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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

January 12, 2010 at 9:30 PM

Sarkisian talks about Kiffin

No, these aren’t new quotes from tonight.
But today’s news about USC’s hiring of Lane Kiffin reminded me that I wrote a short story last spring for Lindy’s college football magazine examining the relationship of UW coach Steve Sarkisian and Kiffin — it accompanied a much longer piece on Kiffin written by someone else.
I can’t figure a way to link the actual story (not sure it’s on-line anywhere). But figured I’d pass a little bit of it along.
The theme of the story was each starting their college head coaching careers in the same year after having worked together for five years at USC, each working closely together with the offense. Each was part of Pete Carroll’s initial USC staff in 2001, Kiffin spending most of his time at USC as WR coach and Sarkisian as QB coach. Kiffin became offensive coordinator in 2005 when Norm Chow left, and Sarkisian succeeded him as OC in 2007 when Kiffin took a job as head coach of the Raiders that Sarkisian had turned down.
I asked Sarkisian for the story (the interview conducted last April) if there were any hard (or maybe it was strange or weird) feelings between the two over Kiffin taking a job he turned down.
“It was fine,” Sarkisian said. “I made a decision not to take the job and he made a decision to take the job and we were fine. We are different people, and just like any friendships you have with people, what I appreciate about Lane and myself is we are grown enough men to make our own decisions and move on and keep our relationship strong.”

I led off the story with the anecdote Sarkisian relayed that the two would often sit around and talk about coaching jobs at other schools, making lists of which ones seemed the most attractive.
“We’d rank them,” Sarkisian said. “All kinds of fun stuff. It’s funny that we both got a job to be head coaches at schools that were ranked very high on our list eight years ago.”
When I asked Sarkisian then to characterize his relationship with Kiffin, he said “we’re close. We talk 3-4 times a week.” On at least one occasion this year during one of his Monday press conferences, Sarkisian mentioned a call he had gotten from Kiffin over the weekend.
But while there are a lot of similarities in their backgrounds, Sarkisian said they aren’t necessarily twin sons of different mothers.
“I think we are kind of raised in the same football family,” Sarkisian said. “But like any family, people are different. I think we have our own style — we are individuals that way. Some of the structure of what we do is the same, but we are going to do things individually we think are the best way to get things done.”
Kiffin getting the USC job also means the two programs will continue to be run pretty similarly — Kiffin has already brought back Ed Orgeron, who was assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator at USC the first four years of the Carroll era and is also said to be trying to lure back Norm Chow (though sounds as if earlier reports that it was a done deal are premature).
When I asked Sarkisian back then how similar his offensive and defensive philosophies are with Kiffin’s, he said “very similar. I don’t know exactly what he will be doing offensively and defensively, but it will be similar.”



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