After Loss, USC OC Steve Sarkisian Demoted to Oakland Raiders Head Coach

Dave NemetzSenior Analyst ISeptember 30, 2008

LOS ANGELES — After an embarrassing loss to unranked Oregon State in front of a nationally televised audience in a Thursday night game, the previously #1 ranked USC Trojans made a difficult—but perhaps necessary—change, dismissing offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. As a result of the demotion, Sarkisian will turn in his USC playbook and take over as head coach of the NFL's Oakland Raiders, effective immediately.

"Sark has been a great coach to our kids and a loyal member of our staff," said USC head coach Pete Carroll. "It's tough to send him down, but my hope is that he can focus on the fundamentals with the Raiders while not having to deal with the pressure and expectations that come with coaching at a winning program. The way I expect thing's to go down there, Steve should be back up here soon."

The fate of in-limbo Raiders head coach and former USC co-offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin is still unclear, although ESPN's John Clayton reports that Raiders owner Al Davis may fire Kiffin in the next two days, but could also let him remain in limbo as co-head coach for up to two years. The deciding factor is presumed to be Davis' ability to remember who Kiffin is and whether or not he has fired him already.

Davis himself was unavailable for comment, but sources within the Raiders organization say that the mercurial owner is already plotting his plan to undermine and alienate Sarkisian in a misguided power play that only serves to further sink his team into putridity.

USC has not named a replacement for Sarkisian, but the short list of candidates is said to include Kiffin if-and-when he is fired, current tight ends coach Brennan Carroll (Pete's son), soon-to-be-fired University of Washington head coach Tyrone Willingham, and former USC quarterback Todd Marinovich. The Trojans do expect to have a new offensive coordinator hired in time for Saturday's home game against the Oregon Ducks, but regardless of who they hire they will continue to give the ball to Joe McKnight way too much despite his propensity to fumble and the obvious fact that C.J. Gable is clearly the better all around back.

The Raiders have a bye week this week and resume play on October 12th at the New Orleans Saints, giving Sarkisian plenty of time to institute his playbook, cut out all the plays that are too complex for Jamarcus Russell, get stabbed in the back by members of the Oakland front office, realize he is alone on an island, and commiserate over a beer with Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News.

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