Roundtable: Sarkisian's fit 

December, 6, 2013
1. Give your initial thoughts on the Steve Sarkisian hire.

Garry Paskwietz: First and foremost, I think Sark is a good fit at USC. Even when he was an assistant, especially in his final two years with the Trojans (2007-08), you got the sense he was a guy who was going to be a real good head coach. He has a respected football mind, has always had an easy, natural rapport with players, and the fact he attended the school as a freshman baseball player told me he understood the draw of USC for a student-athlete. I completely understand the reservations of some USC fans, particularly with his basically .500 record at Washington and the emotional circumstances surrounding Ed Orgeron, but I think Sark will move past those thoughts relatively quickly as he starts to ingratiate himself into the program.

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Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsSteve Sarkisian made his bones at USC by tutoring quarterbacks.
Johnny Curren: While the hire did catch me by surprise, the more I think about it, the more I like it. First and foremost is Sarkisian’s prowess as a recruiter. A Southern California native who has already built up strong relationships with local coaches, there’s reason to believe he can bring in the players USC needs to win. On the field, he made a big impression as an assistant with the Trojans, particularly as a tutor for quarterbacks such as Matt Leinart, John David Booty and Mark Sanchez. I’m also encouraged by the no-huddle offensive scheme he plans to install at USC. Not only will it potentially make the Trojans more dangerous, but it also could result in a defense that, in practicing against Sarkisian’s up-tempo scheme on a daily basis, will be more prepared to defend against similar offenses featured throughout the Pac-12. Above all else, I’m encouraged by the fact he’s a proven leader with a real sense of what USC is all about, and I believe the players will respond to that.

Greg Katz: The initial thoughts here are tempered enthusiasm. If Sarkisian were a flavor at an ice cream shop, he’d be French vanilla. That’s not to say he isn’t a good hire, but he certainly isn’t the zesty hire many Trojans were anticipating. In fairness and based on how the “home run” candidates played out (Gruden, Petersen, Sumlin, etc.), Sarkisian was probably the best option given the situation.

2. Name one recruit you think the hire could impact the most.

GP: I’ll go with cornerback Jonathan Lockett (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei), and I think it would be a terrific pickup if the Trojans can get him to flip. Corner is a priority in this class, and Lockett was a guy on the bubble who just wasn’t able to get an offer from Lane Kiffin or Ed Orgeron. Sarkisian thought enough of him at Washington to offer and get a verbal so it’s natural to think Sark could reach out now with an SC offer, with indications Lockett would accept. Lockett has been the top player on a Monarchs defense that will lead the team against top-ranked Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco on Saturday night for the CIF-SS Pac-5 title.