BY SPNW Staff 10:08AM 02/07/2017

Quinn hires Steve Sarkisian as Atlanta’s OC

Former University of Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian will join former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn in Atlanta. Sarkisian replaces offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, now with the 49ers.

Former Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian will join the Atlanta Falcons. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest file

The Atlanta Falcons Tuesday agreed to terms with Steve Sarkisian to become their offensive coordinator, replacing Kyle Shanahan, who took the head coaching job for the San Francisco 49ers Monday. Sarkisian, head coach at the University of Washington from 2009-13, served as Alabama’s OC in the national championship game against Clemson after replacing Lane Kiffin.

Hired by Nick Saban to serve as a special “offensive analyst” last year, Sarkisian became Alabama’s OC just before the Tide’s 35-31 loss to Tigers in the title game when Saban ousted Kiffin, who earlier agreed to coach Florida Atlantic. Sarkisian was expected to stay with Alabama, but Shanahan’s move to San Francisco created an opportunity for Sarkisian to coach the NFL’s top-rated offense.

Sarkisian has a personal relationship with Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn. According to ESPN and the Washington Post, Sarkisian visited with Quinn at the Falcons’ training camp in August and spent time with Quinn during his hiatus from football.

Sarkisian took over the Huskies following their 0-12 pratfall in 2008 and coached them to four bowl games and a 34-29 record. He then became head coach at USC in 2014, but was fired in mid-2015 for being drunk at university events. He was set to become an analyst at Fox Sports 1 when Saban brought him to Alabama in 2016 in an analyst position that meant he could have no contact with players.

Sarkisian has only one year of NFL experience, having served as quarterbacks coach of the Oakland Raiders in 2004. Former Oregon and 49ers coach Chip Kelly was also a candidate to replace Shanahan.

Quinn and Sarkisian are former assistants under Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. Sarkisian was on Carroll’s staff from 2001-03, then 2005-08, while Quinn was Seahawks defensive coordinator in 2013-14.

Saban released a statement following Sarkisian’s departure:

“We appreciate all Coach Sarkisian did for our program during his time here. He is an outstanding coach, and we wish him the best in his new role as Atlanta’s offensive coordinator. As always, when we have an opening on our staff, we will use it as an opportunity to go out and hire the best coach available.”

Names surfacing as a possible replacement at Alabama include two former head coaches at Oregon, Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich.




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  • wabubba67

    So strange that he didn’t stick around with Savannah at Alabama after losing the national championship game! I’m sure the NFL game…with the accompanying money and some sense of entitlement among players living the “lifestyle” is exactly the type of healthy environment that an alcoholic should seek. Sark has become a couple continuous punch line to all things football, excess, and alcohol.

  • ReebHerb

    I agree with the opinion Mike Holmgren expressed on radio months ago. Usually, a team has four to six very good candidates they are looking at to fill a coaching vacancy. Why pick the one with baggage that might rear its ugly head at an inopportune time? Mike did consider Steve Sarkisian a very good offensive coach, but…

  • Jamo57

    So does Nick Saban look for another former Pac-12 head coach shown the door in a humiliating way? Sonny Dykes?

    • Wade Gustafson

      Actually, the Oregonian just reported that both Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich could merit some consideration.

      • Jamo57

        Well, Helfrich would certainly fit that bill.

  • Pixdawg13

    Well, I do believe there are several colleges and universities in the Atlanta area, so Sark has a hunting ground.

    Meanwhile, Saban can find someone to coach his way. I can’t see the Chipster fitting in there, but what do I know?

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  • WestCoastBias79

    Well done on failing upward. While maybe not as prestigious as head coach at USC, the Atlanta OC position is probably one of the best assistant gigs in football. He went from rehab to coaching the MVP throwing to Julio Jones in two years.

  • Husky73

    This fits into the category of, “How do these guys keep getting big jobs?” ….aka The Larry Brown syndrome….Sark’s family is on the west coast, he walked out on Washington, got fired and sued USC, coached exactly one game at Alabama and now this? And Kiffin??? His family is also out west. How long before he says or does something catastrophically stupid and loses his new job…only to be hired somewhere else again?

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