Pat Haden sat down with the OCR recently and offered up some thoughts on this past football season and Lane Kiffin.
Two months into his third year on the job, Haden sat for an interview with the Register. He staunchly defended football coach Lane Kiffin – including Kiffin's play-calling acumen – and slapped back at critics who have called for him to make drastic changes after one disappointing season.
A lawyer by trade, Haden can be specific in his arguments, such as when he defends the football program, or a bit vague, such as when he is asked about Todd McNair's lawsuit against the NCAA.
Orange County Register: We should probably start with how things went in football this year...Haden: I'm happy enough with football. We have great people. Our kids are really high-quality, high-character kids. Did we have the season we hoped for? Absolutely not. But this happens in institutions. You're going to have some highs and lows. I don't think people truly understand what we're going through with the probation. It's not an excuse. It's just a fact. The 75 scholarship (limit) doesn't necessarily affect us as much on Saturday as it does Monday through Friday, as you prepare with those 10 fewer scholarships. You don't have somebody to imitate Oregon or Stanford or UCLA like you might have if you had a redshirting five-star athlete who can imitate (Brett) Hundley or the kid at Oregon. It wasn't the kind of season we hoped for. Are we despairing? No. We are determined to work as hard as we need to work to have a better experience next year.
I have said it before...Much to the chagrin of president Nikias and some in his office, USC wants this to go away. There will be no lawsuit. No matter how bad it is USC will do NOTHING on this. They don't want have any other potential issues that could come out in discovery.
What I am about to say may not be popular to some here, but many fans feel this way.
Not being an alum I really don't care about the whole academics thing. I could care less about "Project Stanford" and the whole push to be better at academics.
I am not saying that it isn't important to those of you with that valuable USC degree and that you shouldn't be proud of the efforts being made, but in the terms of football it doesn't matter. Haden and Nikias don't care about football as much as has been made out in the past. All this talk about Nikias being a super fan is noise and Haden has really been removed from USC football for a number of years. Too much time on the BOT and in the ND play by play booth.
Then there are Haden's comments on Kiffin, they are not surprising at all. They show me that Haden really is detached from the whole program. What games is he watching??
Many of you will shake your heads at that but look at his comments...
Haden: I think we have to get through this probationary period. We still have two more years of scholarship limitations. This whole Reggie Bush thing is going to last a decade, by the time we're finished with it. We've got two more years of scholarship limitations, so we've got to kind of work our way through that. Lane has a viable plan to do that. He has recruited remarkably well. Let's not forget, too, that some of the offensive numbers he has coordinated over the last few years are pretty good. There have been all-time records in the quarterback department with Matt Barkley. We've averaged 37 points a game, or whatever it has been, for the most part in the last three years. You should win most of your ballgames if you score 37 points. Where we have failed has been on the defensive side of the ball. We haven't played well, at times, on defense. We got shredded by a couple teams that run the spread. So we've got to do a better job there, and I think he's making some changes on that side of the ball. He has already talked about his defensive coordinator. He's a great recruiter, there's no doubt about it. He's a tireless worker. With me, he's been incredibly compliant, vis-a-vis NCAA rules. And I think he's a really good play-caller.
Anyone with half a brain think Kiffin is "really good' play caller? Did Haden not see the goal line stand that ND put up? I was surprised after seeing the the ND/Stanford game that Kiffin would fall into the same trap as David Shaw...who by the way is much better coach than Kiffin.
Great play calling there right?!
What about Barkley? Barkley regressed and his draft stock will take a hit...Kiffin is supposed to be the offensive guy, but he mismanaged Barkley as well as the offense as a whole.
Lets talk about the great recruiter aspect.
All that "talent" and the team still under performs? How about this, Kiffin is such a great recruiter that he had to send Haden to go after TWO coveted O-lineman that ended up at Stanford. Haden is NOT a recruiting guru and by sending Haden its clear that Kiffin couldn't seal that deal.
Here is a better question, is the talent really as good as we have been led to believe? I am not the biggest fan of the recruiting service rankings. They are subjective and have regional bias...and some of those players "light it up" against crummy opposition.
We heard repeatedly how George Farmer was a beast and how he would be a valuable tool ready make an impression. How's that working out? Maybe he fits in a better system, but it is clear that he isn't living up to all the hype we heard about. Kiffin hardly plays him. Talent is more than just making plays, it is about adjusting to an picking up the system you are in.
Haden is more concerned about the schools image...that's fine, it's his and Nikias' shop to run, but spare us this crap about how great Kiffin is.
I love how Haden points to the Blogosphere as the platform where Kiffin takes a lot of heat. it comes from other places too Pat all you have to do is look for it.
USC isn't even the model to point to anymore when it comes to compliance...interesting take here.
Human nature wants us to have solid citizens who represent the school well and who graduate. But when you look at the PC years he didn't have as many problems as other programs had and he graduated his kids too. Kids do stupid things...some more than others so I can live with the occasional player behaving badly, even if it pisses me off.
Heck, even ND had their issues.
Maybe its just me, but I read this and I see a lot of empty words...