Sarkisian’s Path to the Rose Bowl: From USC to Alabama

Former USC coach Steve Sarkisian will lead Alabama’s offense in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1935.
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Former USC coach Steve Sarkisian will be heading to the Rose Bowl, but this time with the Alabama Crimson Tide. 

Alabama is the number one overall seed in the College Football Playoff, and Sarkisian's high-powered offense is led by quarterback Mac Jones and wide receiver Devonta Smith. Sarkisian's coaching tenure with Alabama has some similarities to his time at USC. So let’s dive in to just how similar his tenures have been, from USC to Alabama.

The Bama offensive coordinator has been to the Rose Bowl before, with the USC Trojans. The Trojans played in five Rose Bowls in six years, and Sarkisian was there for every single trip to Pasadena. 

The one year the Trojans went to the Orange Bowl, Sarkisian was the QB coach with the Oakland Raiders, but came back to Los Angeles the following year.

Sarkisian’s offense is one of the best in the nation, averaging nearly 50 points per game at 49.7, with two players from the same offense in discussion for the Heisman Trophy. 

Alabama has been known to lead with defense, but this year, its been the offense for the SEC powerhouse to have them at 11-0 and favored to win the National Championship. 

Alabama is 1st in the country in 3rd down conversion percentage, completion percentage, 5th in the nation in yards per game, and 2nd in scoring.

Sark’s offense brings Alabama to its first Rose Bowl since 1935, and his first since the 2008-09 game where USC defeated Penn State 38-24. Sarkisian is 4-1 as a coach in the classic bowl game, and will try to pick up another win with the Crimson Tide on New Year’s Day 2021.

Sarkisian has served as quarterback coach, offensive coordinator, assistant coach and head coach during his time at USC. With Alabama, he’s been an offensive assistant, offensive coordinator, QB coach and served as an interim head coach for the Tide earlier this season when Nick Saban missed a game due to COVID-19. 

After heading to Alabama in 2016 following a third stint with the Trojans, Sarkisian left the following year to serve as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons for two years. Just like when he went to Oakland in 2004, to work in the NFL for a short stint.

Lastly, the 46-year old has coached numerous star players on offense that have been NFL draft picks, award winners and sensational college football players. From Matt Leinart to Reggie Bush and JuJu Smith-Schuster to Jerry Jeudy, Mac Jones, Damien Harris, and Devonta Smith. 

The amount of talent that he has coached in his college career is unbelievable, as there are many household names that learned under Sarkisian. Now his focus shifts to one thing, and that is beating Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl at 1:p.m. pacific time in the CFP semifinals. 

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