Steve Sarkisian Named USC Head Football Coach
Dec. 2, 2013
Fifth-year Washington head football coach Steve Sarkisian, who previously spent 7 years as an assistant at USC, including on the 2003 national championship squad and 2 seasons as the Trojans' offensive coordinator, has been named USC's head coach, Trojan athletic director Pat Haden announced today (Dec. 2).
"We are delighted to welcome Steve Sarkisian back to the Trojan Family," said Haden. "We conducted a very exhaustive and thorough search, pinpointing about 20 candidates and interviewing five of them. We kept coming back to Sark. He is the only one who was offered the job. I believe in my gut that he is the right coach for USC at this time.
"He embodies many of the qualities for which we looked. He is an innovative coach who recruits well and develops players. He is a proven and successful leader. He connects with people. He has energy and passion. He knows how to build a program and create a culture that we value. He is committed to academic success and rules compliance. And he understands the heritage and tradition of USC."
Said Sarkisian: "First, I'd like to thank the University of Washington and athletic director Scott Woodward for the opportunity they gave me five years ago. I believe the Husky program is in a better place now than when we arrived, and I am proud and thankful of the players for that.
"That said, I am extremely excited to be coming home to USC and for the opportunity that USC presents to win championships. I can't wait to get started."
Ed Orgeron, who served as USC's interim head coach the past 8 games of the 2013 season, said he is leaving USC to pursue head coaching opportunities.
"I am grateful to the University of Southern California for the great time I had here," said Orgeron. "I'm especially grateful for the players on this year's team, the coaching staff and the Trojan Family for the way they all fought through adversity and became one. I'm also thankful for all the Trojan players and family members who have become close personal friends during my 11 years at USC. I am especially proud of this year's team and coaching staff, who had to start a new season and then bonded, played together as a family and competed like Trojans. I'll forever be grateful to the University of Southern California. Fight On!"
Said Haden: "Ed is one of the greatest Trojans ever and we thank him for all he has done for the program. He and I had a very open and frank discussion. He understandably was disappointed when I told him we were going in a different direction. We talked about the possibility of him remaining at USC, but Ed wants to be a head coach and I am supportive of that. I told him I will do whatever I can to help him in that pursuit."
This is the 39-year-old Sarkisian's fifth stop at USC as a coach or athlete. He played baseball briefly at USC before transferring to BYU. He then served as a Trojan offensive assistant coach, came back after a brief absence as the quarterbacks coach, then after a year in the NFL returned and rose to the offensive coordinator role.
At Washington, Sarkisian inherited a program in 2009 that had won just 12 games during the previous 5 seasons, including going winless the year before he took over. Despite that challenge, he guided the Huskies to bowl games the past 4 seasons (Alamo, Holiday, Las Vegas, plus a bowl to be determined in 2013). His 8 victories this year are the most at UW since 2000.
During his time in Seattle, his teams posted 8 wins over AP Top 25 teams, including twice over the Trojans (No. 3 USC and No. 19 California in 2009, No. 18 USC, No. 18 Nebraska and No. 24 Oregon State in 2010, No. 7 Oregon State and No. 8 Stanford in 2012 and No. 19 Boise State in 2013). He won 4 of his 5 Apple Cup games against in-state rival Washington State. He produced a 1,000-yard rusher each year. His overall Washington record was 34-29.
This year's school record-setting Washington offense is in the national Top 20 in total offense, rushing offense, pass efficiency offense and scoring offense, while the defense is in the Pac-12's Top 5 in every category. The 2013 Husky squad features standouts such as Doak Walker Award finalist tailback Bishop Sankey (No. 3 nationally in rushing), quarterback Keith Price (UW's recordholder in career TD passes, passing efficiency and completion percentage), 2-time Mackey Award finalist tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and safety Sean Parker (11 career interceptions).
Among the UW players Sarkisian has coached are 7 NFL draftees, including quarterback Jake Locker, cornerback Desmond Trufant, linebackers Donald Butler and All-American Mason Foster and defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, plus All-Pac-12 tailback Chris Polk.
At USC, Sarkisian coached Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart, along with NFL signalcallers Mark Sanchez, John David Booty and Matt Cassel. The Trojans went 23-3 when he was the offensive coordinator.
Sarkisian originally joined the USC staff as an offensive assistant in January of 2001. Then, after going to San Diego State briefly as the quarterbacks coach in January of 2002, he returned to USC in March of 2002 to handle the quarterbacks fulltime for 2 seasons (2002-03).
In 2002, Palmer won the Heisman and Unitas Award en route to setting the Pac-10 career records for passing yards and total offense (he was the No. 1 pick in the 2003 NFL draft), plus he was an All-American first teamer.
In 2003, Leinart was an All-American first teamer and was the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year (he finished sixth in the Heisman voting) while setting Pac-10 season records for TD passes (35) and consecutive passes without an interception (212). He also had the highest passing efficiency rating of any USC quarterback (163.2). USC won its first national championship since 1978.
Sarkisian spent the 2004 season as the quarterbacks coach with the Oakland Raiders. His quarterbacks passed for more than 4,000 yards in 2004 as Oakland ranked eighth in passing in the NFL.
He returned to the Trojan staff in February of 2005 as the assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach for 4 seasons (2005-08). He added the offensive coordinator role in 2007 and 2008.
In 2005, Leinart won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, finished third in the Heisman voting, was a finalist for the Davey O'Brien, Maxwell and Walter Camp Awards and was an All-American first teamer. He set 16 USC records (11 were Pac-10 marks and 2 was an NCAA record). He was the 10th pick of the 2006 NFL draft. USC's 4,157 passing yards in 2005 was a school record and the Trojans were fifth nationally in passing (319.8).
In 2006, Booty made the All-Pac-10 first team as he led the league in passing efficiency and total offense. He was a fifth round pick in the 2008 NFL draft.
In 2008, Sanchez made the All-Pac-10 first team while leading the conference in passing efficiency and total offense. He then was the fifth pick of the 2009 NFL draft. USC was in the national Top 20 in total offense, scoring offense and rushing offense.
While Sarkisian was at USC, the Trojans played in 5 Rose Bowls--2004, 2006 (BCS Championship Game), 2007, 2008 and 2009--as well as the 2003 Orange Bowl and 2001 Las Vegas Bowl.
Sarkisian spent the 2000 season as the quarterbacks coach at El Camino Junior College in Torrance (Calif.). His quarterback, Robert Hodge, earned All-American honors. El Camino played in the CHIPs For Kids Bowl.
Sarkisian starred at the quarterback position at the prep, collegiate and pro levels. He was with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League for 3 seasons (1997-99). He started in 1999 and threw 16 touchdowns.
He had a record-setting 2-year (1995-96) career at BYU, where he was coached by former USC assistant Norm Chow. He completed 549-of-824 passes (66.6%) for 7,755 yards and 55 TDs in his career. His 162.0 career passing efficiency rating was third on the all-time NCAA list. As a senior in 1996, he led the nation in passing efficiency (173.6, then the fourth best mark ever) as the Western Athletic Conference champion Cougars went 14-1 and won the 1997 Cotton Bowl. He was the WAC Offensive Player of the Year in 1996, won All-American second team honors and played in the East-West Shrine Game and Hula Bowl. As a 1995 junior, he made the All-WAC team and led BYU to the WAC title. Against Fresno State that season, he set an NCAA game completion percentage record when he hit 31-of-34 passes (91.2%).
He came to BYU from El Camino Junior College, where he starred for 2 seasons (1993-94). He was a J.C. All-American first teamer as a 1994 sophomore and won All-Mission Conference honors in 1993 as a freshman. He also played baseball (shortstop) at El Camino in 1993.
He actually began his college career at USC, spending the fall of 1992 on the Trojan baseball team before transferring to El Camino.
He was a standout football and baseball player at West Torrance (Calif.) High.
He earned his bachelor's degree in sociology from BYU in 1997 after getting his associate's degree in general studies from El Camino in 1994.
He was born March 8, 1974. He and his wife, Stephanie, have 2 daughters, Ashley, 10, and Taylor, 5, and a son, Brady, 8.
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