Saban dumps Kiffin for title game vs. Clemson

Alyssa BaileyJan 05, 2017

Also, to no one's surprise, it was the first question asked of Saban.

Will the Crimson Tide struggle with continuity after the sudden departure of Lane Kiffin? Hurts has played in multiple big games all season, but those seem to pale in comparison to the stage that he will take on against Clemson.

"Knowing the way I know coach, he's probably so fired up", he said with a laugh. How did Nick Saban's empire of entrenched order and strategic repression wind up providing all the pregame human imperfection leading to next Monday in Tampa? Too many plays were rushed or failed at the end of the play clock.

"We thought we were going to beat Ohio State, me included, and we didn't work like we needed to do", Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen said at the ESPN College Football Awards in early December.

This season's College Football Playoff championship features the nation's two best teams in a rematch of last January's entertaining final, which Alabama won, 45-40. Having played both teams, he knew the Crimson Tide's defense would be the difference. That is the easy excuse to give to the media, but it was apparent that Saban was not pleased with Kiffin's playcalling in the game against the Huskies. Now Alabama will be inserting a new offensive coordinator into the booth.

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Lane Kiffin always was an odd fit at Alabama.

Was he concerned about Kiffin's play calling in the 24-7 win over Washington?

On Monday, Alabama announced he would step down immediately.

Kiffin said he has a great relationship with Saban and believes that he would have returned in 2017 had he not taken the FAU job. As Kiffin put it: "We speak the same language". Sarkisian certainly is familiar with everything in the Alabama playbook and with the abilities (and liabilities) of all Alabama players. (Clemson coach) Dabo Swinney is a good friend of mine.

"It's not like they're gonna come out and run the triple-option. I don't think they're going to do much different". "But he's not a freshman anymore", Swinney said. I mean, he is the complete package of everything that you could ever want or look for in a guy at quarterback and he's been playing for a long time, so he has a tremendous amount of experience. Obviously, we are in a unique situation where we have our next offensive coordinator on staff. Saban quickly nixed that idea.

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"No, it's really not even possible, from a legal standpoint, for him to do those things", Saban said.

In his previous analyst's position - as an adjunct to the staff - Sarkisian was not allowed to participate in practices and games. That's where they make their contribution, in the coaching meetings.

So how much would he really be able to tinker with the offense?

"They're going to play within the scheme of their system", the Clemson coach 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.

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For his part, Saban wasn't offering any clues. Now we have a little over a week for this game and coach and I were just kind of bouncing around and just felt that really I don't know for the players you can do 100 percent.

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