Mike Garrett out as USC's athletic director, replaced by Pat Haden

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There have been various rumblings throughout the offseason, reported on not only this website but ones such as our buddy SportsByBrooks, that Mike Garrett was not long for his role as director of athletics at USC.

The rumblings grew even louder in the wake of NCAA and self-imposed sanctions against both the football and basketball programs.  Then, Garrett climbed up into a backhoe and started to help dig his own hole even deeper with his misguided and ill-conceived “Trojan envy” blast in the aftermath of the sanctions announcement.

Today, all those rumblings came home to roost.

As Bill Dwyre of the Los Angeles Times first reported, Garrett is out as USC’s athletic director effective Aug. 3.  And, in a move that will certainly play well amongst Trojan Nation, former USC quarterback Pat Haden will grab the reins of the beleaguered department moving forward.

An official announcement from president-elect Max Nikias announcing the move was released Tuesday afternoon.

Garrett, who spent the last 17 years as AD and was a Heisman Trophy-winning running back at ‘SC, is expected to take a retirement package.

As for Haden, the Board of Trustees member said he was approached by Nikias recently and was asked to take over for Garrett.  After a period of time, including getting the thumbs up from his better half, Haden agreed to climb aboard a listing athletic ship and turn around whatever culture caused the university to find itself in this situation in the first place.

“This is not something I thought about doing, nor something even on my radar,” Haden told the paper. “But I began to see it as a challenge, as something new. And when my wife agreed — and she really doesn’t follow sports closely — I took a closer look.

“One of the reasons I was interested,” Haden said, “was Max Nikias. He is a supporter of USC athletics and is keenly interested in the school’s athletic heritage.”

Given Haden’s utter love for his alma mater, and his squeaky-clean image since leaving Heritage Hall, this is an absolute slam-dunk, home-run hire by the school, one that will go a long way in putting salve on the wounds created by — either directly or indirectly — the latter stages of Garrett’s tenure at the university.

The 57-year-old Haden has been the color commentator on NBC’s coverage of Notre Dame football for the past 12 years, but he made his sports mark at USC long before he became a part of the Irish’s broadcast arm.

Haden was a two-time Academic All-American while at USC, and was named co-MVP of the Trojans’ Rose Bowl win in 1975.  He was a three-year starter under head coach John McKay, taking part in two national titles and three Rose Bowls.

Haden graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from USC; also, Haden was a Rhodes Scholar and played professional football for six years following his collegiate career.  

Additionally, Haden received a doctorate from the Loyola Law School and, for more than 20 years, he has been a general partner of Riordan, Lewis & Haden, a private equity firm which invests in high-growth middle market companies.  

In order to assume his new responsibilities as USC’s athletic director, Haden has resigned from his post as a member of the USC Board of Trustees, which he joined in 1991.

Tennessee LB Cortez McDowell’s season might not be over after all

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In the end, there could be an injury silver lining for Tennessee after all.

In the aftermath of the deflating last-second loss to rival Florida, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones announced that Cortez McDowell would miss the remainder of the 2017 season.  The linebacker sustained an injury to his wrist that, at the time, was deemed serious enough to shelve him for the rest of the year.

The key here is “at the time” as, a couple of days later, the prognosis has brightened slightly as Jones allowed Wednesday that McDowell could return at some point this season.  Whether it’s late in the regular season or even for a bowl game, the coach at least left the door open for the senior to play again in 2017.

Obviously, any availability would be determined in the coming weeks by the program’s medical staff.

McDowell would be eligible for a medical hardship waiver if he shut it down for the remainder of the season, which would give the fourth-year senior another year of eligibility to use in 2018.  At least at this point in time, that’s not the tack that either the player or the football program is taking.

After starting four of 12 games last season, McDowell started the first three games this season prior to his injury.

 

Derrius Guice ruled out for LSU’s game vs. Syracuse

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So there you have it.

Late in the third quarter of Saturday’s 37-7 loss to Mississippi State, Derrius Guice sustained an injury to his left knee.  While Ed Orgeron downplayed the severity of the injury in the ensuing days, he allowed during his turn on the SEC coaches teleconference Wednesday that his star running back is “very questionable right now” for the Week 4 game against Syracuse.

Later that night, on the head coach’s radio show, the very questionable morphed into completely out.

Through three games, Guice leads the Tigers with 300 yards rushing and is tied for tops on the team with four rushing touchdowns. His rushing yards are currently fourth in the SEC; last season, his 1,387 yards were tops in the conference.

With Guice unable to go, Darrel Williams (28-159-4) will likely be next in line to shoulder the brunt of the running-game load.

Mason Rudolph’s younger brother sees freshman season at Clemson come to an injury end

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Mason Rudolph is looking at the rest of the season as an opportunity to continue pushing his way into the Heisman discussion and his team deeper into the College Football Playoff picture.  His younger brother, on the other hand, is looking at rehab.

Wednesday night, Clemson announced that Logan Rudolph will miss the remainder of the 2017 season because of a shoulder injury.  The defensive end sustained the injury during a Tuesday practice, and will undergo surgery at some point in the future to repair the damage.  Rudolph dealt with a shoulder issue late in his high school career, and it’s believed this is related to that.

A four-star member of the Tigers’ 2017 recruiting class, Rudolph was rated as the No. 23 weakside defensive end in the country and the No. 4 player at any position in the state of South Carolina.  After enrolling early and participating in spring practice, the true freshman played in two games as a backup behind starter Austin Bryant.  In that limited action, he was credited with three tackles and one tackle for loss.

Because of how few games he’s played, Rudolph would be eligible for a medical redshirt.  That would allow the lineman to extend his eligibility out through the 2021 season if he so desires.

Getting back to the famous name-drop in the lede, Rudolph’s older brother, of course, is the starting quarterback for No. 6 Oklahoma State.

Iowa struggling to sellout game vs. Penn State

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The Iowa Hawkeyes are about to host a top-four team at Kinnick Stadium this Saturday night, and it seems there is slightly more trouble trying to sell out the game than anticipated. According to Mark Emmert of the Des Moines Register and Iowa City Press-Citizen (and not the NCAA president by the same name), Iowa still had 4,000 tickets for this week’s game against No. 4 Penn State sitting in the box office as of earlier today.

Price concerns for the game coupled with a delay in knowing the kickoff time apparently had some influence on the unexpected ticket availability this close to the game.

Schools are becoming more and more commonly known for having higher-priced tickets for the more marquee games on their home schedule, and Iowa is no exception. Iowa has tiered ticket pricing for their home games, and Penn State being the defending conference champion with a decent traveling fanbase made this week’s matchup an ideal fit for being priced in the higher tier. Later this year, Iowa’s home game against Ohio State will also be priced at $95. $95, for some, is not worth the effort to go to a game and tailgate all day. It may be fine for a good number of fans, but it’s not for everybody.

Having to wait to know what time a game will kickoff can be a nuisance for those football fans who like to plan ahead. And while a primetime game may be great for exposure, it can be a cumbersome chore for some fans who would much rather stay home and not have to deal with a late-night drive home.

So if you are looking to get a ticket to the game this weekend in Iowa City, you may have a good chance to pick up a ticket.