The Alabama Crimson Tide is in final practice ahead of Monday’s National Championship game against Ohio State. One possible complication for the Tide is the upcoming departure of Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarksian. The four year Tuscaloosa veteran is leaving to become the new head coach of the Texas Longhorns. Tide Head coach Nick Saban says he’s expecting no distractions as Alabama gears up for the title game.
“You kind of owe it to the players to give your best, to do your best to help them get prepared for the game so they can play well in the game," said Saban. "That’s always I’ve felt, and think that’s how Sark feels. And, most of the guys in the past have been able to do that.”
Saban offered some personal history on how an assistant coach should handle moving onto another position. He was an assistant to head coach Bill Belichick of the Cleveland Browns in the mid 1990’s. Saban says he was offered the job of head coach at Michigan State, but kept everything in perspective as he departed Cleveland
“I think you just have to separate yourself," said Saban. "And focus on, look, if it wasn’t for the players, the players with the Cleveland Browns being the best defense, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the Michigan State job.”
The list of former Alabama assistant coaches now leading other teams includes Kirby Smart of Georgia, Lane Kiffin of Ole Miss, and Jeremy Pruitt of Tennessee. Kickoff for Monday’s title game is at seven p.m. at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. That’s where former Alabama players Tua Tagovailia and Raekwon Davis play for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.
Finally, Alabama football players won a collection of post-season awards last night. DeVonta Smith took the Maxwell Award as the college football player of the year, as well the Walter Camp player of the year and the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver. Landon Dickerson won the Rimington for best center. Mac Jones became the first Alabama player to win the Davey O'Brien award for best quarterback. Najee Harris took the the Doak Walker award for best tailback. And, Alex Leatherwood won the Outland Trophy for best interior lineman.