Auburn may be looking at its hated in-state rival for its next head coach. Steve Sarkisian, Alabama football’s offensive coordinator under Nick Saban, is expected to be involved with the Tigers opening.
Auburn let go over Gus Malzahn after eight years as Tigers head coach. He was the offensive coordinator when the Cam Newton-led Tigers won the national championship, and as head coach, led the team to a 68-35 record with one conference title, two SEC West titles, and a national championship berth.
It was Sarkisian, and not Saban, leading the way for Alabama against Auburn in this year’s 42-13 Iron Bowl win for the Crimson Tide. Saban was out after testing positive for COVID-19 ahead of the game. The team didn’t really miss a beat with Sark filling in as interim head coach.
“Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian is expected to interview for the Auburn job after this weekend’s SEC championship game,” AL.com reports this afternoon. He is expected to be up against Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and Louisiana head coach Billy Napier for the job.
— Matt Zenitz (@mzenitz) December 18, 2020
Steele has been identified as a frontrunner for the job early in the search, much to the chagrin of many Auburn fans who want a bigger splash hire. Sarkisian would probably fit the bill there.
Sarkisian is the latest high-profile head coach to go through the Nick Saban career rejuvenation machine. He previously served as head coach at Washington from 2009-13, going 34-29 in what was very much a rebuilding job at the time, with four straight bowl appearances to finish his tenure in Seattle. He parlayed that position into the USC head coaching job, though he was let go after just five games into his second season, after a number of incidents involving alcohol. After a year with the Crimson Tide as an analyst, and then Lane Kiffin’s replacement as OC, Sarkisian spent two years with the Atlanta Falcons, before returning to Saban’s staff ahead of the 2019-20 season.
With previous head coaching experience, and time under both Nick Saban and Pete Carroll, Sarkisian is a very interesting candidate, albeit one with baggage of his own. We’ll see if he plays a big factor in this search, or if Steele is still the focus of Auburn’s search.
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