The last time USC hired an offensive coordinator from the Pete Carroll era, it ended with an unceremonious firing after the fifth game of the 2013 season. Athletic director Pat Haden apparently thinks the second time will be the charm.
As reported by multiple outlets and confirmed by ESPN's Joe Schad, current Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian has accepted the same position with the Trojans:
Steve Sarkisian has accepted the USC head coaching position— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) December 2, 2013
The deal hasn't been officially signed by Sarkisian yet, per InsideUSC, but that's seen as a mere formality at this point. He has already scheduled a meeting with his players at Washington, where he's expected to tell them of his decision. His deal is expected to be for five years:
Steve Sarkisian's agreed to a 5-year deal per #USC sources— InsideUSC (@InsideUSC) December 2, 2013
Sarkisian, 39, has been with the Huskies since 2009, compiling a record of 34-29 (24-21 in the Pac-12). While that may seem unspectacular at first glance, the first-time head coach inherited a program that had gone 0-12 the season before his arrival and transformed Washington into a perennial bowl team. The Huskies have played in three straight bowls and are eligible for a fourth in 2013 thanks to their 8-4 record—a best of the Sarkisian era.
But to most, Sarkisian's hire hearkens back to days past.
Sarkisian was the offensive wunderkind who twice served on the USC offensive staff, first as a quarterbacks coach from 2001 to 2003 and then in multiple roles from 2005 to 2008. He was Carroll's right-hand man toward the end of his tenure, an era of prosperity that included four straight trips to the Rose Bowl. Mark Sanchez, Matt Leinart and many other quarterbacks who were greats at USC, if not in the NFL, owe at least part of their success to Sarkisian.
As with any high-profile coaching decision, plenty of folks took to social media to publicly display their dismay, glee or utter bewilderment.
On the good side of things, two current USC players told Fox Sports' Lindsey Thiry that they were pleased with Haden's decision:
Two current USC players previously recruited by Sarkisian telling me they're happy with the hire. One saying "I'm excited as hell".— Lindsey Thiry (@LindseyThiry) December 2, 2013
Sarkisian's hire also seemed to spark a wave of positivity on the recruiting trail. Joe Mixon, a 5-star running back from Oakley, Calif., who had previously ruled out the Trojans, now says he may wind up following Sarkisian to Los Angeles:
ESPN's Jeremy Crabtree, who writes for the network's RecruitingNation branch, was also bullish on Sarkisian's ability to bring in local kids:
From recruiting standpoint #USC will be in very good shape w/ Steve Sarkisian. He has good relationships w/ many of kids & coaches in SoCal.— Jeremy Crabtree ESPN (@jeremycrabtree) December 2, 2013
That said, you don't have to look hard to find people disappointed, particularly those associated with the UW program. Huskies running back Jesse Callier Jr. wasn't pleased the news broke on Twitter before hearing it from his coach:
Also not pleased: quarterback Troy Williams, a highly touted Class of 2013 snag for Sarkisian. He was even more pointed than Callier in his comments:
Don't ever commit cus of a coach. Faker then a 3 dollar bill— Smiley (@TroyWilliams_3) December 2, 2013
Meanwhile, the Washington athletic department is already moving on. CBS' Bruce Feldman indicated the Huskies have three possible replacements in mind:
Names I'm hearing #Washington will consider to replace Sark: Tim DeRuyter; DC Justin Wilcox and Jim Mora.— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) December 2, 2013
Some are wondering why Washington even has to replace its coach in the first place. ESPN's Bomani Jones didn't go totally out on a limb and slam Sarkisian, but it's clear Jones found him an underwhelming hire:
not even saying sark is a bad coach, per se. just hard to believe usc couldn't do better.— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) December 2, 2013
Dan Rubenstein of The Solid Verbal also wasn't sold, sending out a multi-tweet missive on this Cyber Monday holiday:
USC just made a ground into double play hire.— Dan Rubenstein (@DanRubenstein) December 2, 2013
Please tell me that at least USC got Sark bundled with a color printer or something.— Dan Rubenstein (@DanRubenstein) December 2, 2013
Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer wasn't a fan of the hire. However, he acknowledged that the last time a Los Angeles school made a hire he disagreed with, it worked out pretty well:
Sumlin, yep. Petersen, you bet. Franklin, sure. This? Nah, give me Coach O.— Adam Kramer (@KegsnEggs) December 2, 2013
I didn't like the Jim Mora hire at UCLA at all, and goodness was I wrong. Who knows, we'll see.— Adam Kramer (@KegsnEggs) December 2, 2013
Kramer's last point may be the most important. Whether anyone likes the Sarkisian hire or not, that's the boat all Trojans are riding on—for better or for worse. His resume leaves something to be desired—especially when compared to the luminaries USC was reportedly pushing for—but we're yet to see Sarkisian coach with a war-chest budget the way he will in Los Angeles.
We'll see. But for now, we'll react.
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