Auburn hiring Steve Sarkisian from Alabama would be unprecedented move among Iron Bowl rivals

Steve Sarkisian, Alabama Crimson Tide. (USA Today)
Steve Sarkisian, Alabama Crimson Tide. (USA Today) /

Steve Sarkisian leaving Alabama for Auburn would be an unprecedented move for the Crimson Tide offensive coordinator.

Steve Sarkisian is one of the hottest coaching candidates on the market and the Broyles Award semifinalist could leave Alabama for their rival Auburn after interviewing the Tide’s in-state rivals.

John Talty and Matt Zenitz of reported Sarkisian will interview for the job left open with the firing of Gus Malzahn after eight seasons. Sarkisian is in the second season of his second stint as the Alabama Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator and has been linked to the opening at Arizona as well.

How unprecedented would it be for Sarkisian to leave Alabama for Auburn?

If Auburn were to hire Sarkisian, it would be the first time an active Alabama assistant left to be the Auburn head coach. The only former Alabama assistant to be named the head coach of Auburn was the late Pat Dye. Former defensive coordinator Bill Oliver serve in the same role at Alabama before joining Terry Bowden’s Auburn staff. He eventually served as Auburn’s interim head coach.

So how likely is Sarkisian to leave Alabama for Auburn?

More likely than you would think.

Sarkisian is a top head-coaching candidate in college, and may even get some looks at the NFL if he waits a few weeks.

The leading candidate according to reports is interim head coach Kevin Steele, who served as Malzahn’s defensive coordinator the last few years. The former failed head coach at Baylor has reinvented himself as a top-tier defensive coordinator in the Power 5. He may still get it, but War Eagle Nation cannot feel good about the $21 million buyout just to promote Steele from within. In fact, a #StopSteele movement has been trending on Twitter since reports of his candidacy were revealed.

The other candidate to keep an eye on is Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns head coach Billy Napier. Like Sarkisian, he has been an offensive assistant on Nick Saban’s staff. Prior to getting his own team in the Sun Belt, Napier had been Saban’s wide receivers coach. Napier may not be the sexy name, but his Ragin’ Cajuns are among the best teams in the Group of 5 this season.

Auburn interviewing Sarkisian means the Tigers are serious about getting the right head coach. They could also be trying to distract the Alabama assistant ahead of playing in the SEC Championship Game vs. Florida and cause some drama before the College Football Playoff.

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