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COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Sarkisian is interested in Washington post

October 29, 2008|Gary Klein | Klein is a Times staff writer.

USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian turned down the chance to coach the Oakland Raiders two years ago, saying at the time that he wanted to become a college head coach.

With Washington Coach Tyrone Willingham fired, effective at the end of the season, Sarkisian said he would be interested in the Huskies' job if school representatives contacted him.

"I'd look at it and assess it," Sarkisian said. "It's obviously been one of the premier jobs not only in the Pac-10 but in the country, so you'd have to look at it."

Sarkisian said after Tuesday's practice that he had not heard from Washington. Lane Kiffin, a former USC assistant who took the Raiders job and was fired last month, also has expressed interest in the job.

Sarkisian, 34, is in his fourth season running the Trojans' offense, his second as the sole play-caller.

According to USC's most recent tax filing, he is the school's fifth-highest paid employee.

For the fiscal year ending in June 2007, Sarkisian earned slightly less than $704,500 in total compensation, trailing only football Coach Pete Carroll ($4.4 million), basketball Coach Tim Floyd ($1.1 million), Brian Henderson, the dean of the Keck School of Medicine ($889,282), and Athletic Director Mike Garrett ($803,194).

Carroll said Sarkisian and Kiffin each would be a great candidate for the Washington opening.

"They'd be lucky to get him," Carroll said of Sarkisian. "Whenever you have a chance to hire a guy that brings a major aspect of the team like the offense, that's huge because you know what you're getting."

Sarkisian, like Kiffin before him, has come under fire on Internet message boards for an offense that has been inconsistent and struggled in last week's 17-10 win over Arizona.

Sarkisian said he does not read message boards -- "I'm a little too busy to do that stuff" -- but acknowledged that he regularly questions some of his play-calls, regardless of the score, after reviewing game film.

"I look at every call upside-down and inside-out to see if I would have done something different here or there," he said. "And inevitably . . . there's anywhere from five to seven plays I would change.

"That's not necessarily the same five or seven plays other people would change."

Trying to make all of the team's playmakers happy is not part of the game plan, Sarkisian said.

"You can't go in trying to satisfy people," he said. "You've got to satisfy the team and get the win."

Sarkisian is confident the Trojans can find their stride on offense.

"Hopefully, we can work through the issues of why we've struggled at times, whether it was inconsistencies up front, whether it was the passing game being out of rhythm, and find ways to fix those problems quicker," he said.

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gary.klein@latimes.com

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