Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Fire SC Athletic Director Pat Haden, Now !

Southern Cal's athletic director Pat Haden is toast. 

It's not official yet, but he's finished. You don't royally screw up the way Haden has in the Steve Sarkisian mess--angering fans and big-money boosters--and keep your job.

Two years ago, Haden hired a football coach who should never have been hired--Steve Sarkisian, a former SC assistant in the Pete Carroll era who, as head coach, had turned around the sagging U of Washington program.

Sarkisian, sadly, is an alcoholic.

You can bet Haden, who is no dummy, knew about Sark's problem, but figured it was manageable. Haden downplayed the problem because he was anxious to hire another link to the Pete Carroll era--just like Lane Kiffin, who Sark replaced. Sark's drinking problem was apparently no secret in Seattle, so there is little chance Haden didn't know about it. That was one of many reasons Sark wasn't that popular up there. Word is many fans and boosters were happy to see him go.

This season, Sark's second, after his respectable 9-4 debut, was supposed to the big one, with the Trojans trumpeted as strong PAC 12 title contenders. Instead, it's been a two-loss disaster, beginning with his drunken speech at an SC fan event in late August and culminating with a Coliseum loss, 17-12, last week to his old school, Washington. Word is leaking out that Sark smelled of booze, at games and practices, often during the season. According to sources close to two players, the team knew about his alcohol excesses and some players were disturbed by it and questioned him as a leader. No question, Sark's problem had a negative effect on the team. A responsible AD would have been on top of the situation and taken action. Haden did not.

With that August incident, Sark embarrassed himself, the team and the university. Haden should have dumped him then. Even though the coach was reportedly hung over and in no condition to coach a practice last Sunday, Haden still didn't act decisively, but just placed him on indefinite leave. It was the outrage of the SC nation and big boosters that finally forced Haden to fire him the next day. Offensive coordinator Clay Felton will lead the team for the rest of the season. Once again SC had to fire a head coach mid-season. This time the blame falls solely on Haden.

Sark wasn't Haden's lone coaching-hire misfire. The other black mark against him is basketball coach Andy Enfield. In two years he has coached the Trojans to consecutive last-place PAC 12 finishes. They are the laughing-stock of the conference.

Enfield was hot for a minute a few years ago when he coached obscure Florida Gulf Coast, of the Atlantic Sun Conference, to the Sweet 16, the first 15-seed in tournament history to get that far. His main accomplishment in that 2012-13 tourney? Just winning two games, over two good teams, Georgetown and San Diego State, to reach the regional semis. Bottom line, he was a coach in a rinky-dink conference. He's simply not PAC 12 coaching material and is in way over his head. Blame Haden for that foolish hire too.

Haden has proved he's lousy at picking head coaches. Is this the guy the SC nation wants choosing the next coach? Don't think so.

According to inside sources, the pressure from some big-money boosters is mounting to can Haden. The feeling is that he's in a shaky position and any coach he hires will be in a shaky position too. If Haden is fired where does that leave the new coach? So, with Haden in charge, top coaches might shy away from SC, realizing they might wind up working for a different AD. Also, with Haden still in charge, you know recruiters from rival schools will use that against SC, painting a bleak picture of a program in chaos..

The USC ship has sprung a leak. It desperately needs a new captain..