UPDATED: On Monday, October 12, Sarkisian’s contract was terminated at USC.

As the tune to “Fanfare” sounds, the players of the USC Trojans football team charge from the southwest corner of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum onto the field for another exciting day of USC football. 93,000 fans scream and holler, making the Coliseum an electric place to play. Leading the team towards Traveler the Horse and the eastern end zone is fearless head coach Steve Sarkisian, of all his glory as a former Trojan athlete himself.

Not anymore. Sarkisian was asked to take an “indefinite leave of absence” by coach Pat Haden after practice today, and offensive coordinator Clay Helton is going to become the interim head coach of the Trojans.

When Sarkisian was hired in the aftermath of the Lane Kiffin regime and with recruiting sanctions almost over, he was expected to bring back a Pete Carroll-esque football program to Southern California. He had done that in the recruiting sector, as USC had the number 1 ranked recruiting class for 2015. He is even utilizing these freshman recruits in platoon-style arrangements on the field in an attempt to allow them to see more snaps throughout their early years to prepare for later ones. It can pay off, as the number 1 ranked cornerback recruit in the country, Iman Marshall, had an interception at a critical early moment in the game last week against Washington.

But, what Sarkisian is not doing is coaching the team to a strong enough extent to win. The players are very high-caliber, and many of them will see time in the NFL in the coming years. The inability to cognitively establish a team chemistry is what enables the team to continually falter.

Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 2.57.36 PM

USC has not lost back-to-back home games since 2001, until this year with the losses to Stanford and Washington, both of whom were unranked at the time they played USC. Furthermore, USC suffered two losses to unranked teams last year, so Sarkisian does not do a strong job of ensuring conference victories when USC is an expected favorite. In order to compete in the challenging Pac 12 South, and the Pac 12 as a whole, these games are crucial.

According to multiple players, Sarkisian was a positive influence in the locker room as a coach and leader. Still, the greater community does not agree with them. USC, from its astronomical tuition prices, perfectly manicured lawns, vast alumni base, and top-ranked academic and athletic programming, is a financially-centered community. Donors are given top priority at almost all functions, and are given a true Trojan five-star treatment. When the annual “Salute to Troy” event was held in August at USC to give donors an opportunity to interact with the football team and celebrate the year ahead, Sarkisian did not control his blood alcohol intake and made offensive and poignant comments against other Pac-12 schools while appearing quite inebriated. As I biked to class past the football practice field, which has a 10-foot high fence and two security guards surrounding it to protect other teams from spying on the Trojans’ signals, there were at least 10 media trucks firmly parked waiting for a chance to get to see Sarkisian.

Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 3.41.30 PM

With USC being held to a tradition of excellence and one of the most easily recognizable and historic football programs in the country, its head coach must follow a consistent pattern of success. Unlike what Michigan endured under the Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke era, USC wants to curb a problem now so that the future will remain bright. Weather, history, and pride will undoubtedly bring recruits to Los Angeles, but once they get there the talent and coaching must also follow.

USC made a smart decision in allowing Steve Sarkisian to leave, but now must send the team’s sloppy performance with him the way a Biblical goat would carry out sins. Without him, if the team does not see a spike in success or at least morale, it could be a start of a slump for the cardinal and gold, a slump that would make the fanfare cringe.

All images from Getty Images.