ATLANTA (Yahoo Sports) — The Atlanta Falcons, fresh off a collapse in the Super Bowl, hired the offensive coordinator from an Alabama team that blew a lead in the final seconds of last season’s collegiate national championship game.
Former University of Washington and University of Southern California head coach Steve Sarkisian was hired to replace Kyle Shanahan as the Falcons’ offensive coordinator. The new was first reported by Jordan Schultz of Huffington Post and confirmed by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Falcons made the hire official on February 7. Shanahan left to become the San Francisco 49ers’ new head coach.
The hiring is an interesting one, mostly because Sarkisian has very little NFL experience and his reputation took a big hit as he was fired from USC. Sarkisian spent 2004 as the Oakland Raiders’ quarterbacks coach; the rest of his experience is in college.
Sarkisian had a good run for a while in college, as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at USC for a few years, then he went 34-29 as head coach at Washington, showing enough steady improvement for USC to hire him as its head coach. That relationship ended badly, as Sarkisian took a leave of absence in 2015 and was eventually fired after some alcohol-related incidents.
Sarkisian ended up at Alabama, and was the team’s offensive coordinator for the championship game loss to Clemson last month. Falcons coach Dan Quinn previously worked with Alabama head coach Nick Saban, so perhaps that connection helped the Falcons home in on Sarkisian as Shanahan’s replacement, although an SB Nation report said the relationship between Saban and Sarkisian had deteriorated over system philosophy.
Former Oregon and 49ers coach Chip Kelly had also been a reported candidate to replace Shanahan.