USC's Steve Sarkisian: I don't believe I have drinking problem

USC head coach Steve Sarkisian said Tuesday that he will participate in an unspecified treatment program and that a determination hasn't yet been made as to whether he will enter rehabilitation following his appearance Saturday at the school's "Salute to Troy" event, where he was admittedly impaired while using foul language.

Sarkisian said he mixed alcohol and medication prior to the event, and regrets his actions.

"I took medication, mixed it with alcohol, not a lot ... and responded in a way that was not acceptable for me or the university," Sarkisian said.

Sarkisian acknowledged that alcohol has been present in the USC coaches' locker room in the past, but won't be going forward, and said he would not drink alcohol during the coming season. Asked directly if he has a drinking problem, Sarkisian said: "I don't believe so, but through (USC Athletic Director) Pat (Haden) and through the university, I'm going to find that out. I'm going to go to treatment, I'm going to deal with it. In the meantime, I'm going to be the head football coach here. I believe I can be.

"... I don't know if I even need rehab. That's part of the process. And I credit Pat Haden for this, that he has put things in place for me to have meetings to figure that out."

Trojans quarterback Cody Kessler said Sarkisian apologized to the team on Sunday.

"The bottom line for us is that's our head coach," Kessler said. "We're going to support him no matter what. Mistakes happen."

Kessler also said the players who make up the team's leadership committee determined a punishment for the coach and made him do "up-downs" on Sunday, noting that he came back "drenched in sweat."

Undergoing treatment and coaching one of college football's flagship programs simultaneously will be a challenging dual task for Sarkisian, and one that will undoubtedly continue to draw questions in his news conferences throughout the season. That challenge comes just prior to a season of high expectations for the Trojans, who were ranked No. 8 in The Associated Press preseason poll Sunday and have a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate in Kessler. Haden's willingness to keep Sarkisian in control of the football program while undergoing treatment could also come under scrutiny if Sarkisian struggles in either respect.

USC opens the season against Arkansas State on Sept. 5.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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