USC introduces Steve Sarkisian
LOS ANGELES -- Steve Sarkisian was introduced Tuesday as the new head coach at USC.
"This is home," Sarkisian said in a news conference at the John McKay Center. "I'm proud and honored to be the head coach of this team."
Sarkisian has a strong history at USC from his time as a freshman baseball player in the early 1990's to multiple stints as an assistant coach under Pete Carroll during one of the team's most successful runs.
"I watched the USC vs. UCLA game as a freshman in my dorm room and to think I'm here now as the head coach is surreal," Sarkisian said. "As a coach, we went to the Rose Bowl in five of the seven years I was here. It was an unprecedented run. To think of all the great former players who have been a part of the program, it is humbling and inspiring for me right now."
Sarkisian becomes the 23rd coach in USC history, following a season in which Lane Kiffin was fired and Ed Orgeron was not retained after serving as interim coach for the final eight games of the year.
"I was looking for a person with energy and passion for this job," USC athletic director Pat Haden said. "I believe Steve is uniquely qualified and he offered the chance for the smoothest, fastest and cleanest transition to lead our program."
Sarkisian, who went 34-29 in five years at Washington, was one of two candidates Haden interviewed on Sunday following the Trojans' loss to UCLA.
"There were two things that stood out to me about his tenure at Washington," Haden said. "He inherited an 0-12 team and had them in a bowl game in his second season. Also, in the previous 21 years at Washington, only three previous teams had eight wins and that's what Sark had this year."
Sarkisian will not coach the Trojans in a bowl game -- offensive coordinator Clay Helton will handle that role -- and he will instead spend his time recruiting, putting together a staff and focusing on USC's draft-eligible players.
"I will be at the bowl game, but I won't be coaching," Sarkisian said. "I don't want to step on the toes of this coaches who deserve the right to coach in this game. I've already started the process of meeting with the players who are eligible to enter the draft and we will try to get them as much information possible, my goal isn't to make the decision for them, it's simply to allow them to make an educated decision.
"As far as recruiting, we have been recruiting many of the same athletes over the years while I was at Washington so I'm familiar with a lot of the recruits. I know we have 19 total scholarships available this year when you include the early enrollees and we're going to find the best players who want to be a part of the standard at USC."
Sarkisian also addressed the offensive philosophy that he will look to bring to USC.
"Our offense will be predicated on speed, balance and power," Sarkisian said. "I have evolved the offense over the years and right now we are a no-huddle offense that will look to run the ball first. We [at Washington] had an 1,800 rusher this past year in Bishop Sankey, who is a Doak Walker finalist, as well as a tight end who is a two-time Mackey Award finalist."
Sarkisian also announced that USC spring ball practices, and the first two weeks of fall camp practices, will be open to the public, a return to a long-standing policy under Carroll of open access to practices.