TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama coach Nick Saban made it clear that former offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin wouldn’t be with the team during the national championship next Monday.
During interviews over the last two days, Kiffin has stated that Alabama was looking into having him on the sideline or in the press box for the College Football Playoff national championship game vs. Clemson. Saban said that’s not the case during his time on the national championship teleconference on Tuesday.
“No, that’s really not even possible from a legal standpoint for him to do those things so that’s not something we’re interested in pursuing,” Saban said.
Saban announced Monday that Kiffin would not coach Alabama’s offense going forward. Steve Sarkisian, who Saban hired as Alabama’s offensive coordinator last month, will take over play-calling duties for the title game.
Saban called the split between he and Kiffin a “mutual decision.”
Saban said prior to replacing Kiffin, Sarkisian was only involved in the planning and the organizational aspects of the team, but was not actively coaching the players.
Asked why he didn’t make the change immediately after hiring Sarkisian, Saban said he didn’t foresee Kiffin’s struggling to handle both his Alabama responsibilities and Florida Atlantic coaching duties.
“I try to make the decisions based on what’s best for helping our players be successful,” Saban said. “At the time, there was no anticipation or thought that there would be any kind of problem relative to managing having two jobs at once.
“When we sort of saw that that and agreed that was a little bit of a tough thing, we decided to move in a different direction.”
This is a change to how Saban has handled these situations in the past. Last season, Kirby Smart worked as Alabama’s defensive coordinator through the playoff after taking the head coaching job at Georgia.
In 2011, Jim McElwain remained on staff as Alabama’s offensive coordinator through the national championship after accepting the head coaching job at Colorado State.
Asked why this change happened with only a week left in the season, Saban grew a little testy.
“I don’t have anything else to say about this,” Saban said. “We’re moving forward. We’re looking forward to the Clemson game. We did what we did for the reasons that I’ve stated many, many times before. There’s really nothing else to talk about.
“There’s no why, there’s no if, there’s no but. It is what it is. The statement says what it is. We’re moving forward so let’s talk about the game. It’s only fair to the players who have worked hard on both teams to have an opportunity to play in a great competitive venue. That’s what we’d like to talk about.”