Steve Sarkisian celebrating a Trojan win in the Coliseum. Photo courtesy of FanSided.com
MY VIEW OF EVERYTHING THAT HAS GONE DOWN AT USC
Before I say anything else, let me make something crystal clear:
I am VERY sympathetic towards now-former Trojan football coach Steve Sarkisian and the issues that he is going through.
Which goes beyond and is far more important than any success that ‘SC has on the football field as only a really heartless person would not feel similarly.
I join the many other fans and others that are praying for Sarkisian, and sincerely hope that he gets the help he needs and gets well.
Having said all of that, there’s something else that I have felt quite strongly, ever since the ex-USC coach was hired by Athletic Director Pat Haden in early 2014:
Steve Sarkisian should have NOT been hired to be Trojans’ head football coach in the first place.
Not because of any drinking problems, which I admittedly knew nothing about, but because I felt at that time, after all the drama with the firing of Lane Kiffin in 2013 and interim coach Ed Orgeron, after essentially saving ‘SC’s season, angrily leaving the school before the Trojans’ bowl game after being told that he was not going to be the permanent head coach.
Which I thought was an enormous mistake on USC’s part as they more or less screwed Orgeron, by the way…
After that Orgeron episode, I felt that Haden should have hired someone with no ties to the Pete Carroll era (Kiffin and Sarkisian were both assistants under him), to wipe the slate clean of all things Carroll and start fresh after the sanctions that were handed down in 2010.
Indeed, I wrote an article for FanSided.com soon after that 2013 season, which listed the coaches that the Trojans should have strongly considered to be their next head coach; Sarkisian was NOT one of the three men I listed.
On the top of that list was current Oakland Raider coach – and former USC All-American linebacker – Jack Del Rio, who was interviewed but ultimately passed over by Haden in favor of Sarkisian in what I felt was a huge botch as Del Rio, a longtime NFL standout as a player AND a coach as well as an ‘SC alum, would have instantly raised the level of pride on that team and that campus to huge heights, along with gaining instant credibility.
I remember telling someone that the hiring of Del Rio would have made opponents and opposing fans – particularly UCLA fans – worried.
Of course it’s too late for that possibility now, as the USC brass has turned to offensive coordinator Clay Helton to lead the Trojans for their final seven games, starting this Saturday when they face longtime historic rival Notre Dame for the 87th time.
As for what should happen at University Park going forward, it’s quite simple:
They need to do what they should have done after the 2013 campaign – wipe the slate clean of all things Carroll and hire someone with no ties to that era.
Of course the (extremely) wealthy and powerful Trojan alumni and boosters dearly want Haden to get a big name guy, but you know what?
If USC wins the rest of their games, or goes 6-1, they may want to just go ahead and remove the “interim” label from Helton as he now has an opportunity to do what Orgeron did two years before:
Save the Trojans’ season.
If two of those six or seven wins are in South Bend and in the Coliseum against UCLA, breaking the Bruins’ three-game win streak against Troy and subsequently earning back the Victory Bell, Helton will more than deserve the job.
Thus proving that hiring big name coaches like the Philadelphia Eagles’ (and former Oregon Ducks coach) Chip Kelly and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer can be a bit overrated.
Giving a pep talk to his players. Photo courtesy of carrollcountytimes.com