New USC Football Coach: "We're Here to Win Championships"

The hiring comes after a season in which USC fired Lane Kiffin before the Trojans' renewed success under Ed Orgeron

By Jonathan Lloyd and Fred Roggin
|  Tuesday, Dec 3, 2013  |  Updated 8:12 PM PDT
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Steve Sarkisian is formally introduced as the new USC head football coach at a campus news conference. Mario Solis reports from USC for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013.

Mario Solis

Steve Sarkisian is formally introduced as the new USC head football coach at a campus news conference. Mario Solis reports from USC for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013.

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A day after being named as the new head coach of USC football, Steve Sarkisian vowed to restore USC's winning legacy.

The team announced on Monday the hiring of Sarkisian, the Washington Huskies head coach and an assistant under former Trojan coach Pete Carroll.

"We're here to win championships," he said at a news conference on Tuesday. "I wouldn't have taken this job just to come home. ... Rebuilding is not a word around here. Coach O proved that."

When news of his position broke, USC athletic director Pat Haden said, "We are delighted to welcome Steve Sarkisian back to the Trojan Family.

"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."

Sarkisian, a Los Angeles-area native, was joined by his wife and three children. His parents sat in the front row at the school where their 39-year-old son was briefly a baseball player before three stints as an assistant coach under Pete Carroll.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I felt I had to take advantage of," Sarkisian said. "The timing was right to do this. I think we're going to do great things, and I couldn't be more fired up to do it at home in front of my family and friends."

The hiring comes after a season of renewed optimism that included a series of wins following the ouster of coach Lane Kiffin on Sept. 28. Kiffin, also an ex-Carroll assistant, was replaced after three seasons by assistant coach Ed Orgeron on an interim basis after a 62-41 loss at Arizona State.

Orgeron is leaving the team to "pursue head coaching opportunities," USC officials said in a statement.

After Kiffin's firing, Sarkisian was asked about the USC position during one of his weekly news conferences. He denied interest in the job and told reporters his focus was on an upcoming game against Stanford.

"I am extremely excited to be coming home to USC and for the opportunity that USC presents to win championships," Sarkisian said. "I can't wait to get started."

The Trojans were 6-2 under Orgeron, a stretch that included an upset of No. 7 Stanford and a 35-14 loss Saturday to rival UCLA. Details regarding Orgeron's role with the team were not immediately available.

Sarkisian has a history with USC as an assistant coach during the successful Carroll era. Sarkisian was the team's quarterbacks coach in the 2001-03 and 2005-08 seasons before becoming the Trojans' offensive coordinator.

Sarkisian, of Torrance, worked with Heisman trophy winning quarterbacks Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer during the team's dominant run during the early 2000s. He also played quarterback at Brigham Young University, where he also lettered for the school's baseball team.

He was 34-29 during five seasons at Washington, which was coming off a 0-12 record the season before Sarkisian was hired in 2009. The one-time Pac-12 powerhouse has seen moderate improvement during Sarkisian's tenure, finishing the 2013 season 8-4 with a mid-tier bowl appearance likely.

"On behalf of the University of Washington, I want to thank Steve Sarkisian for the past five years of service to our institution," Washington athletic director Scott Woodward said in a statement. "Steve has led the rebuilding of our program to new heights and we are in a much better position than when he arrived. I am happy for Steve and his family as they can return home and I wish them the best of luck in the future."
 

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