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Sarkisian slip-up puts spotlight on culture of alcohol in college football

by AirTalk®

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Head coach Steve Sarkisian of the USC Trojans looks on in the game against the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl on November 22, 2014 in Pasadena, California. Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

A contrite Steve Sarkisian spoke to the media this morning and apologized for his actions after a drunken episode this past weekend at an annual football dinner raised eyebrows, not to mention questions about the culture of alcohol within the University of Southern California’s football program.

Sarkisian called his actions ‘irresponsible’ and says he’s sworn off drinking for the rest of this season. When asked what happened, he said that he mixed medication with alcohol, though he didn’t give a reason for taking the meds.  He also said that he plans to seek treatment, though he doesn’t know if he has a drinking problem.

Saturday night, an allegedly very loose Sarkisian spoke to an audience at the Salute to Troy football dinner about the upcoming season, at one point proclaiming “Get ready to (expletive) fight on, baby!” He also said “They all suck” when referring to road games this season against Arizona State, Notre Dame, and Oregon. Sarkisian was allegedly pulled away from the microphone by athletic director Pat Haden, who then spoke to Sarkisian backstage about his behavior.

Sarkisian is in his second year as head coach of the Trojans. Alcohol had been banned from the locker room before his tenure, but Sarkisian brought it back last year, though he maintains it was only in the coaches’ locker room after big wins. Previously, he was head football coach at the University of Washington, and at least one person who worked in the athletic department at Washington but asked to remain nameless said that Sarkisian used to keep alcohol around when he coached there as well.

Do you think Coach Sarkisian should receive a suspension? Do you think a double standard exists when it comes to punishing players versus punishing coaches? What does this say about the culture of alcohol in college football?


Scott Wolf, USC beat writer for the Los Angeles Daily News. He was at this morning’s press conference with Coach Sarkisian.

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