USC Football: Coach Sarkisian's Holiday Wish List
The holiday season is upon us and for all good Trojan fans, the prospect of season's cheer begins in earnest in February, when pen is put to paper on letter of intent signing day and USC finalizes its class of future stars.
But long before that day, USC's new head coach, Steve Sarkisian, will be counting his blessings and offering thanks for the job that brings him home to coach the men of Troy.
Now that he is here, Coach "Sark" will be crafting a letter to Santa that he hopes Saint Nick will fill with holiday joy that will carry right on over to the start of the new season.
To help Sark with that mission, here is a list of holiday wishes that he may want to consider as he consolidates those requests for the big guy in the red suit.
So without further delay, here is the holiday wish list for the new Trojan head coach.
Sark Will Wish for the Tosh Lupoi Controversy to Go Away
The last thing Sarkisian—or USC for that matter—needs is another recruiting controversy.
With the Trojans finally seeing the light at the end of the sanctions tunnel after the NCAA buried them for the Reggie Bush scandal, problems with recruiting violations is something the program will try to avoid like the plague.
Yet, that might be what is waiting for them if their new coach is somehow tied to the alleged recruiting violations by Sarkisian's former defensive line coach at Washington, Tosh Lupoi.
Lupoi—a tremendous coach and recruiter that USC was very interested in—has been accused of providing improper benefits to a prep player who needed tutoring.
Now Sarkisian, the guy responsible for the administration of his program at Washington, may have to answer for any transgressions that occurred while he was the leader of the Huskies.
And that is the kind of visibility that USC simply doesn't need.
So for Sark's sake, he should hope this whole thing blows over and simply goes away.
Are There Any Assistant Coaches on Your List, Santa?
Speaking of assistant coaches, Sark needs some.
There is a variety of unit coaches still needed to complete USC's new staff and chief among them is a defensive coordinator.
Sarkisian would like to bring his former Washington defensive coordinator, Justin Wilcox, down to USC but there are a few dominoes that will have to fall first.
One of the complications that may prevent Wilcox from joining his former boss is that Wilcox is interviewing for head coaching positions himself. Even if doesn't succeed on that front, he may decide to stay with the Huskies.
And then there is that pesky Lupoi accusation—was Wilcox part of that (if it is true)?
But even if Wilcox does head south, USC still has a bevy of assistant positions to fill, although it appears at least one of those positions may have been filled. It was reported that Clay Helton—USC's offensive coordinator and interim head coach—will be retained by Sarkisian.
Sark would like those slots filled so recruits know who their position coaches will be when USC enters the stretch run before letter of intent signing day.
Ummm, that's your cue Santa.
Good Health for His Squad in 2014 Will Be High on Sark's Wish List
Going into the 2014 season, Sarkisian knows he will be playing with a reduced roster next year.
With a roster that will be restricted to 75 scholarship players—thanks to those aforementioned NCAA sanctions—USC will have to have a lot go right next year to contend for a Pac-12 Conference championship.
Not the least of which will be keeping the players they do have healthy.
USC will have a tough enough challenge maintaining rotations throughout the year with the guys they enter the season with.
Sark doesn't need any further obstacles due to ill health for his new team.
Sark Will Wish That His NFL-Eligible Players Stick Around for Another Year
Good health is all well and good, but first you need the right players on the roster to wish that continued health for.
In order for the Trojans to have that kind of roster, they will need their NFL-eligible players to return for one more season for the Cardinal and Gold.
Though most of those players who can jump to the NFL will return for the 2014 season, there are still many question marks including whether or not guys like defensive end George Uko, safety Dion Bailey, safety Josh Shaw and offensive linemen Marcus Martin and Aundrey Walker will return for the Trojans.
What about All-American receiver Marqise Lee? Not likely.
Nonetheless, USC will need all the help they can get for the upcoming season and that means Santa has to deliver a bunch of guys back to the Trojans instead of watching them leave early for Sunday paychecks.
How About a Bevy of 5-Star Recruits, Santa?
The one thing that Sarkisian can do this year in preparation for 2014 is sign a high quality prep class in February.
With 14 prep players already having given their verbal pledge to USC in this year's class, Sark only has a handful of scholarships left to offer. Those precious few have to deliver a lot of bang for their buck.
And with quite a few impact players still seriously considering the Trojans, it is imperative that USC finishes with a flourish in this year's recruiting class.
Studs like offensive lineman Damien Mama, cornerback/receiver Adoree Jackson and athlete John "JuJu" Smith are among the high-profile targets USC has in their sights. Sark would love nothing more than to deliver them on letter of intent signing day.
Are there any big-time recruits on your list Santa?
For Steve Sarkisian, Christmas came early when he was named head coach of USC, one of the most legendary programs in college football.
Now having witnessed USC's impressive 45-20 victory over Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl, Sark will have to wait a while to see if the team that overcame so much in 2013 is close to the same one he will inherit when spring practice opens next year.
USC will lose some very important seniors, but that is to be expected. What remains to be seen however, is who will return to the team instead of leaving for the pro ranks.
With a little luck and a lot persuasion, Sark may find a 2014 Trojan team that is set at most positions with a solid two-deep and really, that is the most he can hope for.
From that point on it will be up to Sark to see what he can do with it.
But if Santa pays attention to this list and delivers most of it, the new Trojan head man should be just fine.
After all, Sark had his biggest wish of all granted a month or so ago when Pat Haden handed him that contract which put him in the Cardinal and Gold in the first place.