Steve Sarkisian chosen new coach of USC Trojans; Interim coach Orgeron quits

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Steve Sarkisian has been chosen to lead the USC Trojans football team, the school announced Monday. Interim coach Ed Orgeron, has quit. 

Sarkisian, who served as the coach for the Washington Huskies for the last five years, has had ties to USC's program in the past. He spent six seasons with the Trojans under legendary coach Pete Carroll, serving as offensive coordinator and assistant head coach.  

In a statement, USC Athletic Director Tom Haden said Sarkisian was the only one offered the job, despite an "exhaustive" search: 

"[Sarkisian] embodies many of the qualities for which we looked.  He is an innovative coach who recruits well and develops players," Haden said. "He is a proven and successful leader.  He connects with people.  He has energy and passion.  He knows how to build a program and create a culture that we value.  He is committed to academic success and rules compliance.  And he understands the heritage and tradition of USC."

USC announces new coach

Sarkisian, for his part, said he's looking forward to rejoining USC:

“I am extremely excited to be coming home to USC and for the opportunity that USC presents to win championships. I can’t wait to get started.”

Sarkisian announced the news to the Huskies in a team meeting Monday afternoon. KPCC's Ben Bergman spoke with Huskies wide receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow as he was heading into a meeting with Sarkisian.

“He was a good coach because he got us eight wins,” Stringfellow said, "but I dunno..."

Sarkisian is credited with turning around the Huskies' ailing football program when he joined their team in 2009, ESPN reported:  

Sarkisian in 2009 took over a Washington program that had gone 0-12 the previous season, and he quickly returned the Huskies to respectability. He led Washington to a 34-29 record (24-21 Pac-12) in five seasons.

Washington is 8-4 this season and finished third in the Pac-12 North with a 5-4 conference record. Washington had three straight seven-win seasons entering this year.

A Southern California native, Sarkisian, 39, grew up in Torrance and attended West Torrance High School. 

Over at Sports Illustrated's Campus Report, questions have already turned to Sarkisian's qualifications: 

Washington never won more than eight games under Sarkisian and it lost four conference games in each of the last four years. The coach did a remarkable job of rebuilding the Washington program, but expectations stretch beyond rebuilding at USC. Now the Trojans have yet another coach with connections to the Pete Carroll era, one of the most successful periods in college football. Kiffin could not replicate Carroll’s product on the field. It remains to be seen whether Sarkisian can make USC a threat on a national level again.

The news comes two months after the school sacked head coach Lane Kiffin in September. Former defensive line coach Ed Orgeron has been acting as interim head coach since, leading the Trojans to a 9-4 record, including a surprise victory over No. 5-ranked Stanford. 

In a statement, USC announced that Orgeron had quit the program following the announcement of Sarkisian's being hired. The 11-year USC veteran coach was well-loved by USC players, according to the Bleacher Report, and had been pushing for a shot as head coach.

AUDIO: KPCC's Nick Roman talks to Adam Jude, who covers University of Washington's football team for the Seattle Times,  about Sarkisian's  track record in Seattle.

This story has been updated.

With contributions from Eric Zassenhaus and Ben Bergman

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