It doesn’t take a phi beta kappa like Pat Haden to figure out that USC’s athletic department in general, and its football program in particular, will be in much better hands moving forward with the apparent decision that Pat Haden will be in charge.
The Rhodes Scholar and one of the most respected people in the Trojan family of athletic heritage completely changes the attitude, temperment and vision in one felled swoop of a sword that finally lets Mike Garrett return to solitude and removes him from all that’s connected to the school in light of its current appeal of an NCAA sanction that focused a spotlight on institutional self-destruction.
Maybe this move now, rather than later, will be part of the strategy in the NCAA’s decision to lighten its punishment — the cancer, in its eyes, has been removed. If I’m on the NCAA appeals committee and am prepared to grand some leniency to a program where the sitting AD made public statements about how envious the ruling body seemed to be about USC’s success, I’m not that receptive to a compromise.
So, all hail Haden, the little quarterback who could back in his day, a two-time Academic All-American who seemed to have it all figured out once John McKay allowed him to run his offense, with his son, J.K., on the receiving end.
We speculated a couple of weeks ago (linked here) that J.K. McKay could make the most sense as the new AD — assuming that the 57-year-old Haden wouldn’t give up his profitable business ventures that included NBC analyst for Notre Dame football games as well as a partnership in an investment firm with former L.A. mayor Richard Riordan.
We suggested, as a compromise, that McKay be granted the head spot and figure out a way to employ Haden as his point man — fundraiser, public speaker, etc.
Seems Haden was the one to seize the moment and call an audible after huddling up with incoming USC president Max Nikias .
NBC Sports chief Dick Ebersol, who employed Haden the last 12 years on the exclusive Irish package, said that it is “absolutely unsurprising and typical that Pat would want to be there for his beloved alma mater in a time of need. His integrity, his talent and his engaging manner are just what the Trojans need.”
And Haden’s first move will be to bring McKay on in a role of associate AD for football, to make sure Lane Kiffin has more oversight in his new role as Pete Carroll’s predecessor.
Haden and McKay, teammates at Bishop Amat High School before coming to USC, combined on a 38-yard TD pass to give the Trojans a 18-17 win over Ohio State in the 1975 Rose Bowl.
This completion will go much farther in the aftermath of one of the most defelating periods in the Trojan athletic program history.