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


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.

Jimbo Fisher: I’m staying right here at Florida State

Jimbo Fisher
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The whole LSU thing never panned out, but Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher is going on the record to shut down any potential coaching rumors tying him to other job openings still left to fill.

“You’re exactly right,” Fisher said Tuesday to Mike Bianchi during a radio interview. “I’m staying right here at Florida State.”

Fisher went on to acknowledge there are some good jobs on the open market for coaching candidates, but said his job is a pretty good one as well. He’s not wrong.

“There is no doubt I do (have one of the best jobs in America),” Fisher said. “This is a tremendous place. The Florida State people have been wonderful. This is a great place to live, a great place to coach; we’ve got great players, great tradition and great history. This is a tremendous job and a heckuva place. I love it here.”

It should be noted Fisher is already one of the highest-paid coaches in college football. The USA Today database of coaching salaries for 2015 listed Fisher as the fifth highest-paid coach in the country behind Nick Saban, Jim Harbaugh, Urban Meyer and Bob Stoops. All of those coaches, besides Harbaugh, have won at least one national championship. Florida State is also situated well for years of success with solid recruiting and will for be one of the top programs in the ACC far more often than not. So yes, Fisher does have a good job right now in Tallahassee.

College Football Playoff: What happens if Clemson or Alabama lose?

Ezekiel Elliott

Coming into championship week in college football this week it appears the four-team College Football Playoff is nearly set. Oklahoma, 11-1 and champion of the Big 12, appears to be locked into one of the four available playoff spots with no more games to play. The winner of the Big Ten championship game between undefeated Iowa and 11-1 Michigan State appears to be a playoff qualifier, with the Big Ten champion getting one spot. As long as top-ranked and undefeated Clemson and once-beaten Alabama come through with wins in their respective conference championship games, the field is set. Right?

But what if Clemson loses? What if Alabama loses? Who gets in then?

A Clemson loss would make for a pretty good case for North Carolina. The Tar Heels would be ACC champions with a 12-1 record, capped by the win against Clemson. A 12-1 ACC champion would seem like a very ideal playoff candidate, although aside from the hypothetical Clemson victory, what else is there to show? The ACC Coastal was a relatively weak division this year, although Pittsburgh didn’t have a terrible season and Miami somehow strung together a better season that it seemed might be possible earlier in the year. North Carolina’s biggest hurdle is having played two FCS opponents, which was a result of some scheduling obligations beyond their control forcing them to fill the schedule with an extra game against an FCS opponent. But does it really matter UNC played two FCS schools when they ripped through their division down the stretch and would have beaten Clemson?

Stanford is a rising candidate as well, despite having two losses. If the Cardinal get by USC in the Pac-12 championship game, they will have just the kind of late push needed to sneak into the argument and hope having a Pac-12 championship is what pushes them ahead in the end. A win against Notre Dame helps, but Stanford also lost twice, once to Oregon at home and once on the road at Northwestern. Oregon and Washington State aside, Stanford was fairly dominant in Pac-12 play, but two losses puts them behind the pack depending upon whom you ask.

Then there is Ohio State. The Buckeyes are defending champions, but what happened last year should have absolutely no bearing on what happens this season. The only loss suffered by the Buckeyes came two weeks ago against Michigan State, and it is fair to suggest Ohio State has not exactly been a dominant force all season long. It did, however, score better wins during the regular season than North Carolina will claim (well, besides Clemson under these scenarios), and one of those wins came on the road against one of North Carolina’s division rivals, Virginia Tech. If comparing similar opponents, Ohio State’s performance against the Hokies was also superior to the victory UNC had in Blacksburg. Advantage, Ohio State?

You can make an argument for all three options discussed above,but it is clear one of two things needs to happen to start opening the door for the Cardinal, Tar Heels or Buckeyes. Clemson or Alabama needs to lose. UNC will get a chance to do what they need to do against Clemson, but otherwise folks in Columbus and Palo Alto will be rooting hard for an SEC championship game upset by Florida. The higher-ranked team in the SEC Championship Game has won five straight times and 17 out of 23 seasons.

Senior vote to determine SEC Championship status for suspended Gators WR Demarcus Robinson

Demarcus Robinson

Just hours before kicking off against in-state rival Florida State, Florida announced wide receiver Demarcus Robinson had been suspended for the game for a violation of a unspecified team rule. Now, as the Gators prepare to take on Alabama in this week’s SEC Championship Game in Atlanta, the status of Robinson has yet to be determined. Florida head coach Jim McElwain says he will leave Robinson’s fate in the hands of his teammates, or at least the seniors.

“I’m going to visit with the seniors. They’ll determine which direction we’ll go,” McElwain said Monday, according to The Gainesville Sun.

“Look, he made a choice, OK. He made a choice,” McElwain said. “You know what, our family needs to make this decision and those guys are the leaders of our family.”

McElwain’s leaving a player’s fate up to the team is certainly not unprecedented. Les Miles of LSU was criticized at length for allowing the fate of players be handled by a team vote. There are pros and cons to allowing such decisions be handled in such a manner, and there may be no right way to go about it. On one hand, a coach allowing players to make these types of decisions may show trust in a team’s leaders, which can be good for morale and establishing trust. On the other hand, it may lead to players having their way and being disgruntled with a coach’s decision if they do not get a say. Of course, McElwian already stepped his foot down for the Florida State game.

Robinson is Florida’s second-leading receiver with 505 yards and two touchdowns this season.

UCF hires Oregon OC Scott Frost to be head coach

Chip Kelly, Scott Frost

Tuesday morning will start with one fewer coaching vacancy to fill. Multiple reports Tuesday morning say UCF will hire Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost to fill its role as head coach of the Knights.

Frost was a part of two national championship teams as a player for Nebraska under Tom Osborne. His coaching career began in 2002 with the Huskers as a graduate assistant and continued as a graduate assistant four years later at Kansas State. After two seasons as an assistant coach with Northern Iowa, Frost joined Chip Kelly’s coaching staff at Oregon as a wide receivers coach. He has worked and played for a number of football-rich minds like Bill Walsh, Osborne, Bill Parcells, Bill Bellichick, Jon Gruden and Chip Kelly. After Kelly left Oregon for the NFL in 2013, Frost was given a promotion to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach after Mark Helfrich received a promotion to head coach in Eugene. This will be Frost’s first job as a head coach, but he has been a rising name among coordinators and it was only a matter of time before he landed a head coaching job.

Frost will be taking over a UCF program coming off a season with a record of 0-12, but the potential for a quick rebuild is in place with the kind of talent pool UCF can tap into in the state of Florida. Remember, UCF won a Fiesta Bowl just two seasons ago, which is evidence you can win meaningful games with the program. With Frost bringing Oregon’s offensive flair into the state of Florida, UCF could become dangerous quite quickly, and that could easily lead to UCF being a top contender in the Group of Five, if not just the American Athletic Conference.

That Orlando bar may not have to be giving away too many more free beers in 2016, although here’s hoping they come up with a nice little advertising campaign for some Frosty beverages.

UPDATE (9:34 a.m.): UCF has made the official announcement to introduce Frost as its new head coach.