Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian has accepted the head coaching job at USC, USC confirmed Monday.
USC officially named Sarkisian as their new head football coach Monday afternoon. Sarkisian previously spent 7 years as an assistant at USC.
"We are delighted to welcome Steve Sarkisian back to the Trojan Family," Trojan athletic director Pat Haden said in a released statement. "We conducted a very exhaustive and thorough search, pinpointing about 20 candidates and interviewing five of them. We kept coming back to Sark. He is the only one who was offered the job. I believe in my gut that he is the right coach for USC at this time.
"He embodies many of the qualities for which we looked. He is an innovative coach who recruits well and develops players. 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."
In the statement, Sarkisian said: "First, I'd like to thank the University of Washington and athletic director Scott Woodward for the opportunity they gave me five years ago. I believe the Husky program is in a better place now than when we arrived, and I am proud and thankful of the players for that.
"That said, 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."
A flurry of tweets, including one from ESPN's Joe Schad, went out late Monday morning indicating the move was a done deal. Sources have also indicated that defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and assistant coach Tosh Lupoi will be headed to USC as well, but there is no official word on anything from either university.
Sarkisian was in California over the weekend to interview for the vacant head coaching job at USC, a source told ESPN.
Sarkisian confirmed Monday morning on Sports Radio KJR that he had talked with USC athletic director Pat Haden last weekend, but didn’t call it an interview. He added that he wasn’t very far along in the process with USC yet.
In five years at the UW, Sarkisian has lead to the Huskies to a 34-29 record. A string of three straight 7-win seasons was broken when the Huskies picked up their 8th win of 2013 in the Apple Cup last Friday, with a chance at a 9th in a bowl game.
A southern California native, Sarkisian initially attended USC as a member of the Trojans’ baseball team before eventually transferring to BYU to play quarterback. He served as an assistant coach at USC from 2001 to 2003 and 2005 to 2008 under current Seahawks’ head coach Pete Carroll.
The Trojans have been searching for a head coach since firing Lane Kiffin on Sept. 28. Boise State’s Chris Petersen was a top candidate, but has withdrawn from consideration, a source told ESPN. Other rumored possibilities include Vanderbilt’s James Franklin. Ed Orgeron lead the Trojans to a 6-2 record as interim head coach since Kiffin's firing and was expected to be in the running, but resigned from the program Monday when it became apparent he would not be chosen.
If the reports are true, Sarkisian will be the first UW coach to voluntarily leave for another position since Darrell Royal left for Texas in 1956.