Pat Haden will always be a Trojan legend. He won two National Championships and three Rose Bowls as a player and eventually came back to USC in order to restore order after the Reggie Bush scandal.
However, after the disappointing 23-21 loss to Wisconsin the Holiday Bowl it is officially time for Pat Haden to step down as athletic director at USC.
The Trojan's sixth loss of the season puts recently hired Clay Helton's record at 5-4 on the year, not exactly what you would expect from someone who is supposed to lead the Trojans back to the glory days .
It is still early into the Helton era, but it certainly seems that the Trojans rushed into hiring the long-time assistant instead of playing out their options, especially with Chip Kelly (and other NFL coaches) recently becoming available. Helton did a great job keeping the Trojans competitive this season and seemed to win over Haden after leading the Trojans to their first victory over UCLA after three straight losses. That victory ultimately put the Trojans in the PAC-12 Championship game for the first time.
Unfortunately for Helton, his losses came against his strongest opponents, Notre Dame, Oregon, and Stanford, with USC being outplayed handily in all three games. The Trojans were outscored by a combined 51 points in those three games, while giving up almost 500 yards per game.
Helton will still have time to prove himself as a capable coach, but his struggles have shown that Haden should not be one making decisions for USC.
Haden's hiring of Steve Sarkisian was scrutinized as the Trojans looking for another Pete Carroll instead of branching out. After all, the Trojans were coming off a failed Carroll assistant in Lane Kiffin.
Sarkisian, at least temporarily, seemed to prove the doubters wrong, winning more games in his first season (9) than that of John McKay (4) and Pete Carroll (6), and bringing in the nation's No. 1 recruiting class during his second year. The Trojans actually entered this year as favorites to win the PAC-12.
For as great as a coach Sarkisian may have been on the field, his off the field issues became too much to bear. In early August, Sarkisian was under scrutiny for giving a drunken speech at the annual Salute to Troy event. Instead of suspending Sarkisian for his actions, Haden gave the second year coach another chance. Haden eventually ended up firing Sarkisian after it was found that the coach may have been drunk during the Arizona State game and subsequently showed up to practice inebriated following a shocking defeat to the Washington Huskies.
While this may not directly be faulted to Haden at first glance, there were reports that Haden and USC paid over a million dollars to have Sarkisian vetted for the job. Furthermore, instead of admitting his mistake and firing Sarkisian following the Salute to Troy event, Haden tried to protect his decision to hire Sarkisian over more qualified candidates.
With the Trojans finishing the regular season by losing three of their last four games, it is clear that Haden jumped the gun on hiring Helton full time.
Haden may never be fired as Athletic Director because of what he has done for the university as a player as well as helping guide the Trojans through sanctions not to mention Haden enjoys the full support of University President Max Nikias. However, as a lifetime supporter of USC football it is time for Haden to realize he may be the one holding back the program.
Haden has already messed up two coaching searches that may have USC hurting for years to come. Let's hope that Haden will not be the person making the decisions during the next coaching search.