USC Athletic Director Pat Haden announced today that head coach Steve Sarkisian will take an indefinite leave of absence after failing to show up for practice today. According to Haden, when he became aware that Sarkisian had not shown up for practice, he called the coach. “It was very clear to me that he is not healthy. I asked him to take an indefinite leave of absence,” Haden said. ESPN is reporting that a player told one of its reporters that “Sarkisian showed up lit to meetings again today.”
Offensive coordinator Clay Helton will take over as interim coach. Haden said, “I’ve spoken to our team and our coaches — they obviously had a great deal of concern for the health of Coach Sarkisian. It was also clear to me the support that Clay has from the team, and the staff. We’ve got a big task this week with the Notre Dame game, and Clay will do a great job getting our team ready. I don’t have a lot of answers right now for you guys, as I first heard about this an hour and a half ago.”
This is the second time that offensive coordinator Clay Helton has stepped in as interim coach. In 2013, USC fired Lane Kiffin and replaced him with Ed Orgeron. When Orgeron was not hired as head coach, Helton stepped in as interim coach and led the Trojans to victory over Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl.
USC faces 14th ranked Notre Dame in a nationally televised game, Saturday, October 17, 4:30pm, Notre Dame Stadium.