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College Football – Steve Sarkisian – A Real Breath of Fresh Air For Washington’s Huskies

He is apparently half-Armenian and half-Irish, 34, and the new head coach of the University of Washington football team. Meet Steve Sarkisian, young, energetic, successful and enthusiastic about turning the tide on the Husky football program.

It won’t be as tough a problem as Washington’s current 0-12 season record might suggest. We deliberately do not mention the dismissed coach that Sarkisian replaces. Sarkisian and the University of Washington deserve a clean slate right now. The old man is the story best left unwritten.

Prior to arriving in Seattle to be announced as a new coach, Sarkisian had never been the head coach of a major college football program. Some pundits view his hiring as a liability due to his inexperience as a head coach. I consider his inexperience an asset because Sarkissian doesn’t bring with him a bunch of failed workouts, tired beliefs about what worked 20 years ago and old buddies on the coaching staff.

Just winning a single game next season will make him perform better than his predecessor.

Sarkisian has been the quarterback coach, offensive coordinator and assistant head coach at the University of Southern California for the past 2 years. USC is a national powerhouse led by head coach Pete Carroll. So what’s the deal with USC and Pete Carroll? Only that:

In the 7 years leading up to this season, Carroll is 76-14 (84%) at USC, the best winning percentage of any current Division 1 coach with at least 5 years of experience. Carroll won national championships in 2003 and 2004, won an unprecedented 6 consecutive Pac 10 titles and appeared in an NCAA record 6 consecutive BCS bowl games, won an NCAA record at minus 11 wins each season and was ranked in the AP Top 4 in each of those seasons.

This year, the Trojans won their 7th straight Pac 10 title and are 11-1 again heading into their 7th straight BCS Rose Bowl appearance, this time against Penn State.

So what does Sarkissian have to do with Carroll’s success? He’s been there 7 of the last 8 years, first as a quarterback coach, then as a quarterback coach, offensive coordinator and assistant head coach the last 2 years. Sarkisian led USC’s offensive effort while helping develop Heisman Trophy winners Matt Leinart (draft by the Arizona Cardinals) and Carson Palmer (draft by the Cincinnati Bengals). He also helped develop John David Brody (drafted by the Minnesota Vikings).

It’s also one thing to coach quarterbacks when you haven’t been one or haven’t been very successful, and another thing to do it as a great college quarterback, which Sarkisian was at Brigham Young University.

After two years at community college, Sarkisian started for BYU as a junior, passing for 3,437 yards and 20 touchdowns. He finished his freshman season going 31 for 34 for 399 yards and 3 touchdowns in BYU’s 45-28 win over Fresno State, setting an NCAA record for completion percentage (91%), and 2 of his 3 incompletenesses were intentionally rejected. bollards to avoid the pass rush.

As a senior, Sarkisian passed for 4,027 yards and 33 touchdowns with an NCAA-best passing efficiency rating of 173+. BYU finished the regular season at 13-1, won the Western Athletic Conference championship, then beat Kansas State 19-15 in the Cotton Bowl. He was selected as WAC Offensive Player of the Year and second-team NCAA All-American.

While Washington will be Steve Sarkisian’s first head coaching job, he is clearly a winner as a player and a winner as a coach at USC.

Sarkisian has made 2 quality decisions so far – he accepted the challenge in Washington and he didn’t keep any of the remaining coaches from the 0-12 squad he inherited. Nice job Steve. Who wants or needs winless coaches?

Sarkissian’s first agenda (apart from hiring staff and recruiting like there’s no tomorrow) will be to change the culture of Washington’s program by restoring a can-do attitude with conviction.

Only time will tell how successful Sarkisian will be with the Washington Husky football program, but one thing is certain: athletic director Scott Woodward’s decision to hire him is a giant step in the right direction.

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

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