As the USC Trojans officially announced Steve Sarkisian as the next head coach for USC, athletic director Pat Haden explained the hire as a “gut” decision in his press release.
“We are delighted to welcome Steve Sarkisian back to the Trojan Family,” Haden said. “We conducted a very exhaustive and thorough search, pinpointing about 20 candidates and interviewing five of them. We kept coming back to Sark. He is the only one who was offered the job. I believe in my gut that he is the right coach for USC at this time.”
According to Haden, Sarkisian “embodies many of the qualities for which we looked” including strong recruiting, talent development, leadership, energy, academic success and an understanding of tradition and culture around the program. Notably, Haden listed Sarkisian’s ability to “connect with people” as a quality that was taken into account.
The five candidates interviewed have not been named, but based on reports the names would include Denver Broncos interim head coach and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, Boise State’s Chris Petersen, ESPN’s Jon Gruden, Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin and the eventual hire, Sarkisian. Reports earlier today claimed that Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin was never interviewed.