BROWN’S SPORTS NOTES: Kiffin out, Sarkisian in; Does it matter?

Lane Kiffin is gone. Enter Steve Sarkisian. What does that mean for Alabama’s offense? Who knows, really, what to expect.
Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney said he anticipates ‘Bama to be ‘Bama. You know, Roll Tide with the running game and stingy defense.
“They’re going to dance with who brung ’em. They’re going to do what they do. It’s just as simple as that,” he said during a Tuesday teleconference as reported by SB Nation.
Who brung the pain for the Tide against Washington in the national semifinal game was Bo Scarbrough. The 6-2, 228-pound sophomore from Northport, Alabama – a paint splatter city across the river from downtown Tuscaloosa – churned for 180 yards on 19 carries and punished would-be Washington tacklers on two runaway-train touchdown hauls.
Kiffin, as offensive coordinator for ‘Bama, has been credited with bringing some wrinkles to a team that has a long tradition of running the football through their opponents’ guts. Head Coach Nick Saban ain’t about being cute. Those opposing football personalities have had moments of visibly not gee-hawing on the sidelines.
Saban is more Marshawn Lynch than Reggie Bush.
“… If you just run through somebody’s face, a lot of people ain’t going to be able to take that over and over and over… They’re just not gonna want that,” Lynch said in June as part of a 60 Minutes/Sports Illustrated interview with the former Seattle Seahawks running back.
The best part of the interview is the follow up question and answer: “You think there’s a deeper metaphor there?” “Run through a ‘bleepers’ face, then you don’t have to worry about them no more.”
The follow up response is where Saban resides.
Kiffin felt like an odd hire when it took place. He was known professionally for quickly wearing out his welcome where ever he worked. Of course, he comes from football royalty. His father, Monte, has been a long-time defensive coordinator who developed the “Tampa 2” and at one time was considered a football innovator. His only son, Lane, cut his teeth at USC as an assistant coach to Pete Carroll. (As did Sarkisian.) The free-wheeling style of that USC offense from the 2000s seemed counter to what Saban has run at ‘Bama. Bush, a dual-threat back, was the centerpiece of those USC teams.
Whatever the relationship between Saban and Kiffin, it has produced quality football for the Tide. They have won 26 consecutive games and are playing for their second-consecutive national title. But, Alabama won three national titles in four years from 2009-2012 before Kiffin’s arrival. When Dabo says he expects nothing different, it’s because ‘Bama football’s process for success is Saban, not the offensive coordinator.
Let’s get back to ‘Bama’s running game. Other than a 100-yard game on Oct. 15, Scarbrough had been the other running back this year behind fellow sophomore Damien Harris. Harris, a graduate of Madison Southern in Berea, Kentucky, posted more than 1,000 yards rushing and leads the team in yards on the ground. Scarbrough had no rushing stats for two weeks in wins against Mississippi State and Chattanooga. Then, in the Iron Bowl, they unleashed the beast. He rushed for 90 yards against Auburn and 91 against Florida in the Southeastern Conference title game. Meanwhile, Harris posted 47 yards against the Tigers and 86 versus the Gators. In the national semifinal, he rushed only nine times for 30 yards. Will the change in offensive coordinators give Harris more opportunities? We shall see, but Scarbrough seems to be the late-season leader in the clubhouse.

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