It’s a terrible story of human failure, this USC-Trojans story, the demise of football coach Steve Sarkisian. It’s a story of a relentless illness that has overtaken him, throwing him for a massive loss, unlike any of the hits he took as a quarterback, or the losses in games he coached.
The cloud of alcoholism hangs everywhere around Trojan Hall now, a day after the firing of the second year head coach, just 3-days after he showed up for a team meeting drunk, and then did not show up for practice.
The ‘dark side’ of the story seems to be leaking out everywhere.
Questions about Sarkisian’s lifestyle since arriving in Los Angeles, and rumblings he may been under the influence while coaching during the Arizona State game a couple of weeks ago. Rumors that players believed his strange behaviors at different parts of the season, were fueled by alcohol abuse.
The ugly public appearance incident at the the private ‘Salute to the Trojans’ booster function just a month ago.
Now the documented information of huge bar tabs run up on his credit card, while head coach at the University of Washington, over a five year span, in the city of Seattle, on road trips, with booster groups, and at conference related events also.
Under fire is Southern Cal Athletic Director Pat Haden, a classy man, brought in to rescue Troy from the aftermath of the Reggie Bush-NCAA scandal. Questions regarding how deep into the past he looked, when vetting Sarkisian as a coaching candidate to replace the controversial Lane Kiffin.
But questions should also be posted about the leadership at UW, his former employers. Did they know, how could they not know, when Sarkisian was out partying on a regular basis.
Players have now come forward indicating their beliefs that coach was under the influence alot, not just on his own time, but on university time too.
A coaching staff is like a fraternity, working together for one common goal, partying too. So it begs the question of a cover-up amongst his coaching staff at UW, or whether they were just as heavy party dogs, coaching the Husky program.
Sure there was never a DUI, or a public incident like the one at SC. But the across-the-board silence is stunning.
Coaches are trying to rally around Sarkisian. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll called it ‘heartbreaking’. Rams coach Jeff Fisher, says he hopes those closest to Sarkisian will not bail out on him. Both those NFL coaches have strong emotional ties to USC, one a former head coach, the other, an alumni and player.
There is outrage from some, this hire was ever made. There should be compassion too. Sarkisian is not the first ever, nor will he be the last, to fight a battle with the bottle.
USC made the only move they could, to sever him on Monday afternoon. You would hope the school would find a way to extending a helping hand, after using the iron fist to drop the hammer on the troubled coach.
Now more than ever, Sarkisian needs someone to help guide him out of the abyss he is in. His career may not be over, but he will be on the sidelines. He has lost his 3.4M a year salary and this prestigious job. His reputation has been stained badly.
Sarkisian has to give more than lip service now to the ‘does he have a problem’ question. Rehab and counseling have to be part of his everyday existence. Acceptance and dedication are needed now to beat this.
He checked into an intensive rehab program sometime yesterday. He won’t be alone in his battle for sobriety, but he will be alone with his thoughts, the hardest part, day and night, in this battle.
He loved playing at BYU. He loved coaching Washington. His love for all the history of USC football is very evident. I liked him, I respected his accomplishments. I feel bad for the place he is in today.
Pulling for Sarkisian to beat the beer blitz impacting his life. We should give him compassion rather than condemnation.