The USC Trojans vowed to move quickly in their search for the next head coach and they seem close to fulfilling that promise. According to reports, Steve Sarkisian is set to leave the Washington Huskies to return to the Coliseum. While nothing has been confirmed quite yet, Washington has scheduled a team meeting for this afternoon that was previously not expected and some of the other coaching candidates, including Chris Petersen of the Boise State Broncos, have backed away from the position.
According to sources, Sarkisian interviewed with USC athletic director Pat Haden over the weekend for the vacant position. The former USC assistant coach was with the Trojans for seven seasons as an assistant (2001 to 2003 and 2005 to 2008) and acted as the offensive coordinator in 2007 and 2008. During his time there under head coach Pete Carroll, USC went 74-15, including 22-3 when he was calling plays. While at USC, Sarkisian worked with two Heisman Trophy winners in quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart.
Familiarity with the program seems to be Sarkisian’s biggest asset to the job as his Washington clubs have failed to really break out despite very talented rosters. At 8-4 in 2013, Sarkisian won more than seven games in a season for the first time as a head coach and has posted a record of just 34-29 in five seasons with the Huskies. He is the only current head coach in the Pac-12 to have never won nine games or more in a season.
The move will be met with mixed reactions from USC fans who expected to get a major hire for the next head coach. There has been a sentiment of wanting to distance the program from the Carroll coaching tree with the unfortunate tenure of Lane Kiffin, but Sarkisian seems to be another attempt to promote a former assistant to try and re-capture the dominance of the Carroll era. Is Sarkisian the right guy to return the Trojans to the top of the Pac-12?