It’s official: Steve Sarkisian in, Ed Orgeron out at USC

Los Angeles Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke gives his take on USC’s hiring of Steve Sarkisian as its permanent head football coach. Sarkisian, a former USC assistant, was coach at Washington for the last five seasons.


USC made it official Monday afternoon, hours after the news first broke:

Steve Sarkisian, 39, is the Trojans’ new head football coach. And interim coach Ed Orgeron, a longtime USC assistant and recruiting coordinator, is out -- and also heading out of town.

Orgeron told school officials he was “leaving USC to pursue head coaching opportunities.”


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Various media reports said Orgeron was “outraged” by Athletic Director Pat Haden’s decision to go with Sarkisian.

In a news release sent out by USC, Haden had this to say about Orgeron: “Ed is one of the greatest Trojans ever and we thank him for all he has done for the program. He and I had a very open and frank discussion. He understandably was disappointed when I told him we were going in a different direction. We talked about the possibility of him remaining at USC, but Ed wants to be a head coach and I am supportive of that. I told him I will do whatever I can to help him in that pursuit.”

In USC’s release, Orgeron did not sound outraged: “I am grateful to the University of Southern California for the great time I had here,” he was quoted as saying. “I’m especially grateful for the players on this year’s team, the coaching staff and the Trojan Family for the way they all fought through adversity and became one.

“I’m also thankful for all the Trojan players and family members who have become close personal friends during my 11 years at USC. I am especially proud of this year’s team and coaching staff, who had to start a new season and then bonded, played together as a family and competed like Trojans. I’ll forever be grateful to the University of Southern California. Fight On!”

USC had a record of 6-2 with Orgeron as interim head coach.

Of Sarkisian, Haden said: “We conducted a very exhaustive and thorough search, pinpointing about 20 candidates and interviewing five of them. We kept coming back to Sark. He is the only one who was offered the job. I believe in my gut that he is the right coach for USC at this time.

“He embodies many of the qualities for which we looked. He is an innovative coach who recruits well and develops players. He is a proven and successful leader. He connects with people. He has energy and passion. He knows how to build a program and create a culture that we value. He is committed to academic success and rules compliance. And he understands the heritage and tradition of USC.”

Sarkisian will be introduced officially during a news conference scheduled for Tuesday at 2 p.m. at the John McKay Center.

Sarkisian said the Washington program, 0-12 before he took over, “is in a better place now than when we arrived, and I am proud and thankful of the players for that.

“That said, I am extremely excited to be coming home to USC and for the opportunity that USC presents to win championships. I can’t wait to get started.”


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