USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian has accepted the job as the head football coach at Washington. He made the announcement to a small gathering of reporters after USC's 28-7 win over UCLA and a formal announcement will be made later tonight.
"I'm excited about the opportunity," said Sarkisian, who will fly to Seattle on Sunday. "I think it's been a great program for years, not just in the Pac-10 but around the country. It's obviously down at this point, but hopefully I can go in there and restore some of the tradition and toughness that they've had over the years."
Sarkisian, who said he formally accepted the job over the telephone following the game, will continue to be USC's offensive coordinator through the Rose Bowl. In the meantime, he will game plan for the Trojans as well as recruit for Washington through Dec. 25.
"I'm really proud to see this happen. We will play him Week Two, I think, and we're coming after him, I just want you to know that. We're going to get him," said Pete Carroll with a smile after the game. "We'll lose him on the road here for a bit recruiting since it's a big recruiting time and then he'll go and officially be out after the bowl game."
Sarkisian said he was offered the job "a couple days ago but didn't want to make any commitments until this [USC-UCLA] game was over." He will likely to bring some current and former USC colleagues with him to Washington but refused to go into detail as Carroll walked by and screamed, "Sark Daddy!" on his way out of the visiting locker room at the Rose Bowl.
"Fortunately for me, I've worked for great coach in Pete and learned a tremendous amount about football and handling kids, different situations, parents, boosters and everything that goes into this," he said. "Some offensive coordinators don't even get to talk to the media after ballgames, but he's mentored me and prepared me extremely well."
While most players and coaches were happy for Sarkisian, the person who took it the hardest was USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, who was visibly shaken after hearing the news Thursday night and deflected questions about it after the game before breaking his silence on his way out of the locker room.
"He's a phenomenal coach and even a better friend. He's a winner and there's no doubt in mind he'll be a winner wherever he goes," said Sanchez, looking down and shaking his head. "I'm going to miss the in between moments with him. Where I get to sit in his office for five minutes before meetings and in between drives, where he'll say, 'C'mon bro, let's go man, we're going to score again. Even today, the last touchdown pass, he looks at me and says, 'You want another touchdown pass? Here's another one and now go tell them to get ready to celebrate and run off the field. We hit it and he's come through like that a million times."
Washington, which was the lone FBS team to go winless this season, can only hope for at least a few of those moments next season.
"There are some good football players on that team," said Sarkisian. "The biggest thing that they need to get back is a belief in winning and right now there's not one. There's a belief in losing and when things get tight you find a way to win or a way to lose and Washington has found a way to lose and we have to change that culture."