Things have gone a bit askew for the Alabama Crimson Tide since 2016-17 season wrapped up. But they’re still the alpha dogs when it comes to the college football odds for 2017.
Steve Sarkisian’s run as offensive coordinator for Alabama lasted exactly one game. On Monday, the Super Bowl-losing Atlanta Falcons announced that Sarkisian would take the same position with their program following the departure of Kyle Shanahan – who headed west to take the top job with the San Francisco 49ers. Maybe a change of venue will be good for both gentlemen after what happened in their respective title games.
But where does this leave the Crimson Tide? Still on top of the NCAAF odds board, as it turns out. Alabama remains the heavy favorite at between +225 and +325 to win the 2017 College Football Playoff. And the Tide shouldn’t have much trouble filling that job vacancy. They might even reach out to the man whom the 49ers fired: former head coach Chip Kelly. Another ex-Oregon head coach, Mark Helfrich, also has been rumored to replace Sarkisian.
It’s all conjecture at this point, but as far as the press is concerned Kelly’s name immediately went to the top of the list after Sarkisian bolted for Atlanta. This wouldn’t be the first time Kelly has been connected to the job. Following his dismissal by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015, Kelly met with Nick Saban and his crew before the Tide faced Clemson in the National Championship Game.
Of course, Kelly ended up with the 49ers instead, and Saban stayed in-house when he picked Lane Kiffin to be his offensive coordinator – Kiffin would leave the team after this past season's CFP semifinal win over the Washington Huskies, which is how Sarkisian ended up working the championship rematch against Clemson. Then again, don’t be surprised if Saban hires from within again; Mike Locksley is next in the coordinator pipeline after assisting Sarkisian in the title game.
Whoever gets this premium gig, Alabama will remain a popular college football pick – especially after the top-ranked recruiting class Saban just put together (again) for 2017. OT Alex Leatherwood has already enrolled, all 6-foot-6 and 325 pounds of him, and he’ll likely be assigned to protect QB Jalen Hurts’ blind side next season. That should make everyone’s job a lot easier. Everyone except for Alabama’s opponents, that is.