Trojans Shaken, Haden's Stirred: Sark on the Rocks
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With damn near everyone looking at an overrated team through tinsel-covered glasses, 2015 was always gonna be a rough season for USC's Steve Sarkisian.
Now he knows how rough.
The Trojans do have talent, but never, ever did they look to an objective observer like anything more than part of the mix in that bastion of egalitarianism that is this year's Pac-12.
There were warning signs away from campus, too.
- Stephanie Sarkisian filed for divorce in April, and
- Their house went on the market -- for a cool $8.55million -- which is a strong hint she meant it.
The tipping point -- pun semi-intended -- came with growing allegations of Sarkisian's alcohol use becoming abundantly overt. When whispers of it began spilling into the game threads, AD Pat Haden had to make a move.
What's really sad is the perception that USC's losses to Stanford and Washington were "bad" ones. The Cardinal can match up with any team in the nation right now, and the young Huskies have the Pac-12's top-rated defense.
The issue, though, is coaching. Sarkisian is simply not a thorough game prepper and even less of a game manager. It's why Washington fans weren't sad to see him go.
Here's but one example as to why: In the 2012 Las Vegas Bowl, Boise State beat the Huskies, 28-26, with this trick play ultimately being the difference:
Chris Petersen called that one for the Broncos back then, as he is wont to do.
Wouldn't a thorough coach be ready for something like a play that beat him only three seasons ago? Rhetorical question.
Bummer about the personal problems, but that's why USC made the announcement that it's time to turn the page.
Ironically, before hiring Sarkisian, USC had approached Petersen. He wasn't interested. Haden had a gem on Lane Kiffin's staff at the time -- Ed Orgeron, who was the players' choice -- but couldn't shake the lure of re-creating the Pete Carroll Era that was his inspiration for the ill-advised signing of Kiffin.
The Pac-12 has moved on, and if Haden's next choice to lead Troy isn't better reasoned, he will, too.