The christening of a new blog is a difficult endeavor. What topic should the inaugural post cover? Good or bad, the post will linger for eternity in the annals of the internet or plastered across social media. Somewhere, someplace, someone will dredge up things you would wish were forgotten, much like parents would at thanksgiving dinner.
That’s why I am giving up before I even start. Why spend all my time stuck in analysis paralysis? I’m going to go down guns blazin’.
Sit back and get ready to get shot at. Oh, and I know you’re not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition. Consider it a first step down a dark road.
Let’s jump back for a moment to analysis paralysis. USC head coach Steve Sarkisian mentioned that he minimized the “paralysis by analysis on gameday” at the 4:04 mark of a radio interview with Colin Cowherd. Rather, it seems Sark is guilty of the opposite problem—analyzing too little. His playcalling and overall management of the team has been less than spectacular the past season.
How about analyzing the opponents’ gameplans and making halftime adjustments? Or not calling the same play ad nauseam after it works once.
That’s not the only time he tried fixing the wrong problem. Try listening to the ripe nugget at around the 3:45 mark of the interview. He claimed that he wanted to “maybe de-emphasize some of the play upfront.” Did he see what the UCLA defensive line did to his offensive line? Heading into the Crosstown Showdown, they gave up an average of 2.2 sacks per game. UCLA exposed some glaring weaknesses as they sat Kessler on his butt six times, including twice on third down.
No doubt the lack of physicality was further exacerbated by the lack of full contact practice—much like the 2015 spring game. Kiffin tried that too and it looked like his team couldn’t tackle at all the first season. Then Kiff wised up and had himself a good season—before regressing and falling into his old ways. Sark might want to analyze what worked and didn’t work for his predecessor and former colleague.
Also, consider this quote from Seattle Times article back when he was first hired:
“Sarkisian, who took over as offensive coordinator at USC in 2007, has inevitably been compared to Chow since. Some Trojans fans lament that the offense hasn’t looked quite as explosive the past few seasons.”
Change the year from 2007 to 2014 and you might think that line was freshly inked. Hmm…
Further in that passage it says that, “Sarkisian’s defenders pointing out Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart left around the same time.”
What’s the new age equivalent to that? Sanctions and short on bodies? A new year, a new excuse.
What’s the next excuse going to be? You can keep coming up with excuses just like Sarkisian. He talks a good game, just like Washington Huskie fans will tell you.
From the same Seattle Times article, Sark had this to say about former OC Norm Chow:
“’Obviously, the time when he was leaving USC and I was coming in, we grew apart,’ he said. ‘The less time you work together, the further you grow apart. And he ended up at our rival, and that didn’t help. It is what it is. He’s been a very good mentor to me, and we had some great moments together. I think someday it will grow itself back together again.’”
At a certain point, things don’t just happen. He has to make it happen—he has to deliver on those words. Call up Norm to patch things up. Find some solid counters to his rivals’ playcalls. And Sark seems unable to deliver. Like Kiffin, the problem is not about their football prowess or knowledge. The problem lies in their personalities. Kiffin would turtle up and stubbornly stick to it. Sark eschews comprehensive preparation in favor of letting things happen. Sometimes it works (@Stanford, @Arizona, Nebraska), sometimes it doesn’t (Arizona State, @Utah), and sometimes it massively fails (@Boston College, UCLA).
If it happens once or twice, sure maybe they were freak accidents. When it happens this often, it kind of makes a pattern. He’s not some first year head coach floundering around in the big time. He had five entire years at Washington to learn and adapt. The time for excuses is over.
Remember the last time someone tried to learn on the job at USC? At least Kiffin was a little more offensively inventive (at times) and took some risks. He also gave us a story worthy 10-2 season.
Whether I or anybody else likes it, Sark will have the next two seasons, at the very least (barring some huge…scandal). Can he outdo the previous visor-man in that time period?
By the way, I don’t irrationally hate Sark, but he has shown little reason for me to like him. I’ll be happy if he proves me wrong—IF. Too bad that’s a taller order than Venti mocha crapuccino.
But here’s another angle for you (in case you still thought I was a single-faceted hate machine): When Pete Carroll was speaking at USC back in February of 2014, he brought Sark onto the stage and publicly endorsed him as head coach. Without much regard to his other offensive coordinator protégé, Kiffin, Carroll claimed that he tried to make USC hire Sark as head coach on his way out to Seattle.
I ain’t some fortune teller (you can go to some horoscope blog for that crap), but I am not confident in what I saw from last season. The only thing that keeps me from becoming said single-faceted hate machine is the recommendation of someone who has “been there, done that.”
By the way, fight on and stuff, yo.