After Boise State’s Chris Petersen reportedly turned down USC again over the weekend, USC hired Washington coach Steve Sarkisian to be its next head coach on Monday.
According to an ESPN report, USC athletic director Pat Haden hired the former USC assistant coach after speaking to him over the weekend.
Interim head coach Ed Orgeron inspired the Trojans after he took over from embattled and often despised head coach Lane Kiffin, but he was not Haden’s first choice, especially after the shellacking USC’s cross-town rival UCLA put on them last weekend.
Sarkisian had two stints as an assistant at USC before taking the Washington job, and he was most recently at USC from 2005 to 2008. He was the co-offensive coordinator during the 2007 and 2008 seasons along with Kiffin. After the USC program was hit with heavy sanctions in 2010 over improper benefits Reggie Bush and his family received during the 2005 season, there was speculation that Sarkisian may want to come back to USC after the sanctions were lifted.
Most of the sanctions will be lifted at the start of next year. For its next recruiting class, USC will again be allowed to sign 25 players. And in 2015, the program will be allowed to again have a full slate of 85 scholarship players.
USC got docked with stiff sanctions, which included a loss of 30 scholarships over the 2011, 2012, and 2013 seasons. Next season, USC will again have a full slate of scholarships they can use to rebuild the program, which means Sarkisian can leverage a job that is considered one of the five best in college football to stockpile recruits who want to come to the school for its traditions, California sun, and song girls.
Sarkisian’s current contract, which he signed in 2011, guaranteed him $2.55 million this year, $2.7 million next year, and $2.85 million in 2015. Though terms of a contract were not disclosed, USC may have had to pay more, especially if one factors in California’s income tax. Washington has no state income tax.
California taxes incomes above $1 million at 13.3%, which has caused athletes like Phil Mickelson to consider leaving the state. The state’s high tax rate has already caused a host of other athletes like Tiger Woods to move out of the state.
As Washington succeeded with Sarkisian while the USC program had some down years, Sarkisian became to USC what Washington men’s basketball coach Lorenzo Romar has been to UCLA basketball, a former assistant coach some in the fan base believed would be a better fit than the current coach.
That analogy is no longer the case with Monday’s reported hiring.
photo credit: USATSI