There are plenty of reasons for Sarkisian to return to the university he left to take over the UW program. Not only was he an assistant at USC under Pete Carroll, but he's a native of nearby Torrance. Despite its struggles on and off the field since Pete Carroll left to join the Seahawks, USC is still very much on the national radar. His contract with the Huskies was up in 2015 and it seems fair to say Dawg fans didn't have the passion for Sarkisian they had early in his tenure.
Add it all up and you can see why Sarkisian is packing his bags for a So. Cal return. In leaving the UW, he can cite family considerations and leaving the Huskies in much better shape than when he took them over. You certainly can't deny that. The fact that the UW gave USC permission to go after Sark tells you the Huskies believe their now ex-head coach is quite replaceable. It's not that they didn't want him to stay, they just wouldn't break the bank to make it happen.
So who gets the UW gig? Three names come to mind as possible early favorites. Missouri coach and Don James disciple Gary Pinkel, Boise State's Peterson and UCLA's Jim Mora. The problem with Peterson is that every time he's linked to a job it seems that within days if not hours he's withdrawing from it. He may be quite content where he is in Idaho as a big fish in a small pond. Pinkel is beyond intriguing. It's obvious to see why the Huskies would have interest in one of their own. (Pinkel was an assistant here in '76 and from '79-90) but what about from his perspective? Why would he leave a program he's built into a top 5 club, a potential national championship contender that now calls the SEC home? Maybe he wouldn't, but here's what the UW can offer him that Mizzou can't: The opportunity to lead the program his beloved mentor put on the map with the help of assistants like him.
The 61-year-old Pinkel made a tremendous impact when speaking of James during the legendary coaches recent memorial service. He seemed to feel more at home during the event than Sarkisian did. And you couldn't help but sense that if there was ever a chance to bring Pinkel back to Seattle, the university and its boosters would do everything possible to make it happen. That opportunity may be near.
And then there's Mora. Would the former UW player and Seahawks head coach bolt UCLA after just two seasons for a position that years ago he declared his dream job? I think the answer to that is YES!
Sarkisian did a tremendous job digging the Dawgs out of the depths of the Tyrone Willingham error, but there's no denying many who bleed purple and gold feel like the program has stalled. The biggest challenge facing the Huskies is trying to catch two teams in their division that are established national powers in Oregon and Stanford, while fending off their improving rivals in Pullman. Whether it's Mora, Pinkel, Peterson or someone else, that's no easy task.