EXCLUSIVE: Nick Saban talks coaching changes, Jalen Hurts

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) – CBS 42’s Simone Eli spoke exclusively with Alabama head coach Nick Saban Thursday evening in Montgomery at the ALFCA Convention. A bevy of news has dropped from the Alabama football program in just the last few weeks. This was the first time Saban has spoken with the media since all that news.

There have been multiple reports that Steve Sarkisian is coming back to Tuscaloosa as the offensive coordinator after spending two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons.

That can be confirmed now that Sarkisian was speaking at the event with Saban, wearing Alabama gear.

“We are looking forward to rebuilding as a program so it’s what we want it to be,” Saban said. “We have a lot of work to do but I am excited about the people we have been able to attract to come to Alabama.”

Sarkisian called plays in the 2017 CFP National Championship, taking over for Lane Kiffin.

Alabama also lost much of its coaching staff, with five assistants leaving. The most controversial was quarterbacks coach Dan Enos. A report from The Athletic last week said Saban was caught by surprise when Enos was not at a morning meeting and his desk was cleared out.

Saban gave Enos his best wishes. 

“You’re always going to have changes,” Saban said. You like to have continuity, but I think sometimes change brings positive and new energy, with new ideas.”

Perhaps the most surprising departure was defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi, who left to be an assistant for the Cleveland Browns. 

“I think Tosh has great energy and really good knowledge,” Saban said. “All pro players appreciate a coach who is going to help them improve their ability to play at a consistent level and extend their career. So I think Tosh will be able to do that very well.”

Former starting quarterback Jalen Hurts transfered to Oklahoma and will be eligible immediately as a graduate transfer. Any time Hurts has drawn criticsm, Saban has been there to defend his quarterback.

“I think this was the best thing for Jalen,” Saban said. “We have a great relationship. He had several options for what was the best path. For him to go someplace and play on a good team is probably the best thing for him and his future. We appreciate everything he has done for the University of Alabama our program and the way he managed this year.”

Saban is next expected to address the media during signing day on February 6.

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