Steve Sarkisian

There is no way that Steve Sarkisian could ever forget. With Nick Saban and the No. 1 ranked Crimson Tide visiting this week, there’s no way he could. When people talk about college football, they usually talk about Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide. He has led them to six national titles, changed the game in countless ways, and created a dynasty the likes of which the sport may never see again.

However, for Sarkisian, Saban is merely the man who “saved my career.” In spite of the fact that Saturday’s game against Alabama at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium is huge for both teams, and for Sarkisian in particular as he tries to prove that the Longhorns are headed in the right direction after a disappointing debut season, the coach maintains that he will always be indebted to his former boss.

Sarkisian told ESPN, “I have stated this countless times, but if it weren’t for Nick Saban, I would not be the head coach at Texas.” When I was having trouble even securing an interview, he took a chance on me. Many times I felt like giving up and never returning to the position of head coach. I’ve decided I’ll never lead an offence again as a coordinator. No one will hire me again.

When I needed someone to trust in me again, Coach Saban gave me a chance. As is well known, USC fired Sarkisian five games into the 2015 season because of his drinking problems, with then-athletic director Pat Haden citing that Sarkisian’s “behaviour did not match USC’s standards” and that Sarkisian was “not healthy.” In regards to his alcoholism, Sarkisian has been completely transparent with his Texas players, he said.

Everything Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian said to the media MondayFor the most part, my players can count on me, to be honest with them. My door is always open to you. The truth is, I am,” Sarkisian declared. “I tell the tale of where I was in my career when I was 33 or 34 years old and the head coach at the University of Washington, then being fired publically on national television at USC and then checking into a treatment facility for 30 days.”

Sarkisian needed a fresh start, and Nick Saban, who has revived the careers of several other coaches, provided that opportunity for him at Alabama. “Sark is the one who did the work,” Saban said to ESPN.

As we have done for countless others, we were there to help him and made sure he had the resources he needed. But listen, he rescued his own career by doing a terrific job for us and rehabilitating himself professionally, and I’m not just talking about emotionally, but professionally in a very, really positive way that influenced our programme immensely and helped us be successful here.

The Longhorns opened the season with a 52-10 win over Louisiana-Monroe, and Sarkisian was given a second opportunity by Saban. The first occurred when, in a move that caught Sarkisian by surprise, Saban hired him as an offensive analyst right before the 2016 season began. The fact was that he was set to be a part of Fox’s broadcast team that year, with no opportunities to coach.

On his own mini-tour that summer, he visited the campuses of Florida and Alabama in addition to the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Atlanta Falcons.

Interestingly enough, he ended his journey in Tuscaloosa Sarkisian explained that he would spend anywhere from three to five days in each city in order to “get into where my pals were coaching and attempt to stay connected to the game.”

As the saying goes, “I’d never experienced an August where I wasn’t in training camp.” Going back to visit his old friend Lane Kiffin, the Tide’s offensive coordinator, was a major motivation for his trip to Alabama. Since working together as offensive coordinators for the Trojans under Pete Carroll at USC, their friendship has only deepened.

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Saban used Sarkisian’s time in Alabama to have him study the footage and sketch plays on a whiteboard. Every day it was, “Watch this, watch that, and tell me what you think of this, what you think of that,” as Sarkisian put it. When it comes to football, Coach Saban doesn’t miss a thing. Your mind is always being probed by him.

To wrap things up, Sarkisian credited Kiffin as being “sort of the champion behind a lot of it” and suggested that he join Alabama’s team as an analyst. It turned out that Saban had made an offer, but Sarkisian wasn’t sure if he wanted to accept it.

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To take the job at Alabama was “one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” after much deliberation, Sarkisian said. He was unaware that after a 24-7 win over Washington in the College Football Playoff semifinals, Saban would fire Kiffin and put him in charge of play calling for the national title game later that season.

After agreeing to become the head coach at Florida Atlantic, Kiffin wanted to stay on for the title game, but after the Tide’s offensive struggles in their victory against the Huskies, Saban had other plans.

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