Arizona State coach Todd Graham and Stanford coach David Shaw are preparing for their teams’ rematch in Tempe, Ariz., on Saturday. Both, however, took some time during their teleconference on Tuesday to react to the news of former Washington coach Steve Sarkisian’s sudden departure to take the same position at USC.
Sarkisian was officially named the new head coach of the Trojans on Monday after reportedly interviewing for the job on Sunday. Ed Orgeron had been serving as interim coach of the Trojans, who fired Lane Kiffin following a 2-2 start to the season.
Graham was succinct, saying, “Obviously, and I don’t know about the details of any of that but I know Sarkisian’s a good guy, does a great job and I wish him nothing but the best.”
Sarkisian grew up in Southern California and was an assistant coach at USC under Pete Carroll from 2001-03 and 2005-08. The Trojans signed him to a five-year contract, presumably increased his salary, and offer him a chance to coach in front of his many friends and family in the area.
Shaw said that while fans may not understand the impetus to leave a school before the season is out, there are many factors that go into the decision.
“There’re so many things that go into it of course. Money is one thing, where you live is another thing and where your wife wants to live, and where you have history and where you don’t have history, where you have a family base,” Shaw said. “So many different things go into it and I don’t know anything about the particulars about that but when things like this happen it’s usually never just one thing.”
The Stanford coach added that there may be an upshot to coaches moving around within the conference, as rivalries develop between schools that may not have any animosity derived from geographic closeness or historical hostility.
“I don’t know if strengthens the word but I think this move probably puts a little hot sauce on the rivalry between USC and Washington, but I think that’s natural anytime a coach voluntarily leaves one place,” Shaw said. “Maybe that’ll get the Washington fans from getting so mad at me about last year.”
The two coaches will face off this weekend in the Pac-12 championship game. The winner will be rewarded with a spot in the Rose Bowl. Stanford beat ASU 42-28 in Palo Alto earlier this season.