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December 2, 2013
Steve Sarkisian is USC's man
USC has hired Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian to take over the Trojan football program. Sarkisian is a former USC assistant who turned the Huskies around, taking an 0-12 team and going 34-29 over the past five seasons.
USC released a statement announcing the hire and said that Ed Orgeron would not return and that he will be pursuing other coaching opportunities.
The Trojans held a team meeting Monday afternoon where Orgeron told his players he was leaving and Sarkisian was officially announced. Orgeron and the players were all seen leaving the meeting with tears in their eyes.
Sarkisian spent seven seasons as an assistant coach at USC under Pete Carroll, with one year in between as the Oakland Raiders quarterback coach, before leaving to become the head coach in Seattle.
Washington finished 2013 with an 8-4 record, but it was an up and down ride for Sarkisian. The Huskies started out 4-0 before losing three straight games and then closing strong by winning four of the last five.
Athletic director Pat Haden's decision to go with Sarkisian is an interesting one, as many USC fans see the hire as "Lane Kiffin 2.0." In the latest USCFootball.com head coaching poll, Sarkisian had the fewest votes of any of the candidates, just 6 votes from over 530 cast.
While Kiffin and Sarkisian are good friends and were co-offensive coordinators while at USC, their personalities are significantly different. Sarkisian is more of an outgoing guy and has established a much better relationship with the media, fans and alumni than Kiffin has.
Seattle's Sports Radio KJR reported that recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi and defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox will join Sarkisian at USC. That corresponds with our sources that have indicated that Orgeron would not be retained by the new coaching staff.
The success Orgeron has had over the past eight games, going 6-2 including a win over Stanford, made it difficult for any new head coach to retain him.
At this point it seems highly unlikely that many, if any, of the current USC assistant coaches will remain on the staff.
Sarkisians' Washington contract, reportedly signed after the 2010 bowl victory, was five years for $2.25 million, rising to $2.85 million in 2015. He is expected to get a significant increase in pay for his USC contract.
An official press conference is scheduled at USC for Tuesday afternoon.
Stay tuned to USCFootball.com for more updates on this breaking story.