Steve Sarkisian is as good in a job interview as perhaps any coach in college football, and that is no doubt one reason why the former USC assistant landed the full-time job to lead the Trojans.
After firing Lane Kiffin on Sept. 29, USC representatives contacted agents to gauge the interest of high-profile coaches such as Alabama’s Nick Saban, a person close to the situation said.
After speaking with Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio in November, USC Athletic Director Pat Haden eventually zeroed in on Texas A&M Coach Kevin Sumlin, the source said, but Haden could not meet with him until after the Aggies’ regular season was complete.
Haden was scheduled to meet with Sumlin on Sunday, a day after USC’s loss to UCLA, but Texas A&M announced Saturday that Sumlin had agreed to a six-year contract extension, the source said.
USC also contacted Boise State’s Chris Petersen, who withdrew from consideration, the source said.
Sarkisian, who met with Haden over the weekend, worked at USC under former coach Pete Carroll, who annually put his assistants through mock interviews to prepare them for their pursuit of larger opportunities.
After the 2006 season, Sarkisian turned down an offer to become coach of the Oakland Raiders, a job that eventually went to Lane Kiffin.
Carroll and Sarkisian had sought assurances from former athletic director Mike Garrett that Sarkisian would be Carroll’s successor, but Garrett declined.
Sarkisian left for Washington after the 2008 season.