BY SPNW Staff 12:34PM 12/02/2013

Report: Steve Sarkisian Accepts USC Job

Steve Sarkisian said he did not seek out the USC Trojans — rather, they sought him. Sarkisian coached Washington for five years, producing four bowl teams.

Steve Sarkisian arrived at Washington in 2009 and has taken the Huskies to three bowl games, with another looming. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Multiple sources told ESPN Monday that USC has hired Washington’s Steve Sarkisian as its new head football coach. Sarkisian admitted early Monday on KJR radio that he spoke with the Trojans about the job, but denied interviewing for it, saying the Trojans contacted him. Sarkisian, Washington’s head coach since 2009, led the Huskies to a 34-29 record in five seasons, including 8-4 this season.

Sarkisian becomes the first Washington head coach to voluntarily leave the position for another school since Darrell Royal, who coached the Huskies in 1956 and departed for the University of Texas in 1957.

Sarkisian served as an assistant coach at USC under Pete Carroll for seven seasons in two stints, from 2001-03 and from 2005-07. In 2007 and 2008, he was USC’s assistant head coach and offensive coordinator. During Sarkisian’s time at USC, the Trojans went 74-15, including 22-3 when Sarkisian called the offensive plays.

Sarkisian will replace the fired Lane Kiffin and, more recently, interim head coach Ed Orgeron. Coaches under consideration included Boise State’s Chris Petersen and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin. Petersen reportedly withdrew from consideration, although it’s not known whether he did so after learning of USC’s interest in Sarkisian, or was turned down by USC first.

Sarkisian took over a UW program in 2009 that had gone 0-12 under Tyrone Willingham in 2008. Sarkisian’s first team finished 5-7 and his next three 7-6, 7-6 and 7-6. The Huskies played in bowl games after each of those seasons, beating Nebraska 19-7 in the 2010 Holiday Bowl, losing to Baylor 67-56 in the 2011 Alamo Bowl, and to Boise State 28-26 in last year’s Las Vegas Bowl.

This year’s Huskies, who ended defeating Washington State in the Apple Cup Friday, will play in a fourth consecutive bowl, as yet unidentified, although it’s unclear at this point whether Sarkisian will be involved in the game.

Washington, which rose as high as No. 15 in the Associated Press poll this season after opening 4-0, has yet to issue a statement on Sarkisian’s change of jobs. USC has not issued a statement, either.

If the Huskies stay in house to replace Sarkisian, the obvious choice would be defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, although Wilcox might be tempted to leave with Sarkisian.

 


YourThoughts

  • giorgio547

    “Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out!” He was getting fat, anyway. Mediocrity rewarded again…

    • jimc

      a young, lean, and hungry coach is a good fit for the Huskies.

  • RadioGuy

    Rick Neuheisel lives, although Sark never did come out and say he WASN’T interested in the USC job…I’ll give him credit for that, as well as leaving the UW program in much better shape than it was when he took over.

    Now it’s time for a coaching search, hopefully for someone who’s actually been a head coach at an FBS program…no more using the Huskies as a finishing school for other teams, please. Now I wonder if Chris Petersen withdrew from consideration for the USC job not because he heard Sark was the favorite but because he knows the UW job would open up if Sark went to the Trojans?

    • jimc

      that was exactly what I thought about Peterson, and I don’t think he was even a serious candidate for USC, but that it was more of a PAC carousel among the money schools. Mora is too tired. Pinkel? Maybe, maybe…

      • art thiel

        Mora has looked energetic throughout his UCLA tenure. I suspect he has about 50 VMs from Seattle.

    • art thiel

      As long as Petersen stays put, he doesn’t have to answer the question. And Sark always talked around the question of USC. I think most of us knew what would happen.

  • jafabian

    Glad that Sark is getting a shot at a job he wants. Not sure I would have let USC interview him if I was UW since they’re a conference rival but I suppose you want the right to do that when you yourself are in that position. I would not let him coach the bowl game though. A Washington man should coach that game and right now he’s a USC guy.

    My list of candidates would be in order: Gary Pinkel, Chris Petersen and Jim Mora. I’d love to see UW bring in Jim Tressel as well but I’m not sure they’d actually do that with his history.

    • Mort McSnerd

      Good list to choose from

    • Joe Fan

      I like the Jim Mora reference. If USC can tear away Sark, you’d think the opening in Mora’s “dream job” would be enticing to him.

      • art thiel

        Stay tuned.

    • art thiel

      Mora probably would leave, the others less likely. I don’t put much stock in Washington men or USC men or Michigan men. They all are mercenaries in a ruthless business that offers no reward for naive notions of loyalty. That’s for fans.

      • jafabian

        I remember when Mike Price took the Alabama job how the Cougs didn’t have the same fire they showed before he announced he was leaving. How can players take him seriously when he talks about team pride? What it takes to be a Husky? Love ya Sark but out ya go. You made your bed.

  • Mort McSnerd

    It’ll be another “Broken Potato Chip” Bowl or something…

    Eh. I’m sure he’ll be as “above average” with USC as he was up here.

    I was surprised, though… that’s usually the Coug play.

    • art thiel

      Washington is a steppingstone, just little higher up than WSU, although the stadium could change that.

      • Mort McSnerd

        I dunno about the stepping stone idea:

        “Sarkisian is the first Washington coach to voluntarily leave for another
        position since Darrell Royal in 1956 when he departed for Texas. Royal
        was at Washington for one season.”

        Wazzu seems to have been a launch pad for a great many coaches, comparatively speaking.

      • 1coolguy

        Sad but true.

  • ll9956

    As far as I know, Wilcox is highly respected and well liked by the players. I’ve been wondering for some time whether he would depart for a head coaching job elsewhere. I hope he isn’t persuaded to leave with Sark. I believe he would make a great head coach for the Dawgs. Woodward needs to act swiftly and offer the job to Wilcox before Sark or someone else grabs him.

    • 1coolguy

      Wilcox and the rest of the D staff are leaving

      • ll9956

        It appears that you may be right. If so, that’s a real downer for the Dawgs. The big question now is who will be coaching the Dawgs in their bowl game.

    • art thiel

      Sark will take Wilcox to USC if he can. Woodward probably will have to offer him the UW coaching job to keep him. Do you want another coaching with training wheels.

  • Jamo57

    My son had a great idea. Just as scholarship athletes have to sit out a year when transferring, shouldn’t a head coach have to wait a year before taking a job in conference?

    • art thiel

      Your son is bright, but not the first to the idea. Unfortunately the NCAA can’t control the free market for coaches, but it can control the athletes via the one-year renewable scholarship. The kids have to eat it in a highly controlled market, the coaches have no restrictions.

  • 1coolguy

    I can’t blame Sark for going for one of the best college jobs there are, but it’s just a shame it happened.
    He had made good inroads to the LA recruiting area and had developed a solid staff here.
    If only Kiffin had worked out for USC.
    Interesting to see what Mora does now and with Orgeron just resigning, he is available also.
    Both Orgeron and Mora are very good LA area recruiters.
    One thing that makes the USC job so good other than the pay and prestige is recruiting amounts to answering the phone from all the 5-star recruits who call. No brainer.
    Wonder if Sarks’ contract required him to coach through the bowl game?
    The players must feel pimped.
    Scott will need to earn his pay now and in a hurry.

  • bugzapper

    I thought the stained carpet between the Washington and USC offices was way worn out. Wasn’t Sarkisian the make-up call for having to put up with Barbara Hedges? Man, if the PAC-12 could be arrested for incest, every team would be doing time.

    • art thiel

      Been happening for years in all conferences. The only loyalty is to money.

      • bugzapper

        Well, at least Saban had the decency to go to the NFL and flop there before going to Alabama and beating up on his former LSU Tigers.

  • 1coolguy

    The shame of these coaching changes is where it leaves the players. They have to feel pimped.
    I’m sure the highest ranked recruits we have will decommit to see whether they can play for Sark @ SC. This will be a bloody time for UW.
    BTW, whatever happened to Sarks’ statements about wanting to stay @ UW to better James’ record? Guess he has a very short memory.
    With both Sark and Wilcox gone who will coach the bowl game? Wow, what a tough situation Woodard is in now.

    • art thiel

      Welcome to the world of big time college fb. Player welfare is a very secondary consideration. They are the poorly paid labor in an entertainment colossus. They have no control over their fates, because coaches like Sark, Carroll, Kiffin, etc. are the coins of the realm.

      • 1coolguy

        Let’s remember the athletes are getting FREE education, room and board, one on one classroom counseling, etc, which these days is what, $30 – $40k per year? The players are getting a great deal for their efforts.
        Show me another job a college kid can work at and make that money.
        The other aspect is if they don’t like the “colossus” they don’t have to play.
        I wish I was so poorly paid when I was @ the UW.

  • WestCoastBias79

    Three weeks ago we were talking about firing this guy. I realize getting dumped hurts, but sometimes after the pain, you get to see the real her. The Huskies had 10+ win talent this year, and eaked out 8. They were never consistent on the road, routinely made boneheaded decisions, and Sark routinely made questionable play calls. To misquote the great Denny Green, he is who we thought he was, a great QB coach/recruiter, decent OC, and mediocre head coach. The distance from terrible to mediocre is a lot easier than from mediocre to great, and Sark didn’t have it. He’ll be outcoached 3-4 times every year. He’ll get talent to USC, but he’s still coaching, and in a conference where there always seems to be a couple of head scratchers (UA v. Oregon / Stanford v. Utah), the X’s and O’s have to be stellar as well. He’ll hit the ceiling at USC. Sark brought UW out of the pit, but that’s about it. They have shiny new facilities now, time to get a coach that can recruit and actually coach. Sark was like football Romar, but unlike the basketball team, UW football has expectations.