COLUMN: Sarkisian deserves respect at this time

Come on now, Trojans. I know that we pride ourselves on being the school that everyone loves to hate, and we have more rivalries than you can count on one hand, but when one of our own is struggling, it’s hardly a cause for celebration.

You might not agree with his coaching style, and you certainly have the right to dislike him after Thursday night’s loss to Washington and his 3-2 record this season, but he’s one of us and Steve Sarkisian deserves your respect.

I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on social media celebrating Sark’s temporary dismissal and eventual termination. If Sark had been fired immediately after the Washington game, or if this was the end of the season and Haden announced that Sark wouldn’t be returning, that would be one thing.

But this is something bigger than his job as head coach and bigger than sports. This is about Sarkisian’s well-being and livelihood. This is about his personal struggle. He is the father of three young children who are now dealing with a very public meltdown.

Many reports are claiming that Sarkisian’s drinking is a result of his divorce and continued family problems. Instead of celebrating Sarkisian’s absence, the Trojan Family should wish him well in his time of struggle.

When Yankees pitcher C. C. Sabathia announced earlier this month that he would not join his team in the postseason so that he could seek treatment for this alcohol addiction, people had nothing but respect for him and applauded him for his courage and bravery. While Sabathia’s leave was voluntary and Sarkisian’s was forced, the issue at hand is the same.

Furthermore, the football team isn’t really any better off without Sarkisian than they were with him. It’s not like Pat Haden has gone out and hired a five-star replacement for Sarkisian. Instead, offensive coordinator Clay Helton will take over as head coach and lead a reeling Trojan team to South Bend to face the No. 14 team in the country. And it doesn’t get any easier from there. The Trojans will return home to face No. 4 Utah and then head north to take on a strong Cal team.

Furthermore, all of the confusion and drama that this situation has caused will only serve as a distraction to the team. The players have worked hard to prepare for this season and losing a head coach is nothing but a disappointment, especially for the older players like senior quarterback Cody Kessler who have been through two head coaches and two interim coaches.

The football team is facing an uphill battle after getting off to a 3-2 start overall and 1-2 in the Pac-12, and losing Sarkisian doesn’t make that any easier. Helton has been the interim coach before and is 1-0 in that position, and there is plenty of amazing talent left on the field for the Trojans. We have a capable quarterback with plenty of great offensive weapons and a strong defense. It is up to Helton to take charge of the team and fight on in the face of adversity and finish the season the way the team is capable of.

Meanwhile, it is up to Sarkisian to also be strong during a difficult time and focus on regaining his health. I hope he is able to get the help he needs and have a successful coaching career at another university.

If nothing more, he deserves some privacy and respect in this difficult time.

Regan Estes is a junior majoring in public relations and Spanish. She is also the sports editor of the Daily Trojan. Her column, “Wild Wild Westes,” runs Tuesdays.

5 replies
  1. Ras5555
    Ras5555 says:

    Truck drivers, mailmen, teachers – a plethora of people get fired everyday for their problem with alcohol. Although I do not wish undue ill towards them – I would not say they “deserve” respect for abusing booze.

    We have contaminated the notion of people who deserve respect with wild notions. If you are a single parent working for minimum wage – and through poor planning have three kids – suddenly we are supposed to respect the single parent for their poor planning in their personal and professional choices. if you worked hard since elementary school, worked hard in HS and college, worked hard to get a decent paying job, work hard everyday at work to continue to make good money — AND you feel as a result of your hard work, you are being punished by paying high taxes – suddenly you are NOT deserving of respect by these modern day PC sentiments.

    Back to Sarkisian – he had a great gig – high paying, high energy and high profile – he knew what he was getting himself into. If his love for alcohol usurped this – he only has himself to blame.

  2. Carlos E Bauza
    Carlos E Bauza says:

    Differ. Compassion is called for. NO RESPECT for gargantuan drinking he chose in disrespect of his student athletes, his bosses and his fans.

  3. Don Harmon
    Don Harmon says:

    Good point, Regan. The guy did his best and he did give us fans some great moments. This season, of course, has been mostly disappointing, but the poor coach has been mired in worse disappointments. He deserves our thanks for giving his best while he could. Divorce, alcohol abuse, failures, fired, embarrassed – he needs no further misery from criticizing USC fans. That would be disloyal and un-USC, kicking him while he is down. Best of luck to Coach Sarkisian and hopes for a speedy recovery from these terrible events in his life.

  4. Steven Stanfield Means
    Steven Stanfield Means says:

    Mr. Estes has another pair of the blinders so popular among USC professionals. Yes, on a personal level, most of us hope for a speedy healing and better outcomes for the Sarkisian family, not just for Steve, to be sure. However, the main public matter is Coach Sarkisian’s inability to do his job, to maintain self discipline and high standards as demanded by his position and rewarded by over $4 million per year. Getting drunk and mixing that with pills has been more important to Sarkisian than his job, his colleagues, his student athletes. This is an ongoing problem supported (enabled) by success at any cost blinder wearing administrators and fellow coaches. Nothing has been said about the cover ups. There are many individuals, both at Washington and at USC, and among opponents, too, who observed the abuses and ducked and took cover, perhaps hoping, this too will pass. Those people have been self serving and have contributed to the damages suffered by student athletes, parents, friends and fans. Pat Hayden did step up and fire Sarkisian. The phrase “too little, too late” predicts that others, very probably the trusted and too trusting AD will have to leave his distinguished career with self imposed blemishes. Sarkisian and his drinking buddies happy drinking has been out of place. Support for whims a Trojan in the Daily Trojan is out of place and unwarranted. Take off the blinders and be responsible. That is a higher value than blind loyalty. Show some sympathy for the student athletes whose USC experience rattles down the drain of conspired inelegance. If you wish to help a Sarkisian, do that in private. For every thing there is a place.

    • HankC
      HankC says:

      Yes, Steven Means, as a DT staffer from many years ago I was wondering who would step up and re-write Miss Estes’ column. You did it perfectly! (An editor might have tweaked a couple of things, but you told the story.) Thanks!

Comments are closed.