Sark Makes USC Look Like Vols Post Kiffin

Guys, I don’t expect you to like this because it’s a super emo time for everyone with our interim coach not getting the chance to follow in a long line of interim coaches that failed as head coaches.

But it’s my job to play devil’s advocate, even against my own fans and fanbase.  This may not apply to you all, but read it anyway.

Today, USC hired Sark away from Washington to replace Coach O who was replacing Coach Kiffin.  This was the USC reaction on Twitter:

Relax, Trojans. This is making you look like SEC fans. I get that this rock was painted for different reasons, but people who flip out about reasonable coaching hires usually think the Gulf of Mexico is the ocean.

Sark is not the big, sexy hire everyone wanted. Short of Pete Round Two or Harbaugh coming to Troy, who was that hire? There wasn’t one.

Which brings us to the second reason everyone is flipping out. People wanted to give Coach O the job. This is because after Kiffin’s 3-2 start had everyone acting like SEC fans (myself a little too), Coach O brought the fan base back, he inspired the players and made USC football feel good again.

That’s cool.

But let’s break this down a little. Sark has taken an 0-12 program to a respectable one in a part of the world (one I live in now) where you don’t get players from LA, Texas or Florida without paying for them (COUGH COUGH CHIP KELLY). Sark had to recruit mid stadium renovations and his best connections are in Southern California.

USC is one of the few schools out there that can get big AND fast players. Oregon has fast players and you see what happens when they play NFL size/speed lines like Stanford.

Sark’s head coaching record is slightly above .500, pretty much what Pete was coming into the USC job (albeit from the NFL). No one dug him either as a hire and all of those people probably named their kids after him.

Coach O was a monster failure at Ole Miss, who won plenty when they had Eli Manning. He had some recruiting, but if Kiffin’s 7-5 and 11-2 wasn’t good enough, Coach O’s previous legacy should scare us more than Sark’s.

When Coach O was at USC, he was a fourth and nine “holy shit” pass to the best receiver USC may have ever put on the field from being 5-3 with losses to both rivals and a team that had been owning us of late. No one is clamoring for a 5-3 interim coach to take over.

I love Coach O. He’s a staple of our family and we should give him so much money to talk him out of having another bad head coaching run somewhere else. We should give him a harrier jet filled with naked girls and stacks of 100s. He’s a Barkley-like figure and I will ALWAYS appreciate what he did for the positivity of the program.

But Sark is a better Xs and Os coach and he’s going to recruit well. It’s already starting.

Sark will run a pro set here because he won’t need gimmicks because USC will remain fast and big.

Another thing is that it’s a little ridiculous to kill Pat Haden over this hire when you don’t know the interview process. Armchair QBing is fine, hell, I have over a million readers a year that like seeing me be one, but keep it real. Sumlin has probably never been to Dorsey high school. Franklin doesn’t know the home address of the Mater Dei booster club heads. Pederson’s Boise State charm already missed it’s window of relevance to recruits he can’t get a phone call with already.

Sark knows all of these people and when he was recruiting for USC, they said yes. When he was recruiting for Washington, they said no. To assume Sark can’t get it done at USC is to assume USC itself cannot be a kingmaker.  King Carroll disagrees.

Am I saying Sark is going to win Rose Bowls and National Championships like crazy? No. Definitely not right away with year 238 of sanctions.

Do I think he could? Sure.

What I am certain of as the Bearfighter, a person that only has a following because I told everyone to stop overreacting when the sanctions first happened, is to stop overreacting now.

Outside of Nick Saban, rarely do coaches do the same thing two jobs in a row. It’s an unpredictable world.

I do know Sark was there, just like Kiffin, just like Coach O, during our greatest tenure in decades and he deserves some respect just like Coach O does.

This is a Trojan who left, took a lot of our staff and frankly would have been a much better hire than Kiffin, but he was probably smart enough to stay away then. Whatever he told Haden, it had to be enough.

Let’s just wait and see. We’ll never know if Coach O would have won next year and if you really loved him, wish him well at the bowl game and be glad you won’t have to find out. He’ll go out a hero.

Please. Enjoy the holidays. Root responsibly. We’ll know a lot more in September after the Dodgers win the NL West.


Filed under USC Football

25 Responses to Sark Makes USC Look Like Vols Post Kiffin

  1. Brian Chang

    Thank you for telling it like it is.

  2. HeliGeorge


    Great write up, I happen to agree with everything you said. Coach O has the opportunity to stay, he chose not to. To his credit Coach O was the glue that we needed after Kiffin was let go. He kept the team together and kept the fanbase from liquidating itself. Its also my understanding that the boosters were leaving in droves, taking their money with them. Coach O brought them back.

    I watched a very good documentary recently called “Against the Tide” recounting the historic games between USC and Alabama back in 1970. They talk about this young coach that had some experience but didn’t really bring a huge resume and had an odd offensive style that hadn’t been seen before. His name, John McKay.

    It seems USC has a history of making controversial coach hires. It seems the ones that do really well stick around for a few years, wins some games and some Rose Bowls.

    Fight ON!

    • Rick D.

      “History of making controversial hires” is an understatement.

      Since John Robinson left in the early 80’s, we’ve made one great hire (PC) and we did so only after screwing up that coaching search.

      Obviously excepting Steve Sarkisian, we aren’t historically good at it.

  3. aston martin

    lol dodgers

  4. mosesinsb

    Looking back at it now that the shock is wearing off we have to admit the following: Some will disagree Coach O was treated poorly. Seems to me they told him from day 1 he was interim. They never lied there was a search going on, and never told him he had the job – other than to say he’d be considered. He did a good job, and is now in a position to find himself a head coaching job – where he had no chance 7 games ago. Seems Coach O will benefit big time from the opportunity USC just gave him. That being said, seems like it could have been handled better. Good luck, Coach O…wish you the best !!

  5. Jim

    The problem isn’t so much they didn’t hire coach O, the problem is they hired a guy who was 1 loss away from being fired!!!

    Sark is, at his absolute best, a 10 win a season guy. That’s great if your UCLA, that’s settling if you’re USC.

  6. LBprGuy

    Sumlin has probably never been to Dorsey high school. Franklin doesn’t know the home address of the Mater Dei booster club heads.

    • Rick D.

      Yeah! Except that’s meaningless.

      Neither had a host of successful head coaches who were thrown into the fire, yet it works, in part because recruiting isn’t a job held solely by the head coach – coordinators do it as well. Sumlin at this moment would be FAR FAR better off than Pete Carroll was when hired and probably far better off than Carroll was even a year later.

  7. Scott

    Zack, you were a little premature about Coach O. He’s gone… What are your thoughts about how Pat Haden handled the part with Coach O. Looks like he did not give Ed the respect that you now want us to give Sark.

  8. Chris M

    Thanks Zack. Level heads prevail. Your take is spot on

  9. GoDucks

    My favorite part was when you called out Chip Kelly for something that Pete Carroll did to a greater extreme.

  10. This is so spot on, I wish I would have written it (although I wouldn’t have done it justice). Yesterday I was thrilled at the Sark hire and think he can do great things, because he’s got a great track record both at UW and USC. I was sad to see Coach O go, simply because he has been a staple at USC for so long and what he did in the intrium was spectacular. He’s also an amazing guy, and wonderful role model for the kids. But, he lost to our two biggest rivals and while I wanted him to stay on, I don’t think he was the right choice for head coach. Also? At a place like USC we needed a guy like Sark. He knows us, our traditions, our work ethic and what it will take to get the job done.

  11. Shotcaller

    Respectfully disagree on Sark.

    I like Coach O and what he has represented to the organization for several years, not just his recent time as HC. At a time of turmoil at SC, Coach O brought life back into the team, the fans, the university and the stadium. He connected well with everyone and the energy / motivation came along with him. I think Haden has misjudged the importance of these things and te importance of loyalty.

    Sure we didn’t win against ND and ucLa this season, but could we reasonably expect we would? These are the two timate sins of a HC at SC, but Haden was willing to turn a blind eye for far too long with Kiffin.

    Sark probably would have been a better choice than Kiffin but that didn’t happen. Sark left for UW. What makes the timing right for this hire? This feels like a story of Loyalty Lost by AD Haden.

    • admin

      Both Sark and O left for HC jobs. The difference is Sark took a no win team to a winning record. O was awful.

      They are both SC guys and both have left.

      Also, if you can beat Stanford, you can beat ND and UCLA.

    • JohninLa

      There is no “loyalty” in college football. This is demonstrated every bit as much by Coach O bolting (despite claiming numerous times he’d stay on the staff) as it is Haden hiring the person he thought best for the job. Should we have been more “loyal” to Kiffin or Hackett despite their losses?

      College football is far more pleasant to think about when we ignore the business aspect of it, yet occasionally we’re jolted back to reality. Coaches are grown men and know the high stakes of their chosen profession. That’s why they’re paid the big bucks.

    • HeliGeorge

      This may be a bit nitpicky but you point out Coach O’s influence over many years, emphasizing that his presence was felt not just while he was interim HC.

      If that is true, then why did we do better last season? How about while Kiffin was still there this season? Coach O was there for all of that, yet his influence wasn’t felt until he actually had the reins.

      I believe the players will gel around the central leader. Coach O was the guy, now Sark is the guy. Skills coaches come and go, the good ones stay and build relationships with the team but never like the head coach.

      Point of opinion, in hindsight, was it actually a good thing to shorten practices? I get the injury piece, but as far as preparation did it hurt us?

  12. CPEM

    Don’t forget: Sark was smart enough to turn down the Raiders HC position.

  13. NorCalSports

    About that 0-12 turnaround – it’s a lot easier to get things back to respectability when you come into school that has at least 11 guys who would be on NFL rosters – Jake Locker, Chris Polk, Jermaine Kearse, Mason Foster, Donald Butler, D’Andre Goodwin, Alameda Ta’amu, Daniel Te’o Nesheim, Senio Kelemete, Everrette Thompson, and Victor Aiyewa. But yeah, big time stuff.

  14. JohninLA

    Voice of reason , Zack.

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