On Friday at Pac-12 Media Days USC head coach Steve Sarkisian was talking to reporters during the breakout session. He was asked a question about recruiting and below is the full transcript of the question and the answer.
Q. You brought in a really good recruiting class. How difficult is it to recruit in this conference?
COACH SARKISIAN: "Well, I think the thing in our conference of what's going on right now, I said this earlier, I think the conference has really invested in recruiting. That sounds kind of odd to say, but everybody's got facilities. Everybody's got private planes. Everybody's got new gear. Everybody is doing something to try to stay on the cutting edge of what's going on in recruiting.
"For us, yeah, sure, we do those same things. We have those same things. But at the end of the day we fall right back on our rich history, tradition, our amazing university, being in Los Angeles. The number two media market in the world. You think about the fact that 11 National Championships, six Heisman Trophies, more NFL Hall of Famers than any other university, so there is a lot that we can hold on to that I think is very appealing to kids. We're not going to take the field in 13 different uniforms in 13 different games this fall. We're going to wear cardinal and gold. You know what we wear.
"So we have to lean on the things that are true to us and who we are. I think that's why kids come here. It is what they're looking for."
When a couple members of the media Tweeted out excerpts of what Sarkisian said, it caused a bit of a firestorm.
Dan Wolken from the USA Today sent out this Tweet with some of Sarkisian's quote and no commentary:
Sark on USC’s recruiting approach: “We fall back on our rich tradition...We’re not going to take the field in 13 different uniforms.”
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) July 31, 2015
Instantly Oregon Duck fans (and even a staff member) picked this up and began Tweeting their dislike at what Sarkisian said.
ESPN Pac-12 blogger Chantel Jennings sent this Tweet with commentary declaring that Sarkisian was indeed taking a shot at the Oregon Ducks.
"We're not going to take the field this year in 13 different uniforms in 13 games this year." - Sark, taking a low-key shot at Oregon.
— Chantel Jennings (@ChantelJennings) July 31, 2015
Here are a couple of the Tweets that followed Sarkisian's comments, one from the Oregon mascot and one from a member of the Oregon media relations team.
— The Oregon Duck (@TheOregonDuck) July 31, 2015
— Joe Waltasti (@GoDucksJoe) July 31, 2015
Was Sarkisian really trying to knock the Oregon Ducks down a peg with his answer, or are the Oregon faithful (and the media) creating some artificial controversy? I certainly do not agree that Sarkisian was taking a "low-key shot at Oregon." If members of the media followed up by asking if Sarkisian's answer was intended to be a shot at one of his rivals, he could have cleared up any confusion instantly.
Media days in general are notorious for being devoid of any real news and many coaches prefer to speak in clichés and refrain from being candid.
In this case, Sarkisian was very candid about how he recruits at USC, and he must be doing something right after bringing in the No. 1 ranked recruiting class in the country back in February. He talked about how the entire conference has stepped up its recruiting game and what he does for USC is sell the positives, like national championships and Heisman trophies.
At Oregon, you have different positives to sell, starting with the tremendous recent success and of course the close relationship with the largest sports brand in the world that allows the team to have a different uniform every time it steps on the field.
I don't believe Sarkisian was saying anything more than what would be a positive for some schools, wouldn't be a positive at a place like USC.
Either way, we now will have one more thing to talk about on November 21 when USC travels to Eugene to take on the Ducks.
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Ryan Abraham has been the publisher of USCFootball.com since 1996. You can follow him on Twitter at @InsideTroy or email him at email@example.com.