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Lane and Sark

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It's hard to avoid the story of the week. 

Pete Carroll's coaching prodigies squaring off inside the Coliseum that once saw them grow as an offensive tandem.

Lane Kiffin was only 25 when he arrived at USC in 2001 to coach tight ends.  Green on his resume, but full of guile.

Steve Sarkisian was 26 upon his first arrival at Troy as an offensive assistant.  A Norm Chow pupil from BYU, he would soon take responsibility for the quarterback position.
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Kiffin would eventually tutor some of the greatest receivers in USC's history, Mike Williams, Keary Colbert, Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith.

Sarkisian worked voice-in-helmet with Heisman-winning signal-callers Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart.

Like quarterback-to-receiver, Lane and Sark were the perfect duo to build a high-powered offensive staff around.

When master Chow left for the NFL, the rising stars shared offensive gameplan responsibilities with Kiffin calling down the plays from on high and Sarkisian cultivating the message below.

In 2005, they combined masterfully to lead one of the greatest offenses in the history of college football.

Kiffin left Troy a season later only to eventually return as the head coach.  Sarkisian stayed at USC a few years longer only to leave for the Washington job.

And now they are back together, yet opposed. 
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Sarkisian admitted that last year he wanted to "impress" Pete Carroll, but he only wants to beat Lane Kiffin.  Kiffin hopes to deflect attention away from the personal matchup and restore the team-first focus.

But both men concede that they keep in fairly constant contact.

"It's a good friendship and one that keeps us healthy in the profession," Sarkisian said of their tendency to bounce ideas off of each other.

And the communication channels are still open even as gameday approaches.

"He'll send text messages to manipulate something or try and trick me into something," Kiffin said earlier this week.

Sark texted Kiffin the other night at 2:30 a.m. saying he was just going to bed.  Kiffin wished him goodnight and asked him what sleep is like.  He was still up working.

Sarkisian called the Trojans "the most talented team in the conference" to which Kiffin responded, "That's an old Lou Holtz trick that he learned watching TV a long time ago."

After talking down about his own team, a reporter quipped, "That's also an old Lou Holtz trick."

Kiffin: "We watched the same show."

UW coaches Nick Holt (bottom row 2nd from left) and (next to Kiffin) Steve Sarkisian in 2006.
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