is off to the NFL, accepting a job as the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive coordinator Tuesday.
Sarkisian was scheduled to make $1 million in 2017, The Tuscaloosa News learned. He was paid $83,333.34 as his monthly salary on Jan. 31, 2017, according to university records. As an offensive analyst, Sarkisian was earning $35,000 per year. His salary was upgraded when he assumed offensive coordinator duties from Lane Kiffin prior to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
He was named Alabama’s offensive coordinator in waiting following Kiffin accepting the Florida Atlantic head coaching job in December. When Nick Saban and Kiffin parted ways following the Peach Bowl, Sarkisian served as offensive coordinator in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game against Clemson.
All in all, he coached one game for Alabama and served as offensive analyst for 13 games.
“We appreciate all Coach Sarkisian did for our program during his time here,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said in a 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.”
The Falcons hired Sarkisian to replace Kyle Shanahan, who took the San Francisco 49ers head coaching job following the Super Bowl. He’ll work for Dan Quinn, who coached for Nick Saban for two years as defensive line coach when the two were together at the Miami Dolphins in 2005-06.
In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Quinn said he first began thinking of hiring Sarkisian during the spring when Sarkisian was on a tour of different college and NFL programs. Atlanta was one of the stops on his tour.
Before he made contact, though, Quinn said he cleared it with Saban.
“I had a conversation with Nick and Nick’s such a pro. …In terms of my respect for Nick, this is something I approached Nick about first before I reached out to Sark,” Quinn said. “He said, ‘I understand what you have to do for your organization.’ It’s fortunate that we have that good of a relationship and I was able to communicate with him about it.”
It’s the latest chapter in a tumultuous period for Sarkisian that saw him fired as the Southern Cal head coach in 2015 due to substance abuse issues. He became an offensive analyst at Alabama in 2016, beginning after the first game of the season.
Alabama now has two offensive assistant coach spots to fill. Sarkisian is the fourth offensive assistant to leave from the 2016 Crimson Tide staff, joining Kiffin, wide receivers coach Billy Napier – who left to take the offensive coordinator job at Arizona State – and offensive tackles/tight ends coach Mario Cristobal, who took the co-offensive coordinator job at Oregon.
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