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.

Charles Woodson: Michigan isn’t putting emphasis on Ohio State game like they should

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Since retiring from the NFL, Charles Woodson has become increasingly vocal about his alma mater. Not only has the Michigan alum shouted out his love for the Wolverines, he’s also not shy in calling out the team after a few years of sub-par results — particularly when it comes to the game against their heated rival Ohio State.

You can add another chapter for Woodson in that matter over the weekend as the Heisman Trophy winner did not mince words in calling out how ‘The Game’ is being treated by some in Ann Arbor.

“You know what, to be quite honest, I really feel like in recent years there hasn’t been the emphasis I’m used to being put on that game,” Woodson told the Detroit Free Press on Saturday. “Every game has been put on the same level as that game. That’s not the way we were brought up. Not the way we were raised around here.

“We had no shame in saying (we were going to beat Ohio State). And every time I watch our teams in recent years, it’s ‘oh, it’s another game.’ It’s not.”

Woodson has already guaranteed a victory over the Buckeyes this spring at a commencement speech he gave to UM graduates and has been vocal about the program getting back to the position he had it in back in the late 1990’s when they were winning titles and — most importantly — beating Ohio State. The Wolverines have never beaten Urban Meyer since he arrived in Columbus and have just two wins in the series in the past 15 tries. Jim Harbaugh, who is certainly familiar with beating OSU as a player, is 0-3 against the Buckeyes as head coach.

It goes without saying that the team is very much aware of the current six-game losing streak they have against their chief rival and, given everything that has gone on this offseason, could be in their best position in years to get a win when the two meet in Columbus this November. However, Woodson might be getting a text message or phone call from Harbaugh to tone down the rhetoric just a tad given that he’s writing a check the players will have to cash.

Certainly everybody in Ann Arbor knows how big ‘The Game’ is to the school and will be emphasizing a win this year more than ever even without the extra push from one of the all-time greats in maize and blue.

WATCH: Paralyzed Georgetown football player walks across the stage at graduation

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You probably have never heard of TY Williams the football player but what the former Georgetown linebacker did this weekend at the school will surely bring a tear to your eyes.

Williams injured his spinal cord in a game back in September 2015 and suffered a fractured vertebra that left him partially paralyzed. Despite that, he followed up years of rehab on the injury to walk across the stage at the Hoyas’ graduation ceremony on Saturday to receive his degree from the university.

Boy, it sure is a little dusty up in here after watching that. Congrats to Williams and his family on an incredible achievement.

Ohio State led nation for total fan attendance in 2017, Michigan tops in average attendance at home

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In some not exactly breaking news, there are a lot of Ohio State fans out there. Not to be left out, their rivals to the North have quite a few people following the team in maize and blue too.

The National Football Foundation released an interesting set of facts and figures last week that was designed to call attention to just how popular the sport of college football is across the country. The whole list is worth a look if you’re interested in all the little details about the 2017 season but a few of the big highlights are:

  • Ohio State led the nation for total fan attendance, attracting 1,254,160 spectators to all of their games in 2017, including home, away, neutral and postseason tilts. Eleven other teams eclipsed the million mark in 2017: Georgia (1,246,201), Alabama (1,228,376), Auburn, Penn State, Michigan, LSU, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Clemson and Texas.
  • Michigan led all FBS schools again with an average attendance of 111,589 fans per home game in 2017. Three other schools also averaged more than 100,000 fans per game: Ohio State (107,495), Penn State (106,707) and Alabama (101,722). The Wolverines have led the nation in home attendance for 41 of the past 43 seasons.
  • The SEC led all FBS conferences in attendance for the 20th straight year, averaging 75,074 fans per game or a total of 7,357,228 in 2017, followed by the Big Ten (66,227), Big 12 (56,852), Pac-12 (49,601) and the ACC (48,442).
  • The overall attendance for NCAA football games across all divisions (FBS, FCS, Division II and Division III) drew 47,622,196 fans at home games, neutral-site games and postseason games in 2017. The number represents a 3.3 percent drop from the 2016 season.

There’s a bunch more in there from the NFF on everything from TV ratings to fan interest and a bunch of other nuggets. Needless to say, college football is pretty popular around the country and we at CFTalk certainly wouldn’t have it any other way.

Andrew Ward becomes latest Nebraska player to announce plans to transfer

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Everybody figured that Scott Frost’s arrival with a new way of doing things in Lincoln would prompt a few transfers out of the program but the latest name to leave Nebraska is on the defensive side of the ball as linebacker Andrew Ward became the latest name to announce a transfer after just a year with the Cornhuskers.

As Ward mentions in his post, he was originally recruited to the school by the prior coaching staff under Mike Riley. He redshirted as a freshman in 2017 and seemed to fall down the pecking order at his position during spring practice. Originally from Michigan, the linebacker was rated as a three-star coming out of high school according to 247Sports and held offers from Penn State and Virginia Tech among others.

Ward adds to the growing list of roster turnover this offseason for the Cornhuskers. Also on Saturday it was confirmed that center Michael Decker was retiring from football, while wideout Kenyan Williams, fullback Ben Miles, quarterback Patrick O’Brien, and receiver Zack Darlington all announced intentions to leave the program.