Continuing its tradition of hardball investigative reporting -- you know, the in-depth reporting of the Reggie Bush scandal, the pointed questioning of Pete Carroll, the penetrative interviews of Mike Garrett -- the Los Angeles Times now turns its searchlight on Pat Haden:
Bill Dwyre's interpretation of what Pat said -- and didn't say -- is translated below:
He is the kind of person with whom you want to have dinner. Every night.
Well, if you're a Trogan fan. And in contrast to OJ, McNair, Leinart, Rey Rey, Lane, Ogre, and Garrett.
"He was more mature when he was 11 than I am now," McKay says. McKay is 58.
After all, I am a McKay. Do you recall when my Pop whined about Stanford running up the score and John Ralston replied that he had no comment, that he didn't want to get into a pissing contest with a skunk?
Haden to lead the Trojans out of the gloom of an NCAA penalty that Haden now characterizes as "the second worst in NCAA history, after SMU's death penalty."
Which actually should have been the equal to it: capital punishment for Troy.
"I'd give myself a B-minus," Haden says
Senora Ross has it recorded as an A.
He has placed a high priority on returning a sense of the college experience to athletes at a school which, in its past, has stressed winning
There's also free housing, tricked out cars, HDTVs, tutors, grades without attendance, sex on the roof.
Most fans are fine with the football factory image
That's what the high rollers pay good money for. Why would they care about teaching, research, community service?
But Haden will fight on for success without cutting corners, for USC to be a place where student-athletes actually are student-athletes.
That would presuppose that they would be in some semblance students.
To that end, he has had posters about debates and concerts and lectures put in all the players' lockers
Debates about retaining the football championship. Rock concerts with underage girls. Lectures on sports marketing, with a map of how to locate the classrooms.
"I worry about all the athletes not having a well-rounded university experience,"
Amenities from boosters and agents, performance-enhancing drugs, ballroom dancing, Virtual Spanish, getting to know the local police -- all the important stuff.
"I know I'm not going to completely change the culture.
I mean the cheating was going on full force when I was living with the McKays.
They have to work so hard these days.
Except in the classroom.
The reality is that most USC football fans, while happy that their athletes are being encouraged to broaden their college life, demand a return to winning football. Haden is the steward of that, and he wants it just as badly as they do, although without the thumb-our-noses-at-the-NCAA days that preceded him.
Which the Times wrote about so extensively when Carroll, Garrett, and Sample (in that order) ran the "university."
His coach is Lane Kiffin, who is young, impulsive and, apparently, behaving quite nicely under the watch of Haden and J.K. McKay.
By issuing the dreaded one-game-suspension to the worst offenders. Note Marc Tyler, who had two incidents involving unwilling women, but only received his one-day double-secret probation for his public admission that SC footballers are handsomely paid.
Haden's self-imposed B-minus rating comes partly from his inability to persuade the NCAA to reduce the tough sanctions against USC
I expected the standard slap on the wrist, plus loss of one scholarship that we'd make up by hiring a recruit's father as a university employee.
More than just a plea for sympathy, he has had the Cam Newton case at Auburn and, more recently, the Jim Tressel case at Ohio State as comparative situations. Neither case was exactly like USC's, neither appears likely to result in penalties as severe as USC's, and neither would likely be used in a direct comparison to the Trojans. Still, if there was a softening there, why not for USC?
Because the other schools, didn't stonewall, cover up, whine, complain, run a public relations campaign, threaten litigation, and especially lie to the NCAA. Let's see, Tressel admitted his wrongdoing, albeit late. Remind me, exactly what Carroll has admitted to?
Haden sees the hand that has been dealt his school as an 11-year setback. He says that it will be that long from the start of the Reggie Bush investigations, through all the appeals and penalties, and then the time it will take, even with all the sanctions gone and the scholarships restored, to get back up to speed. "It's at least a full decade," he says.
That does happen when you don't self-report and drag out the investigation for years.
Haden, 58, is married to Cindy, whom he met in front of the library at USC some 40 years ago.
This is notable because it means a Trogan footballer was found in the vicinity of a library.
When he took over at USC, he left a lucrative career in the private equity business
Where he practiced his skills at taking money from rich folks and enhancing his net worth.
By this time next year, the $72-million John McKay Center will be open. It is named after the late coaching legend, who was Haden's coach and his best friend's father. It will house most of USC's athletic facilities and become the nerve center for Trojans sports.
It is named after the foremost cheat in Southern Cal history. The Marv Goux wing will house a 24/7 ATM machine.
It will be shiny and new, a symbol of good days ahead.
Shiny and new, just like the Franklins that Pat and others received on a regular basis after the games.
Sometimes I wonder if anyone at the Times ever submits a single SC football story to external peer review, just to see if it would pass the laugh test. (On second thought, if they did that, I'd go out of business translating.)