The brief saga of Steve Sarkisian at USC came to an abrupt end this afternoon when USC announced the head football coach has been terminated.
Yesterday the school put Sarkisian on indefinite leave after he showed up for practice Sunday morning in what one report described as “no condition to work.”
USC athletic director Pat Haden called the coach “not healthy” yesterday. But Haden himself came under fire for enabling what many are openly calling an alcoholism problem for Sarkisian.
Last night Los Angeles Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke wondered aloud if it wasn't Haden whose head should be on the chopping block at USC.
Today Haden said in a statement that firing Sarkisian “is in the best interest of the university and our student-athletes.”
“Through all of this we remain concerned for Steve and hope that it will give him the opportunity to focus on his personal wellbeing,” he said.
Plaschke argued that USC was putting its own reputation above the health of an employee:
Shame on Athletic Director Pat Haden for waiting this long to give Sarkisian help, and shame on USC President Max Nikias for allowing him to wait. Seriously, what were they waiting for? Why was Sarkisian allowed to coach a football game this season without at least taking a leave of absence to be evaluated?
In August Sarkisian apologized after he appeared to be drunk at a “Salute to Troy” rally in which he took to a podium and urged his team to “f-cking fight on, baby.”
Four days later he said during a press conference that he might have an issue with alcohol. In September USC, now with a 3-2 record, beat Arizona State. Reports have emerged that he might not have been sober during the game.
Offensive coordinator Clay Helton will run the team as interim head coach.