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USC HIRES STEVE SARKISIAN

It's time again for young and the restless

December 03, 2013|BILL DWYRE
  • UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley and Coach Jim Mora go for a fist-bump during a game on Oct. 19.
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley and Coach Jim Mora go for a fist-bump during… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

Like sands through the hourglass, these are the days of Los Angeles sports lives. The landscape is brand-new.

Steve Sarkisian is the new horizon, the new big story. Brett Hundley is the soon-to-be-biggest buzz.

We now live at warp speed. Technology promotes it and we embrace it. Yesterday's news isn't just old news, it's ancient history.

The hopes and dreams of Coach O, clung to by him and his backers even after Saturday night's 35-14 beatdown by UCLA, are blowing somewhere in the wind now.

Ed Orgeron is to be commended for a mop-up job that would have made Mariano Rivera proud. USC is, and should be, indebted. They will say so a lot in the next few days.

But the Trojans also have moved on.

The new sheriff in town will be much-ballyhooed. Maybe Sarkisian should ride into his introductory news conference aboard Traveler.

Pat Haden, USC's athletic director, didn't blink, and those who know him best never expected him to.

Those who thought this hiring was incredible pressure for Haden weren't wrong. Those who thought it was the worst pressure he'd experienced were.

Remember, he played in the NFL as a 5-foot-11 quarterback. His problem never was hitting open receivers, it was seeing them over his offensive linemen.

Remember, he had to win the 1975 Rose Bowl for USC by throwing key passes to a skinny wide receiver whose father happened to be the coach.

That's pressure.

The choice of Sarkisian is a perfect blend of what works best for Trojans Nation. That's assuming Nick Saban, Urban Meyer and neither Harbaugh brother were available.

Sarkisian is a known quantity. He has bled Trojans cardinal as an assistant coach. He left for Washington, but that is forgiven as long as he is willing to come back. He even brings that little touch of Pete Carroll association with him, having been his assistant at USC and then worked in the same city where Carroll has become an NFL god.

You can bet that, with Carroll's catch-the-last-train-out-of-town exit from USC as the dark clouds of Reggie Bush gathered overhead, Haden asked a few questions of Sarkisian about friendships before handing him a contract.

Hope springs eternal again for USC football, which needed any kind of boost after Saturday's collapse.

USC hopes may take on an additional element: that Hundley decides to forgo his last two years as UCLA's quarterback to take a crack at the NFL. That is the next big L.A. sports drama.

And don't we love our sports soap operas? When things are cooking, we gawk and blog and call sports talk radio and cherish every minute.

When will Kobe come back? Is Matt Kemp really trade bait? When his time comes, will Mike Trout covet pinstripes? Can Steve Alford bring back the Wooden magic? Can anybody?

Hundley is a Saint Bernard, growing into his paws.

The consensus seems to be that he remains a bit raw and another year in college might help. Whether that is the consensus of pro scouts, especially after watching film of his 208 yards passing and 80 yards with two touchdowns running against the Trojans, remains to be seen.

Athletic rawness is one of those measurements that varies greatly in the eye of the beholder. Hundley is 6 feet 3, 227 pounds, fast and powerful. If he stays, he will certainly be on the Heisman short list, maybe even the favorite.

Another interesting player in the current soap opera is Hundley's coach, Jim Mora, who was talking Saturday night, after his second straight win over USC, about turning Los Angeles into a Bruins town. The best chance of that happening, at least for another year or so, is to keep Hundley around.

Orgeron took the blame for the Trojans' loss, but the reality seemed quite clear. He didn't lose the game, Hundley won it.

Now, Mora's top priority is to keep Hundley. His Stay-a-Bruin campaign began with Hundley minutes after the game Saturday night, when he kiddingly asked his star quarterback during a TV interview to commit to another year.

A smiling Hundley later told ESPN.com, "He tried to jump me in the height of the excitement."

Now, after Sarkisian's departure from the University of Washington to join the Trojans, Hundley may need to jump Mora with a question or two of his own.

Mora played in high school in the Washington area, played football at U-Dub as a walk-on and played in two Rose Bowls with the Huskies. He was a graduate assistant coach at Washington for a season and his dad, Jim E. Mora ("Playoffs? What playoffs?") was an assistant coach at Washington before going into the pros.

Mora was the head man for the NFL Seahawks for a year, and before that, as coach of the Atlanta Falcons, joked on a radio show he would "crawl from Atlanta to Seattle" if the Huskies job ever opened.

Well, it is open now. Ask your questions, Brett Hundley.

Is this a great sports city or what? Cue the music, as our world turns.

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bill.dwyre@latimes.com

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