Steve Sarkisian Ranked as 9th Best Coach in Pac-12


USC football coach Steve Sarkisian has always had plenty of high expectations to work with, generating a fair bit of criticism for mediocre campaigns. That’s led to Athlon Sports ranking the second-year Trojans boss as the 9th best coach in the Pac-12.

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The only head coaches behind him? Washington State’s Mike Leach, Cal’s Sonny Dykes and Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre, who together have combined to win just 28 percent of their games since joining the conference.

Topping the list by Athlon’s Steven Lassan is Todd Graham of ASU, followed by Rich Rodriguez of Arizona. Conference newcomer Gary Andersen at Oregon State is ranked sixth.

On the surface, Sarkisian’s ranking seems appalling.

Only because program of USC’s nature should almost never have a coach that’s considered well below average in their respective conference.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

And while it’s a testament for Sarkisian’s underwhelming overall body of work despite the amount of talent he’s had, no conference in college football is as stacked with high quality head coaches as the Pac-12.

Case in point? UCLA’s Jim Mora is ranked 8th, just ahead of Sarkisian.

That’s the same Mora that generated buzz just over a year ago as a potential fit at Texas, arguably the highest profile job in college football.

Yet in the Pac-12, that’s good for barely ahead of Sarkisian, the most scrutinized head coach in the conference.

Until USC plays to their expectation level and gets the most out of their immense talent, the scrutiny Sarkisian faces won’t go away. In turn, that justly keeps him from sliding up a list of best coaches.

The Trojans lost four games last season, with coaching being a culprit for all of them.

USC was flat against a mediocre Boston College team, out-time-managed late against both Arizona State and Utah, and completely lacked a game plan against UCLA.

Yes, it was just Sarkisian’s first year as the Trojans’ head coach. And yes, this season sees him having more players at his disposal. But the leeway for mistakes after bringing in the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class is only shrinking from here on.

USC doesn’t need a world class coaching effort to win a lot of games, but in a coaching-dominated Pac-12, Sarkisian still has to prove he’s capable of out-managing the shrewd brains leading his rivals.

He’ll be given that opportunity this year.

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