Tuesday, August 25, 2015

USC's Steve Sarkisian: Dead Man Walking

Steve Sarkisian is a dead man walking.

The USC head football coach doesn't realize it but his days at SC are numbered. Last Saturday, in front of thousands of hard-core fans and boosters he made a fool of himself with a drunken, obscenity-laced rant. It was so offensive his "speech" was interrupted.and he had to be dragged off stage, This guy is the face of SC sports, the face of the university, a leader that young people look up to?

Him? You gotta be kidding.

He claims he got drunk that night because he mixed booze with medication. That's crap. He may have mixed booze and medication but that wasn't why he went off the rails. The problem was rotten judgement. A responsible man, realizing he was getting drunk and knowing he had to talk to fans and boosters at this major annual event, would have taken steps to sober up. According to insiders, this isn't the first time Sarkisian has been inebriated in public and used bad judgment.. Apparently it happened in Washington a number of times when he was coaching the Huskies. He's not, according to two sources close to SC sports, an alcoholic, just a sloppy drunk.

Certainly personal problems have him off kilter. He's going through a divorce and selling his sprawling Rolling Hills mansion for $8.5 million, one million less than the asking price. Still, none of this is an excuse for his drunken behavior.

SC athletic director Pat Haden was screaming at him backstage that night after the incident, but didn't suspend him. Haden probably thought that was the end of it. Man, was he wrong. Sarkisian embarrassed himself but, more importantly, embarrassed the university. SC fans, alums and boosters usually mention, with pride, their affiliation with the school. But not right now. SC haters will taunt them with vicious cracks like: "How's that drunk doing, the guy that's heading your football team?"

Some boosters want Sarkisian gone now. According to sources, Haden has had to do some fast talking just to keep Sarkisian from being fired. Wealthy boosters could easily buy out this contract. Haden's argument, of course, is that dumping Sark now would ruin the team, which is in the preseason Top 10. But Haden, to satisfy angry fans and boosters, may at least have to suspend him for a few games.

The only way Sarkisian survives this is if SC has an 11 or 12-win season that would elevate the team among the nation's elite.Winning heals all wounds. After a super season; all would be forgiven. But having a respectable season, like nine or ten wins, won't be good enough..

Chances of SC winning 11 or 12 games in the tough Pac 12 are remote. After the Sark fiasco, SC will be the laughing stock of the league. When they're on the road the team will be taunted unmercifully about that bad night. Another thing. You can be sure his own players will look at him differently, with less respect. SC will need extra fire and dedication to overcome the fallout from the coach's drunken blunder. Don't expect that essential extra to materialize. The team is good but not that good.

And what about the recruiting season? You can bet other schools will relentlessly use Sark's drunken rant against SC. Unquestionably, if he stays, his faux pas.will cost SC some top players in the next few years,

A great coach, like Urban Meyer or Nick Saban, might put this scandal in the rear-view mirror and
cruise to a solid season. But Sarkisian isn't a great coach and this is not a great team. Throughout the season, at any SC stumble--and you can be sure there will be stumbles--fans and boosters will be calling for Sark's head.

This will be a rocky season for Sark. Don't look for him to be SC's head coach next season.