Sark is the Right Hire for USC
Steve Sarkisian will be USC’s football coach next season. His name flew relatively under the radar while names such as Ed Oregeron, Chris Peterson, and James Franklin were filling the rumor mills. Even though other names drew excitement, Pat Haden picked the right guy.
It may seem a little sudden for Pat Haden to have picked a new head coach but he had a year to think about it. In a perfect world Haden would have fired Kiffin a year ago but because of scholarship sanctions and question marks throughout the depth chart the team was going to be a disappointment to USC standards no matter who the coach was. By letting Kiffin stay he saved whoever he was going to hire from having a bad first season. He hasn’t been looking for a new coach for half a season; he has been looking since last year.
Sark is the right guy for a lot of reasons, he’s a Southern California guy, a smart football mind, young, and most importantly he knows how to turn around a program. Sark was at USC during Pete Carroll’s reign so he knows what takes to win at USC. Washington was 8th in the nation in yards this season and 17th in points. The year before Sark arrived they were 117 and 118 in those categories respectively. The Washington roster is comprised of 50 players from California so he’s well tapped into the recruiting pipelines in the area. Most impressively he took a Huskies team that was winless to what will be four straight winning seasons after a 5-7 first year.
The most obvious proof of good coaching is when a new coach is brought in and the players don’t change and the results do; which is why some Trojan fans wanted to keep Coach O. In reality he was just a short term fix who was mainly successful because the players were so excited to play for anyone except Kiffin. Oregeron’s best asset is his ability to recruit but his Xs and Os knowledge is less than desirable. Oregeron is an exceptional recruiter but he wouldn’t be able to do much better then Sark. Sark can recruit well and the best recruiting tool for USC is the program itself which can’t exactly walk out the door.
Chris Peterson was an attractive name but a smart pass. The last coach to leave Boise was Dan Hawkins who was a failure at Colorado. Peterson took over a Boise State program that already had some momentum and recruits a different kind of kid then USC. USC is going to get the 5-star prima donnas and Boise State takes the second tier players with something to prove. It would be a major adjustment for him to make the transition from being a big fish in a little pond to being thrown into the ocean at USC.
James Franklin has been impressive at Vanderbilt taking the SEC’s doormat and turning them into a competitive group. However he’s never coached on the west coast so recruiting would be an issue and like Peterson he goes after a different type of kid. While USC is a very good academic institution it’s reputation for sports prevents it from being lumped in with schools like Stanford and Vanderbilt. Franklin takes smart athletic kids and creates a fundamentally sound intelligent team. What has worked in the past at USC can best be described as controlled chaos. Under Pete Carroll there were a lot of bone headed plays but the team had the best athletes, had fun and played loose so they were able to make up for those mistakes.
USC made the right choice. They picked a guy who is a proven winner and most importantly someone who has seen first –hand how to win at USC.