USC's coaching search should end at Steve Sarkisian's doorstep

If the Trojans are looking for someone who can continue their tradition of power football, while also adding an up-tempo style, the current Washington coach is their guy.

USC needs to answer two fundamental questions as it searches for a new football coach.

Question 1: Should it fall for the sentimental "That old gang of mine" yarn that only a former Trojan like Jack Del Rio or Jeff Fisher can come in and fix this mess?

It's an understandable lean but not historically significant.

Only a few great coaches have come home to save their alma maters. The idea has been romanticized by Bear Bryant leaving Texas A&M for Alabama because, as he said, "Mama called."

Steve Spurrier was also enormously successful returning home to Florida, where he won the 1966 Heisman Trophy.

Most of the dynastic baby boomer-era runs have been led by outsiders: Bud Wilkinson coached Oklahoma to epic greatness but he attended Minnesota.

The list goes on and on, with the coach's alma mater in parentheses:

Darrell Royal (Oklahoma) at Texas. John McKay/John Robinson (Oregon) at USC. Woody Hayes (Denison) at Ohio State. Tom Osborne (Hastings) at Nebraska. Bobby Bowden (Howard) at Florida State. Joe Paterno (Brown) at Penn State. Barry Switzer (Arkansas) at Oklahoma. Pete Carroll (Pacific) at USC. Nick Saban (Kent State) at Alabama. Bob Stoops (Iowa) at Oklahoma.

Ara Parseghian led Notre Dame to two national titles but attended Miami of Ohio and isn't even Catholic. Charlie Weis, conversely, is Catholic and did attend Notre Dame.

Question 2: Should USC be willing to change its core DNA identity as an iconic power program if it can hire today's best spread-option coach?

By USC power, we mean a program built on the bedrock of tailbacks and Student Body Right.

Should USC junk its tight end?

Blue-blood Michigan tried the spread option with Rich Rodriguez and had a cultural nervous breakdown. The Wolverines have gone back to pro-style under Coach Brady Hoke.

Is USC willing to commit to "squirrel derby" and five receivers and a coach like Kevin Sumlin, who has brought thrills to Texas A&M but also a defense ranked No. 112 out of 123 this week?

Should USC cede power West Coast football authority to Stanford, which is playing now the way USC played in the early 1970s?

Here's another thought: Alabama would never do it.

If USC's answer to the above two questions is "no," as many Trojans say it should be, the school is left with a very shallow selection pool.

The easy answer to all of this is Steve Sarkisian. If he is willing to leave Washington, I'd call off the search. Sarkisian checks off all my boxes. He is foundationally rooted in USC's culture but nimble enough to adapt. He would respect USC's power tradition even as he upped the tempo, as he's doing at Washington.

If Sarkisian is not available, here are some other candidates who have not been mentioned by Las Vegas oddsmakers:

• Al Golden, Miami. It's fitting the NCAA could once again control USC's fate. If Miami gets hit with severe sanctions beyond those already imposed by the school, Golden would have every reason to leave for the urban-private equivalent to Miami in the West.