SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Amir Carlisle transferred from USC to Notre Dame after his freshman year, and that would tend to indicate some sort of falling out. Most would view switching sides in college football's greatest intersectional rivalry as some sort of blasphemy. And so you would think Carlisle might smirk at USC's troubles since he bolted in 2011.
Not true. Asked during BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl media day about his reaction when he heard about Steve Sarkisian's midseason firing amid alcohol abuse issues, Carlisle didn't smirk or gloat or pull out a subtle "I told you so."
"My first reaction was obviously to pray for Coach Sarkisian and the troubles he was going through," he said. "It's been a whirlwind there since I left my freshman year. I think they've gone through four coaches. You definitely hope for some stability. Coach [Clay] Helton recruited me in high school. He's a great guy and a great coach and I'm very happy he's been given the opportunity to lead that team.”
Carlisle's career didn't blossom like many thought it would when he was a prep All-American at King's Academy in Sunnyvale, California. At Notre Dame, he switched from running back to receiver, battled injuries and posted modest stats, including 30 catches for 341 yards and a touchdown this season. His biggest game came this year -- eight catches for 101 yards against Boston College -- when he scored his only touchdown of the season.
Carlisle has long maintained he transferred because his parents relocated from California to Indiana. His dad, Duane Carlisle, who worked for the San Francisco 49ers when Carlisle signed with USC, took a job as the director of sports performance at Purdue after the 2011 season. Amir had been recruited by Notre Dame and liked Notre Dame in high school, so it didn't take much convincing.
And, yes, there were some issues at USC, at least in his parents' minds.
"They thought I was getting distracted out in L.A.," Carlisle admitted. "But it's been a blessing. I'm happy I made the decision.”
Then-coach Lane Kiffin didn't make things easy on Carlisle, he said.
"It was a hard conversation," he said.
After missing the 2012 season because of injury -- he was immediately eligible at Notre Dame after getting a waiver from the NCAA -- he dashed 45 yards on his first touch of the 2013 opener against Temple. That remains the longest play of his career.
Carlisle has no hard feelings for USC, though his Notre Dame tenure has made him 100 percent Fighting Irish. There is one thing he did miss in South Bend, however: The Southern California weather.
"It was rough. I'll be completely honest," he said. "It would be like negative temperatures and then I'd check weather in Los Angeles and it would be 80 degrees.”