Lane Kiffin: 'I definitely would' hire ex-USC coach Steve Sarkisian

BySam Khan Jr. ESPN logo
Sunday, January 10, 2016

PHOENIX -- Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin said Saturday he would hire former USC coach Steve Sarkisian if he ever has the opportunity.

"Oh, I definitely would [hire him]," Kiffin said, discussing Sarkisian as one of myriad topics covered during media day Saturday for the College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T. "People go through things, and they happen. There are all kinds of comeback stories. ... Hopefully he'll be one of them."

Kiffin said he thinks Sarkisian, who was fired by USC on Oct. 12 amid concerns related to his alcohol use, wants to return to coaching.

"People go through things. It doesn't mean he can't coach," Kiffin said. "The guy is a great playcaller. I always go back to his last year at Washington. In the history of the school there had been six games of over 600 yards. He had six in the same season.

"There's no question about that. There's no question about his relationships with the players, quarterback development. We all go through things, and I can tell talking to him that he has come back stronger and he'll be even better."

Kiffin said he has talked to Sarkisian a number of times and that Sarkisian was invited to visit an Alabama practice last month to "come watch practice, get him back in ball and stuff like that," but Sarkisian declined.

"It was around the holidays, and he had his kids and stuff," Kiffin said. "He thought about it but didn't come. He's been great. He watches our games."

Kiffin said he even received some second-half suggestions in a text message from Sarkisian during halftime of Alabama's 38-0 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic victory over Michigan State on Dec. 31.

He wouldn't say if he used any of Sarkisian's ideas.

"I got to be careful because I think you can't have electronic communication,"Kiffin said jokingly.

To hire Sarkisian, Kiffin would need to be a head coach. Asked if he was contacted about head-coaching openings after the regular season, Kiffin said, "I mean, you have conversations and stuff, and that's why you have an agent to deal with all of that stuff, but I'm not going into all that."

"I have a great job," Kiffin added. "So any time that stuff comes up, I remind myself that I have a great job with great players and a great head coach and there are only two teams still playing, so we're fortunate to be here."