Sarkisian named new USC coach, Orgeron leaving

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Updated: 12/02/2013 7:02 pm

Los Angeles, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - USC hired Steve Sarkisian as its new head football coach on Monday, tabbing the Washington sideline boss over interim program leader Ed Orgeron in the wake of the Trojans' 21-point loss to crosstown rival UCLA over the weekend.

Sarkisian, a top assistant under Pete Carroll at USC prior to his five-year stint with the Huskies, takes over a Trojans' team that went 6-2 under Orgeron after the latter was promoted to the top post following Lane Kiffin's dismissal in late September.

The school announced that Orgeron will not remain with the program as he pursues a head coaching opportunity elsewhere.

Sarkisian guided Washington to four consecutive winning campaigns after going 5-7 in his debut season, including an 8-4 overall mark and a 5-4 record in Pac-12 play in 2013. The Huskies went 34-29 during his tenure and 24-21 in conference games.

The 39-year-old is also well-regarded as a developer of quarterbacks. He tutored Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart during his two previous stops at USC, with future NFL first-round picks Mark Sanchez and Jake Locker also among Sarkisian's ex-pupils.

"He embodies many of the qualities for which we looked," USC athletic director Pat Haden said of Sarkisian. "He is an innovative coach who recruits well and develops players. He is a proven and successful leader. He connects with people. He has energy and passion. He knows how to build a program and create a culture that we value. He is committed to academic success and rules compliance. And he understands the heritage and tradition of USC."

Sarkisian, a former quarterback at BYU and with the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders, first joined the Trojans in 2001 as quarterbacks coach and spent three years in that role before serving in the same position with the Oakland Raiders in 2004. He went back to Carroll's staff the following year and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2007.

During his time as a USC assistant, Sarkisian was a part of five Pac-10 champion teams and helped the Trojans reach the BCS Championship Game for the 2005 season.

The Los Angeles-area native also began his collegiate playing career as a walk-on baseball player for the Trojans before transferring to junior college.

"I am extremely excited to be coming home to USC and for the opportunity that USC presents to win championships. I can't wait to get started."

Orgeron was under consideration to claim the Trojans' head-coaching gig on a permanent basis after leading the team to five consecutive victories, including an upset of then fifth-ranked Stanford, prior to Saturday's 35-21 defeat to the Bruins.

"Ed is one of the greatest Trojans ever and we thank him for all he has done for the program," said Haden. "He and I had a very open and frank discussion. He understandably was disappointed when I told him we were going in a different direction. We talked about the possibility of him remaining at USC, but Ed wants to be a head coach and I am supportive of that. I told him I will do whatever I can to help him in that pursuit."

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