USC Athletic Director Pat Haden didn’t make the decision to hire head football coach Lane Kiffin. That doesn’t in any way insulate him from the actions of Kiffin. Every boss has two kinds of employees: those they hired and those they kept. Either way, the boss has responsibility for them.
Here’s guessing that Lane Kiffin is not Pat Haden’s kind of guy.
It’s been a rough week for Kiffin. Not only did the Trojans lose big to Oregon, but a student manager was fired after admitting to deflating game balls to give USC quarterback Matt Barkley a better grip. For this, the NCAA has fined USC.
Put “deflate-gate” together with a very sketchy uniform switch against Colorado and I’m thinking the AD and the coach aren’t on the same page.
The manager professes to have acted on his own in trying to help the Trojan cause. That seems so unlikely, as ESPN Radio’s Scott Van Pelt said Thursday on the SVP and Russillo Show.
As someone who has been around major college sports teams, Van Pelt pointed out that the No. 1 goal of every student manager is “don’t make the coach want to kill you with a hammer.” Deflating balls on your own doesn’t quite seem to fit the fly under the radar desire of a manager.
The uniform malfunction against Colorado? It sure seems slimy to have your backup quarterback suddenly wear the number of your punter in the first half of the game. Especially when you put him on the field to attempt to run in a two-point conversion. Interestingly, he was back in as No. 6 for the second half.
So are Haden and Kiffin the good kind of “Odd Couple” like Oscar and Felix or the bad kind like Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett?
Haden was a successful quarterback in Los Angeles, for both the USC Trojans and the L.A. Rams. He was a cerebral quarterback, evidenced by the fact he was a two-time Academic All-American and a Rhodes Scholar.
Haden became a lawyer after his NFL career and was a partner in his firm before leaving after 23 years to take over as athletic director at his alma mater in August of 2010, after Pete Carroll hightailed it to Seattle steps ahead of the NCAA posse that came down on USC for violations during Carroll’s tenure.
Kiffin had been hired to replace Carroll seven months before Haden returned to Troy, fresh off of a one-year stint at the University of Tennessee. Neither cerebral or scholarly would be used to describe Kiffin, certainly not by Florida Gator fans.
Kiffin decided to punch the bully in the mouth when he arrived in Knoxville by announcing how much he was looking forward to singing “Rocky Top” after beating Florida. He then falsely accused Gators coach Urban Meyer of committing a recruiting violation.
Kiffin’s brashness clearly seems to be in sharp contrast to Haden’s understated dignity. Worse than that, USC has three losses in a year they were expected to contend for the BCS Championship.
Bosses like to have their own people in place. Pat Haden is the boss of USC athletics. It doesn’t seem to me that Haden would consider Kiffin one of his own.
It might be Julia and Lyle all over again.
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