"Four coaches in four months is crazy," Lee said. "You'd never expect a team that's been through as much as we have to get these many wins. No team has ever won 10 games after three coaching changes."
Lee and USC safety Dion Bailey are expected to go pro, but both said they wanted to enjoy Saturday's victory and would wait to make their announcements sometime next week. As Bailey put on a championship hat after the game, he smiled as he looked up at the final score.
"We wanted to make our mark," Bailey said. "We made history this season. There's never been a team that's been through as much as we've been through and came out of it with 10 wins. This team will never be forgotten. We didn't go to the BCS and we didn't win the Pac-12 but we persevered and fought on."
As the final minutes ticked off the clock, Sarkisian left his suite in the press box at Sam Boyd Stadium, where he was watching the game with USC athletic director Pat Haden, and made his way through the crowd, showing off his credential to security guards along the way.
"It was a very unique experience to be up there in a suite and watching the game," Sarkisian said. "I was kind of pacing. I didn't really know what to do with myself."
Sarkisian watched the final seconds of the game outside of the locker room by the team buses, deciding not to go on the field and allowing Helton and the current players and coaches to enjoy their moment before he officially took over.
"I want them to enjoy it and embrace it," Sarkisian said as players boarded the buses behind him. "I couldn't be more proud of them, that they were able to come out and perform the way they did. They deserve it. I just tried to stay out of the way, the best I could. Now I get to get my hands on them and get going -- and there's a lot to work with, that's for sure."
Sarkisian's tenure as USC's fourth head coach in four months officially began Saturday night in Las Vegas, but before the Trojans start the next chapter of their program with their new coach, the players and coaches who survived this whirlwind season hope this year's team is never forgotten.
"There's so many words you can say for this team but you find yourself speechless," Kessler said. "You sit back and you're in awe of what these guys have gone through. I'm just so proud of these guys. This is a team that will hopefully be remembered forever in USC history."