Steve Sarkisian, the UW head coach famous for never beating Oregon, has accepted a head coaching position at USC. Sarkisian was an assistant in the Pete Carroll era, so his return to Los Angeles immediately makes the Men of Troy a legit BCS threat again–at least in the minds of some Trojan fans.
It’s an odd choice for USC. The Trojans might be in a several year lull, but USC is still one of ‘those’ jobs. No, Nick Saban isn’t walking through Pat Haden’s office door, but the Trojans have the money and the resources to get pretty much anybody they wanted. And, for some reason, that person is a man who’s crowning achievement was this year’s eight wins, and a man who has been at the helm of an (at least) three game losing streak in every season he coached the team.
Sure, eight wins is a lot more than the number of wins the Huskies had the season before Sarkisian took over. Eight more. But Washington is a program that expects to return to their Rose Bowl ways from decades ago, and despite the Huskies starting each of the last several seasons thinking it was going to finally be ‘their year’ again, Sarkisian is just five games over .500 in his UW career.
Meanwhile, USC–the athletic department that fired Lane Kiffin by pulling him off the team bus at LAX in the middle of the night–lost the opportunity to keep the man who salvaged their season on board. The Trojans offered Orgeron a raise to be an assistant, and as he well should have, coach O said no thank you.
It’s not that Sarkisian is a bad football coach. This season’s three game losing streak featured two games against teams that were in the top five at the time and the Huskies beat Stanford last year–but if the Trojans were looking for a man that could beat the Pac-12’s new power, they had their man in Orgeron.
Sarkisan’s ability to recruit pairs well with a school like USC. The Huskies had strong recruiting hauls over the last few seasons, and Southern Cal recruits from a deeper talent pool.
Somebody, somewhere, is getting a great coach in Orgeron. Perhaps that someone will even be Washington, but that’s for another day. The question here is why that school isn’t USC. Orgeron had clearly won over the Trojans locker room and the team was having success on the field more consistently than they have in well over a year.
But USC chose to bring back their former assistant, and let the man who brought their program back into relevancy walk away. If Orgeron ends up in the Pac-12–and there may be a few vacancies this offseason–he’ll get the chance to show USC what they missed out on.
Well, that or Sarkisian will completely work out at USC, Orgeron will fade into obscurity and I’ll look like a fool. That could happen too.