Los Angeles Times reporter Gary Klein had a chat with USC Athletic Director Pat Haden regarding the state of USC's athletic programs. Not surprisingly, Haden reiterated his support of football head coach Lane Kiffin.
"I understand people disagree with me...but in my judgment, and I get paid to make the best decisions I can for USC, there's no reason that Lane Kiffin shouldn't be our coach."
Haden acknowledges that the Trojans "played horribly a couple times," and "got shredded on defense a couple times" and "turned the ball over way too much."
"These are things that all can be fixed," he says." And they all can be fixed by Lane Kiffin."
So there you have it. Things "can" be fixed. But "will" they be fixed?
Pat Haden is happy with Kiffin. And the fact that he has said so twice in the past two months leaves one to believe that either Haden is getting bombarded with letters from ticked off boosters or the little distractions that keep surrounding the football program aren't that concerning to him (we'll get to that later).
But the fact that he needed to address the matter again—and reiterate again—that Kiffin is his guy is a little disconcerting. Trojan fans aren't sheep like some other football fan bases. Or even a country.
Haden is a tremendous athletic director and most—if not all—USC alumni and fans have absolutely no problems with his leadership at USC—he's squeaky clean and goes by the book. Haden is also a Trojan quarterback legend and a lawyer to boot—he understands how important football is to the school, and he's familiar with reading up on rules and regulations.
Pat Haden totally gets what's important to Trojan football fans.
Like how the NCAA dropped the hammer on USC.
And what, if anything, will USC's response be after new information is slowly being leaked to the media regarding the NCAA's investigation of the Reggie Bush scandal—USC running backs coach Todd McNair was implicated as having knowledge of Bush's impermissible benefits.
Haden is keeping an eye on McNair's lawsuit against the NCAA which should make Trojan fans happy—especially since news broke on Wednesday that the NCAA is investigating its own Enforcement Committee's "improper conduct" surrounding the University of Miami investigation.
Meanwhile, Haden and USC are monitoring a lawsuit filed against the NCAA by former running backs coach Todd McNair in the aftermath of its Bush investigation. A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled in November that emails between an investigative committee member, an NCAA worker and a person who works in the agency's appeals division "tend to show ill will or hatred" toward McNair and that McNair has shown a probability that he can win his defamation claims. The ruling is under appeal.
"If the facts come out as have been suggested we would probably reconvene and have a look," Haden says.
Pat Haden is everything you could ask for in an athletic director. But is Lane Kiffin everything you could ask for in a college football coach? Because that's really the question that really needs to be asked.
In Klein's report, Haden addresses those little distractions that keep popping up in the visor's aura.
"His reputation," Haden says of Kiffin, "it's going to be really hard to sanitize that over time unless he kind of wins a lot of games and does things right, which we plan to do."
But Haden says that Kiffin suffers from what the coach has described as "the Kiffin factor."
"He's anti-Teflon," Haden says. "I mean, stuff sticks to him that doesn't even belong on him."
Kiffin does get a lot of blame for the little stuff that he has nothing to do with but this stuff rarely cropped up when his predecessor Pete Carroll was head coach. Only one big thing happened under Carroll's watch but that whopper's aftermath is still hanging around USC like the Death Star.
So far, Kiffin has run a clean program with no major violations. That's a bonus.
How concerned should USC fans be with the recruiting losses?
But Kiffin has also lost six commits from the class of 2013; one of those commits ostensibly occurred sometime after Klein's interview with Haden.
Defensive end Jason Hatcher decommitted on Tuesday after USC hosted a slew of recruits (including Hatcher) over the weekend.
I official de-committed from USC #WideOpen— Jason A. Hatcher II (@ROCK_NATION_6) January 23, 2013
It should be noted that Pat Haden told Klein "the sky is not falling."
So relax, USC fans. All is well.
To read Gary Klein's full and highly recommended interview, please click here.