This afternoon the long-expected announcement finally came down, USC decided to put an end to Steve Sarkisian’s tenure as the Trojan’s head football coach effective immediately, offensive coordinator Clay Helton will serve as the interim head coach until the end of the season. This coming a day after Sarkisian was sent home by Athletic Director Pat Haden after allegedly showing up to work drunk on Sunday. These issues with alcohol are certainly not new, as Sarkisian had to apologize after being inappropriate and appearing drunk at “Salute to Troy,” an annual USC booster event in August. The rumblings do not end there however, as there were rumors of impropriety for Sarkisian dating all the way back to his time at Washington, where he served as their head coach from 2009 to 2013. Haden, who decided not to discipline Sark for his actions at the event, it seems finally decided that enough was enough and that it was time to draw a line, saying in a statement that it was “in the best interest” of all parties involved to terminate Sarkisian as head coach. Ironically enough the last game he coached at USC was a loss to his former team at home.
I will preface this by saying that I am a UW Husky fan that was never fond of the work Sarkisian did at UW, but the biggest question for me is how long has this behavior been enabled by upper campus at UW and USC? The LA Times cites multiple former players at Washington making suggestive statements about his behavior while he was at Washington, and there have also been reports of philandering that have led to his ex-wife Stephanie Sarkisian filing for divorce in April. So if all that was actually going on why was he hired to be the head coach of one of the most prestigious football programs in America, especially with a questionable football record of 31-26 while as the head coach at Washington? Based on the reports out the debacle seems like nothing less than a black mark and probably a fireable offense for AD Pat Haden. He is not alone however as UW athletic director Scott Woodward (who hired Sarkisian in 2009) also has some tough questions that need to be answered about Sarkisian’s behavior during his 5 year run at Washington.
As for Sarkisian, it is difficult for me to feel too sorry for him. He was given not only one but two power 5 NCAA head coaching jobs, one of them being USC, a job I didn’t think he was deserving of based on his football credentials alone. And while I understand that addiction can be a very serious mental disorder, he was given years to address his issues and get treatment and he chose not to. His misconduct has always been thrown under the rug, so the fact that USC has decided to fire him as abruptly as they have tells me that the situation must have become unsalvageable. He’s going to need to take some serious time away from football to get treatment, and then maybe he can resurface as a consultant or a coordinator within the next couple of years. He’s going to need to earn another head coaching job in major college football and not have it given to him, unlike the first time around when he was hired as the head coach at Washington after only 2 years as a coordinator at USC. Given such a position at such a young age he never really had to grow up as a coach and a person, which was probably as much a part of his issues as anything.
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