Steve Sarkisian – A Star Is Born

Mention the movie “A Star Is Born,” and the TCM-o-phile in me comes right out. I’m not the only one; it seems that every generation feels the need to remake this classic. Legendary Hollywood mogul David O. Selznick first made this movie in 1937. Another, and undeniably the best version starred Judy Garland and James Mason in 1954. Barbra Streisand brought us the most laughable version in 1976. However, Washington’s win over Southern Cal a few days ago actually brings yet another take on this classic tale.

steve sarkisian a star is born

 

Act I: The Beginnning of the End

Sometime in the not-so-distant future, USC has fallen on hard times; the Trojans didn’t win the Pac-10 for the first time in eleventy-bajillion years. At the post-season gala Coaches’ Dinner, Washington Huskies’ head coach Steve Sarkisian is getting ready to accept the Pac-10 Coach of the Year Award. Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott peers around the auditorium, anxiously drumming the armrest of his chair, because USC head coach Pete Carroll is nowhere to be found. 

SCOTT: (getting angrier by the minute…) Where the hell is Pete Carroll?

ED ORGERON: Yyyyyyaaaaaaawwwwwww-he-is-here-yyyyyyyaaaaaaaaaaawwwwww!

SCOTT: Good. Where is he?

Orgeron: Because he was way too perfect in the Matt Libby role.

Orgeron: Because he was way too perfect in the Matt Libby role.

ORGERON: Yyyyyyaaaaaaaaaaaawwww-backstage-but-he-is-drunk-yyyyyyyyyyyyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwww!

SCOTT: Drunk? How drunk? Is it bad?

ORGERON: Yyyyyyyyyyyaaaaaawwwwwww-he-just-tried-to-make-out-with-Jim-Harbaugh-yyyyyyyyyyaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwww!

SCOTT: (does a face-palm) Oh, God…What the hell are you doing here anyway? I thought you were with Kiffin in Tenneesee?

ORGERON:  Yyyyyyyyyyyaaaaaawwwwwww-I-just-wanted-to-be-here-for-Steve-yyyyyyyyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwww!

 

Act II: The Discovery 

In one of those Tarantino-like jumps in time, the calendar suddenly says 2001. The incredibly debonair Pete Carroll is resplendent in his tuxedo and a slight fog from his unfiltered Lucky Strike. He walks on to the sideline at El Camino Junior College; striding right up to Sarkisian. 

CARROLL: Do you always coach like that?

SARKISIAN: Like what?

CARROLL: Like you did just now. I’ve never seen anybody coach like that.

SARKISIAN: Do you mean good or bad?

CARROLL:  Do you ever go fishing? No forget that…Have you ever seen a great fighter? (A bit awkwardly) I’m trying to tell you how you coach.

SARKISIAN: You mean like a fish or a prizefighter?

CARROLL: There are certain pleasures you get, little jabs of pleasure like when a swordfish takes the hook, or when a prizefighter gets ready for the kill. You don’t understand a word I’m saying, do you?

SARKISIAN: No, not yet. You mean like a coach beating USC with a team that was 0-12 the previous year?

CARROLL: You’re joking, but that’s exactly what I mean. If you’d never seen a Pac-10 game in your life, you’d know a great coach from the minute he stepped on the field; from the way he stood, or from the way he moves. When you see that, there’s a little bell in your head; one of those little jabs of pleasure. Well, that’s what happened to me just now.  You’re a great coach, Esther Blodgett Steve Sarkisian.

SARKISIAN: (surprised, yet humbled) Who, me?

CARROLL: What, no one has ever told you that before?

SARKISIAN: No, Coach Carroll, no one has ever told me that before.

CARROLL: I know exactly what I’m saying. You do have that little something extra that Norm Chow was talking about. Norm Chow, a great coach long before you came around, he always said that’s what “star quality” was; that little something extra. And you’ve got it. So, now what are you doing wasting your time coaching junior college?

SARKISIAN: (defensive) Wasting my time? I’m not wasting my time. You have no idea how long it’s taken me to get this far. I’m doing fine, Coach Carroll, just fine.

CARROLL: You’re wasting your time. Here, you come with me (sweeps Sarkisian into his monstrously posh convertible for a drive down the Pacific Coast Highway).

SARKISIAN: Do you know the only thing I can think about right now? Where will I wash my hair? When anything happens to me, good or bad, I make straight for the shampoo bottle. 

CARROLL: With me it’s a bottle all right; perhaps not shampoo, though. But things are so good at SC right now, I have no need of it.

SARKISIAN: I’m afraid I’m no good talking about myself, Coach Carroll. Everything just runs together. My mind works it’s own jumbles.

CARROLL: I can sort them out.

SARKISIAN: (in that vulnerable, yet inquisitive manner usually reserved for a woman falling in love) Can you? Can you tell how long it has taken me to get here? Does a big-time coach like you know the kind of luck I need? Maybe one day, a scout from a Division II school will come along, see me coach, and I’ll get a contract.

CARROLL: Yes, that could happen very easily. The trouble is your dream isn’t big enough. How long is your contract at El Camino?

SARKISIAN: Wha….what? All I know right now is we leave for a road game in the morning.

CARROLL: Don’t go.

SARKISIAN: What?

CARROLL: Leave El Camino; stay here. You can come coach for me at Southern Cal. Sure, it’s a chance, but you would be well-served to take it.

SARKISIAN: But I’d be giving up everything I ever worked for.

CARROLL: Right, but it serves a purpose. A coaching career is a curious thing; talent isn’t always enough. Timing, an eye for seeing the turning point, recognizing the big chance when it comes and grabbing it. A coaching career can rest on a trifle, like us sitting here tonight. Or it can turn on somebody saying to you “You’re better than that; you’re better than you know.”  Don’t settle for the little dream, go on to the big one. Are you scared, scared to take the plunge?

SARKISIAN: Let me ask you something. What makes you so sure about me?

CARROLL: I’ve seen you coach. But you know yourself too, don’t you? You just needed someone to tell you.

SARKISIAN: Boy, I am certainly mixed up now. I thought I was doing just fine.

CARROLL: You needn’t be all mixed up; you needn’t make up your mind right now. I’ll call you first thing in the morning. Whatever you do, remember that I am right.

 

Act III: The Protégé Eclipses the Star 

Sarkisian takes Carroll’s advice and becomes the quarterbacks coach at USC. In no time at all, he becomes a star in his own right, but a star still overshadowed by Pete Carroll. So he moves on to his own starring role, as the head coach at Washington. Of course, a Sarkisian musical number ensues. 

steve sarkisian with band

Thank you, thank you very much
I can’t express it any other way
For with this awful trembling in my heart
I just can’t find another thing to say
I’m happy that you liked the show
I’m grateful you liked me
And I’m sure to you the tribute seemed quite right.
But if you knew of all the years
Of hopes and dreams and tears
You’d know it didn’t happen overnight
Huh, overnight!
It was during a game on Saturday
They used a locker-room towel for my didee
When I first saw the light
It was white-hot from the lights
Coming from the towers on the field
When my dad carried me out there to say hello
They say they stopped the game

My coaching career was born
At a junior college called El Camino                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         So I grew up in a crazy world of locker rooms
And hotel rooms and waiting rooms
And rooms behind-the-scenes.
And I can’t forget the endless rows
Of jeering fans and cheering fans
And nights without a solid offensive scheme

But it’s all in the game and the way you play it
And you’ve got to play the game you know
When your coaching career was born
At a junior college called El Camino

But then I went to where the song girl sings
At first I just stood and watched from the wings
That’s all that Norm Chow would allow
But as I got older, I got a little bolder
And called my own plays anyhow
They kept me in the act                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
For coaching quarterbacks
Until Washington did a crazy thing
Hired me to coach all alone
Norm Chow said ‘You’re on your own!’
And Carroll shouted ‘This is it kid, coach!’

So I went north an answered the call
Let’s see what we can make of this fall
It would be a thrill to have a Trojan kill
‘Cause they’ll try to take advantage of me

(chorus of Husky fans) No!

Carroll thinks I’m an apple on the bough
That he’s gonna shake me down somehow
This ain’t the Palouse, I’ll cook his goose
Carroll won’t take advantage of me

(chorus of Husky fans) Yes!
 
Huskies, how I love you, how I love you
My dear old Huskies
I’d give the world if I could only be
Sitting on Don James’ knee
Your new head coach will wander no more
When I get to that Puget shore

So I can’t quite be called overnight sensation
For it started many years ago
When my coaching career was born
At a junior college called El Camino

 

Act IV: The End of the End 

Carroll has taken the loss to Washington hard, crawling deep into a bottle. The calendar flashes back to the award ceremony. Sarkisian is getting ready to give his acceptance speech, the chair next to him reserved for Carroll sits noticeably empty. Meanwhile, Carroll prepares to enter the auditorium.

steve sarkisian ready to accept award

SARKISIAN: I really wish Pete was here. He’s the one who made this all possible. I hope nothing has happened to him

SCOTT: (reasurring) I’m sure nothing has happened.

ANNOUNCER: …And the winner for Pac-10 Coach of the Year is…Steve Sarkisian!

SARKISIAN: (taking the podium) When something like this happens to you; I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I didn’t keep hoping it would; all those speeches you have made up in your bedroom or in the bathtub go right out of your mind completely. You find out of all the worlds in the world, only two stick in your mind – “Thank You.”  All I can do I so say them from my heart, and…(Sarkisian is interrupted by one set of hands offering sarcastic applause; they are the hands of a drunken Pete Carroll.) 

CARROLL: (staggering up to the podium, in order to go all “Kanye West”) Congratulations, Steve. Looks like I made it just in time, didn’t I? May I borrow the end of your speech to make a speech of my own?

SARKISIAN: (stands bewildered)

CARROLL: My method of getting your attention may seem a bit unconventional, but hard times call for harsh measures. Uhhhh, I had my speech all prepared, but like you said, Steve, it all goes right out of your head.  (staggers down and sits on the stairs leading to the podium). Seems a bit silly to be so formal seeing as know most of you sitting out there by your first names. I made a lot of money for you gentlemen, and well, I’m going to need a job now; eventually this habit of losing to non-ranked teams in conference games is going to get me fired. Anyway, that’s it, that’s the speech, I’m going to need a job.

ORGERON: (rising from his seat, Orgeron charges the stage, directly at Carroll) Yyyyyyyyyyyaaaaaawwwwwww-I’m-not-gonna-let-you-ruin-Steve’s-moment-yyyyyyyyyyaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwww!

SARKISIAN: Don’t hurt him, Ed!

ORGERON: Yyyyyyyyyyyaaaaaawwwwwww-he-is-just-Mr.-America-of yester-year-yyyyyyyyyyaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwww!

CARROLL: Take it easy, Eddie! I don’t want to forget we are friends.

ORGERON: Yyyyyyyyyyyaaaaaawwwwwww-friends-my-ass-I-just-got-you-out-of-your-jams-because-it-was-my-job-I-don’t-like-you-and-nothing-made-me-happier-than-to-see-all-your-cute-little-stunts-land-you-on-your-face-yyyyyyyyyyaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwww!

CARROLL: (takes a swing at Orgeron)

ORGERON: (proceeds to sytematically dismantle Carroll)  Yyyyyyyyyyaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwww!-So-this-is-how-it-ends-not-with-a-bang-but-with-a-whimper-yyyyyyyyyyaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwww! (scene fades to black with Orgeron kneeling on Carroll’s chest, wailing on his face with both fists).

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