Sark and the State of Troy

So the musings I began to write after the Thursday night debacle are now obsolete and unnecessary. The events of Sunday have taken over the news for obvious reasons and forced me to keep this week’s musings short and sweet.

It is a tragic situation for all involved and one I certainly hope will draw the team together. I do not know Coach Sark personally, but I do hope he gets the help he needs. More on that later. What I DO know and LOVE is the University of Southern California, and the fight on spirit that defines her soul. These young men on the football team deserve the chance to shine this year free of distraction. My thoughts are with them, and I am confident they themselves will fight on.

More information is likely to come out in the days ahead. It should be pointed out that the blurb getting play right now that “coaches worried Sark was drunk at ASU game” has a grand total of ONE source right now – it came from ONE place – and it has NO substantiation – and that person is Scott Wolf. I don’t feel the need to say anything else. There is no information that could come out which will surprise me, but no information counts as true or legitimate or material or relevant when it is the random postings to the twitter feed of the most desperate and pitiful of USC detractors, Scott Wolf, for whom I would not dare legitimize by making reference to TMZ, which is the Wall Street Journal of journalism compared to Wolf and his unread rag. What we DO KNOW is bad enough; carrying on about Wolf’s nonsense isn’t helpful.

Sark is not going to coach at USC again. I am assuming everyone knows that. How it plays out, what happens with Sark from here, whether or not he gets healthy, and of course how the contract issues get resolved – that is all a different story. Casually reading through the chat rooms last night it is clear we don’t have a lot of people who own businesses on the chatosphere. There is an extraordinarily delicate process that must go on here, and USC, their board, their HR department, their lawyers, etc. are all going to have to deal with this the right way, and that is how it should be. While I am sure it may serve as red meat to the 27-year olds who themselves were likely on their 7th drink when they posted how “we should just fire that drunk’s ass”, we can’t just fire him, and every grown up in the room knows it. We have a process and responsibility and all of this will play out in due time. “But if we don’t act right now we will lose recruits”. Nonsense. “He is a terrible coach anyways; screw him and his drunk ways”. Brilliant. He won’t be back at USC, and unlike when Kiff was fired in 2013 we are not going to enjoy the clarity of knowing that (a) Orgeron is acting head coach (Helton this time); and (b) A search is going for a new one. Rather, those two facts will be true, but not clear and explicit. Big deal.

I do not know Sark personally but have met him 10 times or so. 99% of the people talking about this situation are in the same boat. The anecdotal evidence combined with what reports indicate happened yesterday are that he has a bad problem, and that this is his bottom. Wishing ill will on him is beneath the men and women of Troy. What I wish is that this will now take two separate tracks: (1) This season, Coach Helton, the men on our football team, and our competitive prowess on the football field; and then (2) Sark and his recovery. We all care about #1 and that should be our focus. It is a separate matter from #2 for which we have nothing to do with and can only choose to pray for if we so desire. He isn’t going to be back at USC.

People who have struggled with alcoholism or known someone who struggled with it must shudder at the ignorant nonsense being thrown around right now. Sark has no right to let his situation hurt so many other people, and he needs to go deal with it on his own. There is nothing – NOTHING – like hitting your bottom in the public light. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. But this is the life Sark has and the situation he faces. Most alcoholics have to bottom with their families and employers involved, and that is miserable enough. To bottom on the front page of the LA Times and on the lead story of ESPN SportsCenter is awful, but unfortunately necessary, in this case. For those of you who know, a hallmark of recovery in the program is the accepting of responsibility for what you have done in your alcoholism – it is not blaming it on the disease or anything else. Making amends and coming to grips with the casualties of what happened – these things matter for the alcoholic inn recovery. No one believes Sark gets a pass because he has a drinking problem, and if Sark embraces recovery he will not believe so either. But if he does suffer from alcoholism, and all indications are that he does, people who have suffered from it themselves or seen it in the life of a loved one know that you cannot get better without a bottom. Some have higher bottoms than others. This may be a low one, and of course we have no idea if this will prove to be the bottom or not. But as long as USC separates Sark and his health from the football program, which they have now done to the fullest extent legally available to them, there is nothing else to be said about it. He can choose to embrace recovery or not. He can choose to take the experience, strength, and hope of others who have gone before him and get better (or not). And he can actually take steps towards the new life he will find in sobriety. Americans love comeback stories, and they love stories of redemption and healing. That is because American DNA is good and honorable. Many alcoholics never make it. It is obviously way, way too early to have any idea what lies in store for Steve Sarkisian.

I will spend time this week preparing to go to Chicago with my wife and daughter to watch USC take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and hopeful that our team is healthy, prepared, and united. Secondarily, I will say a prayer for Sark and his family. Alcoholism is a selfish condition, but it is a real condition – an allergy of the body and obsession of the mind. May yesterday prove to not be the worst day of Sark’s life, but the best one. And on the very off chance that Sark ever reads this blog: “There is one who has all power; that one is God; may you find Him now.”