It took some time, too much time, but USC finally got it right in the Steve Sarkisian travesty. They’ve terminated the coach, who now can devote full time to get his life in order.
So why in the hell didn’t athletic director Pat Haden pull the trigger a long time ago, except to say that he put wins and losses ahead of personal well-being?
It was clear to many that Sarkisian needed help even before he acted like a drunken fool at a booster event two months ago. On Monday, the Los Angeles Times published a list of bar tabs that Sarkisian rolled up in his four seasons as Washington coach. While there’s no breakdown of the amount of alcohol consumed by those involved, it’s probably safe to say that Sarkisian was a frequent participant.
According to one former player, Sarkisian was known to arrive at morning team meetings “smelling like booze and [with] eyes all red, like he’s been on a bender.” Another ex-player said he smelled alcohol on Sarkisian during team meetings “one or two” times. And yet another claimed the coach liked to stash an 18-pack of Coors Light in his office.
If Sarkisian had a questionable track record at the time, then why wasn’t Haden aware of it? (Or Washington, for that matter?) Or wasn’t conduct high on his priority list? The problem was severe enough to warrant more than token attention after that fact, the kind of time that a head coach couldn’t possibly have in an high-profile, alumni-run program.
Now, USC can take the next step and show Haden the door. First, he hired and fired Lane Kiffin, and now this. Clearly, the AD has lost it, too.
THE CITY, INDEED: Are San Francisco sports fans lucky or what?
In three years, The City will be home to the two most successful pro sports teams in the Bay Area. That was all but guaranteed Monday, when the Warriors announced the purchase of a 12-acre lot in the Mission Bay district, not far from where the Giants play their home games.
“It feels to us like we’re on the 10 [-yard line] with a first down,” team president Rick Welts said.
Best of all, co-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber will do it the right way — with their own money. While the Athletics and Raiders hold out tin cups across the Bay, the Warriors will make a $1 billion investment in their home city, a commitment almost unheard of in this day and age.
The waterfront arena will be about more than basketball. A lot more. The venue will serve as a major entertainment venue, one of the few areas in which The City has lagged behind other major markets.
BABY STEP: Just once, Balls would like Jim Tomsula to hold his players accountable in public. At least the 49ers coach didn’t accept full blame for the loss against the New York Giants, and that was progress in itself.
“Well, I mean, the record is the record,” Tomsula said Monday. “That’s just the fact and the reality of it and that’s not good enough, and we’ve got to change that. … We’ve got to win football games.”
WHERE DAT LAT? Before the season, the question as it concerned Raiders running back Latavius Murray had nothing to do with natural ability and everything to do with mental and physical toughness. He has never carried the ball more than 82 times from scrimmage in an NFL season.
Five games into the season, we may have the answer.
On Sunday, Murray was nowhere to be found in the fourth quarter. Speculation was that the coaches didn’t trust him with the game on the line after his two killer turnovers the previous week, but, mostly, a bum shoulder was the reason. In the first half, he didn’t hit the hole with his usual force.
“He was a little banged, but he was available,” coach Jack Del Rio said.
Pressed further on the matter, Del Rio said, “Just a little banged up, like I said.”
If Murray can’t answer the bell, that leaves Roy Helu and Marcel Reece as the options. In that case, quarterback Derek Carr may want to tighten his flak jacket.
SEABASS CHOKES UP: If placekicker Sebastian Janikowski had his way, Raiders games would be played in empty stadiums — there’s a punchline there somewhere — and we saw the reason Sunday.
In perhaps the most emotional game of his career, Janikowski was a bundle of nerves and botched 38- and 40-yard chip shots that could have decided the outcome. The first was blocked — he told teammates that the low kick was on him — and the second was wide by two feet. His kickoffs also were shorter than usual.
“Just one those days,” Janikowski tried to shrug it off afterward.
Yet rarely does Janikowski have one of these days. It didn’t help that the Polish Cannon was given a rousing ovation at the start of the third quarter, when it was announced he had become the team career leader in games played.
“It was really cool, but I’m not one of those guys who likes publicity,” Janikowski said about the moment. “So that’s it.”
Was the ovation reason to get choked up a bit?
“Yeah, definitely,” Janikowski said. “I was a little anxious. I just don’t like that stuff. I just want to play another game, that’s it.”
SORE WINNER: Charles Woodson expressed admiration and respect for Peyton Manning after he picked off two of the quarterback’s passes — his first two ever against Manning — but the love wasn’t mutual, unfortunately.
“Took him 18 years,” Manning chided the future Hall of Famer. “Probably offsets the two TDs I threw on him last year. Call it a wash.”
Manning wouldn’t still be bitter that Woodson beat him out for the 1997 Heisman Trophy, would he? Nah, not Mr. Stat Guy.
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