Steve Sarkisian denies TMZ report on player scuffle: 'That's poor reporting'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Tuesday September 22, 2015

Steve Sarkisian denied a TMZ report that two USC players had to be restrained from each other in the tunnel after Saturday’s 41-31 loss to Stanford.

Dealing with TMZ is part of being in L.A., but the outlet reported two players were yelling and pushing each other and that Steve Sarkisian scolded the players afterward. There are several issues with the report, though.

One, the report noted USC could not confirm it. Two, the local USC media, who were in the tunnel, didn’t see anything happen. Three, even if it did happen, players being upset with each other after a loss isn’t uncommon. But the was something Sark had to address on his radio show.

“I’m disappointed that that’s how the story came out, because, in my opinion, that’s poor reporting,” Sarkisian said. “That’s poor journalism, if that’s what you want to call it. First of all, to quote me for something that I did not say. Second of all, to mention an incident that never occurred and you weren’t there and you’re talking about getting it from multiple sources, but you won’t name the sources? In my opinion, that’s poor reporting. I feel bad for the guys that cover us on a daily basis, from all the news outlets I see every day and the job they do, because it puts them in a difficult situation.

“Those men and women do a great job covering USC football. They’re with us every day. They were in the tunnel. They were in our locker room. Not one of them reported that. I feel bad for those guys, because they have to answer to (their editors), ‘Why didn’t you know?’ It wasn’t true. I wish those outlets that would want to write that story come to practice every day, talk to me every day and develop some trust, and I’ll let them know anything they need to know about our program.”

It’s not the first time this has come up at USC. After the 2013 Sun Bowl, there were reports of a locker room “brawl” between players when Lane Kiffin was head coach. Those reports came from outlets like ESPN and the LA Daily News.

After a 2-0 start, USC is looking to avoid a second straight loss with a trip to Arizona State this weekend.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to