SEATTLE -- Washington's Steve Sarkisian beat his mentor, USC coach Pete Carroll, last year. But can he beat his good friend?
Sarkisian's tenure at USC will again be a story next fall when the Huskies visit USC, which is now coached by his old buddy Lane Kiffin. "Sark" and "Kiff" coached at USC for five years together and ran the Trojans offense together in 2005 and 2006 before Kiffin took an ill-fated jump to the Oakland Raiders.
The question, as it was with Carroll and Sarkisian, is can the two remain tight when they find themselves at such cross-purposes, particularly with the Huskies seemingly rising in the Pac-10 pecking order.
"I think you can," Sarkisian said. "Part of the beauty of the profession is developing friendships and relationships as you move along. We'll be great friends all the way through this -- realistically, even the week of that game. It will be a lot of fun."
The Huskies, by the way, haven't won in LA since 1996.
Back in the day when both worked for Carroll, there was plenty of competition, including intense pick-up basketball games.
"Something we learned from Pete is that sometimes the best times are when you compete with people you like, against your friends because that mind game, that chess game of really trying to figure out what they're thinking and that back-and-forth, those are the best ones to be in," Sarkisian said. "It will be fun with Kiff and I."
The competition will be just as feisty in recruiting. While USC will always have an advantage tapping into the fertile soil of Southern California recruiting, Sarkisian has made substantial in-roads. As the Huskies rise, Sark and Kiff figure to butt heads over prospects.
"Hopefully, he saves us a couple of players in LA we can recruit," Sarkisian said.