Until today, I admit to trolling Steve Sarkisian and USC - for making fun of his tumultuous time there, including a couple of bad losses, which included Thursday night's loss to the Huskies.
Tonight though – all of those jokes come to an end.
Earlier today, USC Athletic Director Pat Haden announced that Sarkisian was taking an indefinite leave of absence from his head coaching position. The LA Daily News reports that players noticed Sark wasn’t sober at a special teams meeting this morning. Haden said that it was very clear to him that he is not healthy.
To be honest, it all of a sudden makes me regret having taken a cheap shot or two at Sarkisian – especially after his noticeably drunken incident at a booster event in August.
But today’s incident confirmed to many of us that Sark has a legitimate bout with alcoholism, which is no joking matter. I wish him the best – and I hope that he takes the means necessary to get help and get healthy as soon as possible.
Fans can still have a legitimate reason to dislike Sarkisian for the way he left the University of Washington, but for me at least, today is when the heckling and taunting needs to end. No longer is this about football and rivalries and all the drama between the lines. It’s now about someone’s life – it's about supporting another human being with a sickness that’s real and has a history of causing pain to not only the alcoholic, but those around them as well.
I get it: this show is about sports. But it’s also about sportsmanship and respecting your fellow competitor - and in this case, praying for the well-being of a man who put five years of his life into a local football program.
So to Steve Sarkisian – you’re not alone in your fight. Whether you believe it or not, you have our full support.
We can only hope that you take responsibility – and take the proper steps to make it right.