In the wake of Saturday (or Sunday morning for those in other time zones -- thanks Larry Scott) nights loss to the Utes a lot of Trojan fans seem bewildered and angry. A little more than half way through the first year of the Sark era, it feels almost like the low points of the previous regime. Porous defense that is unable to cope with teams fighting to come back, stubborn bewildering play calling that is less concerned with the realities of the game than the ego of the man behind the headset, and a string of humiliating losses in games the Tojans had in hand. Well, I'm here to tell you that this feeling is not precisely accurate.
I have been critical of Sark literally since the moment he was hired. I believe it was a very poor hire, one that was actually -- to my mind -- significantly worse than Garrett's decision to bring in Lane Kiffin. I know that some find Sark impressive, but I have always thought him a lackluster coach. I was never impressed with his work at Washington, as I believe that sheer inertia could have brought the Huskies back to the .500 team he left in Seattle.
I believe that USC can be successful under Sark, but not if he is allowed to keep running the team in its current fashion. As the fanbase turns against him he needs to make some changes, and grow as a head coach, if he can't do that he will never succeed. The first step he needs to take is to give over play calling duties to Clay Helton. Sark is a poor play caller. He is stubborn, he does not make changes based on the other teams performance, and he constantly displays a great deal of hubris in passing up field goals and running gimmicky plays in crucial situations. Sark may have been a good offensive coordinator (maybe?) but that task on top of his duties as head coach is clearly overwhelming. So he should stop. Be a manager. Look in on the O and the D. Most successful coaches are not coordinators. Carroll gave up his DC role when he realized it negatively impacted his ability to manage the game.
Like it or not we are stuck with Sark for a minimum of one more year, and unless he loses out from this point likely more. I really believe that Sark does not possess the talent to win championships, but I do think he is good enough to win 10 games and lose in the Pac 12 title game, but that will never happen unless he grows up and becomes a real head coach.