James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Finalizing Staff At USC Won’t Be Easy For Steve Sarkisian

Exactly five years after hiring Steve Sarkisian as their head football coach, the Washington Huskies replaced him with Chris Petersen on Friday morning.

Yes, the same Petersen who spent eight seasons at Boise State and resisted overtures from the likes of Arkansas, Oregon, UCLA, and most recently, USC.

Petersen’s hire at Washington takes the coaching carousel and gives it a dizzy-inducing spin.

Sarkisian began assembling his USC staff this week by keeping Tee Martin, hiring Johnny Nansen and Keith Heyward, and then setting his sights on Peter Sirmon.

Noticeably absent from Sarkisian’s staff are Tosh Lupoi and Justin Wilcox.

Lupoi and Wilcox immediately became hot names at USC when Sarkisian’s hire was announced on Monday.

Despite being passed over for the head coach position at Washington, Wilcox still has a myriad of options available to him.

He could stay at Washington with Petersen, join Sarkisian at USC, or perhaps head to Boise State as a head coach, where he helped Petersen take the Broncos to national prominence.

It is believed Lupoi may ultimately land wherever Wilcox does.  With Wilcox likely to be a candidate to fill Petersen’s vacancy at Boise State, Lupoi could conceivably receive a promotion in the form of defensive coordinator for the Broncos.

If the two coaches go in separate directions, Lupoi may also receive consideration for the defensive coordinator position at Washington, should Wilcox leave the school.

Potentially losing out on Wilcox may not be the disappointment many at USC are predicting.

Current Trojan defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast is well ahead in a poll regarding who would be the best fit at USC.

Under Pendergast, the Trojan defense has become a force to be reckoned with.  One of their deficiencies however, was the inconsistent play from the defensive backs, some of which may be attributed to a lack of a dedicated position coach.

Sarkisian’s hiring of Heyward should provide a boost to solving that issue.

If the Trojans lose out on Wilcox, but are able to hire Lupoi, the duo he could form with Pendergast wouldn’t a poor consolation prize.

Pat Haden decided the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and hired Sarkisian over “outsiders” James Franklin, Chris Petersen, and Kevin Sumlin, among others.

Perhaps Sarkisian needs to look no further than the defensive coordinator already in place at USC.

Assembling a coaching staff is never easy, and in Boise State’s, USC’s, and Washington’s case, the challenge is much more difficult with each school is vying for the same group of coaches.

How the dust will settle is unknown, but one thing remains certain, salary raises are in order.

Tags: Football USC Trojans

  • http://fansided.com/ Michael Castillo

    Sark has to land Wilcox & Lupoi to make his hire sizzle. And the unfortunate reality of that is that basing the effect of hiring of a head coach on the staffers he brings is the wrong way to do it. See: Kiffin last go around, and how it was thought that Orgeron, Polamalu and Chow would make it a great hire.

    • Ben Factor

      There was not sizzle, Peterson’s hire by UW cooled the stove further, and it will take a lot more than Lupoi and Wilcox to bring any searing to Sark’s hire.

      Sark is hired. The good news is that he will update USC’s offensive philosophy beyond NFL circa 2000 (some fans want circa 1960). More good news is that he does seem very personable, with some genuine warmth. Hopefully, he will steal everything good that Ed O and Pete C. did: (1) making players feel cared about, fairly treated, and that they, not the coaches, are the heroes; (2) preaching toughness more than finesse; (3) hard, fast practices; (4) emphasis on fundamentals; (5) simplification of scheme (6) bringing in weekly speakers of all kinds, and not just ex-Trojans; (7) seeking to get ex-greats to hang around (hey, lots of great ex-players from lots of colleges live in L.A.–bring them around); (8) creating treats and special occasions to break up the monotony of hard practices; (9) bringing celebrities around–obviously a good idea that PC exploited.

      Personally, I question whether Wilcox should be thought of as more capable than Pendergast. Sark is comfortable with Wilcox, but Wilcox NEVER developed a defense as good as USC’s 2013 defense, which, recall, was very light on depth. Obviously, I’m on the outside looking in, and maye I’m mistaken. But Pendergast isn’t getting much love, and that ingratitude seems very misplaced. CP is very quiet, which is working to his disadvantage.

      Clearly, there is work needed with ASU/UCLA offenses. But CP, as well as Ekeler and of course Ed O, largely did a bang-up job. CP does not seem like the consolation prize, nor Wilcox like a savior.

      I want to add that replacing Robinson may not look so smart in a year or two. We’ll see. Allen got Robinson noticed, but Madden and Davis were not chopped liver. Robinson is either very lucky or rather skilled.

      The OL situation is different. It needs analysis. Was it really all personnel, or was it partly coaching? What’s needed in terms of a coach, or a change in approach by the same coach?

      • Ben Factor

        More on Robinson: Allen, Madden, and Davis were first year starters, and Davis a true freshman.

        Sankey was memorable as a junior and senior.

        So who’s the better RB coach?

        • Matthew Moreno

          I definitely believe Robinson needs to be retained.

  • Jack B

    Sark was hired to fix problems. If he ends up keeping most of the current staff, that’s not a good start. Obviously he has obstacles. He’s paid big to overcome them. Many of us wanted a new start. If Sark keeps more than 2-3 of USC’s current staff, I say he didn’t make enough of a mark to begin with.

  • Clint Stitser

    Most deserving of all staff to stay…John Baxter. Fox Sport’s Laura Okmin explains why: http://bit.ly/1duLbuC