In a move that excites exactly no one, after a 9-week search in which athletic director Pat Haden made overtures to Kevin Sumlin, Nick Saban and Chris Petersen, the USC Trojans settled on Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian to replace Lane Kiffin and interim coach Ed Orgeron, who’d gone 6-2 with losses to Notre Dame and UCLA after taking over the end of September.
Offered the job of assistant head coach at a salary of over $1 million, the popular and passionate Orgeron resigned a few hours after the announcement.
Fight on, jump ship: Steve Sarkisian ditched the Washington Huskies today for the vast recruiting base and imposing tradition of USC, announced today as the Trojans new head coach after a 9-week search in which a handful of high-profile candidates passed on the job.
Sark takes over after going 34-29 in five years at Washington, 0-5 against the Ducks. He’s been 5-4 in conference for the last four years, a mark that will get him fired in Los Angeles.
In his new job he’ll have a rich recruiting base, a big budget and a great football facility, but nothing about his tenure at Montlake suggests he’s the innovator or motivator to restore the Trojan tradition. He’s taking defensive coordinator Josh Wilcox with him, but Wilcox hasn’t had the success at UW that he did at Boise State.
Speculation at Washington, meanwhile, has centered around UCLA coach Jim Mora, a Husky grad and a Don James disciple. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, a former Husky assistant, and Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, the former O-C for the Huskies.
Pinkel has a pretty good gig with the Tigers, currently in the SEC Championship Game.
From a Duck perspective, this is a move that appears to weaken both programs, and set them back in the 2014 recruiting chase. Orgeron was a dynamite recruiter who had made personal connections with a number of the Trojans’ top prospects. He has said he’ll be looking for a head coaching job elsewhere, although he was 10-25 in a stint at Ole Miss.