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Sarkisian's Career Derailed By Off-Field Problems

As Sarkisian checks into rehab tonight and Helton prepares the Trojans for Saturday's matchup against Notre Dame, we look into what went wrong for the second-year head coach.

Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

Another Monday means another stressing day in the office. A soap opera that has been going on since Steve Sarkisian's remarks at the Salute to Troy pep rally finally took an abrupt ending today when athletic director Pat Haden fired the two-year head coach. Haden, who originally put Sarkisian on indefinite leave of absence due to his health yesterday, cut ties with the 12-6 coach for good. As unfortunate it is to have to fire a coach so sudden, it was the best for the team and Sarkisian.

Lets face it folks, since Sarkisian has came into the program, he has never been the "people's choice" at USC. Sarkisian did not build a powerhouse program at Washington, but did just enough to make them a tough team in the Pac-12. Sarkisian did not have an amazing defense or offense, but what he did have was the ability to recruit highly-touted athletes from California. With the right players and scheme Sarkisian went 35-29, including a 2-2 record in bowl games. This is not an impressive resume, nor does it speak "I'm ready to turn USC around" but Haden saw something in the guy and decided to give him a chance. Years of coaching under Pete Carroll it seemed as if Sarkisian could provide USC with that old feel that led them to so many championships, but instead he brought in his own scheme and philosophy.

At USC, he had great weapons, top athletes, and a team that wanted to get back to the glory days. When you bring a coaching staff that is not the best you can recruit, things fall short, just like Wilcox's defense this year against Stanford and Washington. Sarkisian was incapable of piecing together a masterpiece that had playoff contenders written all over it. When it is not getting done on the field you need to worry, but when you start seeing alarming behavior off the field there's an even bigger problem.

The first step to treating an addiction is admitting you have one. Sarkisian has somehow denied, slithered by, and cover up his addiction for years that take us all the way back to Washington.  If you do not know Sarkisian has a drinking problem well there you have it: Sarkisian cannot stay away from the bottle. Sarkisian has admitted to drinking heavily in the locker room, he has been seen passed out drunk after games by players, and has been incapable of holding his alcohol in public settings. Sure, no man is perfect and should be able to have a couple of drinks, but when you're a head coach on the job it's called accountability. What examples are you giving your players and recruits? How does coaching drunk and not capable of leading help your team? Most importantly how do you expect someone's respect? Now granted Sarkisian has personal problems influencing his life decisions that may make an impact but that is life for any person facing adversity. You cannot simply swallow life's problems by staring down an empty bottle when you have a team to get back on track. Despite Sarkisian's faults lets not put him in the driver seat alone... what about Pat Haden?

Haden demanded Sarkisian to check into rehabilitation after his drunken speech in August. What professional help can Sarkisian possibly get that allowed him to be at practices, press conferences, meetings, and interviews? Any rehab course that works will have to be effective on a daily basis and would need a lot of time to make critical adjustments to help Sarkisian. Sarkisian never got the help that was required for his level of addiction, which led to his alcoholism becoming worse. With that being said we should hope he does get the necessary help to get him on a healthy path in life.

It is highly unfortunate and stressing for USC to fire Sarkisian but for the sake of this team it was needed. USC will have to overcome and put this behind them as offensive coordinator Clay Helton will serve as the interim head coach. As Helton guides the Trojans through a tough schedule, another coach will have to be hired and this one cannot fail like the previous two. If Haden is allowed to get past this nightmare, he'll be walking on a thin line considering his next hire.