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Steve Sarkisian Feeling Much Better After Heart Surgery, Happy to Be at Alabama: "This is a Special Place"

The Crimson Tide's play caller was made available to the media on Tuesday evening to discuss his recent open-heart surgery and why he made the decision to stay at the Capstone

Back in July, University of Alabama assistant Steve Sarkisian underwent successful heart surgery to correct a congenital cardiovascular anomaly issue. 

Now, the coach is back on the practice field gearing up for his second season as offensive coordinator at the Capstone. He participated in a Zoom meeting Tuesday evening to share with the media about how he discovered he needed surgery and what the recovery has been like.

"I think it is one of the values of being at the University of Alabama," Sarkisian said. "We do an extensive executive physical and Coach Saban is the one who really promotes that. For me, going and doing the physical, you think being 46 years old it is kind of ho-hum. The tests detected something in my heart and through further tests recognized I had to have surgery. I think, for the most part, Dr. Richardson was fantastic. 

"What comes out of it is, we can feel healthy, I felt great, and at the end of the day, I had to have open-heart surgery. You try to surround yourself with the best people. Coming out of the surgery, I have tried to follow the protocols, for my doctor, and the steps I am suppose to be doing. This week is going to be eight weeks out on Thursday, and then, the protocols here at the University. 

"I do not know if there is anyone who abides by the COVID rules we have more than me. All in all, I feel healthy. I feel great. It allowed me to lose some weight so I feel good about that. I am a little lighter on my feet at practice. 

"I am very fortunate I had that physical. Very fortunate I had a great doctor to do the surgery and the people who surrounded me. At the end of the day, life goes on. I feel very good." 

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Having a heightened awareness now, Sarkisian knows the importance of following safety guidelines and having your vitals checked is especially important in the COVID-19 era. 

“Well, there are some pretty simple rules that if we all just buy into, and that’s all I’ve been trying to do, life really isn’t that difficult," Sarkisian said. "Wear a mask. Wash your hands and watch your distance from the next person. At that point, if we could all just do those things, like my life is pretty comfortable. I’m not one to go into really crowded places and have a bunch of people around me without masks on and I don’t know if they’ve washed their hands. I try to use hand sanitizer and wash my hands. I try to keep my mask on when I’m around other people. 

"Even when I’m around the players, sometimes it’s uncomfortable being on the field with my mask on but I know it’s the best thing for me and it’s the best thing for them. I don’t know if it’s a public service announcement or not but if we could all just do that, things would be a lot simpler and a lot easier for all of us."

Sarkisian also had a few opportunities to become a head coach again at the Power Five level, namely Colorado, but the decision to stay at Alabama had a lot to do with what Saban and the school have done for him. 

"You know, it’s always flattering when people express interest in you," Sarkisian said. "And I had, obviously, a couple of schools that wanted to interview and have those discussions but at the end of the day, this is a special place and I came here for stability in my career. I was coming off of my two-year stint at Alabama. I had already left Coach Saban once in 2016 and I just felt like the timing wasn’t right. He’s been too good to me. Alabama’s been too good to me. I love these players. The administration has been tremendous so all in all, we’ve got a lot left to accomplish. For me personally, this just felt like the right thing at the right time. 

"This is where I need to be right now in my life. I’m with a really good mentor. I learn so much every single day and it’s a joy coaching the players I get to coach. So all in all, the decision is always a little difficult when you have to make a decision to be a head coach or not when you’re an assistant but this one was probably a little easier than others because of where we are, the University of Alabama is a special place and we’ve got great players. It’s an awesome administration. Tremendous fans and we’ve got a chance to be pretty good this year and in years to come.”