For those of you who’ve been around as long as I have, Sunday’s announcement that former head coach Steve Sarkisian was asked to take an indefinite leave of absence from his role at the helm of Trojan Football was probably unanticipated. But for upperclassmen, it was eerily familiar to a situation that occurred just two years ago.
It was also on a Sunday, two years ago, when the Trojans — who were also 3-2 at the time — were met with an unexpected leadership switch.
Yes, I’m talking about the firing of Lane Kiffin.
My memories of that breaking news are still fresh, as if it just happened yesterday. Like the dismissal of Sarkisian, the news also broke on a Sunday, which means I — like every other editor of the DT at the time — was in the middle of production for our Monday issue. I remember walking into the newsroom just as Athletic Director Pat Haden was beginning a press conference on the television to address the wave of events that literally unfolded overnight.
Haden recalled how, after the Trojans suffered a humiliating 62-41 defeat at the hands of the Sun Devils in Tempe, Arizona, he had to make the difficult decision to dismiss Kiffin from his role, literally leaving him at the terminal of the Los Angeles International Airport. Without dwelling too much on painful memories, let’s just say that the whole situation seemed unreal. Not only did we have to factor this huge piece of breaking news into our coverage, but we also had to do it while our sports editors were still stuck in Tempe, having just covered the game the night before.
As far as average days in the newsroom go, that definitely wasn’t one of them.
When the press conference ended, the editors immediately mobilized into action, each doing their respective part to ensure we were covering the news as quickly and accurately as we could. Page layouts were reorganized, column topics changed and interview requests were made at rapid speed. As one of the online editors at the time, I was tasked with making sure we were pushing out our reporting on social media as quickly as possible (read: I tweeted).
In a lot of ways, last Sunday’s production was a lot like the one two years ago — lots of questions, lots of excitement and lots of eagerness to be on top of the story. But there were also some notable differences. This time around, we were lucky to have all of our editors in the newsroom ready to tackle the issue head on. Moreover, my vantage point on the situation changed. As managing editor alongside DT editor-in-chief Isabella Sayyah and associate managing editors Emma Peplow and Burke Gibson, my job is to oversee all aspects of publication from start to finish. Watching all the pieces come together — from the stories to the photos, to the layouts and headlines — is pretty amazing, and watching it happen on a day when there’s breaking news is no exception.
Like any Trojan would tell you, fighting on through the changes and controversies in our football season is never easy. But I’m glad that we as editors can be behind the desk when they happen, and hopefully bring some good to the situation through our coverage.
Yasmeen Serhan is a senior majoring in international relations. She is also managing editor of the Daily Trojan.