After USC's win over Stanford last week, I received emails from a couple friends of mine, both in California. The gist was "Hey Derek, for all your talk about Sark, USC looks like the best team in the conference right now."
Well, yeah. They looked great beating the stuffing out of Fresno State, and then were gifted a win by the bad coaching of Stanford's David Shaw. But as I told my friends, Sark's reputation is a lot of hype, fireworks, dancing bears, snake oil, smoke and mirrors.
"I watched his show up close for five years," I said to my friends. "He'll spend the entire week now patting himself on the back, soaking up the adoration, and being interviewed on every radio show from here to the Cayman Islands. But never underestimate Sark's ability to shit the bed the week after a big win. Especially on the road."
Admittedly, I took great delight watching Boston College drag USC up and down the field and stun a nation ready to anoint USC as Florida State's heir apparent.
Boston College rushed for 451 yards, averaged nearly 10 yards a carry on first down, and held USC to 20 yards rushing. The Trojan players looked lost and helpless. That's because in the heat of adversity, USC's vainglorious head coach has feet of clay and a glass chin.
If they haven't seen it already, Trojan players will soon see the other side of Sark. The angry tantrums behind closed doors, showing up late for his own meetings, lecturing his players about drinking responsibility when his own proclivities are on display for anyone paying attention.
After his piggyback ride on athletic director Pat Haden following the Stanford win, Sark thought he had it all figured out. Players having fun, fast and loose, everything dialed in. We saw that same cocksure swagger from him up here at Washington after the occasional big win. But he's not a great coach, not a great play caller, not a great motivator. He's a superb marketer and self-promoter, is all.
After crapping the bed against Boston College, the same old Sark is revealed in the post-game show. Deer in the headlights, throwing others under the bus. Gosh, he doesn't know what happened. It's all on him. But you know, we had a good game plan and the players just didn't execute. They're going to have a great week of practice and get these things cleaned up. Their poor performance is not indicative of how good a football team they truly are. Need to look at the film to figure it out.
But "Seven Win Steve" is your problem now, USC fans. And I'm still thunderstruck that Pat Haden took him off our hands after Sark finished 6th in the conference last season.
Derek Johnson's articles appear each Sunday evening on Hardcore Husky.