When Pat Haden took over as USC Athletic Director on August 3, 2010, he was looked upon by Trojan faithful as a godsend. But motivation for the matchless enthusiasm for Haden hire came from two distinctly different places.
1) Haden’s unmatched qualifications for the job.
2) Outgoing AD Mike Garrett’s performance on the job the previous 17 years.
Though Haden was the absolute best candidate USC could’ve landed for the job, plenty of USC alumni, staff and students were just as happy to see Garrett depart the scene thanks to his notoriously arrogant attitude and indisputable incompetence.
The dynastic football program gave Garrett cover for many years, but once Pete Carroll’s loosely-overseen empire collapsed, the USC administration did what it had to do: Show Garrett the door. I’ve already written too much about Garrett over the years, so I won’t bog you down by once again chronicling his myriad workplace failures.
I’d rather talk about Haden, who I fully expect will do a spectacular job for his alma mater, but who also might be prone to getting a little loose with the superlatives.
In his first statement to USC alumni, students and staff, Haden wrote in an official letter:
Mike Garrett was a sensational athletic director. His 17-year body of work is about as good as it gets.
Then there was Haden’s comment to ABC/ESPN’s Shelly Smith during the Notre Dame-USC broadcast last Saturday about Lane Kiffin:
Smith: “How would you assess what Lane Kiffin has done with this team?”
Haden: “I think Lane has been sensational. He’s done a great job. (He was) dealt a tough hand but has been great as a playcaller. I think Lane’s going to be here a long time.”
With what Haden publicly claimed about Garrett three months earlier, if you’re looking for a clue on how Haden really feels about Kiffin, his quip to Shelly Smith ain’t it.
Nothing wrong with Haden being overly positive, but with that kind of rhetoric, we now know not to take anything he says at face value.