That seemed to be a high-interest topic for a lot of you on the live chat we held earlier today.
The official answer is no. In his only public comments during the search, UW coach Steve Sarkisian said Sunday night he was not contacted about the USC job. UW AD Scott Woodward also said later on a couple of occasions that there was no official contact.
Other reports, however, have intimated that there was at least some kind of contact, which by some of the comments I’ve gotten seems to be an important issue to decipher, wondering if Sarkisian really meant it when he said on Friday that UW was his “dream job” or whether he was truly intrigued by the idea of returning to USC.
One thing to realize is that Sarkisian, Pete Carroll, Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron all have the same agent — Gary Uberstine.
And that’s probably at the genesis of any rumblings concerning any Sarkisian involvement in the process.
TrojanWire.com has some insight into Kiffin hire today, saying that Uberstine was very influential in the process and noting that he also aided in the Jack Del Rio situation.
So, in simply talking to his agent, Sarkisian could easily know what’s going on and where things stand, yet not be having “official contact” with anyone (and the days of ADs asking for permission to talk to coaches at other schools, which was always just a gentleman’s agreement, anyways, and not something they had to do — seem gone forever).
More than likely, Sarkisian talked to his agent a time or two while the USC search was ongoing, maybe simply for curiosity reasons as much as anything else. And who knows? Maybe if matters had gotten to a certain point where he suddenly wanted to be interested, maybe he would have been. By most reliable accounts, he never really was.
But even if Sarkisian’s interest was piqued enough to at least listen, who can blame him? He’s spent most of his life in Los Angeles, and seven of the last nine years at USC. As good a job as Washington can be, it’s not USC — you could argue that when all is going well, USC should be one in the Pac-10 pecking order and UW two, right along with UCLA. But you can also reasonably argue there’s a pretty big distance there between one and two.
And I think any rational person would realize that if there was ever a job that would have been a danger to pull Sarkisian away from UW, this would have been it.
(By the way, two other points to add: 1, I don’t think there’s anything in anything he’s done or said to suggest Sarkisian will look for the first chance out of UW; 2, I have zero sympathy for anyone at Tennessee other than the players. If the fans and administration there simply wanted a loyal coach, they shouldn’t have run Phil Fulmer out of town. Tennessee’s last 15 months is a classic example of how fans want loyalty only on their terms — they want the coach to stick around as long as he’s going 12-0 every year.)
So was Sarkisian maybe a bit more of factor in the process than simply saying there was never any contact would indicate? Maybe, if not probably.
Ultimately, what UW fans should care about most is that he’s still here.
They should also be glad this happened when it did.
Again, USC always seemed the most logical job that would someday pry Sarkisian away. Now that it’s passed, what may be the most dangerous threat to him staying at UW for a while has passed. And with Kiffin being as young as he is — he’ll turn 35 in May — who knows? The job may stay filled for a generation.
And as Woodward has always maintained, the worry of Sarkisian leaving someday often overlooks a key point — he’ll only be sought after if he’s doing good things at the University of Washington. This is the first time I remember having to follow any stories about a UW coach potentially leaving for another job since 2002. That’s also the last time UW had a winning season.