- Jonathan Bachman/AP
The University of Alabama has dismissed Lane Kiffin as offensive coordinator, head coach Nick Saban announced on ESPN
The timing of the move comes as a surprise as it has been made one week before the Crimson Tide are to play Clemson for the national championship.
Kiffin has already been hired as the head coach at Florida Atlantic University. However, it had previously been announced that Kiffin would remain offensive coordinator at Alabama through the College Football Playoff.
Saban called the decision a “mutual agreement,” however, he also suggested that the school initiated the discussion and that the situation had just become too distracting.
“We recognize that this is a very difficult circumstance, in terms of the sort of distractions that you have,” Saban told ESPN. “I think it is a very tough management. We just thought it was in the best interest of our players, our program, and for Lane, to assume his responsibilities as the head coach at Florida Atlantic.”
Saban also indicated that the distractions had been problematic in the weeks leading up to their win over Washington in the playoff semifinal.
“I think the way we went about the last game, whether it was the preparation, the practice, being able to focus on what we need to do, for our team, relative to the distractions that occur when you are trying to hire a staff [at FAU], and recruit at another place, and all these types of things,” Saban said. “Hey, Lane did the best he could. It’s a difficult circumstance. We certainly wish him well. We both had a meeting [Sunday] and again this morning, that we thought this would be in the best interest and mutually agreed for both parties to move on.”
Brett McMurphy of ESPN reports that Kiffin had been late to meetings, and that, along with other incidents, contributed to his early exit.
Steve Sarkisian, the former head coach at USC and Washington, will replace Kiffin as offensive coordinator, effective immediately. Sarkisian, who was hired earlier in the season, had been serving as an analyst and had already been named as Kiffin’s replacement.