Lane Kiffin’s suspension of freshman running back Dillon Baxter for violating team rules has gained the admiration of his boss, Athletic Director Pat Haden. Considering Kiffin’s past of generally not following the rules combined with USC’s tumultuous summer, getting off on the right foot under the new administration has been important.
Haden takes over at USC with a no-nonsense mentality. The first order of business was to strip USC of everything Reggie Bush. Jerseys, Heismans, bobble heads and more. Gone.
So when Baxter’s summer started going “up in smoke” the pressure was on to make a statement early.
“Dillon’s a high-profile athlete, like we’ve had some other ones around here, and he wasn’t doing things he was supposed to be doing,” said Haden. Baxter will continue to practice with the team, even though he is suspended for the first game of 2010 against Hawaii.
Kiffin and USC needed to show they have turned a corner in their less than reputable past. In Kiffin’s case, however, that past might come back to haunt him. The NCAA is expected to make a trip out west to talk with the former Vols coach about potential recruiting violations while at Tennessee.
“It’s not good for the image, there’s no doubt about it, but we don’t know what’s going to come out of that,” Haden said in regards to a potential upcoming visit. “But these things seem to dog Lane, which is unfortunate because I do know that he’s gotten my message and I know he’s trying to do things right.”