The full and true story behind USC Trojan tailback/cornerback Anthony Brown quitting the team last week and calling coach Steve Sarkisian a racist Thursday has yet to surface.
All we know is that Brown made (then deleted) an Instagram post that read, “Sark treated me like a slave in his Office…Can’t play for a racist MAN!!!!! #Fighton”.
— Josh Webb (Twist) (@FightOnTwist) August 28, 2014
A similar Facebook post is still up.
We think we know he quit the team. We know, thanks to McKenna Keil’s reporting, that Brown left Sarkisian’s office feeling compromised and disrespected. Her series of tweets relays the phone conversation she had with Brown, but the gist is that he accused Sarkisian of calling him a coward, stereotyping his Mississipi-based family and was told to get the f*** out of Sark’s office. According to Brown he never actually quite the team on his own. We know that Sarkisian responded by expressing how blindsided he was at the accusations:
“As far as what [Brown] said on Twitter, I think it’s ridiculous,” Sarkisian said. “Any of you guys that know me and if you ask anybody in our building, any of our players — feel free to — that’s about the furthest thing from the truth. Quite honestly, I’m shocked.”
We also know that, unlike in the Josh Shaw situation where the rest of the team remained silent, Trojan players have made their opinions heard. Among the men who came forward in Sarkisian’s defense were wide receiver George Farmer, offensive tackle Zach Banner, linebacker Scott Felix and defensive tackles Antwaun Woods and Claude Pelon.
Coach Sark is a great coach and even better person. Accusations like that couldn’t be more untrue. #FightOn
— Scott Starr (@SS47ERA) August 28, 2014
Coach Sark is a great person/Coach! Please disregard comments that have been made by someone.
— Antwaun Woods (@USCTwocka99) August 28, 2014
Former Trojans who never played under Sarkisian got in on the support train as well. First-round pick Marcus Martin, Gerald Washington, Matt Leinart and Marc Tyler all offered their take.
— Marcus Martin (@TheRealDoubleMs) August 28, 2014
I know Sark as well as anyone. He is the farthest thing from a racist. This is a ridiculous claim!
— Matt Leinart (@MattLeinartQB) August 28, 2014
Coach Sark was my main recruiter from SC at my HS known him since 05 he’s far from racist #comeonnow
— Marc Tyler (@M_Tyler26) August 28, 2014
The timing of this situation is very curious for two reasons.
- Brown switched from cornerback to running back last month, where he was sixth on the depth chart
The former point is like Christmas come early for conspiracy theorists. Did the USC Athletic Department cook up a pro-Sarkisian situation to shuffle the Josh Shaw blowback out of the news cycle? Sounds preposterous and would require Brown to be in on the jig.
That second point, however, provides some potential insight into Brown’s motivations. Was he disappointed in an injury-prone career that saw him start just six games and make 43 tackles in three years? This is pure speculation, but it feels like he was perhaps talked out of competing at cornerback with the infusion of Chris Hawkins and Adoree’ Jackson behind Josh Shaw and Kevon Seymour and promptly dropped to the bottom of the running back depth chart after suffering a hyperextended elbow. Sarkisian says he tried to convince Brown not to quit in the same meeting that Brown says he was essentially kicked off the team.
“I encouraged him to play,” Sarkisian said. “I wanted him to play. I didn’t want him to quit. I thought he could get healthy. It’s unfortunate because we think we could have used him. He could have helped us.”
With the season opener less than 48 hours away, the Trojans have had two overblown distractions hurled their way (or manufactured them themselves, depending on who you ask). Sarkisian would like nothing more than for the opening kickoff with Fresno State to return everyone’s mind to football.
“I’ve got over 100 guys in that locker room that are more important or just as important than these two isolated incidents,” Sarkisian said. “I owe it to those guys to do the best job that I can do to prepare our staff and to prepare them to play a great football game on Saturday, and that’s what my focus is on.”