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Former USC assistants Kiffin and Sarkisian talk about first match-up

Former USC assistants under Pete Carroll, Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian, will face off as head coaches on Saturday at The Coliseum in Los Angeles. 

Both Kiffin and Sarkisian acknowledged their close friendship during respective press conferences today, but Kiffin didn’t really want to make a big story out of Kiffin vs. Sarkisian.

Kiffin said, “I don’t think it’s relevant.” 

Kiffin said he was sure he would talk to Sark during the week, but joked, “He’ll send some texts and messages to try to manipulate or trick me into something. He’ll try it all this week. Yeah (it’s still a great friendship). Maybe he’ll let our band play this year. Last year, they didn’t let our band play last year at Washington.”

Sarkisian said, “Fortunately for everybody involved, Lane and I aren't going to be blocking or tackling or running or throwing or catching Saturday. So we're all OK there. We're going to let the premier athletes do that. You know, both of us have been mentored for this opportunity to be head coaches. He's done a nice job, I think we've done a nice job. These are both jobs we thought we special ones, especially in the Pac-10. It's a unique experience, this early in our careers, to be facing each other in such a pivotal ball game in the Pac-10 race.”

"Yeah, we talk. We text. It's a good friendship. It's one that keeps us healthy in the profession. The ability to talk to another head coach and bounce ideas off of. Because so much of this profession is keeping things in close and in tight and you can't share with anybody. The ability to share with Lane different thoughts, different ideas, different frustrations that maybe you don't want everyone else to see, but you can bounce it off him and he understands. So it's been a good relationship that way."

Kiffin said, “They do know us really well on both sides of the ball. The amount of hours, whether it was myself and Sarkisian or Nick Holt and my Dad at times, we are very familiar with each other. Probably have to be careful to not overanalyze it too much and just make sure we are playing really fast.”

Kick-off is set for 8:00 pm EST on ABC or ESPN2.