Mike Waldner: ‘Depression Might Be There For Sarkisian’

Steve Sarkisian disappointed a lot of people this past weekend. The USC head football coach embarrassed his family, is players and his university after getting drunk at a booster event, using foul language and making disparaging remarks about other programs.

Sarkisian, 41, apologized Tuesday for his behavior.

“It’s an intriguing story,” The Daily Breeze columnist Mike Waldner said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “How much of the drinking is real, I don’t know. I know a member of the family. I know people who have been around him for years. They don’t think he has a drinking problem, but maybe he does. What happened cannot be excused, and when you read the column, I made that very, very clear. My only point on his side is did he really just have a couple of drinks? We’re told he was taking some kind of a prescription. Did that react (with the alcohol)? If that’s what happened, it’s still not an excuse because he should have been smart enough not to do what he did, but what he said is pretty much just coach speak, isn’t it?”

Sarkisian may or may not be asked to undergo counseling to determine if he has a drinking problem.

“They’re (USC) probably going to have him go sit down with a professional and some judgment calls will be made on whether he needs full-blown rehab,” Waldner said. “One of the things I wrote – and he’s pretty much said this – he’s not going to touch liquor until at least after the season. As you know, I wrote that he needs to do that and he needs to do some major reevaluating. He just went through a divorce. That was final yesterday. They’ve got three kids. The wife, who is a very, very sweet person – and I have not talked to, and I don’t think she would answer the phone if I called – it’s a tough thing. He doesn’t get to see his children. So there’s a lot of things kind of going on. You can’t use those as excuses, though.”

Indeed, it’ll be interesting to see if Sarkisian had a one-night slip-up or if he’s been abusing alcohol for several weeks or months – or longer. Either way, it’s affecting his job.

“I did talk to him briefly this summer at an event where he had his children,” Waldner said, “and he looked me in the eye and said, ‘I’m dealing with it. It’s okay.’ People who work with him in the office say they’re amazed that he comes to work and there’s no sign of depression or anything. But there are people who can feel depression might be there but he can block it out at work, but what happens after work? He’s got to be Superman if it hasn’t bothered him in some way. . .. I don’t think Sarkisian is this far down the road (in terms of being a functioning alcoholic), if he’s down that road at all. But if he’s on the road, he needs help right now.”

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