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MAILBAG: Pat Haden took matters in hand, left Lane Kiffin in a parking lot

Chris Dufresne takes time during the season to answer questions on college football. This week's topics include a cloak-of-darkness firing and cloak-of-cluelessness officiating.

October 05, 2013|Chris Dufresne
  • Lane Kiffin wasn't shown much empathy when he was fired by USC Athletic Director Pat Haden.
Lane Kiffin wasn't shown much empathy when he was fired by USC Athletic… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

Unbuckling the mailbag:

Question: In a parking lot? Why there? Seems a bit harsh.

Twitter: @The SaintMunich

Answer: I still can't get that puzzling piece out of my head. Why wouldn't nice-guy Pat Haden not even allow Lane Kiffin on the bus back to campus, if only to clean out his desk?

Was he afraid Kiffin would barricade himself in his office and refuse to leave?

USC campus security: Lane, put your laminated play sheet down and unlock the door. We'll count to 35, the time it took to get most of your plays into the huddle.

I bet Donald Trump wouldn't fire someone in an airport at 4 a.m.

You would think Haden would have more empathy having felt this town's wrath as quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams.

"Fans love you 30 seconds at a time," Haden said at the Kiffin-firing news conference, from a place deep in his playing-days soul.

All you have to do is Google the words "Pat Haden, Minnesota Vikings and Biblical rain" to transport you straight back to that terrible day of Dec. 26, 1977.

The Rams finally got Minnesota at home for a playoff game with the better news that quarterback Fran Tarkenton was out with an injury.

Naturally, it rained Rams and dogs that day at the Coliseum and poor Pat was intercepted three times in a 14-7 loss.

The knock on Haden was he had small hands and couldn't grip the ball in bad weather — of all the God-forsaken days for it to rain!

As a 19-year-old Rams fan at the time, I was so angered with Haden I might have fired him in the parking lot of the Coliseum.

But maybe not at 4 a.m.

Q: So now we're going to stoop to blaming Mike Garrett for Lane Kiffin's failure? Is Mike Garrett also responsible for the 10-2 season in 2011?

Tim Lawson

A: Yes, don't you remember all the "Thank You Mike Garrett" signs at the Coliseum that year?

It was AD Mike who was in charge when USC got hammered with some of the worst sanctions ever handed down by the NCAA. Even if they were too harsh, it wasn't like USC was a clean program, right?

And, of course, Garrett's answer to the NCAA was that it was "nothing but a lot of envy" and "they wish they all were Trojans."

Q: Who is next on the L.A. Times hit list?

K. Foulds

San Dimas

A: We don't have a hit list, but all the top writers are on pitch counts.

Q: If Pat Haden doesn't grab Chris Petersen at Boise State he is insane

Jack Buss


A: Haden wouldn't be the first AD that Chris Petersen has driven insane. Petersen has an uncanny knack of turning down every job someone else thinks he should take. He seems habitually happy at Boise State, but no one ever believes it.

Every school thinks it will be the one that changes Petersen's mind and every one so far has been wrong.

UCLA made a run even though veteran "Coach Pete" watchers knew the Bruins never stood a chance.

Will this year be different? I doubt it, unless this two-loss-already Boise State season turns ugly and Petersen thinks this is the time to get out.

Then again, would any big-time school want him coming off a bad year?

It's not just any year when Cadillac jobs USC and Texas might be open at the same time. Both schools will probably feel it necessary to at least ask Petersen.

And he'll probably say no.

Q: So which big gun do you think it will be?

Twitter: @Jiveassrevo

A: If we've learned anything in this town it's that our locals think the job of head football coach is more important to outsiders than it actually is.

And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

In 2001, remember, USC was turned down by Mike Riley, Dennis Erickson and Mike Bellotti before turning to Pete Carroll, which turned out pretty well.

UCLA thought the disciples of Vince Lombardi and Knute Rockne would storm down the door to replace Bob Toledo, Karl Dorrell and Rick Neuheisel.

Most of the big names said no, but UCLA ended up this time with Jim Mora, who has a chance to be Carroll-like special.

I do think the next USC coach is getting this job at the perfect time. Look at what happened at Ohio State. Urban Meyer stood patiently on the sideline for a year as the Buckeyes suffered through the pain of an NCAA inquiry.

Meyer jumped on board at a low, knowing Ohio State had only one direction to go — up. Meyer's next loss at Ohio State will be his first. He's 17-0 headed into Saturday's big game at Northwestern.

Q: I want to compliment you on an outstanding, informative and well written article. I am impressed with your special attention-grabbing writing skills. I'm really unsure if writing is a skill or an art, but whatever it is, you have it. Good job

Gerald Browning

Corryton, Tenn.

A: That's the nicest thing anyone from SEC country has ever said to me.

Most of the letters I receive from the South are written in crayon and have drool on them.

Q: When Alabama beats Texas A&M, 49-42, or Georgia beats Louisiana State, 44-41, ESPN and CBS broadcasters praise the SEC games as instant classics. But when Boise State and other Mountain West teams have similar high-scoring games, the same announcers declare that the MW can't play defense. Isn't that a double standard?

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