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Pat Haden: Kiffin ‘battled’ to keep his job

Pat Haden AP

USC athletic director Pat Haden spoke to the media on Sunday morning, just hours after he made the decision to terminate Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin.

Haden was generally conciliatory when referring to his former coach, noting that he fought for his job until the very end.

“I want to thank Lane and his family for all he has done for USC,” Haden said. “He did a lot of things well under very difficult circumstances.

“Lane was clearly disappointed by my decision. He’s a great recruiter and he battled me and really tried to keep his job. I respect him for that. I’d respect him less if he didn’t.”

Haden went over the timeline for his decision, noting that it had been brewing for a while.

“I think it can be easily asked why not last year after going 7-6?” Haden said. “The rational was: The prior year Lane had won 10 games and we hoped last year was an aberration and that we would rebound after making some changes.”

But after a 3-2 start this year against the weakest portion of the schedule, including two losses to start Pac-12 play, the course became clear for Haden.

“At end of day it became a gut feeling that we weren’t making the progress that we needed to make,” he said.  “There were inconsistencies that we found in our team.”

Haden made his final decision to fire Kiffin during USC’s 62-41 loss to Arizona State on Saturday night. He told Kiffin before they boarded the team plane at 1 a.m. Sunday that he wanted to speak to him when they arrived back in Los Angeles. They met for 45 minutes in a private room at the Los Angeles airport and, by 3:45 a.m., the Kiffin era at USC was officially over.

“This has been a hard day for all of us inside USC athletics,” said Haden.  “For me this is not the most fun part of the job, but it is part of the job. The decision I have made is, I believe, best for USC.”

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23 Responses to “Pat Haden: Kiffin ‘battled’ to keep his job”
  1. Deb says: Sep 29, 2013 5:59 PM

    Many probably disagree, but I really like Pat Haden. Would love to see him rebuild that program.

  2. manik56 says: Sep 29, 2013 6:07 PM

    Pat Haden has as much class as Lane Kiffin.

  3. duckman62 says: Sep 29, 2013 6:34 PM

    USC can keep Pat Haden all to themselves. It is the best thing they can do for the rest of the PAC 12!

    Hopefully we will never see Lame Kitten in the PAC 12 again!! One can only hope (but not hold ones breath) that Lame Kitten will never be seen in NCAA football again! He is almost as bad as Rick New Weasel!

  4. timh1955 says: Sep 29, 2013 6:36 PM

    Now who is going to fire Haden?

  5. dkhhuey says: Sep 29, 2013 7:03 PM

    HAHAHA!!! I love the person firing somebody’s statement ‘we thank him for everything he has done here at *fill in the name here*’ Bullsh!t – you fired him because he sucked and hence, didn’t do anything worth keeping him around for!

  6. Deb says: Sep 29, 2013 7:04 PM

    manik56 says:

    Pat Haden has as much class as Lane Kiffin.
    And you’re basing that comment on what?

  7. Anoesis says: Sep 29, 2013 7:32 PM

    Haden is a well-educated overachiever who managed to last several years in the NFL at QB despite being only 5’10”. He’s a breath of fresh air in the wake of Mike Garrett (who got butt lucky when he hired Pete Carroll) and has already revived the basketball program.

    Co-CIF Southern Section High School Player of the Year at Bishop Amat in La Puente, member of the National High School Hall of Fame; three Rose Bowl appearances and two national championships at USC, co-MVP in the ’75 Rose Bowl, Today’s Top V Award in ’75, GTE Academic All-American Hall of Fame in 1988, inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1995, Rhodes scholar.

    Haden’s lack of height and small hands kept him from being a star in the NFL, but he still managed to lead the L.A. Rams to several winning seasons, a couple of NFC championship games, and was voted the Washington D.C. Touchdown Club NFC Player of the Year of the 1978 season. After the ’81 season he went into broadcasting.

    Haden has been a successful businessman, has served on numerous nonprofit boards and was awarded the Ambassador Award of Excellence by the LA Sports & Entertainment Commission in 2003 for his community involvement.

    Yeah, a real liability to any organization. I can see why some of you dislike him. I don’t usually agree with Deb, but she’s right and some of you look like ignorant idiots.

  8. scbaby2013 says: Sep 29, 2013 8:06 PM

    Fight on Haden!!!

  9. johnstone17 says: Sep 29, 2013 8:33 PM

    The folks in Vols nation are smiling today!!!!!!!

  10. thesmedman says: Sep 29, 2013 8:45 PM

    Dear Pat,

    Chip Kelly on line one.

  11. jimbo75025 says: Sep 29, 2013 8:59 PM

    thesmedman says:Sep 29, 2013 8:45 PM

    Dear Pat,

    Chip Kelly on line one.
    Chipper has a show cause penalty until January 2015 or so.

  12. queenlivekillers says: Sep 29, 2013 9:21 PM

    I can understand why Haden would feel that he needed to make a change, but it couldn’t wait until dawn? Come on, man. I think that is where people have an issue with Haden, the timing stinks.

  13. Deb says: Sep 29, 2013 10:32 PM

    @Anoesis …

    Thanks for posting that background info on Haden. He’s a smart guy, has a fine reputation, and quarterbacked the Trojans during one of the brightest periods in the team’s great football history. He loves the program, and will do his best to see USC back on top.

  14. Anoesis says: Sep 30, 2013 1:37 AM


    Those in the know actually DO have an issue about the timing of Kiffin’s firing: We think Haden waited much too long. But I give Haden credit in that he stuck with Kiffin, despite not having hired him, until it was obvious even to the most staunch Kiffin defender that it simply wasn’t going to work out.

  15. dhardy8207 says: Sep 30, 2013 10:16 AM

    “At end of day it became a gut feeling that we weren’t making the progress that we needed to make,” he said. ”There were inconsistencies that we found in our team.”

    Sounds like some “trust” issues going on there..

  16. waynefontes says: Sep 30, 2013 10:20 AM

    I have lots of respect for Pat Haden. A class act, who is well accomplished and well respected. A leader in the classroom and on the field, every university would be happy to have him as their AD (and I don’t even like USC).

    I’m sure that he will pick a great coach to lead the Trojans.

    As opposed to Mike Garrett, a goof who hired an epic fail for a head coach. Probably why both are unemployed today.

    Maybe they can join Tim Floyd at UTEP.

  17. harleyspoon says: Sep 30, 2013 10:58 AM

    There is a lot of vindictiveness toward coaches on these kinds of blogs…and it usually comes from fat-asses or skinny wimps who never played the game or had any close contact with it beyond pee wee football or maybe junior high except in the bleachers or on the couch watching it on a TV screen. The jug butt’s in the media too often spark the kindling and fan the fires too soon just to get attention. Many of them are bad for the game and all of sports.

    I think Kiffin needed to go but I don’t think he needed to be humiliated. He inherited a mess and was not able to overcome the crappy attitudes, the locker room lawyers and prima donna’s left behind…Haden was in a tough spot and so was Kiffin.

    It takes time to build a solid program..ask Art Briles…and Art will be the first one to tell you that he is still in and will always be in a rebuilding mode. That is the nature of college football…The Bear Bryant’s, Woody Hayes’, Bo Schembechler’s, Darrell Royal’s, Ara Parshegian’s, Bud Wilkinson’s are few and far between.

  18. teambringitstrong says: Sep 30, 2013 1:14 PM

    So, Vols Nation is happy today, huh? Yeah, that’s real classy. But let’s discuss why Vols Nation has a dog in this fight. See, you vilify Kiffin b/c he left you for USC. When in fact you need to vilify yourselves for firing Phillip Fulmer!!

  19. timh1955 says: Sep 30, 2013 1:18 PM

    @teambringitstrong – Probably one of the most ignorant comments I have ever read on this site. Congratulations!

  20. raiderbeat says: Sep 30, 2013 2:30 PM

    It is not fair! Pete got to pay way more for his players!

    The Trojans are the only thing that moves slower and smells worse than the freeway in Los Angeles.

    Good luck with Greg Robinson from the Broncos! I hope he brings Elway. ooops I mean Del Rio, I hope he brings Manning…. How did that work out for super hot defensive coordinator Greg Robinson???

  21. bender4700 says: Sep 30, 2013 3:00 PM

    Deb says: Sep 29, 2013 7:04 PM

    manik56 says:

    Pat Haden has as much class as Lane Kiffin.
    And you’re basing that comment on what?


    Pat Haden made an adamant and direct statement that Kiffin was not “on the heat seat” in July. Fires him in week 4. Plus, it wasn’t a decision he made on his own accord. Living in So Cal and being friends with a guy who golfs with big USC donors, yeah, Haden didn’t make the call on his own.

    Classy? I hope you don’t think so.

    The real story is that boosters made a phone call in the 3rd quarter, that’s when Kiffin was fired, he just didn’t know.

    Haden is a puppet. The NCAA isn’t giving USC a break because those who did the cheating are still there. Boosters.

    Penn State’s issues were with the administration, all gone. Not boosters.

    Haden has to make a good hire, his job’s in trouble already. There’s so much pressure from USC boosters, and it’s only getting hotter. USC will get caught again doing something, just too easy for the big dollar people to feel like they can’t get caught. See SMU.

  22. hatesycophants says: Sep 30, 2013 5:50 PM


    I live in South Central Wisconsin. I don’t play golf with anyone who is friends with any big donors at any University. Everyone thinks you’re a douche bag.

  23. Deb says: Sep 30, 2013 7:46 PM

    @bender4700 …

    1. Your bigtime football program goes 7-6, then you are on the hot seat. You know this. The press knows this. The fans know this. However, no one–certainly not your AD–is going to announce this publicly. The public line is “Our coach is not on the hot seat.”

    2. All ADs get constant pressure from major boosters. The bigger the program, the more pressure is applied. The work of all ADs involves a certain amount of puppetry. Knowing how to navigate those political waters doesn’t make a man classless.

    3. Whether or not Haden made the call to fire Kiffen on his own, in concert with others (as is usually the case in these matters), or whether his own job is on the line has nothing to do with his personal character.

    I don’t golf but spent a few years in corporate communications. These are business realities.

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