The USC Trojans fire Steve Sarkisian

For the second time in two years, the USC Trojan football team will play the majority of its season with an interim head coach.

Monday afternoon the University of Southern California sent out a release stating that head football coach Steve Sarkisian, who had been put on an indefinite leave of absence the day before, has been terminated.

Here is the full statement from USC athletic director Pat Haden:

"After careful consideration of what is in the best interest of the university and our student-athletes, I have made the decision to terminate Steve Sarkisian, effective immediately. 

"I want to thank Clay Helton for stepping into the interim head coach role, and I want to add how proud I am of our coaching staff and players and the way they are responding to this difficult situation. 

"Through all of this we remain concerned for Steve and hope that it will give him the opportunity to focus on his personal well being."

On Sunday Sarkisian did not attend USC's afternoon football practice. After practice Pat Haden addressed the media, explaining the action he had taken with Sarkisian just an hour before.

"This has all kind of happened very quickly," Haden said. "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 he is not healthy. I asked him to take an indefinite leave of absence."

Haden also said that offensive coordinator Clay Helton would serve as the interim head coach going forward. Helton led USC to a victory over Fresno State in the 2013 Las Vegas Bowl. He was the USC interim head coach after Ed Orgeron, another USC interim head coach, quit after the university decided not to hire him as the permanent head coach.  Orgeron had been named the interim head coach after Lane Kiffin was fired following a loss to Arizona State.

During this controversy the Trojan football team is preparing for a tough road trip against rival Notre Dame. USC will be back on the practice field Tuesday morning, where Helton will lead the team for the foreseeable future.

In 2013 Orgeron was the interim head coach for USC for eight games, amassing a 6-2 record. If Helton remains the interim head coach for the rest of the regular season, he will have seven more games under his belt as the interim head coach.

Sarkisian's termination is the third time Haden has fired a revenue sport coach midseason.  USC basketball coach Kevin O'Neill was fired in January of 2013, football coach Lane Kiffin was fired in October 2013 and now Steve Sarkisian was fired in October of 2015.

Haden also fired baseball coach Frank Cruz in February of 2013, just days before the start of the season.

Stay tuned to USCFootball.com for the very latest on USC getting ready for Notre Dame and the search for a new head coach.

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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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