Jerry Hinnen: ‘If Sarkisian Doesn’t Win, This Will Be An Issue’

Steve Sarkisian has apologized.

The USC head coach expressed remorse for his behavior at a booster event this past Saturday, during which Sarkisian was intoxicated, used foul language and made disparaging remarks about other programs.

Is this a big deal?

“I think this is the sort of situation where if Steve Sarkisian wins, this is going to be a footnote,” CBSSports.com college football writer Jerry Hinnen said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “If he goes out, he wins the Pac-12 South, he wins the Pac-12 and he gets them into a College Football Playoff, no one’s going to care in another year. If he does not win, if he goes 7-5 again, if he gets blown out by Oregon, then this is going to be an issue. You can have a guy who embarrasses the program from time to time around if he wins. If he does not win, then this is going to be an issue.

“It’s worth remembering this wasn’t some random collection of USC fans that he happened to make this appearance in front of,” Hinnen continued. “These were the boosters. These were the program donors that get together for this annual kickoff event, so these are the people who have the ear of Pat Haden. These are the guys that Steve Sarkisian does not want to embarrass himself in front of, and he embarrassed himself in front of them anyway. As far as suspensions, I don’t know about that, but I think it’s safe to say that there is going to be maybe not tangible fallout, but if Sarkisian doesn’t put an improved product on the field, there’s going to be some intangible fallout down the road.”

Some, however, believe that Sarkisian, who is 0-9 in his career against Oregon and Arizona State, should be suspended for his behavior – perhaps for the entire season.

Hinnen disagrees.

“No, I think we need to make a distinction here between what’s worth being morally outraged about and what is an example of bad judgement,” he said. “This is an example of terrible judgement. Just being drunk and saying drunken, stupid things, it’s not smart. Clearly when you have not beaten a team (such as Oregon) – he never even got close at Washington – then no, you shouldn’t talk smack about them, but that’s what drunken people do. They don’t think. Being suspended for an entire season for doing dumb things, no. But this is where you start calling into question okay, do we want to have somebody who’s the face of the program who’s going to do these type of dumb things who apparently isn’t adult enough to know okay, I’ve got to make this public appearance, this speech basically in front of some of the most important financial people for my football program and I can’t be trusted to do that. I have to be basically yanked off stage by my athletic director because I’m embarrassing myself so badly. So a season-long suspension, no, that’s over the top for my money. But at the same time, it ain’t smart. This was not an example of the way you want your college football coach who’s being paid millions of dollars to behave. It’s just not.”

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