Steve Sarkisian used the C-word in the press conference that introduced him as the new head coach of the USC Trojans Tuesday. He used it repeatedly and unflinchingly.
“We’re here to win championships. We’re here to win championships,” Sarkisian echoed. “I wouldn’t have taken this job just to come home. I came here to win championships and so did all these players.”
When the rumor mill began to turn furiously Monday morning and it became increasingly clear that Sarkisian was the guy, no one was using the C-word. At least not in context that didn’t also include a “can’t win” preceding it.
Sarkisian may not have won Trojan fans over completely with what was universally hailed as a successful opening monologue from the new head coach. He did, however, start the process rather convincingly.
It’s not that he dared to trumpet the expectations. It’s that he did so with a brazen confidence that Trojan fans will believe befits the leader of one of the most storied programs in college football.
Sarkisian hit all the right notes.
He shunned the idea of rebuilding, ”We are not rebuilding at the University of Southern California. Rebuilding is not a word around here.”
In light of NCAA sanctions fatigue among the fanbase, the idea that the Trojans are ready to win now is one that will be welcomed with open arms.
Similarly, Sarkisian’s practice and media policies, a continuation of Ed Orgeron’s it seems, are a welcome change of pace from the closed off and surly Lane Kiffin.
Pledging open access to spring practice, Sarkisian expressed a desire to let the fans see their team. That small gesture will go a long way towards helping the fans move on from sanctions that unfairly cut off their contact in a once-open atmosphere.
In a similar vein, giving full access to the media gives the fans that much more connection to the team.
Then there are the proposed changes to the offense.
“We’re going to have an innovative offense that accentuates the talent we have on the roster.”
Those words certainly perked up some ears. “Uptempo, no-huddle” got plenty excited. Emphasis on a power run game and utilization of tight ends made mouths water even more.
Sarkisian’s biggest problem right now is walking the walk.
The offense will matter right away. Trojan fans are tired of being in the basement of offensive statistics, especially with so much offensive talent littering the roster.
In the long term, it’s not enough to talk about championships. He now has to win them. Maybe not right away, but being competitive for the Pac-12 Championship is not a goal fans will patiently wait for.
For now, he’s taken the first step towards winning them over, but it’s a long walk ahead of him.