Pat Haden and Clay Helton address the media after Sunday's practice

USC athletic director Pat Haden and offensive coordinator and now interim head coach Clay Helton talked to the media about Steve Sarkisian's absence at practice Sunday.

Here is the transcript of what USC athletic director Pat Haden and interim head coach Clay Helton had to say. You can also click here for USCFootball.com's Instant Analysis with Ryan Abraham and Dan Weber discussing this bizarre story.

Pat Haden: "This has all kind of happened very quickly. I was over at the opening basketball thing and got a call that coach Steve Sarkisian wasn’t at practice. So I just learned about this at about 1 o’clock.

"I called Steve, talked to him. It was very clear to me that uh, he is not healthy. I asked him to take an indefinite leave of absence.

"And Clay Helton will serve as our interim HC.

"Clay is undefeated as our head coach as you know. I think it’s the right thing for our team. I’ve got to always do what’s right for our team and our school.

"I then spoke with our coaches and team. Uh, clear the team had a great deal of concern about the health of coach Sarkisian, so did the staff, have concern for him. It was also very apparent to me in the room of the support that Clay has from our team and his staff.

"Big task this week, we play Notre Dame. It’s not good, not gonna be easy. Clay’s gonna do a great job of getting our team ready and focused for that game.

"I don’t have a lot of answers for you guys. I know you’re gonna wanna ask me a bunch of questions, but I’ve learned about this about an hour and 15 minutes ago, and that’s all I have. So Clay would like to say a couple of words."

Q: What made you determine he wasn’t in a condition to keep coaching?
Haden: "It was apparent to me."

Q: Just in terms of his language?
Haden: "Clay has a few things to say."

CLAY HELTON: "Thank you to Mr. Haden for the opportunity to be the interim head coach again here at the university. It’s a very unique honor to get it. Fortunately or unfortunately I have been in this situation before. Once again am very fortunate to have a group of first class kids that are extremely talented and want to do something special here. They still have a lot of things out there that we can obtain. We have a big game vs. ND this week, the opportunity to still compete for the South championship in the Pac12. And again, I’m very fortunate to have a group around me as a staff that is as first class as they get.

"We’ll take the same approach as we did the last time we were in this. It’s all about the kids and it’s all about the Trojan family. And that is it.

"What is best for the kids, coaching them as hard as we physically possibly can as a coaching staff, preparing them each and every day to try to go out and compete against the best of the best. And to make sure that they’re well taken care of.

"I thank coach Haden for the opportunity to do this and We will do our utmost to make the Trojan family proud."

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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 ryan@uscfootball.com.


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