By Derek Johnson
You could tell who was going to win this one as the teams emerged from the tunnel.
First came the Crimson Tide of Alabama. The defending national champs. They possessed an air of toughness, discipline and confidence as they ran onto the field. They were led, of course, by their grim-faced superstar coach, Nick Saban.
Then the camera switched over to USC. The Trojans were bunched up at the mouth of their tunnel, awaiting the go-ahead. They cavorted spastically like seventh-graders eager to escape detention. It was embarrassing. They looked like out-of-control animals.
I took one look at that and said, “They’ve still got the Sark stench on them.”
That stench I refer to is Steve Sarkisian, the former UW and USC coach. It was last October, after a stunning loss to the Washington Huskies, that Sarkisian went on a bender that proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. He was fired and promptly disappeared into a treatment center.
But last Saturday night, as the Tide and Trojans stood on their respective sidelines, commentators Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbreit talked of both teams. The camera panned to Clay Helton, who replaced Sarkisian as head coach last October. Herbstreit, who I like a lot, made a comment that USC finally had themselves “a real football coach.” The implication being that Sarkisian wasn’t. And that was an odd comment coming from Herbie, considering that he used to annoint Sark as “The best playcaller in the nation,” while we suffered through his regime in Seattle.
Nevertheless, the game started. And it was eerily similar to Washington’s game at LSU in 2012, when Sark was the UW coach.
In that 2012 game, the Huskies had a fluke play go their way, and jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead. After that, LSU completely dominated and humiliated Washington 41-3.
The same thing happened in the Bama-USC game. A fluke field goal staked the Trojans to a 3-0 lead. But by the start of the second quarter, the deluge began. Fumbles, bad snaps, missed tackles, sloppy play, and Alabama dominance. Dejected USC players looked lost, while their head coach bore a “I have no idea what to do” look.
If only that coach had been Sarkisian, rather than Helton. Having suffered through five years of Sark the over-hyped drunkard, the satisfaction would have been sweet seeing that overhyped drunkard get the business end of Saban’s plunger.
As it happened, it just served as another reminder that the Pac-12 in a second rate football conference, and the SEC continues to dominate.
But you know that Sark, who resurfaced recently as a TV commentator, had to be quietly counting his blessings. How so, you ask? That he’s not on the hook for this historically-bad, epic defeat. One of the worst in Trojan history.