Reports: Steve Sarkisian leaving Washington for USC
By Brady Henderson
ESPN and other media outlets are reporting that Huskies head football coach Steve Sarkisian is leaving Washington for the same job at USC.
Neither school nor Sarkisian have made an announcement.
Sarkisian confirmed Monday morning in a radio interview that he met with USC athletic director Pat Haden over the weekend, but did not characterize the meeting as an interview for the Trojans’ head-coaching vacancy.
Sarkisian spent seven seasons as an offensive assistant with USC and is a native of nearby Torrance, Calif., and his ties to both the area and the program immediately led to speculation that he could be a candidate to take that job once coach Lake Kiffin was fired in September. Reports from ESPN radio personality Colin Cowherd and college football reporter Joe Schad as well as Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News – among others – indicate that it is in fact happening.
Among the key questions now include who Washington looks to as a replacement and which assistant coaches Sarkisian will take with him to USC. Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox would likely be a candidate to be the Huskies’ next head coach, but a report indicates that he will follow Sarkisian to USC.
Sarkisian, hired after Washington’s football program hit rock bottom with an 0-12 season in 2008, has gone 34-29 during a five-year tenure that includes three bowl appearances. The Huskies won the Apple Cup on Friday to improve to 8-4, ensuring them of their best season under Sarkisian.
While he’s undoubtedly brought the Huskies back to respectability, Sarkisian has come under fire from some observers who feel the program should be further along given how long he’s had and how other Pac-12 teams like UCLA and Arizona State made quicker turnarounds under new head coaches.
Sarkisian is leaving Washington on his own terms, however, taking what is considered one of the premier jobs in college football.
Quarterback Keith Price and linebacker Shaq Thompson were among the first Huskies to react to the news via Twiter. Price tweeted “[hashtag]Sheesh!” while Thompson’s tweet read, “It is what it is! Life goes on!” with the hashtag, “CollegeIsABusiness”. Tight end Austin-Seferian Jenkins tweeted this: “Happy for Coach Sark. Husky Fans we still have a bright future”.