Did USC recruitment of Sarkisian start in September through wealthy alums?

By Terry Benish

Special to The Sports Paper


The story of Steve Sarkisian’s recruitment to USC apparently started in September through a bunch of very wealthy USC alums, including comedian and film star Will Ferrell.

It was Ferrell that visited the Huskies and Sarkisian at the Oregon game held at Husky Stadium. Click on this link to view that: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1808809-washington-huskies-receive-pregame-visit-from-will-ferrell-before-oregon-game

The dialog may have started with alums like Ferrell and then went to USC athletic director Pat Haden. The same alumni may be paying big chunk of Sark’s big-time salary.

What we can question is when did the actual wooing start? Did it start before Lane Kiffin was fired or after? Was it with Ferrell or even earlier. And why did Sarkisian go on Seattle radio and insist he had never talked to USC?

This so-called “robbing” of a coach from one NCAA Division-I high profile program by another really harms the kids who have their coach pulled out from them.

These are the kids who eat top ramen and peanut butter and who try to make progress towards an education and are directed by academic advisors in athletic department at every D-I school to take basket weaving classes to stay eligible.

These are the kids that when they’re done playing football have lifelong injuries and still need to spend a couple of more years to get degrees without scholarship funding (although some schools offer to extend that funding).

At almost every school, kids are exploited so coach can get millions. Coaches like Sarkisian also often collect more money from shoe companies and other sources.

Some people believe this is a fair bargain for the kids. If one of the players at Washington says he loves Sark and wants to transfer to USC to be with him, he can’t without sitting out a year and losing that year of NCAA eligibility.

Because of NCAA laws, the schools own the players if not certainly their mobility. This is certainly a breach of anti-trust labor precedent and connotes slavery.

If a journalist, for example, wanted to leave the Kitsap Sun and go to the Seattle Times he could, presuming the Seattle Times was offering.

The University of Washington athletic department took in almost $84 million in revenue for the year 2012. USC probably took in more than that, but since it is a private school no numbers are available.

How did they make that money?

On the backs of their so-called amateur athletes.

My older son was invited as a junior to an USC baseball camp. Reggie Bush was there then, as was Pete Carroll. There were a whole lot of Escalades and Suburbans in the player parking lot for all the kids to see.

All college coaches live on the knife’s edge, as do their family. It is likely if Sarkisian and the Huskies had lost that game, both the USC offer and his job at UW might have disappeared.

But now he’s on top of the world.

When I was a kid I had two uncles as coaches. Perry Moss was the first head coach at FloridaState and also was the head coach at Marshal. He also had lots of assistant jobs at other schools.

Perry’s brother Les Moss coached and managed in Major League Baseball with the White Sox and Detroit Tigers.

At Christmas, my grandmother, mom and aunts would talk in the kitchen and my dad and uncles would drink and talk, without kids. The women would talk about what liars and jerks the athletic director or general manager or owner was and how bad the school districts were and how hard it was to move every few years back and forth from their home in Florida to wherever they worked. And the kids didn’t want to go. They wanted to stay with friends.

It is wrong to reduce this to a binary view, as in good or bad guy. It is far too simplistic. But the question that needs to be asked, and so far has not, is whether the NCAA should allow coaches to switch teams without penalty and not also let players switch teams when that coach leaves?

That only seems fair. But, then, when has fairness come into play when it comes down to the billion-dollar business of NCAA football.