Steve Sarkisian describes lessons from his mistakes, how Alabama job came up

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Saturday January 07, 2017


Steve Sarkisian says “Life is good” regarding his personal life.

Saturday was the first time in over a year that Sarkisian spoke to the media since his dismissal at USC in 2015 amid substance-abuse issues and his arrival at Alabama in the summer. Lane Kiffin’s departure for FAU has Sarkisian moving from analyst to offensive coordinator for Monday’s national title game against Clemson.

His time away from coaching reportedly included rehab. It also showed him what football meant to him.

“I really found out I love this game,” he said. “I’ve been doing it a long time, as a player and a coach. When you’re not around it, not in the locker room, not showing up to work every day, not in spring ball, not in summer camp in June, not in training camp, those are things I dearly missed.

“This season, being in the role I was in, I wasn’t able to be on the field coaching and doing those things I love. More than anything, it gave me a point of reference that I love coaching football, being around the players and coaches, I love the preparation, I love the schematics, I love the emotion of the game. And to have this opportunity again, I’m very grateful.”

Sarkisian was set to be an analyst for Fox Sports 1 this fall, but he wanted to get around football, so he visited several teams in August. That included Florida, the Atlanta Falcons, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Alabama, among others.

After meeting with Kiffin and Nick Saban, the analyst role came up.

“I was planning on doing TV this fall,” he said. “I just had never had an August in my life where I wasn’t at training camp. So I visited a few places in August and looked at things and wanted to see how other people did things. One of my stops was Alabama. I had a great visit with Lane and Coach Saban. The talks were in play after that. When the job opportunity came, I felt like this would be a good spot to learn different things.”

When it was announced in Week 2, Saban said they would give Sarkisian the personal support he needed, but also that Sarkisian knew he couldn’t make a similar mistake again.

Kiffin said recently that when he first talked with Sark about the analyst role, Kiffin brought up the possibility he might not be back in 2017, so there could be an opportunity for Sarkisian to move into a full-time role. That happened when Kiffin got the FAU job, but it was set for next year.

Saban abruptly decided to move on from Kiffin after the semifinal against Washington, so now Sark is calling plays in the national title game just a few months after not having a job. Sark will call plays from the field and knows they can’t do everything, but he knows the offense, the terminology and the players. He believes he'll become a head coach again, but for now, the last step in this redemption story is Monday’s national title game.

When I put my head down, I want to make sure we’ve covered the things we’re capable of covering,” Sarkisian said. “You’re not going to tackle every single thing every single day, so it’s being mindful of what we’re trying to get done the following day and making sure we’re covering them that evening, so when the morning comes, we know this is what we did last night, we revisit, and then get ready for practice.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.