Barrett Sallee: Alabama Doesn’t Provide Image Rehab

Several days after Super Bowl LI, Barrett Sallee still isn’t sure what to make of what he witnessed. 

Actually, yes. Yes, he is. 

When asked if Super Bowl LI was an epic choke job or an epic comeback, the Bleacher Report lead SEC writer and longtime Falcons fan laughed. 

“Oh, epic choke job,” Sallee said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “The Falcons won. They did everything they needed to do to win that game. Literally everything. They proved that they’re a better team. They didn’t have to do anything in the second half. They could have just knelt down on the ball and won the Super Bowl. They had done everything right up to that point. They gave it to New England. New England did not take it. Atlanta gave it to them.”

Sallee was being facetious with his take-a-knee-on-every-play comment, but what if the Falcons had actually done that? What would people have said about that strategy? 

“That they’re geniuses because they have a Super Bowl title,” Sallee said, laughing. “Honestly, they could have done that. Matt Ryan literally could have taken the snap and tripped over Alex Mack’s feet three times after Julio Jones caught that pass, and they would have won the Super Bowl. As an Atlanta sports fan, it is that bad. It’s as bad as it can possibly get.”

In any event, Atlanta must move forward – and without Kyle Shanahan, who is off to San Francisco. The Falcons hired Steve Sarkisian on Tuesday, thus ending Sarkisian’s remarkably brief stint as Alabama’s offensive coordinator.

“Sark, I think, recognized that Alabama can do a lot for you in terms of getting your feet under you, but it doesn’t do much for image rehabilitation because you’re not allowed to speak to the media,” Sallee hypothesized. “Nick Saban doesn’t allow that. Lane was great for Alabama for three years, and yet, the best thing he could land was FAU. So I think Sark recognized that image rehab is something that Alabama just simply does not provide. So when Atlanta came along (and said) ‘We want you to be the OC,’ he goes, ‘Well, what do I need Alabama for? If my image is already rehabbed enough to get an NFL OC job, that’s fine.’ Sometimes it is as simple as that. I know there’s been reports that him and Saban didn’t get along or whatever. None of that really matters. I think it’s simply Sark realizing that this was a soft landing spot for him at Alabama anyway and he was going to have to move on to rehabilitate his image at some point in the near future. It just so happens that the future was literally a month after he got the job.”

Brandon Tierney wondered if Saban is ever friendly to anyone, which is a fair question. After all, Saban seems like the most miserable man in the world.

“He is,” Sallee said. “You have to catch him at the right moment. When he’s in front of the media, no, he’s not friendly. He is exactly who he seems like he is. You have to catch him at the right time.”

Sallee, for example, has seen Saban act jovially at a handful of golf events. 

“He does let loose occasionally,” Sallee said, “but publicly, those instances are few and far between. You have to catch him when he’s outside of his football element, which, for Nick Saban, doesn’t happen really that often.”

Either way, Saban will soon have his third offensive coordinator in less than two months. Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich could both be in play.

“The one thing with Chip is you’re getting him for nine months,” Sallee said. “That’s it. That’s not the worst thing in the world in coaching because it does happen a lot. Only two coaches from the 2015 title team remain on Alabama’s staff, but essentially Chip Kelly would be a rental. Mark Helfrich probably wouldn’t, but they could definitely go in those directions.”

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