University of Southern California A.D. Pat Haden turned Steve Sarkisian’s forced leave of absence into a full-fledged termination Monday, a day after the former Washington head coach failed to turn up for Trojans practice. Since said incident came on the heels of a August booster banquet in which Sarkisian’s drunken behavior put him on something approaching double-secret-probation with Haden, the obvious question is how carefully the former’s tenure in Seattle was vetted. The LA Times’ Nathan Fenno and Lindsey Thiry paint a picture of a man whose difficulties with alcohol were a poorly kept secret, calling the coach’s boozing, “a running joke among Washington players”.
One ex-player said that in 2009, Sarkisian’s first season with the Huskies, the coach sometimes arrived at morning team meetings “smelling like booze and [with] eyes all red, like he’s been on a bender.”
Another former player said he smelled alcohol on Sarkisian during team meetings on “one or two” occasions and, other times, noted that the coach’s eyes appeared to be bloodshot and glazed while he seemed unusually confrontational.
Two other former players said Sarkisian and other coaches regularly consumed alcohol in offices — one said the coach typically kept an 18-pack of Coors Light stashed near his desk — and that he appeared uncharacteristically loud and unsteady on some team flights.
One former player who worked as a bartender at another Seattle tavern said they bumped into Sarkisian and a team staffer in the Edgewater Hotel bar. The player described the coach as “clearly … wasted.” The other player said Sarkisian hugged him, offered to buy him a drink and was “definitely drunk.” The same player said Sarkisian drank “copious amounts of Patron” amounting to “between eight and 10 shots” over several hours during weekly visits to Citrus on Lake Union.