Sources: USC nearing end of search

Washington coach Steve Sarkisian interviewed with USC athletic director Pat Haden this past weekend about the Trojans' head-coach opening, a source said.

Vanderbilt's James Franklin is also a candidate in a search that may be completed by the middle of this week, according to sources.

Sarkisian, speaking to KJR-Radio in Seattle on Monday, confirmed he talked to Haden over the weekend but said he wouldn't call it an interview. He said USC isn't that far along in the process with him yet.

Boise State's Chris Petersen was a top candidate but has withdrawn from consideration, a source said Monday. USC and Petersen had mutual interest, according to the source.

USC has also made it known to interim coach Ed Orgeron that it values his contributions to the program and would like him to stay on in some capacity.

The Trojans (9-4, 6-3 Pac-12) are looking for a replacement for Lane Kiffin, who was fired after the team's 62-41 loss Sept. 28 at Arizona State.

Sarkisian, 34-29 in five seasons at Washington, was an assistant for seven seasons at USC (2001 to 2003 and 2005 to 2008).

In 2007 and 2008, he was the Trojans' assistant head coach and offensive coordinator. When Sarkisian was on USC's staff under coach Pete Carroll, the Trojans were 74-15 -- 22-3 when he was offensive coordinator.

At USC, Sarkisian worked with two Heisman Trophy winners -- quarterbacks  Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart.

Franklin, 41, led Vanderbilt to an 8-4 season after a 9-4 record last year, going 9-7 in SEC play over the two seasons. He is known as a charismatic leader and excellent recruiter. He is a Pennsylvania native but has worked with many teams, including Washington State, Maryland, Kansas State and the NFL's  Green Bay Packers.