The first-year USC coach is off to a 2--0 start thanks to a 13--10 victory over Stanford last Saturday. But there was controversy when, after a dispute with an official, Sarkisian got help from a high-placed friend.
DAN PATRICK:How do you feel after beating Stanford?
September 15, 2014
STEVE SARKISIAN: I felt great right after the game. Then you start looking at the tape and go, Jeez, we gotta play better than that if we want to keep winning.
DP:Was the win overshadowed by [USC athletic director] Pat Haden coming down to the sideline? [The Pac-12 fined Haden $25,000.]
SS: Not in our building. We're proud of our players and the way they played.
DP:How did Haden happen to come down?
SS: I was flagged for delay of game for standing in the white—which is a penalty. At the time I vehemently disagreed with the call, but by the letter of the law, I was wrong. I got into a discussion with the officials and I felt like at that time I needed to get back to the game. So I made it a point to have Pat come down. By the time Pat got there, it was already resolved. I regret calling Pat down. It wasn't his decision. He's not in the best of health right now. [He has had two recent hospital stays.]
DP:What got to you?
SS: I just disagreed with the call. We're gonna disagree with calls. As I said to the team, It's not O.K. the way I reacted.
DP:Did it help that Haden came down?
SS: I don't know. I don't know if it helped us get a sack-fumble on third down. Or if it helped Andre Heidari kick a 53-yard field goal.
DP:How many scholarship players do you have?
SS: A little over 60. We have 52 eligible to play right now.
DP:How many do other teams typically have?
SS: Every team is allotted up to 85. We're pretty significantly less than that. I think over time our number will get better. But that's O.K. We're going to focus on what we do have, not what we don't. The scholarship numbers will never be a crutch for us this season.
DP:You had a busy August.
SS: Always entertaining. Hollywood. USC.
DP:How do you prepare for [cornerback and team captain] Josh Shaw jumping off a balcony and other stories from the off-season?
SS: You control what you can control. You do the best job you can educating your players. I jokingly said to the staff the day of the Fresno game [a 52--13 win] that I was looking in Section 13.3 of the head coaches' manual and I didn't see anything on how to handle it.
DP:Congrats on the win. Now don't call Pat down to the field anymore.
SS: You got it. And I told him I won't jump on his back anymore after games either.
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