USC athletics director Pat Haden should resign from the College Football Playoff selection committee, and he should do it today. If he refuses, CFP executive director Bill Hancock should nudge him in that direction. And if Hancock doesn't want to go down that road, the 10 commissioners of the Football Bowl Subdivision conferences should intervene and demand a change.
In the 3rd quarter of the Southern Cal - Stanford game at the Farm today, something happened that none of us had seen before. No, it wasn't the cheap shot late hit on the sideline by a trogan linebacker. We've seen that. No, it wasn't a Southern Cal coach forgetting about class and professionalism. We've seen that. No, it wasn't the Pac-12 refs throwing a shower of yellow flags around the field. We see that every week.
Instead, it was what happened next. After being flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, Southern Cal coach Steve Sarkisian reportedly sent a text to Southern Cal AD Pat Haden who was attending the game and watching from the press box. Haden, in response to the plea for help from his football coach, left the press box, went down to the field, jogged across the end zone, and got in a heated discussion with the referees right there on the sideline during the game.
Even ESPN announcers Chris Fowler and and Kirk Herbstreit seemed shocked.
Fowler: Kirk, you do not see an AD come down and chat with the officials during a game.
Herbstreit: No. And at one point, Sark actually had to pull Pat Haden back. He got very very fired up and emotional down there. Never seen an athletic director come down out of the press box, jog across the field, and want to talk to an official.
But have you ever seen an athletics director talk to a referee during a game, much less argue with one? That isn't merely bad form; it is simply not done.
And frankly, it was embarrassing for both Haden and the CFP selection committee.
This is the same Pat Haden who sits on the 13 member College Football Playoff selection committee. And though the rules for the committee state that Haden must recuse himself when his own institution is being discussed, does anyone think that this is a guy who has impartiality or fairness in mind? After that display today? Should Florida State or Alabama or Ohio State or Oregon or Oklahoma or Auburn be concerned? U.C.L.A. fans already know.
The USA Today article sums it up perfectly.
The committee has to be above reproach. This wasn't above anything; it was Haden getting into the muck and involving himself in a situation that wasn't his business.
We are highly critical of our feckless AD Dan Guerrero for his overall apathy when it comes to U.C.L.A. sports. Haden is clearly on the other end of the spectrum where he abuses his position to gain favor for his side. It's inappropriate to do that for the clown college where you were a star player and where you now head the athletic department. It's even worse when you are sitting on a committee charged with selecting the 4 most deserving teams to compete in the first ever playoff system at the end of this season.
It will be very interesting to see how the national media handles this and whether Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott takes any sort of action against Haden and Southern Cal. Stay tuned.