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USC hires Washington’s Steve Sarkisian

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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USC has named Washington coach Steve Sarkisian as its next head coach.

Sarkisian, who is 34-29 in five seasons at Washington, was an assistant for seven seasons at USC (2001 to 2003 and 2005 to 2008), which is what made him an attractive candidate. However, he was 0-5 against Oregon and struggled against other ranked teams in the Pac-12. Sarkisian's Washington teams also were 7-20 on the road. 

“We kept coming back to Sark,” Haden said. “He is the only one who was offered the job. I believe in my gut that he is the right coach for USC at this time. He embodies many of the qualities for which we looked. He is an innovative coach who recruits well and develops players. He is a proven and successful leader.”

USC interim head coach Ed Orgeron reportedly resigned upon hearing the news. He was offered a raise and a chance to be an assistant head coach, but chose to move on. 

The Trojans were 22-3 when Sarkisian was the offensive coordinator and USC did have Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks in Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart.

However, USC’s last pick from the Pete Carroll coaching tree didn’t turn out so well. Lane Kiffin also was an assistant under Carroll and was fired partway through the 2013 season.

USC had been in touch with Vanderbilt’s James Franklin and Boise State’s Chris Petersen. Petersen withdrew his name from consideration on Monday.



Sarkisian, early Monday morning, actually denied interviewing for the position, but did say he spoke with USC athletic director Pat Haden.

With all the attention given to the USC coaching search and the clout USC could have used to bring in a name coach either from the NCAA or the NFL ranks, the hiring of Sarkisian is quite a letdown. USC said it was conducting a nationwide search, yet settled for its next door neighbor. Sarkisian hasn’t exactly been lighting it up as a head coach at Washington, either. One could make the case that the body of work interim coach Ed Orgeron has put together in the past couple of months is better than what Sarkisian has done in five years.

Not sure picking a coach from the same bucket that produced Lane Kiffin, a guy that has become universally despised by USC fans, is a great way to re-energize the fan base.

Meanwhile, Sarkisian leaves a Washington job that many would consider elite. The facility upgrades, location and a roster full of young talent will be sure to attract a high-level coach. Some names already being bandied about include UCLA's Jim Mora and Petersen and Missouri's Gary Pinkel.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at dr.saturday@ymail.com or follow her on Twitter!

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