Sarkisian replaces Trojans interim coach Ed Orgeron, who took over in September after athletic director Pat Haden fired Lane Kiffin following USC's 3-2 start.
ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reported Monday that Sarkisian had interviewed for the Trojans job. But Sarkisian denied that an official interview took place.
Sarkisian spent six seasons as an assistant with USC, first from 2001 to '03, and later from '05 to '08. When he took the job in Seattle after the '08 season, the Huskies were coming off the first 0-12 campaign in Pac-10 history. Former Washington coach Tyrone Willingham went 11-37 in four seasons. Sarkisian, on the other hand, went 34-29 (24-21 in the Pac-12) in five seasons. The Huskies are headed to their fourth straight bowl game.
Orgeron led the Trojans to a 9-4 record, including an upset of No. 4 Stanford on Nov. 16. Haden said last month that fans had expressed a huge amount of support for Orgeron to become USC’s next head coach.
CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman reports that Sarkisian had a lot of support from people close to Haden.
Sarkisian beat out a number of other coaches, including Vanderbilt's James Franklin, Boise State's Chris Petersen and Denver Broncos' interim coach Jack Del Rio, who was an All-America linebacker for the Trojans in 1984. Vanderbilt denied that Franklin had ever been contacted about the job, while Petersen reportedly withdrew his name from consideration earlier this week. Reports surfaced last month that Del Rio had interviewed with USC during the Broncos' bye week.
Sources told Chris Huston of NBCSports.com that Sarkisian was on Haden's radar all along.
Sarkisian has a history with USC, but many question whether he is a championship-caliber coach. He has never won more than eight games in a season at Washington, and the Huskies have lost four conference games in each of the last four years. Sarkisian did a remarkable job rebuilding the program, but the expectations for the Trojans go beyond rebuilding. In Sarkisian, USC has hired yet another coach with connections to the spectacularly successful Pete Carroll era. Kiffin could not replicate Carroll's winning ways. The next few seasons will show whether Sarkisian can once again make the Trojans into a national power.