Sarkisian offers quick transition

December, 2, 2013
12/02/13
6:22
PM PT

In 2010, USC athletic director Mike Garrett, attempting to maintain the glory days of the Pete Carroll era, hired Carroll's former co-offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, a head coach of moderate success, to return to Troy.

Four seasons later, replace Garrett with Pat Haden and Kiffin with Steve Sarkisian of Washington, and you have what took place at Deja VuSC on Monday.

There are a few key differences between Sarkisian and his close friend Kiffin. Sarkisian has the people skills that Kiffin lacked, a critical element of Kiffin's downfall. Sarkisian knows how to deal with the Los Angeles media and won't make unnecessary problems for himself the way Kiffin did. Kiffin loved the chess match of X's and O's. Sarkisian, as a better communicator, is known as a good teacher.

By bringing Sarkisian back to USC, Haden is attempting to maintain the connection to the last decade, when the Trojans won consecutive national championships (and played for a third) under Carroll and his band of bright, young assistants.

But Haden also is bringing to mind the desert that Alabama wandered through after the death of Bear Bryant, when the university prized bloodline over performance. It worked well with Gene Stallings, less well with Ray Perkins, and not so well with Mike DuBose and Mike Shula. In selecting Sarkisian, Haden also took the coach who has enjoyed less success than another prominent candidate, Chris Petersen of Boise State.

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More from ESPN.com on USC hiring Sarkisian:

Arash Markazi: Sarkisian hire not a "home run"

Mark Saxon: Sarkisian's to-do list

Travis Haney: How soon can Sarkisian succeed at USC? Insider

Ivan Maisel | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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