Steve Sarkisian leaving for USC job, according to reports

Stephen Dunn

The former Trojan coordinator will reportedly return to LA and take over the program.

USC has hired Steve Sarkisian as their new head coach, prying their former offensive coordinator away from Washington to lead the Trojans back to previous heights, according to reports by 247 Sports and ESPN.

Earlier Monday, it was reported Sarkisian interviewed for the job -- a claim he denied. Vanderbilt's James Franklin, the Broncos' Jack Del Rio, and USC interim head coach Ed Orgeron were thought to be the leading candidates. The team reportedly has an unscheduled meeting at 2 p.m.

Sarkisian, 39, took the head coaching job at Washington following the 2008 season and immediately injected life into what had been a floundering program. His predecessor, Tyrone Willingham, had not led the Huskies to a winning record in any of his four seasons, and the team went winless in the year prior to Sarkisian's arrival. Washington had won a total of 12 games from 2004 through 2008.

Sarkisian's first Washington team finished 5-7, but the Huskies picked up an upset win over USC, and they were competitive in a loss to LSU. The Huskies broke through to win seven games the following year, including a Holiday Bowl victory, marking the first of three consecutive seven-win seasons and three straight bowl bids. Washington had been on a seven-year bowl drought before Sarkisian's arrival.

The Huskies went 8-4 in 2013, their best record in Sarkisian's tenure. The season included a year-opening blowout of Boise State and season-ending wins against Oregon State and Washington State.

Before coming to Seattle, Sarkisian served as an assistant at El Camino College, where he got his coaching start, and he also coached for the Oakland Raiders and had two stints at USC. He served as the assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach for USC beginning in 2005 and added the offensive coordinator to his list of duties beginning in 2007.

USC's offense was potent in his two seasons calling the plays. In 2007, the Trojans ranked 29th nationally in total offense and improved to 11th the following year.

In his previous tenure with the Trojans, from 2001 to 2003, he coached Carson Palmer, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2002, and he oversaw Matt Leinart's development. Leinart was the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year in 2003.

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