Ever wonder why coach Steve Sarkisian went with such a young, vibrant staff to lead USC's program back to the top. Believe it or not, the jovial child-like spirit many of these assistants bring to the table actually helps them not only pump up players but also keep themselves in the right state of mind during the entire process.
In today's football climate where recruiting, film study, advanced schematics and overwhelming travel schedules can make life difficult for football coaches, best be worried about the health and overall well being of anybody working on the staff.
Look no further than health implications suffered by John Fox and Gary Kubiak, who granted are older and have worked longer careers in coaching, but that sure hasn't derailed the rest of high school, collegiate and NFL coaches from taking notice about the hours, quality of life and safety concerns in their profession.
Only returning two assistant coaches from the previous staff, Sarkisian recognizes the challenges of trying to implement a whole new mindset for his players both offensively and defensively; on top of acclimating 18 true freshmen up to speed.
"Credit to the staff on both sides of the ball. We really incorporated walk throughs during spring practice," the 39-year-old head coach said, cautioning that Fall Camp will be equally crucial for long-term success. "But now here comes the real drills that are coming. Time to compete and perform. The scheme is very difficult to play, and their preparation in the summer --which it sounds like is going well-- will be tested early on."
While Lane Kiffin was run out of town for a variety of reasons, one of the biggest stressors that impacted his overall performance was the "sleeping in the office" mentality he implemented during those four years on the job. When asked about many of these concerns, because lets face it history tends to repeat itself once faced with adversity, Sarkisian said his assistant coaches will be well monitored all year and are strongly encouraged to get out of the office (a little) for their own sanity.
This Trojan Coaching Staff is Very, Very Young
|Steve Sarkisian - Head Coach (39-years-old)|
|Tim Drevno - Offensive Line Coach/Running Game Coordinator (44-years-old)|
|Clay Helton - Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach (41-years-old)|
|Keith Heyward - Defensive Backs Coach/Pass Game Coordinator Defense (34-years-old)|
|Tee Martin - Wide Receivers Coach/Pass Game Coordinator (35-years-old)|
|Johnny Nansen - Running Backs/Special Teams Coord./Asst. Head Coach (40-years-old)|
|Peter Sirmon - Linebackers/Recruiting Coord./Assoc. Head Coach Def. (37-years-old)|
|Marques Tuiasosopo - Tight Ends Coach/Associate Head Coach Offense (34-years-old)|
|Justin Wilcox - Defensive Coordinator (37-years-old)|
|Chris Wilson - Defensive Line (45-years-old)|
These coaches have been recruiting players for almost two-to-three years now, and they are still in contact with many of the 2015 recruits for most of the summer (except during an NCAA mandated break in early July) and will follow them much more closely with intimate conversations during their senior seasons leading up to National Signing Day.
We all remember how Ed Orgeron called up the Trojan Boosters and got some massive help to track down players like Viane Talamaivo, Damien Mama and Bryce Dixon all by helicopter on the same High School Football Friday night.
These guys, and I say that more as a term of brotherly endearment, are working their tails off to recruit, recruit, recruit. For example Alabama already has 10 of the Rivals Top 100 players in the nation which means if you want to win moving forward, you have to constantly recruit the best while still maximizing the potential on your roster. That temptation to overwork is certainly prevalent, college coaches must understand the necessity for a somewhat balanced lifestyle exists especially working with student-athletes who epitomize this daily struggle both in the classroom and on the practice field.
"This day in age, the awareness of health issues, I don't think that (safety concerns) has changed in our profession but I think its changed in society," coach Sarkisian said Thursday on a USC football season-ticket holders video spreecast on USCtrojans.com. "Its about becoming more aware, and developing more awareness."
Combine that with practice schedules, early-morning film sessions and afternoon position-group meetings, and the coaching staff is running all over John McKay Center and Cromwell Field during the average day. Coach Sarkisian is pressed with a challenge common to all coaching staffs, but USC is tackling those concerns right from day one.
"I can tell you on our end, we do not sleep in the office. We don't do that," Sarkisian strongly affirmed, before adding: "It's mandatory for our coaches to do at least 30 minutes of some form of physical activity every day, and to promote a healthy lifestyle."
After consulting with employees in the Athletic Department and current Trojan players, we can say that coach Sarkisian is a big fan of the treadmill and that many other coaches will workout during the pre-lunch hour, which never comes without some friendly competition. Have to imagine that the contests between former quarterbacks Clay Helton, Tee Martin, Steve Sarkisian, Marques Tuiasosopo even coach Johnny Nansen would be legendary to watch play out in the office corridor.
This influx of young, energetic coaches brings up an interesting point. Coach Sarkisian has been a big fan of comparing today's college football recruiting landscape (and coaching for that matter) to the transforming tendencies in our overall society.
Whether it be the demand for sleek uniforms, social-media savvy rallying cries or even fast-paced practices, this staff definitely values competition, mandatory recovery periods, solid nutritional diets and things of that nature that can help translate your program from a one-hit wonder into one consistent championship contender.
But all that brings me to one big question. After reading this fascinating Grantland Article that paired college football coaches to internet emojis, how would you expect social media #TurnUpSC for the Trojans newest head football coach?
While I'd never expect "Bark For Sark" to take off in the near future, the mere idea of turning an entire coaching staff into one fun social media conversation sure amps up our excitement to watch them in action during Fall Camp. If you haven't gotten the chance, check out the USC Football Mic'd Up Series where the coaches really let loose.
USC will be tasked with the difficult assignment of trying to slow down some of the best dual-threat and pure pocket-passing quarterbacks in the nation. The Trojans start the season with two of their first three games on the road, so USC's scheme artists better come out firing early in the season, or their hours of sleep might drastically diminish.