I figure now is the best time to try and gauge the feelings of Husky fans towards former Coach Steve Sarkisian, with Thursday (or Today, depending on if you are reading this before the game) marking the first match-up between Sark's new USC Trojans and his former Washington Huskies. In December of 2013 when the split happened, I'm assuming the response to the poll would be heavily stacked towards animosity and bitterness among the UW faithful, and why wouldn't it be? However, it's almost two years later, so the opinion could be much closer to a 50/50 split.
I guess we'll find out in the poll below. Below are cases for both ends of the spectrum:
The Case For Hate
If you call something a destination job, dream job, or whatever else is synonymous with the phrase and then bolt, that's going to rub people the wrong way. All the good things you accomplished get tarnished because it wasn't done out of a desire to build something other than a resume good enough to get whatever is above a "dream job" on the hierarchy of jobs. Was it the plan all along to go to Washington, maintain status with Los Angeles area recruits/schools, and when the opportunity arose to return, you waste no time and are gone in the dark of the night, leaving nothing but empty promises (and bottles, probably) behind?
That's overly harsh, but it has to be, because there is no way to decipher the truth from the lies if everything was built on the foundation of lies and deception. Nobility and honor, things that you're supposed to be teaching to easily influenced young men, aren't anything more than buzzwords that you use to get what want, and nobody realizes this until you're already out of town with two fingers in the air, screaming "Fight On!" at the top of your lungs. The thing you "rebuilt" is left in shambles, but who cares because it served its purpose and you have bigger things to worry about now.
The worst of it is that even though the fans feel betrayed, there is literally a locker room full of people you recruited to play football for your program that just watched their entire world get flipped upside down. Maybe they would have been prepared if you were honest in your recruiting and said things like, "leave your home, travel sometimes thousands of miles to be a part of this great program that I'm willing to leave as soon as something better comes along. But, because of rules, you can't ever leave without losing an entire year and thus, lowering your value to any potential suitor. Oh, and if I leave and you stay, there's no guarantee that you'll even have a spot on the team anymore. Here's your letter of intent . . . sign it and go find a fax machine." I'm sure blue chip prospects are lining up outside the door waiting to be sold on that idea, aren't they? Don't worry, all you need to do is convince 25 of them each year and do that just long enough to get you safely out the door.
The Case For Letting Go
No good comes from harboring these feelings of resentment for something like this. A person comes in to a situation where things aren't good at all, does their best, and then when given the opportunity to switch to a job that does more for them on a personal level, they take advantage of the opportunity and respectfully moves on. If my paperboy does that, I congratulate him as he rides by on his new route. "Oh hey, Johnny! You're delivering the Times now for a dollar more an hour? That's awesome, I'm happy for you." However, in this backwards sports world, there is an entitlement that these coaches and players (in a free market that can come and go as they please, as long as they fulfill their contracts) show some sort of "loyalty" that isn't afforded to them in return. Sure, Steve Sarkisian had a year left on his contract before he left, but every year coaches are fired with more time left on theirs, and that's cheered by fans, because the loyalty only works one way. You're loyal to us, the fan, and in return we'll be loyal, as long as you perform up to our standards and do so immediately. If not, we'll fly #FireAlGolden banners above your home games or leak to the media that you're on some proverbial hot seat. But hey, you get paid what the market dictated, so you aren't protected from any of this. How fair is any of that?
We should be applauding Sark for going home to the place he cut his teeth, so to speak. You are a southern California guy through and through, and now you have the opportunity to be the head coach of the flagship football program out in Los Angeles. So often, people are afraid to move on to something that could be better because they know that what they would be leaving was always good to them. All of this should sound familiar because Coach Petersen left Boise, where he was the winningest coach in the past decade, for the uncertainty that was the University of Washington Football team. We would be hypocrites if we celebrated those who took the step into uncertainty to join us while casting stones at those who left in the same fashion.
Finally, football is just a game that we often take way too seriously. He didn't "betray" you or your family, it's just not that serious.