alabama

The offensive coordinator is one of the most important people on a football team, especially if he’s in charge of offensive play-calling. He’s got to have a good relationship with the quarterback, understand the strengths and weaknesses of all the other players and know the playbook as well as he knows his mother’s name.  He’s the dude whose job is to figure out how to score points, and points are pretty darn pivotal in deciding who wins and who loses.

So with that in mind, it feels like we should talk about the fact that Alabama enters Monday’s national title game against Clemson with a different offensive coordinator than it had all season long.

The Crimson Tide fired mutually parted ways with Lane Kiffin last week, after a tumultuous three-season marriage that nonetheless produced a dynamic and dangerous offense and three berths in the College Football Playoff. Coach Nick Saban replaced Kiffin with Steve Sarkisian, an offensive guru who served as an “analyst” for Alabama this season.

To hear Saban tell it, everything is rolling along just fine. Via ESPN:

“It’s been excellent,” Saban said of the players’ response to Sarkisian, who has been part of the staff as an offensive analyst since early September. “Very positive. Very upbeat. Practice has been good. The energy level has been really good. The attitude has been really, really good.”

While the transition at coordinator was abrupt, Saban said he felt that Sarkisian was well prepared.

“The guy has been with us the whole year, the whole football season,” Saban said. “He knows the offense. He knows the players. He’s worked on the game plans every week and knows the system inside and out and knows the terminology.

Ok yeah, Sarkisian has been around all season taking notes, but the guy hasn’t been on the sideline calling plays in a year and a half, and this feels like an awfully poor time to toss him into a new job. This isn’t a September game against East Carolina, it’s the biggest game of the year, the biggest game of these players’ careers, the national championship game. Even two or three miscues from Sarkisian that would’ve been avoided under Kiffin could cost the Crimson Tide the game against a truly dangerous Clemson team.

Alabama’s offense, led by freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts, already looked shaky last weekend against Washington. Now the Crimson Tide face a better team, without their offensive coordinator. That seems like some reason for worry.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports, MLB.com, SI.com, the Hartford Courant, Baseball Prospectus, Land of 10 and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.