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USC football coach Steve Sarkisian fired, athletic director says

Head coach Steve Sarkisian of the USC Trojans paces the sidelines in this file photo. Athletic director Pat Haden announced Monday, October 12, 2015, that he was terminating Sarkisian.
Head coach Steve Sarkisian of the USC Trojans paces the sidelines in this file photo. Athletic director Pat Haden announced Monday, October 12, 2015, that he was terminating Sarkisian.
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USC football head coach Steve Sarkisian has been fired, athletic director Pat Haden said in a statement Monday.

"After careful consideration of what is in the best interest of the university and our student-athletes, I have made the decision to terminate Steve Sarkisian, effective immediately," Haden said in a prepared statement on a Trojans sports blog.

The statement continues:

"I want to thank Clay Helton for stepping into the interim head coach role, and I want to add how proud I am of our coaching staff and players and the way they are responding to this difficult situation.  

"Through all of this we remain concerned for Steve and hope that it will give him the opportunity to focus on his personal well being."

The school hasn't said exactly what problems Sarkisian has been having, but the second-year coach made an embarrassing appearance at an August pep rally, during which he appeared to be intoxicated, according to the Associated Press.

Here's more background from AP:

Sarkisian went 12-6 at USC, where he was an assistant coach under Pete Carroll with the program's dominant teams of the past decade. He spent five years as Washington's head coach until 2013.

This is the second time the team has fired its head coach in three years, according to Neon Tommy

Interim coach Clay Helton, who serves as offensive coordinator, will lead the Trojans against Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., on Saturday. Scott Wolf, a writer with the Los Angeles Daily News, told KPCC that he expects USC to play well.

"They're resilient young players so they're kind of rolling with the punches right now," he said. "And I actually think they'll probably play pretty well against Notre Dame this weekend because they have no pressure and no expectations right now."

Helton is the Trojans’ longest-serving assistant coach. He was awarded play-calling duties by Steve Sarkisian before this season, Wolf reports

You can hear our interview with Wolf in the audio attached. 

This story has been updated.