Well, the news came down not long ago that Steve Sarkisian, who was hired as offensive coordinator at Alabama and has only coached in the National Championship game, is leaving Alabama (after only 36 days on the job) to become the new offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons.
That was a quick turnaround.
Honestly, Mike Lombardi asked the best question about this: Does Sark get this opportunity if Alabama had not hired him to replace Lane Kiffin? Remember, it was just the 2015 season when he was fired for drinking on the job at USC. He started this season as a television analyst and quickly jumped on at Alabama as an off-field offensive analyst.
It is somewhat fitting though: Atlanta lost the Super Bowl because their offense couldn’t stay on the field (thanks to a lack of running), and now their hiring an offensive coordinator that lost the National Championship game because Alabama’s offense couldn’t stay on the field.
So who is going to be the next offensive coordinator at Alabama? Here’s the quick rundown of options:
Mike Locksley (current offensive assistant at Alabama)
Locksley is a former head coach at Virginia, and was also an offensive analyst this season for the Crimson Tide. He’s already on staff, knows the players, knows the offense, and is comfortable with what Saban wants to do. He was just moved into an assistant coach position, but has not been given a title. He would be able to move in seamlessly.
Billy Napier (current offensive coordinator at Arizona St)
Napier has been Alabama’s wide receivers coach for several years after previously being the offensive coordinator at Clemson. He just left to take the job at Arizona St, but he’s comfortable with Nick Saban, and we all know that Alabama can outbid Arizona St for the services of an offensive coordinator, if they so desire. Napier would be just as seamless as Locksley in transitioning to the OC position under Saban.
Mark Helfrich (former Oregon head coach)
All the rumors were Helfrich to Auburn and Helfrich to Tennessee this offseason. He was Chip Kelly’s offensive coordinator at Oregon, and took over the job, leading the Ducks to the national championship game against Ohio St in 2014, the first year of the CFB Playoff. He runs a faster version of offense than what Saban would prefer, but with the talent that’s on board, you know he could help this team become even more explosive. How long would he stay at Alabama, and can he recruit? All good questions for him – he wasn’t able to capitalize on Oregon’s success and turn it into recruiting success… but Alabama’s a lot different than Oregon.
Chip Kelly (former Oregon, Eagles and 49ers head coach)
Everyone on social media is bringing up the fact that Chip Kelly visited with Saban the week before the first playoff game against Washington. He and Saban are friends and have known each other for a while, but I believe this would be a clash of the egos, and it would only be a one year rental, because he’s going to get a big time coaching job next season, and probably in the SEC. The only way this becomes a possibility is if Saban is planning on retiring and Kelly is brought in as the coach-in-waiting. But, honestly, I don’t see Saban going anywhere for quite some time.
George Godsey (former Houston Texans offensive coordinator)
Godsey is apparently close with current Alabama TE coach Brent Key. They worked at UCF together under George O’Leary, and Saban shook up his staff last year to bring in Key, who he thinks of very highly. Godsey was also an assistant under Belichick in New England from 2011-2013 before taking over as QB coach and, ultimately, OC under Bill O’Brien with the Texans. He’s learned under some good ones, and I don’t know that you can completely blame him for the Texans lack of firepower on offense this year. After all, they did have Brock Osweiler at QB. He would be another good fit.
So who else might be in on this? These seem the most likely – leave comments below and let us know who you’re thinking it may be.