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Alabama's Lane Kiffin on National Championship game: If I wanted to coach, I would have

By The Sports Xchange 

Alabama Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin heads to the field prior to the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship game on January 11, 2016. Kiffin says he alone made the decision not to coach the 2017 championship game. Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI
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Lane Kiffin adamantly insists he would still be the offensive coordinator for the College Football Playoff title game if he had wanted to be.
Alabama coach Nick Saban announced Monday that Steve Sarkisian would be the offensive coordinator for the national championship game against Clemson and that Kiffin will depart the program to focus on his new coach as coach at Florida Atlantic.
Saban said it a decision mutually agreed to by himself and Kiffin.
But Kiffin told an ESPN radio show that it was his decision, and that he's not coaching in the game against Dabo Swinney-coached Clemson because of his choice.
"I know this was a decision that I came up with, and it was very difficult to do," Kiffin said. "This was not something that Nick Saban forced me to do by any means.
"If I wanted to coach this game, I would have coached this game, and I just thought that it wasn't the best thing for the players."
The sudden change in coordinators has come under scrutiny because Alabama's offense wasn't all that dynamic in a 24-7 victory over Washington in the national semifinal contest.
Meanwhile, Saban wasn't thrilled with questions pertaining to the timing of the move, how the transition to Sarkisian will take place or the effect it might have on preparations.
"We're in the planning stages right now, so I don't know why y'all keep asking me what changes we're going to make," Saban said on a conference call. "Dabo's a good friend of mine. Maybe I'll just call him up and tell him what we're going to do."
Saban indicated he didn't think Kiffin's job juggling would be a problem. He based that belief on how well former defensive coordinator Kirby Smart (last season) and offensive coordinator Jim McElwain (2011) handled the transition after accepting head-coaching jobs.
But Kiffin was reportedly late to several events in the past week leading up to the Peach Bowl and some Alabama staff members were upset with him.
"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 two jobs at once. When we sort of saw, and agreed, that that was a little bit of a tough team, then we decided to move in a different direction."
Kiffin also threw out the idea he could help the Crimson Tide from the press box on game night. Saban said there was no chance of that occurring.
"It's really not even possible from a legal standpoint for him to do those things," Saban said. "That's not something that we're interested in pursuing."
Alabama was 40-3 in three seasons with Kiffin calling offensive plays.

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