Five important questions raised by Steve Sarkisian’s news conference

Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke says USC football Coach Steve Sarkisian didn’t answer the important questions regarding his behavior at Saturday’s Salute to Troy event.

USC football Coach Steve Sarkisian used the term “move forward” or some variation eight times over the course of his roughly eight-minute and 30-second news conference on Tuesday.

His hope, and that of USC, is that an apology and “treatment” will put to rest what he said was an alcohol and medication-fueled incident at the annual “Salute to Troy” kickoff event on Saturday.

The coach’s comments raised as many questions as he answered, however. Several important issues remain unresolved and unexplained. Here are some of them:

What kind of treatment will Sarkisian be seeking?


At one point, a reporter asked Sarkisian directly if he thought he had a drinking problem.

“No, I don’t believe so, but through [USC Athletic Director] Pat [Haden] and through the university, I’m going to find that out,” Sarkisian said. “I’m going to go to treatment. I’m going to deal with it.”

What kind of treatment that would be, Sarkisian did not specify, and he sounded as if even he was unsure.

Would that treatment interfere with Sarkisian’s coaching duties?

“I don’t even know if I need rehab,” Sarkisian said.

Responding to a question about how he might handle conflict between treating himself and coaching USC, Sarkisian said he would address those issues if they arose. Several times he repeated that he remained confident in his ability to coach. His focus, he said, was on leading his team to a championship.

What was USC President C.L. “Max” Nikias’ involvement in the aftermath?

“I’ve tried to reach out to Max,” Sarkisian said. “I know there are people that are going to agree with what I say, there’s going to be some people that disagree with what I say. But the reality of it is, I’ve got unbelievable support here.”


Sarkisian indicated he did not communicate directly with Nikias. It is not clear whether Nikias spoke or exchanged messageswith Haden, or whether he was part of the discussion when school officials decided how to address the incident.

What was the medication?

“I think the moral of the story is this: When you mix meds with alcohol, sometimes you say things and/or do things that you regret,” Sarkisian said.

Sarkisian declined to disclose what medication he believed caused the reaction and said that information should remain private.


Has Sarkisian already been punished?

It’s unclear whether the coach has been disciplined by the university for his actions.

“Pat and I had talks at great lengths, and I appreciate Pat for his honesty,” Sarkisian said of Athletic Director Haden. “I appreciate Pat for his understanding. I appreciate Pat for him saying these are the standards that we have to live by moving forward. And I accepted them.”

Sarkisian did up-down calisthenics drills on Monday as part of what USC calls “hard lessons” — typically handed down from the coaching staff to a player who has violated rules.


In this case, USC’s players decided on the punishment for Sarkisian, which he said was ongoing. In regards to punishment from the athletic department, Sarkisian was asked if a suspension was ever on the table. His response didn’t provide a clear answer.


Steve Sarkisian said he mixed alcohol and medication, will seek treatment

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Follow Zach Helfand on Twitter @zhelfand