On Monday, the Pac-12 announced it was fining USC Athletic Director Pat Haden $25,000. But for what really?
"The conduct by USC Athletics Director Pat Haden was inappropriate," said Scott. "Such actions by an administrator in attempt to influence the officiating, and ultimately the outcome of a contest, will not be tolerated."
"The conduct by both Sarkisian and Haden were in clear violation of our Conference's Standards of Conduct policy," added Scott. "We appreciate the public apology and recognition of the errors in judgment, as well as Pat Haden's self-imposed 2-game sideline ban. We took this into consideration as we determined the discipline. Nonetheless, the actions fell short of our expectation of our head coaches and athletics directors as role models for our student-athletes and important leaders of our institutions."
On Saturday, Pat Haden was summoned to the sideline to help defend his head football coach, Steve Sarkisian. Sarkisian had already received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after
going ballistic vehemently arguing with the referees.
Feeling he was in danger of picking up a second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and being ejected, Sarkisian told someone to get Haden down to the field. Being the incredible boss that he is, Pat Haden went to check on his employee and the issue troubling him.
Haden said after the game that by the time he got to the sideline the issue had been resolved and that he was "just a bystander."
Okay. So maybe he wasn't "just a bystander." But so what? What's the big deal?
Haden being involved in the discussion didn't change the call. The game wasn't delayed. The incident happened during a tv timeout that occurred after a USC score/subsequent kickoff.
And it's not like this type of stuff is unprecedented.
That picture is from Saturday as well. That's Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez yelling at a referee after the opening kickoff. (Feel free to also note that Alvarez is also standing in the white, which is why Steve Sarkisian was originally given the delay of game penalty that preceded the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.)
Many athletic directors roam the sidelines and many superfluous school employees can sometimes get way too involved on the sidelines. Florida State's ball boy, "Red Lightning," became a national story last year for his sideline exuberance...and beautiful ginger beard.
Having been on the sidelines shooting photos and doing radio broadcasts off and on over the past five years, I've seen plenty of overzealous personalities on the sidelines. (While they weren't going after the officials, the worst vitriol I've witnessed came from the UCLA sideline. Lots of uncomfortable racist and classist remarks.)
Instead, Haden came down to the field and defended his head coach. Don't you wish your boss cared enough to come down and stick up for you? Especially when he's just a few weeks away from having been hospitalized? Pat Haden cares about USC football, the players and the coaches so much that he put down the hot dog he said he was chomping on, rushed down to the field, trotted across the sideline and told the referees to get the game back in action, enough was enough.
There's no doubt that Pat Haden has the support of the players on the team. Several of the players backed him up on Twitter after the game:
Our program has grown to be so close from coaches to AD and even the janitors in the building, @ADHadenUSC thank you for having our back!— Deacon Moss (@NelsonAgh15) September 9, 2014
I Respect & Thank @ADHadenUSC for coming down to the field & standing up for US (Players & Coaches). True Definition of a TROJAN!— Hayes Pullard lll ✌ (@FightOn10) September 8, 2014
Of course, the biggest farce is the people calling for Haden's spot on the College Football Playoff committee. First, if you are going to complain about one of the committee members, you should probably take some time to read about what went on while Lieutenant General Mike Gould was the AD at Air Force.
And what's wrong with Haden being invested in his school? Instead of an emotionless computer poll that determines who plays in the national championship, you want an emotionless Athletic Director to determine who plays in the playoff? How does it make any sense that Haden wouldn't be concerned with his own team/school first and foremost.
He's a volunteer for the College Football Playoff committee. He's paid quite handsomely to be the Athletic Director at USC. Pat Haden had his priorities in order on Saturday.
The people complaining about his actions? Not so much.
And to prove how much of a BOSS he is, Haden said he would pay the fine himself rather than having the athletic department cover it, but he made the request that the money from his fine go to a great cause that is near to his heart:
I accept the @pac12 reprimand. I plan to pay the fine personally. To honor my 5-yr-old grandson who has autism, I have a special request...— Pat Haden (@ADHadenUSC) September 8, 2014
Being the heartless and insensitive conference authorities they are, the Pac-12 officials apparently told Haden he could not have the money go to the Children's Hospital...because you know...who needs to help children and all.
I received clarification that my PAC 12 fine must be applied to the Conf post grad scholarship fund...— Pat Haden (@ADHadenUSC) September 10, 2014
I will also happily make the same donation to Children's Hospital LA for autism research in honor of my grandson#FightAutism— Pat Haden (@ADHadenUSC) September 10, 2014