It's the pitfall of husbands everywhere. They make a mistake. Then they try to talk themselves out of it. Then they say something they wish they hadn't, to which they try to talk their way out once again. It's a cycle, over and over. The husband tries to fix the situation when the best solution is just to apologize and own it. The worse things get, the more they keep digging their own grave.
Pat Haden has that same quality. If he treats his wife as poorly as his football program, she should be championed an angel of patience and self-preservation.
The Lane Kiffin era was rough. It was darkened by the Reggie Bush sanctions and the team struggled to compete. After a 2012 season in which Kiffin led the Trojans to a 7-6 record, Kiffin was on the hot seat. An offseason firing wouldn't have been an issue on the resume of Haden. Kiffin wasn't his hire. The fans were fed up with Kiffin's all business, no schmooze approach to running the USC program. It was time for him to go. Yet he decided to keep Kiffin on-board for 2013.
Or at least for September.
He fired Lane Kiffin after a 3-2 start including a brutal loss at Arizona State. Following the team's flight back to LAX, they boarded a bus back to campus when Kiffin was abruptly called off the team bus and fired. It was the decision Trojan fans had been waiting for all season (chants of "Fire Kiffin" had rained from the stands), but was not how a respectful organization should treat their employees.
By giving Kiffin another chance as coach and hoping the Trojans would magically improve on their 7-6 season, Pat Haden set himself (and the football team) up for failure. He could have won the day, but ended up sleeping in the doghouse anyway.
Athletic Directors are the parents. They are supposed to know better and stay above the fray. When their children get into an argument, it's their responsibility to support their child, but also bring logic into the conversation so their child can learn from the experience. So when Pat Haden came down to argue a call with an official during a 2014 game vs. Stanford, it made national news around the country. Rarely, if ever, is an AD seen fighting for his team between the lines. Haden having been named to the newly minted College Football Playoff Committee brought on extra attention to the situation. It was an embarrassment to the program, but in Haden fashion, his reaction was worse than his action.
Haden claimed he received a text from Coach Sark, hoping to justify his decision. Instead, he sold out his coach, as a text from Sark was a violation of NCAA rule, Section 3, Artilce 11-B, which states "Only voice communication between the press box and team area is permitted." Successful husbands and wives act with a united front with their children, but Haden blamed his wife for their child's early Saturday night curfew.
2015 has been the year of Sark decisions. First there was Haden's decision to give him a slap on the wrist following Sark's drunken Salute to Troy debacle. Now there are reports from ESPNs Joe Schad that Haden fired Sarkisian via email. What was the reason he was fired in this manner? Haden had tried to reach him by phone, but couldn't because Sark was on an airplane on his way to treatment for his alcohol problem. He decided it needed to be done.
The fan base wanted Sark gone. 7-Win Sark was a surprise hire from the beginning; a former coordinator who had gone 34-29 in 5 seasons as the head coach at Washington. There was nothing substantive behind his hire and he was over his head from the get-go. Yet even when the results aren't there and the coach isn't behaving up to the high standards at USC, Pat Haden still found a way to be the bad guy.
This isn't even husband behavior; it's that of a middle school boyfriend breaking up over text.
Pat Haden has taken every opportunity to win over the USC fan base and failed. He fired Lane Kiffin, but too late and in a questionable manner. He hired a likeable coach, but the coach was unqualified. He then sold out that coach rather than owning his own mistake, and cleaned it up with another inappropriate firing. Every single time it is feeling like Haden makes good decisions in the worst ways.
It is good to remove bad coaches. It is good to remove inappropriate coaches. It is good to support your team. But you can't do it the way he does, and you can't do it on the timeline Pat Haden has.
He is bringing the Trojans our anniversary flowers and chocolates, but doing so a month after our anniversary.
It may be time for a new spouse.