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So, why did USC pick Steve Sarkisian? Pat Haden explains

Steve Sarkisian was announced as the newest USC head coach on Tuesday afternoon, the 23rd in Trojans history. The decision was a no-brainer - for Sarkisian. This marks his fifth stint at USC, beginning when he signed to play baseball out of high school. He clearly loves USC, and likely said yes before Haden even offered. That's not in question. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you have to jump on as soon as you can," said Sarkisian.

But the question that hovered over everyone's heads throughout Monday was, Why did USC choose Sark? With a higher-water mark of eight wins, why was Sarkisian chosen to occupy the same seat as Howard Jones and John McKay, as John Robinson and Pete Carroll? 

Haden stated that the coaching search began in late September or early October, soon after Lane Kiffin's dismissal. Haden and his team studied close to 20 coaches and interviewed five of them. "I watched a lot of football teams," said Haden. "I watched a lot of game tape." And the end result found USC hiring the coach with which it was most familiar, the coach right on their proverbial doorstep.


USC athletics director Pat Haden explained, and we broke it down bit-by-bit:

Haden liked Sark's X's and O's ability: "(Sarkisian) is a strategist who can make adjustments during the game." Recall that in the Sunday press conference back in late September, Haden noted that the final straw for him was USC's lack of adjustments in the second half of that fateful loss to Arizona State. After trailing 20-14 at the half, USC allowed 344 yards of total offense and 42 points en route to a 62-41 loss. Kiffin was fired just hours later. 

Washington's program isn't as good as you think it is, at least according to Haden: "Over the past 21 years at the University of Washington, only three teams won more than eight games."

He's familiar: "We get a coach who really knows USC, its culture and its traditions, who beat eight top 25 teams in his tenure, is a proven evaluator of high school football talent, a big time recruiter who knows local high school coaches, knows the Pac-12 and Southern California."

It's worth noting that familiarity with the program has always been important at USC - like it is at many places - but that belief, that the Trojans need their own "Michigan Man", has seemingly become entrenched since Pete Carroll's departure. Sarkisian's hiring, obviously, marks two straight Carroll assistants following in the footsteps of their former boss. 

Haden believes Sarkisian can hit the ground running: "(Sarkisian) is uniquely positioned to have the smoothest and cleanest transition for our program."

But what about Coach O?: Haden had this to say about everyone's favorite interim head coach.

In the end, Ed wants to be a head coach," Haden said. "He deserves to be a head coach. I told him I will do anything I can to help him become a head coach. It was hard. He was hurt. But in the end my job was to make the best decision for USC. We fought hard to keep him here. God love him, I hope he goes somewhere and makes me look like an idiot."