Today, the USC Trojans did some house cleaning and, in the process, sent a message to the NCAA and the college football world that “Playtime Is Over” in Southern California.
Athletic Director Mike Garrett was fired, replaced by the clean-cut, wholesome, image of Pat Haden—a former Trojan and member of the USC board of trustees. He has since resigned from the latter.
He is a well-respected figure in the community and, at USC, few will find any reason to disagree with the choice—especially given the recent turmoil the program has suffered with Garrett at the wheel.
Also gone is any material memory of Reggie Bush. His No. 5 jersey along with the Heisman Trophy he won in 2005 have both been removed from Heritage Hall. Said president-elect Max Nikias, “The Trojan Family honors and respects the USC sporting careers of those persons whose actions did not compromise their athletic program or the opportunities of future USC student-athletes,”.
USC is certainly following the guidelines set forth by the NCAA which advised them to disassociate themselves from Bush in the wake of the scandal. However, it does make you wonder, will they return all the revenue they reaped as a result of his jersey sales? Will they return the money that was likely generated from the boosters and alumni who gladly opened their checkbooks thanks to his greatness on the field?
Don’t get me wrong, Reggie Bush was a punk for what he did and he deserves to be stripped of the Heisman, but lets not be naive to how much money USC made off his success either—just saying.
But, I digress.
It’s all business now at USC and that means there will be a lot less hand-wringing and side-chatter surrounding the program and it’s dealings where the athletes and coaches are concerned. Which naturally leads us to new head coach, Lane Kiffin.
I seriously doubt that his “dream job” entailed him having a semi-permanent set of eyes looking over his shoulder. However, that may very well be the case now that J.K. McKay will be appointed the associate athletic director of football.
McKay’s primary job will be to act as the liaison between new AD, Pat Haden, and the football program. In other words, Kiffin’s freedom just got a whole lot more restrained.
It’s no secret that McKay and Haden have a close relationship and that leaves little doubt as to where McKay’s loyalty will be. He will surely scrutinize Kiffin’s every move and that could make Kiffin’s time on the sidelines a lot less enjoyable.
It doesn’t help that Kiffin has already come under fire for his, somewhat, questionable recruiting tactics at USC already.
The first red flag came after he accepted the job. One of his assistants, with Kiffin’s blessing, was rumored to have called some of Tennessee’s (Kiffin’s former employer) best prospects in an effort to get them to switch their commitment to USC instead.
Kiffin was, allegedly, dishonest with Henderson about the severity of the upcoming sanctions. Henderson never did sign with the Trojans due in large part to deception.
Add to that, the recent transfer of a number of junior and senior players to other Division I schools, and Kiffin has already been through the wringer without having called a snap.
If more of these shenanigans continue, I foresee swift and definitive action by Haden to cut Kiffin loose. After all, USC can undoubtedly find a more experienced, less media-obsessed coach for $4 million.
Either way, I set the over/under on Kiffin’s departure at 2-years because his dream just turned into a nightmare.