FROM MONTLAKE -- Steve Sarkisian called it the "elephant in the room," a subject the Washington football coach wanted to address sooner rather than later because he knew the questions were coming.
Is he interested in the head coaching vacancy at USC in the wake of Lane Kiffin's firing earlier this week?
"I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity I have to be the head football coach at the University of Washington," Sarkisian said, switching gears unprompted after a question about his general thoughts on the firing of Kiffin, with whom he is friends. "I’m thankful to Mark Emmert, who’s not here now, to Scott Woodward, to Mike Young, and this community that I get to be part of, that my family gets to be part of. This is an awesome place to be.
"And I have never once and I will never comment on hypothetical scenarios. I know that’s the world a lot of us in this room live in and that’s your job to do and I understand that. But I’ve never done that in the four and a half years that I've been here and I won’t do that. I have great respect for USC and the rich history and tradition that they have, but I’m proud to be the head football coach of the 15th-ranked team in America right now and all the hard work that we put into this program for the last five years to get to this point, to be in an awesome matchup on national television Saturday night against a national championship contender in Stanford, and that’s where my focus is."
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How's that for clarity?
It's essentially an echo of what Sarkisian said early this morning when he was asked on KJR 950 AM by Mitch Levy whether he'd be interested should the Trojans come calling. They haven't yet, Sarkisian said, and he'll use this situation to reinforce to his players his mantra that distractions must be eliminated for success to be achieved.
"This was a cool opportunity for me to go into our team meeting and use it from a personal standpoint and for them, too," Sarkisian said. "Those kids are sitting at home in their dorms and their apartments and they’re watching ESPN, too. So this is a great chance for us to show and prove that there are zero distractions. We’re focused on the task at hand and the task is a big one this week and that’s playing Stanford."
Christian Caple can be reached at email@example.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple