The Brilliance of Pat Haden

I’m like this guy, but I don’t even have to see actual evidence.

I have a hard time not seeing patterns in every-day life. Some say it’s paranoia. I say it can’t be paranoia. I’d have to be wrong for it to be paranoia.

The SoCal story, soon to reach it’s denouement now that Haden has taken the AD job he’s been working towards for at least the last several months, didn’t all make sense to me until Bruins Nation reminded me that Pat Haden actually is responsible for the hiring of Lane Kiffin at Southern Cal.

Sources familiar with the USC Board of Trustees and the Trojans coaching situation told me today that USC Board of Trustee members Pat Haden and Ed Roski are leading the search for USC’s next football coach.

We get the feeling that when Lane and Pat were meeting, leading up to Lane’s hiring, Lane wasn’t aware of any suckers at the table.

This all seems pretty obvious today, but let’s just recap what’s happened at our biggest rival’s athletic department.

  1. The house of cards starts to tumble at Southern Cal, as the NCAA launches an investigation into multiple rules infractions by the SoCal athletic department.
  2. Pete Carroll abandons a ship. Given that he was the captain, he could see where this thing was going long before anyone else along for the ride.
  3. Meanwhile, Pat Haden, a board of trustees member at SoCal, is as plugged into the entire story as he could possibly be. He’s got all the inside scoop and the ability to maintain a 3rd-party distance from the plot.
  4. Also meanwhile, USC AD Mike Garrett’s luck, that seemed never-ending just a few years ago after Pete Carroll stumbled into his office looking for the little boys’ room, has run out. A s#&t storm is brewing, and Mike’s the only one left without an umbrella.
  5. The already in-trouble AD, Garret, gives over the “lead” for the search for Carroll’s replacement to 2 highly respected members of the USC family – 1 just happens to also be SC’s “Golden Boy” from bygone days of gold-tinted history. And Garrett was probably thrilled to do so. It gave Garrett coverage, to a point, because he wasn’t leading the search. At least some fault would get spread around.
  6. Haden’s bright enough to know they’ll never draw in a truly competent HC due to the impending NCAA doom, so he sets his sights for the easiest patsy available. At this point, he also knows Garret’s gone, and the next AD will be looked to to “clean up” the SC program. At this point, Haden knows he could be that cleaner-upper. Sure, Haden’s already got a sweet gig calling a few games a year at ND as his side project, and he’s raking in the dough as a partner in his investment firm, but he sees by now an excellent opportunity to build a greater legacy at his alma mater. He’s sees the chance at savior-ship. And he takes it.
  7. Lane Kiffin is named the new Head Coach of the SoCal football program. Everyone wonders how stupid both Kiffin and SC could be to make this happen. Haden just sits back and lets the plan unfold.
  8. At this point, if Garrett’s still got any semblance of a leg to stand on, it’s whipped away in brutal fashion by the kung-fu masters of the NCAA infraction committee. SC doesn’t quite get the death penalty, but they’re so close to it they can dip their toes in just to get a sense of those frigid waters. Garrett, already unconscious after the hiring of Kiffin, is now pronounced dead-man walking.
  9. Now the new president at SC takes an active role, not allowing Garrett to “retire” so much as booting him out the door, right along with Reggie Bush’s Heisman and Pete Carroll’s legacy. Actions that Haden, a BOT member, probably could have guessed at, given the info he had available.
  10. And at the same time, Haden, the most active BOT member in the football program, a well-respected business man, and a well-known public figure in the college football world thanks both to his playing days and his work on NBC, gets named the new AD at SC. Some think it’s a step down for a guy like him, but some people have no sense of legacy.

All pretty obvious, if you just consider the timeline a bit and infer things here and there. Speculative, to be sure, but I also speculate every day that the sun’s gonna come up the next day too. And frankly, it’s not really all that “brilliant.” It’s just smart. Haden was playing the game a few moves ahead of everyone else involved while everyone else involved was trying to figure out how to move the pieces to stay alive for the next turn.

So what’s next? I figure it’ll go something like this:

  1. SC suffers the full brunt of the initial punishment handed to them by the NCAA. The recent, multiple investigations into other programs over improper activity between players and agents makes it clear that the NCAA is pretty sick of the state of things right now, and has decided to wield a big ole’ whippin’ stick until things at least look like the NCAA wants them to look.
  2. Kiffin, already doomed to mediocrity due to his apparent congenital defects, is the obvious patsy. He’s in an unfortunate position of being both “fresh blood” and “a connection to a sullied past.” Kicking him to the curb will be the final bit of work needed to decouple SC from the NCAA infraction-heavy Carroll era. The firing of Kiffin will be easy because he’ll be so bad. Any decent coach would be tough to fire because of those NCAA punishments. And the NCAA punishments will be tough enough that, had Haden lead the search team to find a truly strong HC, then firing the guy would be damned near impossible. With Kiffin, you’re nearly even-money that he’ll just go ahead and give you a reason to fire him for cause and save you the buy-out.
  3. The firing of Kiffin will be heralded by fans (some a bit reluctant about Haden’s hiring) as a “strong and decisive” action by the relatively new AD, and will be compared favorably to Haden’s fumbling, bumbling, blind-squirrel of a predecessor.

I just hope Haden doesn’t manage to hire “the next Saban” at SC after Kiffin.

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  • The Biscuit

    Solid. Just wish I’d posted Wetzel’s link/recap before you posted this. Makes more sense order-wise.

  • domer_mq

    I’ll reorder it.

    • The Biscuit

      You’re so good at internet-y things, you nerd you.

  • OderName

    Awesome posts, guys. I’m sure I’ve found a new home. Do you all do any sort of HLS tailgater before any games?

    • domer_mq

      Thanks, OderName.
      Unfortunately, I’ve no plans to attend a game in SB this year. But I believe Biscuit will be out there at some point. If he brews something up, I’m sure he’ll announce it here.

    • The Biscuit

      I will be at Purdue, and am contemplating hosting something for a portion of the morning, pending what part of my family also attends…

  • Trey

    Odername proves his neophyte status by thinking you guys are worth hanging out with.

    • domer_mq

      We drink good beer. We’re totally worth it.

    • OderName


  • Trey

    Yea, i guess beer goggles is the only way to stand yall in person

  • GB

    I hope ND is trying to get S. Henderson from U. Cal and C. Martin.

  • Dan Sullivan

    So, out of curiosity, how long does Haden wait to fire Kiffin in this scenario? one year? two years?

    Also, after listening to Haden’s commentary practically my whole notre dame fanship, I have to say that if this conspiracy theory is true he is much smarter than he lets on on tv…

    • domer_mq

      The dude is smart. Rhodes Scholar/i-bank partner. His football insight? I just got the feeling he wasn’t really trying.

      I think he’ll give Lane about a season and a half. Need time to get through the NCAA penalties and then need to have enough mid-season time to find and hire the next “hot thing” for a HC.

      • Dan Sullivan

        I guess you could call it football insight – he just seemed like he wasn’t the sharpest guy around. I guess Rhodes doesn’t lie though.

        huh. I’m not usually into schadenfreude, but I would love to see Kiffin get the can after 1 1/2 seasons. We’ll see how things pan out. Great post, btw.