Can Sarkisian Return The Trojans Back To Glory?

USC Trojans Football
USC Trojans
In a surprise move USC Athletic Director Pat Haden moved quickly and hired former USC assistant and current Washington Head Coach Steve Sarkisian to be the Trojans next head coach. The hiring neglected a drawn out national search and kept the decision within the USC family. Rumored candidates such as Jack Del Rio, James Franklin and interim Head Coach Ed Orgeron didn’t even interview for the position. Sources close to the program indicated that Haden offered to make Orgeron the assistant head coach and one of the college footballs highest paid college football assistants but Orgeron decided to resign to pursue other options.

The decision to hire Sarkisian was an interesting move due to the similar pedigree Sarkisian shared with fired Head Coach Lane Kiffin. In fact Kiffin and Sarkisian were so close during their time co-managing the offense under former Head Coach Pete Carroll that the duo was known as “Sarkiffian”. Like Kiffin, Sarkisian is an attempt to recapture the greatness the program enjoyed under Pete Carroll.

Perhaps the decision makes sense. Sarkisian has proven at Washington that he has the ability to turn around the program. The cupboard is also far from bare at USC as the Trojans proved in the run they made under Orgeron. Sarkisian is bringing in his defensive coordinator from Washington, Justin Wilcox, who brings a solid reputation for teaching defensive football. From all accounts Sarkisian is much more charismatic and press friendly than Kiffin and should charm rather than alienate the USC boosters. He’ll need to turn on the charm immediately and rebuild any potential relationships that the resignation of Orgeron created. Orgeron was a popular figure, especially among the players.

The issue with the decision for Haden is if it doesn’t work out. Choosing Sarkisian, like staying with Orgeron, is an easy decision to second guess. If the Trojans don’t have success under Sarkisian it’s Haden who will receive the bulk of the criticism. A bold move, such as hiring Jon Gruden or making a strong play for Chris Peterson may have insulated Haden a bit from the potential critics who will surely pop up if Sarkisian doesn’t enjoy instant success. The scene in Los Angeles is quite a bit different than when Kiffin took over. In Jim Mora Jr. the UCLA Bruins have a real program and are primed to become the football power in Los Angeles. The success of UCLA is more competition for the coveted Southern California recruits. The competition is even greater with the improvement of the Arizona State and Arizona programs. Both Arizona schools have hired head coaches with a national reputation that run exciting wide-open offenses. They are quickly becoming desirable destinations for many USC targets.

The Trojans have a potential superstar quarterback in Max Browne, who was able to complete his redshirt season with both Kiffin and Orgeron resisting the urge to pull his redshirt. The program has one more season before they have full available scholarships so it makes sense for Sarkisian to usher in the Max Browne era immediately, as early as spring practice. If Browne can bring some excitement into the program the Trojans can charge into 2015 with all of their NCAA sanctions lifted and a potential Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback.

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