Sarkisian playing media before playing USC
November, 9, 2011
By Ted Miller | ESPN.com
Getty ImagesWhat did Steve Sarkisian really mean when he said he would pick Matt Barkley over Andrew Luck?Washington coach Steve Sarkisian isn't afraid to express an opinion, and for that media and fans should be grateful. In an age when global warming might be attributable to the hot air spewing forth from public figures who talk a lot while saying nothing, Sarkisian is a cut-to-the-chase sort.
Sarkisian on his offense in the 34-17 loss to Oregon last weekend: "We were awful offensively.
Sarkisian on the play of his offensive line against the Ducks: ""We were poor. We were poor, at best, up front."
Sarkisian on Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck and USC quarterback Matt Barkley: "If I'm an NFL head coach right now I'd pick Matt Barkley ahead of Andrew Luck."
See he's a straight shoo ... Wait a second. Barkley over Luck? Come on? Really?
"Andrew Luck is a great football player," Sarkisian said a day later during Pac-12 coaches' teleconference. "I don't want to miss that point. He's a tremendous football player and probably will be the first pick of the draft. I don't get the first pick of the draft. I just go off of if I had a guy to run our system and what we are doing and what Matt knows and what [USC coach Lane Kiffin] has been doing with him, I think he is playing at an extremely high level. That's in no way a knock against Andrew Luck, just what I see that Matt Barkley is doing this season for USC."
This very well could be Sarkisian, a former quarterback himself who recruited Barkley while coordinating the Trojans' offense, expressing a strong, contrarian opinion. This may be him cutting to his quirky chase. Or there could be something else at work.
Such as having already played Luck for a final time on Oct. 22 and having to play Barkley on Saturday.
Further, let's get real. The Huskies have upset Barkley and the Trojans two years in a row. Luck went 3-0 versus Sarkisian, the final count in those games being 140-35.
Honest take or gamesmanship? My vote is gamesmanship. You'll note that Sark seemed to have Kiffin, his good buddy, skating backwards all week while fielding, "Guess what Sark just said" queries. Consider this: How does Kiffin respond to Sarkisian saying Barkley is better than Luck? Should he disagree?
Kiffin, by the way, knows exactly what Sarkisian has been doing. Another Sark tweak along the same lines asserted that USC is, "Probably still the most talented team in our conference.''
The import of that didn't escape Kiffin, who noted when asked about his relationship with Sarkisian that, "It's going downhill because that really didn't help me at all when he said for the second year that we are the most talented team in the country."
"Conference," not country, but it's fair to say Sarkisian had Kiffin reading the newspapers this week.
So this tit-for-tat dominated the discussion and, oh by the way, mostly allowed Sarkisian to redirect attention away from his team and the disappointing showing against the hated Ducks in the final game in Husky Stadium.
Assessments of Barkley and Luck also brought the focus away from Sarkisian's suddenly struggling quarterback, Keith Price, who has thrown six interceptions in the past three games after throwing four in the first six. He had two picks against Oregon and was sacked six times.
"He might have pressed a little bit," Sarkisian said. "You get into this moment, and the excitement of the stadium, and the game, and it's Oregon, and all the stuff that went into it. I think he tried a little too hard. I think he wanted to go out and play great."
And Price may need to be great at USC. The Trojans are surging. They've won four of five, the lone defeat being the triple-overtime thriller to Stanford on Oct. 29. Last week at Colorado, Sark's favorite quarterback threw a school-record six touchdown passes.
Further, very quietly, the Trojans have started to play better defense. Price and running back Chris Polk likely will find the going tough in the Coliseum.
But if the Huskies manage to win a third in a row in the series, a 9-3 finish is possible. And Sarkisian's rebuilding effort in Seattle would take another, significant step forward.
As for his relationship with Kiffin, this week's ripostes are just guys being guys, right?
Said Sarkisian, "It's a healthy friendship and a healthy rivalry."