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Originally published January 8, 2010 at 6:28 PM | Page modified January 8, 2010 at 8:52 PM

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Washington coach Steve Sarkisian not a likely fit at USC if Pete Carroll leaves

Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian says position at UW is his "dream job." Others seem higher on USC's wish list, anyway.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said Friday that having his former boss, Pete Carroll, working just a few miles away with the Seahawks would be "kind of fun."

For UW fans, however, it also created a few moments of nervousness Friday, as the mere mention of Carroll leaving USC to come to the Seahawks created speculation about who would replace him in Los Angeles. And that led some to wonder if the Trojans might reach out to Sarkisian, who worked as an assistant at USC under Carroll for all but one season from 2001 to 2008, including four years as assistant head coach and two years as offensive coordinator.

Not to worry, said Sarkisian, who reiterated that he plans to stay at UW for the long haul.

Sarkisian and Carroll have the same agent, Gary Uberstine. But when a reporter brought up that fact, Sarkisian tried to head off the line of questioning, smiling and saying, "I haven't talked to him," indicating there is no need. He also said he had not talked to Carroll.

"I love my job," Sarkisian said, then he repeated what he has said before, that he has long viewed Washington as one of the premier positions in college football and not a steppingstone.

"People don't understand it, but this is my dream job," he said.

Sarkisian just completed the first season of a five-year contract he signed in December 2008 that escalates in value and will pay him $2.3 million by the final season in 2013. UW athletic director Scott Woodward said Friday there has been no move toward extending the contract, noting it is early in the deal. But he also said Sarkisian's focus is in spending money to improve other aspects of the program.

"He's more worried about investing in the program than his salary," Woodward said, saying those efforts included improving salaries for assistant coaches and support staff.

And even if Sarkisian might be inclined to listen to USC, rumors had the Trojans looking elsewhere.

Among those said to be at the top of USC's list are Oregon State coach Mike Riley, a former offensive coordinator for the Trojans who was reportedly offered the job when Carroll got it before the 2001 season; NFL coaches Jeff Fisher and Jack Del Rio, each former USC players; and former Oregon coach and current athletic director Mike Bellotti, also reportedly offered the job before the 2001 season.

Another person thought high on the list is Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, who led the Cardinal to wins at USC in 2007 and last season.

USC athletic director Mike Garrett has a history of going after proven big-name coaches, usually ones with a significant history in the professional ranks, a profile Sarkisian doesn't fit.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com.

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