What USC will look like under Sarkisian

Can Steve Sarkisian elevate the Trojans to the heights they achieved in the Pete Carroll era? AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

You might have heard this one before: An offensive assistant from Pete Carroll’s former staff at USC is appointed to return the storied program to the heights it achieved in the Carroll era. He’s asked to do so while dealing with the fallout of NCAA discipline, which was doled out as a result of that same staff’s actions.

Some coaches I know were surprised to see AD Pat Haden select Steve Sarkisian, a candidate with a strikingly similar background to the ousted Lane Kiffin. But those same voices acknowledged that there’s a significant chasm between the Sarkisian and Kiffin approaches and personas, and that has some of them believing the Trojans could soon rise. After all, including this past season, they’ve been close despite everything that has transpired.

I sat down with Sarkisian in early January, when I was in the Los Angeles area for the BCS title game. He talked about how he’ll manage the still-trying numbers situation and what it will take to again make the Trojans title contenders.