Today in unflattering USC football headlines: a running back has quit the team and accused Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian of being racist on the way out the door.
Anthony Brown, a redshirt senior who had recently been moved to the new position from defensive back, left the team Thursday and posted an image to his Instagram feed with text that read "Couldn’t play for a racist man!!!!" The post was later deleted.
Brown also posted that Sarkisian "treated me like a slave in his office."
Sarkisian was asked about Brown at his press conference later Thursday.
"As far as what he said . . . I think it’s ridiculous," Sarkisian told reporters, according to the Orange County Register.
"Any of you guys that know me, and if you ask anybody in our building, any of our players, feel free to. That’s about the furthest thing from the truth."
Some players also came to Sarkisian’s defense, including nose tackle Antwaun Woods:
Coach Sark is a great person/Coach! Please disregard comments that have been made by someone.
Brown is a senior who has started six games at cornerback for the Trojans, filling in when the school had particularly thin depth due to NCAA sanctions. He played in only two games last year due to injuries, and he switched positions to running back for his senior year.
"I had encouraged him to play," Sarkisian said. "I wanted him to play. I didn’t want him to quit, and I thought he could get healthy."
Sarkisian said Brown asked the coaches to allow him to play running back this season, and the staff agreed with his move to a talent-rich position at Tailback U. He is listed sixth on USC’s depth chart behind returning starters Javorius Allen and Tre Madden, as well as talented backups including Justin Davis.
"We thought he could be an asset to our team, especially when healthy," Sarkisian said. "(USC) really tried to make it a point to accommodate the position change. He wanted to move to running back. We did so. He unfortunately got injured and was working his way back in training camp, and decided he didn’t want to play anymore."
It all adds up to a rocky start for Sarkisian, who is embarking on his first year at the helm of the Trojans after five seasons with Washington. USC’s first game is Saturday against Fresno State (7:30 p.m. ET, FOX).