USC Football News: Steve Sarkisian’s Job is Very Safe


Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the offseason, which means tons of rankings, predictions and Game of Thrones comparisons. It’s also the time to start assessing which coaches are on the proverbial hot seat. As for USC’s Steve Sarkisian? Dennis Dodd feels confident.

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The CBS columnist released his annual hot seat rankings on Monday, where he ranked every coach in FBS on a five-point scale. Steve Sarkisian got one point, which Dodd writes as ‘very safe, change unlikely’.

For reference, two points is ‘safe, but you never know’, while three and four equate to warm. Five is obviously the hottest of hot seats.

Does the ‘very safe’ tag really apply to Sarkisian though?

It’s true that a change after this season probably isn’t happening. But calling him ‘very safe’ seems a tad overconfident given the situation.

Pat Haden is forever tied to Sarkisian, who is likely the final major hire during his tenure as USC’s athletic director. Firing Sark would be an admission of a mistake on Haden’s behalf, which would in turn bring change at the AD level, thus making a sacking unlikely.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Plus, for Sarkisian to be fired, the Trojans would likely need a major collapse in 2015, similar or worse to that of the 2012 season. Then, the preseason No. 1 team went 7-5 in the regular season and Lane Kiffin kept his job.

Could USC go 6-6 this year? It’s possible.

The Trojans have a much more difficult schedule than the last two years. And while they return Cody Kessler at quarterback, there’s several flawed position groups, highlighted by a defensive line that must replace Leonard Williams.

But just as unlikely it is that USC will waltz through the Pac-12 as offseason prognosticators have said, it’s unlikely that the Trojans would play poorly enough this season to result in a performance-based firing of Sarkisian.

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The reality is that there’s a tremendous amount of pressure on both the Trojans and especially Sark. Neither have played in a Pac-12 championship game, and the longer that rings true, fans and boosters will remain anxious.

But USC’s roster is loaded with talent and despite Sarkisian’s bevy of detractors, things are moving in the right direction for the Trojans.

There’s a plan in place with a growing roster, and the No. 1 recruiting class.

And as long that remains true and the program takes steps forward, it’s hard to see there being a change in sight despite all of the pressure and criticism.

That shouldn’t make Sarkisian ‘very safe’ by any means, but realistically firmly planted as the gaffer.

For now. As long as improvement is the operative word.

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