Steve Sarkisian Speaks on the Grace of Nick Saban
At some point in everyone's life, they need to be shown some grace by the world around them. Texas Longhorns head coach and former Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian is no exception to that rule.
Sarkisian sat down with Ryan Clark, Fred Taylor, and Channing Crowder of "The Pivot" to discuss a myriad of topics, including how he got past a low point in his life involving alcohol abuse.
Sarkisian told the group that he couldn't even get an interview after he got out of rehab. He had gotten to the point where he had surrendered to pivoting to television, sure that his coaching career was over.
“In 2015, as I came out of that and had got fired at USC, gone to recovery, started working on me personally and then coming out of that, not being able to get a job,” said Sarkisian. “Somewhere in there, somebody’s got an extended olive branch to you."
For those unfamiliar with the situation, Sarkisian was dismissed from USC after giving a drunken, profanity-laced speech to a booster group, showing up to a practice drunk, missing another practice, and allegedly being intoxicated for a game against Arizona State.
"Nick Saban saved my career. He offered me an analyst job, and I was willing to do it for free, but he said, 'I got to pay you $30,000, so you can get benefits.' I said, 'okay. I’ll do that,'" said Sarkisian.
"I’m forever indebted to him because at that time somebody in life has got to give all of us a second chance. It totally changed my perspective. It changed my perspective on how I coach, how I deal with our players because everybody’s going through stuff, right? Everybody’s got stuff. Whatever what your stuff is, you just try to get through it and if I can be that guy that can extend that olive branch to our players as we go through this journey, I always lean back to that time because here’s the greatest coach of all time in our era."
"For whatever reason, he saw something in me to give me a chance to give me a shot. From there, he actually makes me the offensive coordinator for the National Championship game against Clemson," said Sarkisian. "I was an analyst. I wasn’t even a coach. I call that game. It was an amazing game. Jalen Hurt scrambles and scores. Deshaun Watson goes down, wins the game."
The grace Saban showed Sarkisian was clearly worthwhile. Sarkisian came back to Alabama after a two year stint with the Atlanta Falcons following that season as an analyst and helped lead the Crimson Tide to an undefeated national championship season in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a game as the interim head coach when Saban tested positive himself.
Now, Sarkisian is in the process of rebuilding a long down-trodden Texas Longhorns program. There was improvement from year one to year two, including a narrow loss to the Tide in Austin. This coming season, Sarkisian will get a crack at the man that helped him get back up in Tuscaloosa.
It just goes to show you that no matter how badly someone has messed up, they can do amazing things when shown some grace.