If Thursday night’s 17 to 12 loss to Washington is not enough to create a major shake up at USC, then nothing short of a catastrophic earthquake will get the Trojans to embrace the future by letting go of the past. In case they have yet to notice, the Pete Carroll era is dead. Nothing is going to bring it back.
However, try telling this to the alumni who desperately long for those days. Try convincing Athletic Director Pat Haden who, if he could, would hire his old coach John McKay if he were not dead. Why is it USC fans see this while those in charge remain in denial?
USC football is exactly what its three wins and two losses indicate; a mediocre team. They are the end result of what happens when four and five star recruits are coached by men who lack the ability to develop the tremendous talent they have recruited.
On paper, there are only a small handful of teams that should be able to beat USC in any given year. However, the USC coaching staff has been unable to convince its players games are not decided on paper before they have been played. You actually have to go out and execute a superior game plan if you expect to beat an opponent.
Current USC head football coach Steve Sarkisian is no better than his old pal Lane Kiffen. Both were considered boy wonder geniuses when they were assistant coaches under Pete Carroll and both have proven they are unable to succeed beyond a mediocre level as a head coach.
Since Carroll left USC to coach the Seattle Seahawks, the USC football team has only played consistently hard for one person, Ed Orgeron, the man who served as the interim coach between Kiffen’s firing and Sarkisian’s hiring.
Orgeron was also the man who served as Carroll’s top recruiter and managed to restore fun into SC football while simultaneously getting players to play above their heads. Unfortunately, Haden passed on hiring Orgeron permanently, as well as other top candidates, and USC is no where further along today than they were the day Haden fired Kiffen.
How does Steve Sarkisian keep his job after losing to a much less talented Washington squad who is coached by one of the candidates Haden interviewed and passed on in order to hire Stevie Boy Wonder? In fact, how does Haden keep his job as Athletic director? If these two questions are being asked over and over again by SC fans, they certainly being asked by influential alumni as well as the University’s president. If not, then there is no future for USC football.
At a time in which the NFL has all but promised next year relocating one or two teams to Los Angeles, USC football runs the risk of becoming as irrelevant as its basketball program. To stick with the status quo is only telling fans the university is pleased with the direction of its football program. If this is the case, then there was never any reason for the school to fight so hard against the sanctions it received from the NCAA.
Fight on! Not even the most loyal USC fan can claim there is any fight in the Trojans. With Notre Dame, Utah, and UCLA left to play, USC will be lucky to escape this year with just five losses. Teams that begin the year ranked in the top five do not end up with five losses if there is any fight in them.
USC has to say good-bye to both Pat Haden and Steve Sarkisian. Together, they only serve as reminders of what USC once was and never will be as long as either one sticks around. Now is the time to be bold and to find a new Athletic Director who only cares about the future and not the past.
Perhaps they need to roll the dice, and the big bucks, and go convince Chip Kelly he is much better suited for USC than he is with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Smart people cut their losses early and know when to move on. Aggressive people pounce without warning. USC football has been neither smart nor aggressive since Pete Carroll left, which explains why they flounder.
Fight on? Are you kidding? Flounder on best describes what is now USC football.
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Update: USC has placed head coach Steve Sarkisian on a “leave of absence.” Offensive coordinator Clay Helton will be the interim head coach.
No reason was given for the leave, but Sarkisian has been in treatment since a pep rally in August when he appeared drunk and embarrassed everyone in attendance.
Athletic Director Pat Haden told the press he spoke to Sarkisian after the coach didn’t show up for a team practice on Sunday and said, “It was very clear to me that he is not healthy. I asked him to take an indefinite leave of absence.”
Clay Helton was the interim head coach once before, after Lane Kiffen was fired two years ago and Ed Orgeron quit before Sarkisian took over as head coach.
The students are obviously very shocked by these events. On Saturday they will face one of their long time rivals, Notre Dame. How all of this affects the team’s performance will be on display at that time.
(L.A. Post-Examiner Staff contributed to this update)
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Update: It is official: Steve Sarkisian has been fired as head coach of the USC Trojans football team, it was announced by press release today.
Athletic Director Pat haden said in his statement: “
After careful consideration of what is in the best interest of the university and our student-athletes, I have made the decision to terminate Steve Sarkisian, effective immediately. I want to thank Clay Helton for stepping into the interim head coach role, and I want to add how proud I am of our coaching staff and players and the way they are responding to this difficult situation.
“Through all of this we remain concerned for Steve and hope that it will give him the opportunity to focus on his personal well being.”
(Claudia Gestro contributed to this update)
(All photos via YouTube unless otherwise noted.
top photo: Cody Kessler pass to Steven Mitchell, Jr. is picked off by Darren Gardenhire in the first quarter.)
Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program.