Oct 19, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA; Washington Huskies head coach Steve Sarkisian looks on during the first half against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Huskies Football: Defining the Steve Sarkisian Era

With the PAC-12 media day coming around the corner at the end of July. It is time to take one last step back and define the era that was Steve Sarkisian as head coach of the University of Washington. So in several parts here is the Sarkisian era defined and his lasting legacy or lack there of.

Return to Bowl Games and Improving Skill Position Talent: While Sarkisian failed miserably in his attempt to bring the Huskies back to national prominence. He did accomplish four bowl games in five years which is a step forward from the dark era of 2003-2008. So there is some credit to be given for Sarkisian bringing accomplishing some level of mediocrity during his tenure. There is also credit to be given out to Sarkisian and his staff for putting more skill position players into the NFL. The best coaching job was done by former running backs coach Joel Thomas who in his final two seasons before leaving for Arkansas was a huge reason why the Washington ground game has put up such big numbers the past few years thanks to his work with Chris Polk and Bishop Sankey.

Extended Losing Streaks: This was the gift that kept on giving as Sarkisian went batted .1000 in his five years in bringing  Husky fans the annual three game losing streak. This annual occurrence  led to some epic post game Husky Honks shows on KJR. Elite coaches in college football don’t allow their programs every single solitary season to go on extended slides like Sarkisian did under his watch. For example, from 1977 to 1992, Don James only had one three-game losing streak during streak during the regular season and that was 1989.

Moreover, even Jim Lambright and Rick Neuheisel combined did not five seasons worth of regular season three-game losing streaks within their two respective head coaching tenures.

Lack of Discipline: Whether it was the epic amounts of penalties that put Washington near the top of college football on a semi-regular basis or players with legal issues such as Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The lack of focus in games even at home such as the 2010 41-0 loss to Stanford at Husky Stadium that resulted in the first home shutout for Washington since 1976 at the time.  The lack of discipline can also be traced some of his assistant coaches that Sarkisian eventually got rid of in Nick Holt.

When covering the 2011 State 3A Football Championship game between Bellevue and O’Dea I had the privilege of getting verbally harassed by Holt while I was in the middle of covering this game because I was wearing a West Virginia visor on my head.

Now, mind you I had never met coach Holt in my life before getting harassed by him and epitomized the lack of discipline of the Sarkisian era. In short, Sarkisian was what he was a 34-29 caliber of coach and someone whose legacy is absolutely not worth defending. Instead it is time look to forward to the Chris Petersen era.

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Tags: Football Steve Sarkisian Washington Huskies

  • bunnylytle

    Wow very tough evaluation. He did turn the program around and bring some talent. Agree with discipline problems. So much better than Ty. Couldn’t be worse.

    • Scott Whittum

      First, thank you for commenting I appreciate it and you make very good points for sure! I agree it is a very tough devil’s advocate evaluation that I presented and it was argument that needed to be presented. He did get the program back to bowl games like I mentioned and there is better talent for Petersen to move forward with. But the discipline problems the inability to get past 5-4 in conference play, and the three-game losing streaks ever year equaling 34-29 is what it is at the end of the day average.

      • UCLA Bleauz

        Scott, you stated that “Sarkisian was what he was a 34-29 caliber of coach…” ….are you suggesting that he won’t fare any better as head coach at USC?… and, hypothetically speaking, if he should somehow manage to exceed what he accomplished at U of W, how would you explain this?.. better talent? Better assistant coaches, even though most of them cam from U of W?……easier schedule?….PS: I agree with you that Holt is a dolt…..

        • Scott Whittum

          UCLA Bleauz, Here is the best way that I can explain Sarkisian with the expectations at SC being as high as they will be lets just say for the sake of argument USC goes consistently 9-3 under Sarkisian and has a mix of losses to the Bruins, Ducks, Notre Dame and some upset losses. That won’t be good enough for SC fans and would keep him squarely on the hot seat. He will have better personnel just with his ability to get SoCal recruits but the key is going to be will he learn from what he did wrong at Washington and until he coaches this fall that question for me remains unanswered. The other thing that I need to see is how he handles his lack of depth early on is his tenure at SC. Bottom line, Sark is not going to rattle off a Pete Carroll type of run at SC in my view? Thanks for the comments they were very well done.

  • Husky Honk

    Pretty fair assessment I would say. Sark brought us back to mediocrity and recruited some solid skill position guys. However, his work on the lines was terrible. He’s a mediocre coach who is going to get exposed down at U$C.

    • Scott Whittum

      I agree especially on the offensive line and even if he say goes 9-3 at SC on average that should be viewed as mediocre my most SC fans I would imagine. Thanks for the comments ans well thought out opinions.

  • ConcernedHusky

    Interesting comments, but man, Scott, you gotta proofread your stuff before posting it.

  • Jay44

    He is woefully unremarkable in every conceivable aspect and will not be missed. That a conference rival paid us for him and we hired Petersen still makes me pinch myself in disbelief.

    • Scott Whittum

      Great take very well said. With Petersen aboard this should be fun season I would suspect.

  • Michael Waters

    “Interesting comments, but man, Scott, you gotta proofread your stuff before posting it.”

    True, and perhaps more so it’s important to learn the rules of English. Problems with subjects, verbs, subordinate clauses, and all sorts of syntactical errors made it kinda painful to read.

    Standards for a published piece ought to be higher than that of the general public.