Pat Haden had an opportunity to help Steve Sarkisian in August, but he didn’t – which, looking back on it, was a missed opportunity.
“We reported this back in August, (but) there were major concerns with people inside USC about Steve Sarkisian’s off-field issues for a long time before the (booster) incident,” FOX Sports college football analyst Bruce Feldman said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “That shouldn’t have been the first red flag for Pat Haden. To think that anybody could get serious help as a head football coach on the eve of the season, there’s no time for that given the demands of being a football coach to think that they’re going to be able to do both. He’s fortunate in a way that something worse didn’t come of this. If he’s in a state that he is clearly in where he shows up to work on Sunday morning and is so messed up that he can’t practice and he can’t lead the team, he’s fortunate he din’t hurt himself much worse.
“He clearly needs serious help, and being a head football coach at a major program, you can’t do both,” Feldman continued. “Hopefully he gets the help he needs. This isn’t about Steve Sarkisian the football coach. This is about a guy who a lot of us really like and pretty much most people who come into contact (with him) find him very likable, but this is a big problem. It’s the kind of thing where you need to get it treated. Football should be the last thing that he worries about at this point. If down the road a year or two from now he ends up as an NFL assistant or something, that’s great. But he needs to get serious help.”
Clay Helton has been named the interim head coach at USC, with Sarkisian’s replacement yet to be determined. While many people want the next head coach to be another USC guy, that hasn’t worked well for the Trojans in the past. Feldman called Lane Kiffin “a head-scratcher” and Sarkisian a “disaster.”
So, who’s on the short list of candidates to replace Sarkisian – aside from NFL guys such as Chip Kelly and John Harbaugh?
“You’ll hear the name Kyle Whittingham a lot,” Feldman said. “He’s had a great start to this year. He’s got Utah in the top 5. He gets some players out of Southern California. But keep in mind Kyle Whittingham had all sorts of issues and conflict with his AD there. (He) wasn’t getting much support from a Utah AD just last winter. USC is a bigger job. I think there’s a lot of people who say, ‘Okay, this might be the time to grab him.’”
The same could be said for Brian Kelly.
“Brian Kelly has been at Notre Dame for six years,” Feldman said. “That is a long time to be at that program because of some of the challenges and restrictions you have to deal with. It can wear on a guy. I think if they talk to Brian Kelly or reached out to him, I wouldn’t be surprised if he listened. I think he could be a really interesting fit.”