As news broke late Saturday night that USC had fired coach Lane Kiffin, you had to wonder what was going through the mind of UW coach Steve Sarkisian. As the Husky head man watched game film this morning of his team's monsoon win over Arizona, you wonder if he sighed and thought: "Do I want to spend the next 30 years of my life standing in the freezing rain?"
Sark is a sunny weather guy. He loves wearing shorts and soaking up the rays, as evidenced in his days as a USC asssistant. The visor says it all. He wears it all the time. If he were scaling the snow-swept Himalayas with a group of sherpas, Sark would be the guy in the visor.
When the UCLA job opened up 21 months ago, Sark reportedly told a close friend that coaching the Bruins would be his dream job, all things being equal.
Of course, we live in an unequal world. Sarkisian owes a lot to UW athletic director Scott Woodward. Sark's got a great gig at U-Dub. Making upwards of $3 million a year, coaching in a gorgeous new stadium, with limited pressure to win compared to many other areas of the country. (To wit, a current thread on the message boards of Dawgman.com discusses how it would be "no big deal" if Sark loses his next two games to Stanford and Oregon. After all, you can't expect to beat elite teams like that when you were 0-12 five years ago).
Once upon a time, former UW coach Jim Lambright got fired for going 6-6. We live in that world no more.
That's the thing. Sark has it really good up here at Washington. And right now, at this moment, his stock has never been higher. The Huskies are 4-0 and ranked #16. Quarterback Keith Price and running back Bishop Sankey look spectacular. The defense looks fundamentally sound for the first time in more than a decade. Especially in the eyes of the national media, Sark is the guy that took an 0-12 team and raised them to the threshold of greatness. As Trojan alum Keyshawn Johnson discussed on Fox this morning, Sark is his #1 target to hire at USC.
You know that Scott Woodward will do everything in his power to keep Sarkisian. For all we know, talks of an extension and raise quietly began the minute news of Kiffin's firing broke.
But in a perfect world, Sark's agent is reaching out right now to USC boosters and athletic director Pat Haden, saying "Don't make a decision until we have a chance to talk. Sark's interested!"
Steve Sarkisian, with his laid-back California surfer appeal (the man refers to reporters as "dude"), would be a perfect fit in Los Angeles. He could wear visors AND shorts year-round. A life of abundance.
And James L. Mora, or "Jimmy Mora" as we at Hardcore Husky like to call him, would have a clear shot at coming back home to Washington where he once played linebacker, (assuming Woodward could see clear to offer him the job).
Once upon a time, while head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, Mora conducted an interview with KJR radio in Seattle, while Tyrone Willingham was still head coach. This was in 2006.
Jim Mora: "Well, I have a lot of respect for Ty, and I know he'll do a great job. But if he ever decided to move on, or get in the NFL or, you know, go back to Notre Dame or whatever, if that job's open you'll find me at the friggin' head of the line with my resume in my hand ready to take that job."
Softy Mahler: "If you're available."
Jim Mora: "It doesn't matter if I'm available."
Hugh Millen: "So if you just won the Super Bowl, and it's available, you're there?"
Jim Mora: "I'd be there."
Hugh Millen: "You'd be there, okay."
Jim Mora: Dewey, I promise you that. Now, I want to see Ty succeed, and I want to see that program succeed. But if he decides at some point that he's ready to move on and they want me, I will be there. I don't care if we're in the middle of a playoff run. I'm packing my stuff and coming back to Seattle."
Softy Mahler: "So, are you saying..."
Jim Mora: "You know, it's funny. And I mean that, and I'm dead serious. The further I get away from it the more I'm drawn to it. You know, that's the job I want, so..."
Softy Mahler: "You would leave the Atlanta Falcons for that job."
Jim Mora: "Absolutely."
Jim Mora: "As I'm sitting here, I am looking at a Husky helmet."
As we jettison forward to the present moment, Mora is at UCLA building a powerhouse in Westwood. Some people, including me, think he might be crazy to leave that recruiting hotbed to come back to Seattle.
But for Sark and Mora, home is where the heart is. For USC fans looking to restore the Trojans to glory, Steve Sarkisian could seamlessly step right back into the fold, with Pete Carroll's blessing. And for long-time Husky fans yearning for a defensive-minded coach with a fireball personality and burning drive to win, Mora would be the perfect fit for Washington football.
To make this happen, it's a three stage process.
With Kiffin's firing, the first stage has been completed.