The Atlanta Falcons have hired former UW coach Steve Sarkisian as offensive coordinator, the team announced Wednesday.
In a surprise move, the Atlanta Falcons announced Tuesday morning they have hired former UW head coach Steve Sarkisian as offensive coordinator.
That assures Sarkisian will return to Seattle in a coaching role for the first time since he left UW following the 2013 season to become the head coach at USC. USC did not play at Washington during Sarkisian’s time with the Trojans — he was fired early in the 2015 season after showing up to a team meeting under the influence of alcohol. But the Seahawks are due to host the Falcons again in 2017 — dates and times of games will be set later in the year, likely April.
Sarkisian had been named Alabama’s offensive coordinator following the team’s win over Washington in the Peach Bowl, or the semifinals of the College Football Playoff, when Lane Kiffin was dismissed after having been named head coach at Florida Atlantic University. Sarkisian worked as the OC for Alabama’s national title game loss to Clemson.
SBNation, though, reported Tuesday morning that the relationship between Sarkisian and Alabama head coach Nick Saban had “deteriorated” following the loss to Clemson, compelling Sarkisian to pursue other options (Saban released a statement later in the day saying simply that he thanked Sarkisian for his efforts at Alabama). Sarkisian joined the Alabama staff last fall as an offensive analyst before being promoted to OC when Kiffin departed (he was named as OC to follow Kiffin on Dec. 16, prior to the UW game, but Kiffin served as the OC in the win against the Huskies).
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With Atlanta, Sarkisian will replace Kyle Shanahan, who on Monday was named as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
Sarkisian joins Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn, who worked for the Seahawks for three years when Sarkisian was head coach at UW — in 2009-10 as defensive line coach and 2013 as defensive coordinator (Quinn also spent the 2014 season as the DC with the Seahawks before leaving for Atlanta).
Sarkisian spent seven seasons as an assistant at USC under Pete Carroll, for whom Quinn worked with the Seahawks. Quinn also is close with Jim Mora, another friend of Sarkisian’s. In January, Sarkisian noted that before taking the job at Alabama in September he had toured a few college and pro teams, spending some time watching practice and talking to coaches, with Atlanta one of the NFL clubs he visited.
Sarkisian has just one season of experience in the NFL, working as the quarterbacks coach of the Oakland Raiders in 2004.
There had been reports that the Falcons were considering former Oregon coach Chip Kelly as OC — he was fired by the 49ers following the 2016 season.
Instead, the Falcons are going with Sarkisian, who was fired a USC after going 12-6 in one season and part of another with the Trojans and then spending the rest of the 2015 season out of football.
Sarkisian was 34-29 as UW’s coach from 2009-13, taking over for Tyrone Willingham and leading the Huskies to bowl games his last four seasons before leaving for USC.