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Steve Sarkisian      

Head Football Coach at USC

Second-year USC football head coach Steve Sarkisian didn’t have to be shown around the USC campus or be instructed on Trojan gridiron lore when he was hired as the school’s head football coach in December of 2013. He already was quite familiar with all things Troy, from its physical layout to its academic prestige to its football tradition and culture.

That’s because this is the 41-year-old Sarkisian’s fifth time at USC, first as a student-athlete in the early 1990s, then as a graduate assistant coach nearly a decade later, next as an assistant coach (he was the quarterbacks coach on USC’s 2003 national championship squad), then as the offensive coordinator following a foray into the NFL and now as the head coach after spending the previous 5 years guiding Washington (where he went to 4 bowl games and beat 8 AP Top 25 teams).

When Sarkisian was hired as USC’s head coach, Trojan athletic director Pat Haden said: “We are delighted to welcome Steve Sarkisian back to the Trojan Family. We conducted a very exhaustive and thorough search. We kept coming back to Sark. He embodies many of the qualities for which we looked. He is an innovative coach who recruits well and develops players. He is a proven and successful leader. He connects with people. He has energy and passion. He knows how to build a program and create a culture that we value. He is committed to academic success and rules compliance. And he understands the heritage and tradition of USC.”

Sarkisian has a 6-year head coaching record of 43-33, including 9-4 in his inaugural season at USC in 2014 (the most victories by a first-year USC coach since College Football Hall of Famer John Robinson’s 11 in 1976 and third most ever, as fellow College Hall of Famer Howard Jones also had 11 in 1925), with wins at No. 10 Arizona and No. 13 Stanford (snapping the Cardinal’s 17-game home winning streak) and versus No. 25 Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. He is just the third Trojan head coach to win his debut against Notre Dame. Three of USC’s losses in 2014 were by a total of 13 points, with two coming on the opponents’ final play of the game. Sarkisian never had more than 57 recruited scholarship Trojans suit up for a game in 2014 because of the NCAA sanctions-mandated scholarship limitation, plus injuries, roster departures and ineligibilities. Eleven true freshmen played significant roles for USC in 2014, including 8 who combined for 58 starts.

In 2014, Sarkisian produced a pair of All-American first teamers (defensive end Leonard Williams and wide receiver-returner Nelson Agholor), a Sophomore All-American first teamer (safety-outside linebacker Su’a Cravens), a quartet of Freshman All-American first teamers (cornerback-wide receiver-returner Adoree’ Jackson, who was the Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year, along with offensive guard-tackle Toa Lobendahn, wide receiver JuJu Smith and offensive guard Viane Talamaivao) and a quintet of All-Pac-12 first teamers (Williams, Agholor, Cravens, tailback Javorius Allen and center Max Tuerk). Quarterback Cody Kessler had the most efficient passing season in USC history (69.7% completions, 39 TDs, 5 interceptions), Agholor had 104 receptions (third best in USC history) and Allen rushed for 1,489 yards (the most by a Trojan since 2005). USC’s offense ranked in the national Top 25 in passing efficiency, passing offense, third down conversions and scoring offense, while the defense was in the nation’s Top 20 in turnover margin, red zone defense and third down conversion defense. Six Trojans were drafted by the NFL (including a pair of first rounders) and 4 players that Sarkisian coached at Washington were also selected (including 3 in the first round).

Sarkisian’s initial 2014 recruiting class ranked among the nation’s Top 10 (tops in the Pac-12) and his 2015 class was No. 1 nationally


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