Sarkisian arrives on the campus of USC
Steve Sarkisian
Steve Sarkisian
FOX Sports
Posted Dec 3, 2013
Lindsey Thiry


New USC head coach Steve Sarkisian arrived on USC's campus on Monday night to meet with Trojan players...

"I mean it's something, to be honest, we've all gotten used to," USC freshman quarterback Max Browne said Monday night as players emerged from their first meeting with new head coach Steve Sarkisian.

"It" might as well be called the Trojan roller coaster.

How could USC players not be used to the unpredictable ride they've been on since the 2012 season, really.

They're onto their third head coach this season -- an interim interim head coach now. The fourth, and permanent one, started moving into his office as the ink on his contract dried Monday night.

Here's the short version of how this Trojan ride started and where it is now skidding to a stop.

USC started the season under embattled head coach Lane Kiffin, who fans were calling to be fired after his second game of the season, a 10-7 loss to Washington State (Following his 7-6 2012 season).

Kiffin was fired in the early morning hours of Sep. 29, after losing at Arizona State and leading USC to a 3-2 start to the season.

Defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron was named interim head coach. At 6-1 going into the Trojans regular season finale hosting UCLA, it looked as though Orgeron would secure the crosstown win and this dream job as the USC head coach.

But USC lost to UCLA, Orgeron finished 6-2, and on Saturday night USC players knew they'd have to hold on for another ride.

By dawn Monday morning news broke that Boise State's Chris Petersen removed himself as a candidate for the USC search. That news was followed by the development that it was a two man race between Washington's Steve Sarkisian and Vanderbilt's James Franklin.

Within hours, Sarkisian was confirmed as the Trojans head coach.

Orgeron submitted his resignation from the USC football program.

Orgeron met with his now-former team and Sarkisian was doing the same in Seattle.

Hours later, Sarkisian was on the campus of USC to meet with his new team.

So where is this USC team now?

Some are still in pain over the departure of Orgeron, who many claimed as a father figure. Several players left the Orgeron meeting in tears -- defensive lineman Antwaun Woods was just one of those players. After the second meeting of the day, this time with Sarkisian, Woods said, "It is tough to see [Orgeron] leave, but at some point you have to move forward.

"I think people's attitudes will eventually get better," Woods continued. "They'll change toward the new coach but right now on this day it's kind of hard."

Other players have already turned the page. "I'm excited as hell," redshirt freshman Zach Banner, once recruited by Sarkisian, said.

As for Sarkisian himself? He let his new players know Monday night that the transition will take time. "'I don't expect to win you guys over in one day, it's going to be a process'," Browne recalled Sarkisian saying in the 7pm meeting.

The former USC assistant now head coach emerged briefly from the John McKay Center to talk with the media before embarking on "long night" of work ahead. He wore a black and cardinal 'SC hoodie and precisely recalled the USC mantra to "Fight On".

"It's great to be home," Sarkisian said. "It's awesome to be here, it's been obviously an emotional day for the players here, for myself, and my former team and those kids up in Seattle.

"It's great to be part of the Trojan Family again. It's always been a dream of mine to be here and hopefully I don't have to leave this time again to come back again, so hopefully the fifth time is a charm and I'm pumped about it."

So now, the only thing USC players need to get used to is Coach Sarkisian, because he is now their guy.

But the ride isn't quite over quite yet.

Offensive coordinator Clay Helton will lead USC through its bowl game and USC players will eventually have to find out who stays and who goes -- Sarkisian has yet to name his new USC coaching staff.

Get in the discussion with other USC fans in the Fight On! SC Insiders Forum

Follow Lindsey Thiry on Twitter


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