Steve Sarkisian makes first media appearance since return to Alabama

Joey Blackwell

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian made his first media appearance since being rehired by the Crimson Tide at Alabama Football Fan Day in Tuscaloosa.

“It’s great to be back at Alabama obviously,” Sarkisian said. “I think back to a couple of years ago headed to Atlanta. That was obviously a really tough decision, but I felt like it was an opportunity at that time I couldn’t turn down.

“When this opportunity came back up from Coach [Nick] Saban to come back here to Alabama, it was one that I jumped on.”

When asked about his offensive philosophy, Sarkisian emphasized running the football, which is something that many of the Alabama faithful will be happy to hear.

“It starts with running the football,” Sarkisian said. “Every year I’ve called plays in college football I’ve always had a 1,000-yard rusher. A, you have to have the ability to run the football. When you can run the football, you can play-action pass. The play-action pass game is a quarterback’s best friend to where defenses are trying to stop the run and now you can creat throwing lanes down the field for explosive plays.

“And an efficient passing game. A high-percentage, completion-type passing game where you get the ball in your playmaker’s hands in space to go create plays.”

After serving as an offensive analyst for the 2016 season for the Crimson Tide, Sarkisian was named offensive coordinator following Lane Kiffin’s departure. Sarkisian stepped into the role in the National Championship game against Clemson, which Alabama lost narrowly 35-31.

A month later, Sarkisian was hired as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons. After two seasons, Sarkisian returned to Tuscaloosa, where he was named the full-time offensive coordinator under Saban once again.

“I’ve always had a lot of respect for Sark,” Saban said. “He’s very well organized, he does a good job with the players, he’s a good teacher, he’s got a really good personality, he’s easy to work with, I think he does a great job of managing the staff.

“Sark did a really good job when he was here before and I’ve been very pleased with the job that he’s done since he’s been here.”

While Saban says that he’s pleased with Sarkisian’s efforts thus far wearing the offensive coordinator hat, Sarkisian says that he’s excited to work with his mentor, Saban.

“I’m looking forward to working with coach Saban again,” Sarkisian said. “He’s a great mentor of mine, somebody you can obviously learn a great deal from, the players, our entire coaching staff.

“[I’m] excited about the opportunity. It’s good to get going again.”

Coach Saban isn’t the only person on the Crimson Tide who approves of Sark. Junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and redshirt sophomore quarterback Mac Jones already have their coordinator’s back

Tagovailoa, who has known Sarkisian since the coordinator’s days recruiting him at USC, said that since their previous relationship has helped make the transition with the offense an easier one than with previous coaches.

“It’s been really good [working with Sark],” Tagovailoa said. “I’ve had a relationship with coach Sark since he recruited me at USC since my sophomore year in high school, and when I had the opportunity to come here he was here, too. He ended up going and coming back, but the relationship that we’ve had since my sophomore year has carried over. It’s made the transition a lot more comfortable.”

Jones echoed Tagovailoa’s sentiments.

“I think Sark does a great job,” Jones said. “He’s a smart guy, and I think a lot of his plays have complements. Some offensive coordinators will run a play and there’s nothing to match it or disguise it with and I think coach Sark does a good job with his motions and formations and things to kind of change up a look for the defense so that they can’t check in to something.

“Like any coach, they have a little wrinkle to the offense but we’ve kind of kept the same style of offense since I’ve been here and he’s done a good job of switching between what we had the last couple of years and how he’s putting in his stuff. [It’s been a] really smooth transition, and coach Sark has done a really good job installing all of our plays.”

Sarkisian will be calling the plays in his first game back as offensive coordinator on August 31 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga., when Alabama takes on Duke in the season opener.