clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Haden Goes With Gut Feeling While Hiring Sarkisian

New, 108 comments

While the focus centered around the next head coach on the staff, Pat Haden revealed why Steve Sarkisian was the right guy to be the Trojans next head coach.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Hours after accepting the job to head down south, Steve Sarkisian returned for the fifth time to the USC Campus. This time moving his way up from grad assistant to assistant head coach and finally head coach.

Alongside Steve Lopes, J.K. McKay and Mark Jackson, USC Athletic Director Pat Haden and his brain trust faced an interesting dilemma ever since the day Lane Kiffin was fired on Sunday, September 29th.

Haden wanted to find the coach that best represented the University of Southern California, who could recruit top talent, inspire confidence from the entire university and also bring winning back to a program that has faced a fair share of adversity this season with Clay Helton taking over as the third head coach for the Bowl Game.

"I've had the real pleasure of working with Ed for over a decade," Haden said, before pausing and tearing up for a quick second, saying. "We tried everything we could do to keep Ed here, but in the end Ed wanted to be a head coach."

When Pat Haden finally narrowed his search down to the final five candidates, which included Coach Orgeron, the entire athletic administration recognized that the next face of USC Football needed to be personable, driven and highly competitive, regardless of the emotions that surrounded big wins or even the loss to UCLA.

What the Trojans are getting is a proven Trojan, who has now spent four separate stints in Southern California from grad assistant all the way up to assistant head coach and play caller. And following a five-year stint in Washington, in which he defeated then No. 3 ranked USC, Sarkisian brings plenty of positivity and excitement to the program.

Pat Haden laid out some of the best qualities he wants in a head coach, things that look so simple from the outset but sometimes get overlooked when emotions take over a drastic situation.

1. Proven successful leader with significant head coaching experience that has built a sustainable experience

2. Commitment to Academic success

3. Assess, recruit and develop players that can build towards

4. Connect with USC students, fans, boosters in a positive way

5. Strategist to adjust with talent

6. Effectively communicate what he wants to his players and staff

7. Total commitment to the team, the community and student athletes

8. True understanding of USC. Its rich tradition and true unheralded heritage

First and foremost Pat Haden emphasized the importance of the last reason, the understanding of USC Tradition and the expectations that come along with coaching for one of the top programs in the nation.

When Haden was originally hired, the Trojans were looking at three years of scholarship bans and two years of bowl sanctions; something the current USC AD specifically came to this university to fix and correct for the future.

In what could ultimately be his final football coaching hire as the Trojans Athletic Director, Haden has endured a monstrous tole but also signals the direction USC is heading by attempting to restore its once-dominant pedigree.

Sarkisian definitely understands what it takes to win at the University of Southern California, coaching on staff for the Trojans last National Championship and most recent Rose Bowl trip. That being said, the book will still be open on whether the hire was right for the future, something Haden even admitted during Tuesday's press conference.

Among Sarkisian's qualifications, according to Haden, was that he "connects with people in a positive way," and is a "person with energy and passion for this job, a strategist, and has a true understanding of USC, it's rich tradition and unparalleled heritage," all of which gave Haden the confidence to stick with his gut when making the final call.

While the message remains around "beating UCLA and Notre Dame," Haden jokingly commented while walking past Sarkisian during the press conference, the ultimate task remains centered around selling the program to the current NFL Draft Eligible Juniors on the team along with the up-and-coming recruits.

For now, the Trojans can rest behind the assertion from the ultimate decision maker with the Football Program that things will change for the better right away. "And I believe he (Sark) will have the smoothest, fastest and cleanest transition to our program," said Pat Haden, who just faced one of the most stressful weeks of his entire career.