It was announced then that he would continue as Alabama's offensive coordinator through the playoffs, but that changed after a sluggish 24-7 semifinal victory over Washington in Saturday's Peach Bowl.
Somehow, through a 14-0 season, Saban will have two offensive coordinators from the unforeseen Los Angeles-Tuscaloosa pipeline, and two coordinators who share the distinction of having been fired by former Southern California athletic director Pat Haden: Kiffin at a private Los Angeles airport after a loss in late September 2013, and Sarkisian by email in a mid-October 2015 after some alcohol-related incidents and a missed practice. If he's not heavily involved in the everyday planning for the national title, it might be best to make a clean break.
Steve Sarkisian, who was named Kiffin's successor, will be in charge of Alabama's offense for the championship game against Clemson.
In a teleconference on Tuesday, a reporter asked Swinney "what challenges present themselves" in prepping for a team that's swapped OCs on such short notice.
"I guess you've got some nuances that might be a little bit different maybe from a play call or something like that, but it's not like they're going to come out and run the triple option", he joked. They're going to do what they do.
However, some might argue Sarkisian just needs to keep it simple: give the ball to Scarbrough and let the Crimson Tide defense do its job on the other side of the ball. I have no clue, but any boost Clemson can get, even perceived, has to be welcomed in the rematch. "You're not gonna veer too far, and why would they?" Sure, Smart's and Herman's were as well, but they were leaving their respective bosses on good terms. "They've won 26 in a row. Me being on TV and being in the national championship did way more for me tonight than say somebody who wasn't".
The challenges of trying to win a title with a young passer are undeniable, Swinney said.
It might be painful, but ripping off the Band-Aid and removing any potential for drama could be the best thing for the players and coaches moving forward. "You try but then you're mind's thinking about 'OK I've got to interview this guy later ... here's a list of recruits you've got to watch at night.' Versus watching extra film for the opponent and stuff".
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Sarkisian doesn't have the time or a reason to make wholesale changes..
Saban and Kiffin may be the only ones who know the answers to those questions.
One interesting storyline coming into the national championship is the same one that has remained with the team throughout the season- true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts.
It'd be weird to try to install a massive scheme change at any point, but it'd be downright freakish to do it right now.
And he did struggle in the most recent game. The offense only scored 17 points against Washington in the Peach Bowl, and some tweaks are surely in order, but tweaks are always in order.
Kirby Smart's exit from Alabama almost costed them the Clemson game.
Bama's offense is risky, because it's Bama's offense. It just happens to be the biggest game of the season.