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#pounditFriday, September 18, 2020

Steve Sarkisian alcohol, drinking problem led to USC firing

Steve Sarkisian Alabama

Steve Sarkisian has experienced a massive turnaround in the past year or so.

Now 42, Sark was 34 when he was hired as the head coach at Washington. He helped rebuild the Huskies from a program that had fallen to one that was on its way up when he left after an 8-4 season in 2013. Following five seasons on the job at U-Dub, Sark was hired at USC and went 9-4 with the Trojans in his first season. He then was fired after a 3-2 start in 2015, with a smear campaign unfolding.

The 2015 USC football season became a disaster for Sark, as it emerged publicly that he had an alcohol problem and that his drinking was his downfall.

It all started when Sark and his ex-wife announced in early 2015 that they were getting a divorce despite being married for over a decade. Then at a preseason event with fans and boosters in 2015, Sark embarrassed himself with this drunken speech.

After that story was publicized, little things started trickling out, showing that the drunken mess wasn’t an isolated alcohol incident for Sark. In 2012, he ran up a huge bar tab and tried to charge it to the athletic department.

Then in October, following a USC loss to Washington, Sark showed up for work a few days later and was not sober. He was told to take a leave of absence from the program after that.

The floodgates really opened following that incident. Then came stories about how Sark might have been drunk while coaching a USC game against Arizona State. There were stories saying that Sark’s alcohol use was a problem at Washington too.

Sark was fired on Oct. 12, 2015 and was replaced by interim coach Clay Helton, who was promoted to head coach. Sark filed a lawsuit against USC over his firing.

The former USC head coach was unemployed for around nine months until he caught on.

Nick Saban, who gave Lane Kiffin a life jacket after his career was in the dumps following a firing by USC, gave Sarkisian another shot. He hired him as an offensive assistant at the beginning of the season, and Sark began helping the coaching staff from the booth. Then with Kiffin essentially getting the ax before the National Championship Game, Sarkisian was installed as offensive coordinator.

If Sark can call a good game, that will do a lot for rebuilding his stock. Then he can follow the Kiffin playbook and rebuild his image while serving as Bama’s OC. He certainly is overqualified for the job.

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