While it’s sooner than expected, the USC Trojans head coaching search is officially over, as the team announced Monday that they have hired former Trojans assistant Steve Sarkisian, who will leave the University of Washington to be their next head coach.
When it comes to hiring Sarkisian, I feel it’s a solid hire but I don’t feel it’s a great hire. I said from the beginning my top choices for USC were James Franklin of Vanderbilt and Chris Peterson of Boise State. I have no problem with Sarkisian but I think the Trojans settled somewhat with this hire. Now this is not to say that Sarkisian won’t be a good coach for the Trojans.
He brings plenty to the USC program. When it comes to Sarkisian, he has a lot of familiarity with the Trojans seeing that he was the USC offensive coordinator and associate head coach for seven seasons. He moved on to the Washington Huskies where he rebuilt their entire program. While his career record of 34-29 at Washington wasn’t amazing, he still lead the Huskies to eight wins this season and their fourth consecutive bowl appearance. Now he is back to do the same thing for the USC Trojans which I feel he is more than capable of doing.
He brings his amazing ability to recruit especially in the west coast. While at Washington, he was able to recruit and sign Southern California products like quarterback Kelly Price, receivers Jaydon Mickens, John Ross and corner-backs Sean Parker and Will Shamburger.
He also should be able to help with the current quarterback situation that the Trojans have. He helped to coach quarterback Carson Palmer back when he was at USC, along with Matt Leinart and Mark Sanchez. He continued that trend while at Washington when he coached up quarterback Jake Locker and I must say he did a good job of coaching and building up current Washington quarterback, Kelly Price. Which leads me to believe that he will be able to fix the current quarterback problems that the Trojans currently have. I mean think about what he did for the offense of the Huskies, don’t forget that Washington averaged 500 offensive yards a game this season. I don’t know about you but I think that USC could use that type of offensive production.
However, I must say that I still have my concerns about this hire. I said earlier, that I wanted to see Franklin or Peterson to be hired for this job, mainly because I know they have the ability to rebuild the Trojans, recruit and take the Trojans back to Rose Bowl and National Title game. I’m not sure Sarkisian is the guy to do that. Don’t get me wrong I think he is solid coach but I have feeling he could be a stepping stone for this team. Meaning, he will be the guy to re-build the team and bring back the balance but may not be the guy to take them all the way back to the National Title game. For example, I consider Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz to be a stepping stone for the Lions, he has done a good job of balancing the team out and making them better but I don’t think he is the guy to lead the Lions to a Superbowl win. That’s how I feel about Sarkisian.
It would have been nice to see USC make a point to go after Franklin (Vanderbilt) more before going with Sarkisian. Instead they decided to go with the safe but effective choice. Like I said earlier, Washington is a totally different team because of Sarkisian but I have to say that Washington team had way more potential than was shown. In my opinion, Sarkisian’s teams at Washington were average despite them having one of the top recruiting classes almost every year. Now some of that goes to execution of the players but some of it goes to Sarkisian and his coaching staff.
Overall, I feel this is a solid hire but I felt there were better head coaches that they could have gone with and I felt they could have taken their time in deciding. Nonetheless, the decision has been made. I look forward to seeing the Trojans this off-season as well as next season. I will say again, I think Sarkisian is a solid hire and just the guy to re-build, recruit and bring balance back to the USC program but I’m still not sure if he is the guy to lead them to what they once were, which was consistent Pac-12 title winners and Rose Bowl and National Title contenders. I could be wrong but only time will tell.
Written by LBeasley, Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
Listen to LBeasley’s Radio Show, “Sports Talk with L-Beasley” every Mon, Wed & Fri from 6-8pm (ET) on LBeasley.com