Washington coach Steve Sarkisian yells from the sideline in this Nov. 29 photo. (AP Photo)
LOS ANGELES — Steve Sarkisian is the new head coach at Southern California, leaving Washington to return to the Trojans.
USC announced Sarkisian’s hiring Monday, replacing interim coach Ed Orgeron with yet another assistant coach from Pete Carroll’s championship-winning era at the school.
The 39-year-old Sarkisian is a Los Angeles-area native who went 34-29 in five seasons at Washington, rebuilding a decimated program into a bowl contender.
Sarkisian is the permanent replacement for Lane Kiffin, his former co-offensive coordinator at USC under Carroll. Kiffin was fired in late September and replaced by Orgeron, who didn’t get the permanent job from athletic director Pat Haden despite going 6-2.
Orgeron resigned Monday. It’s unclear who will coach the Trojans in their bowl game later this month, but it could be Sarkisian.
Check back for updates on this story._____________________________
Washington’s Steve Sarkisian has accepted the Southern California coaching job, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.
The person spoke Monday on condition of anonymity because no official announcement had been made by either school.
Sarkisian is a former USC assistant under Pete Carroll and has been at Washington for five seasons, going 34-29 in Seattle.
He’ll be the permanent replacement for Lane Kiffin, who was fired after five games this season and replaced on an interim basis by Ed Orgeron. The Trojans went 6-2 under Orgeron, with losses to rivals Notre Dame and UCLA.
Orgeron’s success had some USC supporters calling on athletic director Pat Haden to give him the job permanently.
“Coach O can never be replaced ! That’s all I’m going to say,” USC safety Su’a Cravens posted on his Twitter account.
There was speculation and reports that USC had been interested in Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin, Vanderbilt’s James Franklin and Boise State’s Chris Petersen. Instead, Haden went outside the current staff, but to another coach with USC ties.
“I’m on board Sark was very close to getting me to come with him to U Dub,” USC freshman tailback Justin Davis posted on his Twitter account.
Sarkisian will take over one of the crown jewel programs in college football. USC has won five AP national championships, including two under Carroll. But the Trojans haven’t been the same since they were slammed by sanctions for NCAA violations related to Reggie Bush receiving improper benefits.
USC was banned from a bowl for two years and docked 30 scholarships over three years. Next year will be the final season that USC will be working with scholarship sanctions. The Trojans can give out no more than 15 scholarships in their next signing class and can have no more than 75 scholarship players on their roster next season.
USC is 43-21 since 2009, Carroll’s last season, and the last season before the NCAA sanctioned the program. Carroll skipped to the NFL and Kiffin was hired away from Tennessee by former athletic director Mike Garrett in 2010.
Kiffin was fired by Haden with a 28-15 record.
Kiffin and the 39-year-old Sarkisian are friends and worked together as offensive assistants for Carroll during USC’s dominant run during the 2000s.
Sarkisian inherited a Washington program coming off the first 0-12 record in school history under coach Tyrone Willingham.
After going 5-7 in his first season, Sarkisian took the Huskies to a bowl game each of the next four seasons, but they were stuck on seven wins for three years. The Huskies finished this regular season 8-4, with a victory over Washington State in last Friday’s Apple Cup.
Sarkisian said after Friday’s victory that he was thankful he no longer had to answer questions about the seven-win barrier.
“We’re a better team today that we were a year ago, and a year ago we were a better team than a year before that,” Sarkisian said after the 27-17 victory. “Sometimes games go the way they go and you don’t get the call or you don’t get the catch or you make the one bad call as a coach. But that doesn’t mean you’re not a good football team or you aren’t a better team than you were a year before.”
Sarkisian was in the middle of a contract that runs through 2015 and paid him about $2.25 million per year before jumping to $2.85 million in the final season.
Sarkisian arrived in Seattle trumpeting that he would help Washington return to the elite of the Pac-12. The Huskies at least got back to respectability, but their attempts at finally joining the upper echelon of the conference this season were turned back in losses to Stanford, Oregon and Arizona State. He never defeated the Ducks in his tenure, an issue that stuck with Washington fans tired of getting beaten up by their neighbors to the south.
Sarkisian is the first Washington coach to voluntarily leave for another position since Darrell Royal in 1956 when he departed for Texas. Royal was at Washington for one season.