FalconsPro Bowl WR Julio Jones, a former Alabama star, is convinced that the Crimson Tide's 11th-hour move to replace Lane Kiffin with Steve Sarkisian at offensive coordinator won't adversely affect Nick Saban's team in its quest for a national championship. Alabama will play Clemson on Monday in the College Football Playoff title game in Tampa.
"Small thing," Jones said of the move on Wednesday, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "... It don't matter. They're going to run the same plays anyway."
Jones played for the Crimson Tide from 2008-2010, and won a national championship there to close out the 2009 season. But his college years were in the pre-CFP era, so while his Alabama team had a few weeks to prepare for Texas in a BCS title game, this year's Crimson Tide, having won a playoff semifinal over Washington on Saturday, gets barely more than a week to get ready for Clemson. They'll do it without Kiffin, as it was announced on Monday that he won't finish the team's postseason run.
Sarkisian, the former USC and Washington head coach who was once a USC assistant with Kiffin under Pete Carroll, joined Alabama's support staff as an offensive analyst in September. It was a quiet way to renew his career after a 2015 midseason firing at USC that was anything but quiet. Saban chose Sarkisian as Alabama's next offensive coordinator weeks ago after Kiffin accepted the head-coaching job at Florida Atlantic. But at that time, the plan was for Kiffin to complete the postseason at Alabama first.
That changed abruptly Monday.
At Alabama, it's Saban's way or the highway -- "He's the head honcho," Jones said -- and Kiffin took the latter path at the most inopportune time. But the Crimson Tide offense struggled for much of its win over Washington, entering the fourth quarter having scored only one touchdown.
Sarkisian must now make a seamless transition on short notice.
No matter, Jones insists. If he's right, Sarkisian will be the toast of Alabama fans only one game into his new role.