Recently, Gary Klein sat down with USC's Athletic Director, Pat Haden, to discuss the meltdown at USC's athletic department. Hilarity ensued. You can read the whole piece here, but there were plenty of nuggets that are worth highlighting.
"With Heritage Hall undergoing a yearlong face-lift, USC Athletic Director Pat Haden and other department officials set up offices last month in a university-owned shopping center across the street from campus.
A tobacco shop sits directly across the walkway, a nail salon and food court across the courtyard."
At this point, I really thought Gary Klein should have renamed his piece "Up in Flames" or "Troy is Burning". The thought of USC'S athletic department being run next to a smoke shop is perfect.
"Asked to describe the state of USC athletics, Haden says, "The sky is not falling, in spite of what some people read and think and write."
I agree, Mr. Haden. From my point of view, the sky is definitely not falling. It's looking quite promising.
"In addition, Haden says, the athletic department enjoyed a record year for fundraising and USC athletes last month completed the best academic semester in school history."
USC having a lot of funding for athletes is not newsworthy.
"Haden, however, acknowledges receiving a steady stream of negative letters, emails and Twitter messages. He says his car was recently keyed off campus - "I don't know if that is a result of this," he says, laughing - but he sees better days ahead."
Nope. It's just the shitty area your university is in.
"After USC's football team lost to UCLA in November, Haden went on record saying "Lane is my head coach 150%."
Last week, he quipped, "I guess the math doesn't work."
Apparently it took him three months to figure that out.
"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."
Oh, all of us Bruins agree with you. Don't worry about that.
"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."
Because, you see, if you pick a couple things to represent each loss, the clusterf**k of a season doesn't seem so bad.
"These are things that all can be fixed," he says. "And they all can be fixed by Lane Kiffin."
So too, he says, can "some of Lane's slip-ups," several of which had little to do with the Xs and O's of football.
In September, a reporter was banned from practice after he accurately reported that a player underwent surgery. Kiffin also abruptly bolted from a post-practice news conference when asked about a player returning from injury.
In October, a USC quarterback was instructed by coaches to wear another player's jersey number on special teams in the first half against Colorado, and then played later in the game in his usual number. In November, the Pac-12 Conference fined USC $25,000 after it was discovered that a student manager intentionally deflated USC footballs before a game against Oregon. The season ended with the embarrassing Sun Bowl loss to Georgia Tech, punctuated by news stories last week that portrayed a heated postgame locker-room scene."
I don't have any thing to say here, but I love seeing the laundry list of Kitten's blunders in print. Don't you?
"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."
There's a four letter word for the stuff that sticks to Lane.
"I'm a paid optimist," he says, "and I think we've got a great opportunity to rebound and have a terrific season next year."
I don't know if I've ever seen a lobbyist say, "I'm a paid spokesperson, and I think smoking is good for you." That was pretty weird, Pat.
"Every sports administrator, one of their tasks is to think, 'If your coach gets hit by a bus, who's next?'" Haden says. "So this isn't something we're just beginning to think about. I've thought about this for two years."
LOL at Pat thinking about Kevin O'Neill getting hit by a bus for two years.
"We need to earn our fans' respect back," he says, "and the only way you can do that is win."
USC will remain on NCAA probation through June 2014.
Nice segue, Mr. Klein.
Last fall, the NCAA also began investigating possible violations related to former football player Joe McKnight, former basketball player Davon Jefferson and Scott Schenter, a man who is at the center of a scandal in the Los Angeles County assessor's office.