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Steve Sarkisian Fired by USC: Takeaways from Pat Haden's Press Conference

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIOctober 13, 2015

Southern California athletic director Pat Haden introduces new football head coach Steve Sarkisian during a news conference on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

USC Trojans athletic director Pat Haden held a press conference Tuesday in the aftermath of firing head football coach Steve Sarkisian on Monday.  

University President C.L. Max Nikias also took the podium to address the media and emphasize his "unwavering support" for Haden despite the ultimately unsuccessful tenure of Sarkisian.

Arash Markazi of ESPN.com noted what Nikias had to say regarding Haden's future:

Arash Markazi @ArashMarkazi

Like I said, USC isn't firing Pat Haden. http://t.co/A7jYp5jB92

Haden has been dealing with a crisis involving the university's most important NCAA program in recent years. Between Sarkisian not panning out and the short-lived stint for polarizing hire Lane Kiffin, Haden hasn't had the best track record of bringing in talent to guide the Trojans' traditional football powerhouse.

"I know who I am. I know what I stand for. Have we gotten everything right? Clearly no. The idea is to get it right next time," Haden said, per Yahoo Sports' Dr. Saturday.

The Dr. Saturday feed also logged what Haden had to say about Sarkisian's situation, including how Haden felt the coach "deserved another chance" after an incident in August in which Sarkisian slurred his words at a pep rally:

It was very difficult to terminate Steve Sarkisian. It has also been difficult for our players and coaches to go through this. On Sunday I learned that Steve was not at practice. I talked to him and learned that Steve was not healthy. ... Steve's conduct did not meet USC's standards.

[...] At the time of Steve's hire, I believe he was the right hire for USC. ... The decision did not work out, and I own that.

Although he hasn't yet made contact with Sarkisian, Haden said he looks forward to talking to him and has spoken with Sarkisian's agent. ESPN.com's Travis Haney weighed in on that development:

Travis Haney @travhaney

So crazy that Pat Haden still has not spoken with Steve Sarkisian. Only his agent. Staff echoes hope/prayers that Sark gets help he needs.

Haden indicated, per Dr. Saturday, the Trojans used a respected national firm when hiring Sarkisian and didn't unearth anything to suggest the coach couldn't handle the job.

The Los Angeles Times published a report Monday outlining the history of excessive alcohol purchases Sarkisian made while coaching at the University of Washington. Haden initially put Sarkisian on a leave of absence Sunday, when he reportedly showed up to the team facility intoxicated, per ESPN.com.

Haden said, per Joe Schad of ESPN, that Sarkisian "violated an agreement" stemming from Sarkisian's incident in August. 

The players seem to be buying in to interim head coach Clay Helton, who's previously served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Helton spoke Tuesday about the response he got upon Haden's introduction, per WeAreSC.com:

Garry Paskwietz @garrypaskwietz

Clay Helton "I've been in this profession 21 years and will never forget the ovation these players gave me when Mr. Haden introduced me"

For whatever letdowns in oversight USC had while Sarkisian was leading the football program, at least Haden is being accountable for his decisions. The Trojans will likely seek stability going forward amid what's been a turbulent post-Pete Carroll era on the gridiron.

USC is the type of high-profile college job a current NFL coach could even be persuaded to consider. Whoever takes over the prestigious position next, Haden must make sure to get the hire right.

Otherwise, Nikias' steadfast support for Haden may wane in the coming years.