Report: Sarkisian's troubles extend back to Washington days
The problems that have led Steve Sarkisian to take a leave of absence from USC reportedly extend back to his days as head coach of the Washington Huskies, as well.
The Los Angeles Times published a lengthy report Monday detailing repeated actions that "raised concern among some of his players and others closely associated with Washington's program."
Among the reported incidents:
• One former Huskies player claims he "smelled alcohol" on Sarkisian at team meetings "one or two" times;
• Another ex-Huskie said that in 2009, Sarkisian sometimes arrived at meetings "smelling like booze" and with his "eyes all red";
• Two other former Huskies said Sarkisian and other coaches regularly drank alcohol in their offices;
• Several receipts obstained by the Times show hefty tabs for alcohol paid for in Sarkisian's name.
On Sunday, USC athletic director Pat Haden asked Sarkisian to take a leave after he determined the coach was "not healthy." Sarkisian missed the team's Sunday morning practice and was reportedly "in no condition to work," according to FOX Sports college football insider Bruce Feldman.
Sarkisian publicly apologized before the season after he appeared to be intoxicated while making an unsteady public statement at the Salute to Troy pep rally. He announced he would be getting unspecified treatment, but didn't believe he had a drinking problem, blaming his appearance on combining alcohol and medication.
Sarkisian is 12-6 during his short tenure leading the talented Trojans, who were dropped from the AP Top 25 after losing 17-12 to unranked Washington last Thursday. Sarkisian had been on the road recruiting during the long weekend, but apparently wasn't in condition to lead practice Sunday, according to Haden.
Haden informed the players of the change in a team meeting.
"(It was) clear the team had a great deal of concern about the health of Coach Sarkisian," Haden said. "So did the staff have that concern for him, and it was also very apparent to me in the room of the support that Clay has from our team and his staff."
Helton begins his second stint as USC's interim coach. He led the Trojans to a Las Vegas Bowl victory in 2013, a calendar year in which the Trojans had four different head coaches.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.