Any Given Saturday Week 3: Welcome To The Playa Haden’s Club

Welcome to the Playa Haden’s Club. USC athletic director Pat Haden will join us shortly. He’s currently watching tape of Penn State’s win over Akron inside of his study.

(muffled indiscriminate swearing)

As you know, Haden is USC’s cantankerous athletic director. He’s also a bit of a rabble-rouser, earning a $25,000 fine for running from the stands and onto USC’s sidelines before jarring back and forth with Pac-12 officials.

In the resignation culture we live in nowadays, the fate of Haden’s job is the topic of conversation these days. Not his day job. That incident only further ingratiated himself with the USC faithful.

However, is night job as a member of the distinguished college football playoff committee was the topic of conversation heading into the week.

Some believed he’d violated an unwritten decorum by stepping out of the shadows to lobby officials on the sidelines.

If it weren’t for the NFL, Bruce Levenson, Danny Ferry and ISIS, Keith Olbermann would have been calling for his resignation and not Roger Goodell’s. Whew! Talk about a volatile news cycle.

USC has had quite an interesting week. Not only has he been characterized as a volatile character incapable of impartiality, but Steve Sarkisian’s been ridiculed for having someone text his football program’s helicopter dad to throw some weight around and get officials to make a few calls in his favor.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the LA Times’ Inside USC writer Scott Wolf painted himself as the ultimate homer by moving USC up into his top-10 while voting Oregon No. 6 and Notre Dame No. 18 in his AP voting ballot.

In the wake of Josh Shaw’s deception, the Trojans have been getting ripped to shreds in the media wood chipper.

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Haden appears resolute in maintaining his position on the college football playoff committee.

All of this obscures the pleasant surprised that USC’s football team has been in its first season of the Sarkisian era.

Without Haden on the board, USC would be absent on the playoff committee, while Stanford, the team USC upset on Saturday, would have a pair of alumnis representing them. 

Haden isn’t going anywhere, but he’s not the member of the committee we should be waiting for a resignation from.

Condoleeza Rice’s inclusion on the playoff committee was not welcomed by some, but her outsider status may be what helps vault her toward what she once called her dream job as NFL commissioner.



Todd Gurley – You cannot lose your spot atop the Heisman list due to inactivity. It is not only an unwritten rule, but it is unconstitutional. That makes about as much sense as Gurley’s trampling of the Clemson defense and yet it’s real and it’s spectacular.

Marcus Mariota – The Heisman norm is for an above average quarterback on a top-3 national title contender to be the favorite. However, this is the year of the running back and Gurley is their appointed leader. Bow before him.

Danny Shelton – The Heisman has been fat-shaming for far too long. Rotund run-stuffing, two-gap lineman need Heisman love too. I’ve self-appointed myself as the guardian of all things defensive. Shelton replaces Eric Kendricks as our defensive Heisman finalist representative.

The Washington defensive tackle is a 339-pounder who devours quarterbacks like burgers at a weekend BBQ, leads the nation in sacks, tackles for losses. On top of those pass rushing statistics, he’s also leading Washington in tackles with 24. Unfortunately, his paucity of defensive touchdowns and highlight reel fat guy touchdowns will ultimately hinder his campaign. That and the fact that Hau'oli Kikaha, not Shelton, is the top NFL prospect among Washington’s interior linemen.

Jameis Winston – The reigning Heisman incumbent is still alive and kicking after a modest performance against The Citadel. However, like Manziel, Tebow and President Obama, he’s discovered things change when you go from campaigning to actually being the don.

Everett Golson – Penn State’s back in bowl contention and the reigning Heisman trophy winner is under investigation again, this time by his own school for his role in an alleged sexual assault last year. The nation needs a feel good story. Golson’s strong start after being dismissed from the university is a great redemption story for a student-athlete made a forgivable mistake. He has yet to face off with a great pass defense, but he’ll have his chance to bolster those credentials against Stanford and Florida State next month.


We Are Pennalty State

Last Saturday, Pat Haden somehow became the most controversial man in college football. When I first received the news that Pennalty State would be getting off on good behavior, my first thought was jubilation—for James Franklin. He’s a great coach.

Three year ago, Penn State’s football program was the target of national vitriol, unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

The sacrosanct handling of Penn State football during the Paterno era was obvious as his energy faded while his autonomy grew. Emmert’s sanctions were a direct response to ther pervasive culture that had seeped into the culture of college football.

Mark Emmert is smoother than I thought. Hiding this news behind the ongoing NFL maelstrom was a masterstroke. All this time, I thought he was Newt Gingrich’s unscrupulous twin. Turns out he’s Keyser, freakin’ Soze.

The reasoning for the NCAA’s lead-handed punishment was to deemphasize the holy treatment of football figures on college campuses, which contributed to the cover-up of Sandusky on Penn State’s campus.

To then repeal that punishment under the guise of the NCAA dealing with its own cover-up took some cajones.

For the past two years, Penn State has been attempting relentlessly to wriggle out from underneath its NCAA-imposed financial and football sanctions. They never really got the point.

Meanwhile, USC has sat by and has been absolutely gutted by sanctions to its football department. Instead of going kicking and screaming, the Trojans accepted their punishment and Haden was brought in to put a new face on the program.

The appeasement of Penn State was an unfortunate development because Happy Valley still hasn’t learned its lesson or gotten any more introspective after nearly three seasons in solitary confinement.

Can you imagine the reaction if Notre Dame had re-admitted Everett Golson midway through the 2012 season?

Across the professional divide, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s inconsistent, arbitrary personal conduct penalties have finally come back to bite him in the ass. Emmert's enforcement appears to be just as haphazard.

The same individuals in Pennsylvania, who believe Goodell indirectly enabled the apathetic sentiment towards domestic violence are among those who still deify Paterno and vilified Haden.

Why USC hasn’t been given a break while Penn State’s getting an early release is beyond me. For about a month, after Ray Rice received a two-game suspension for domestic violence, his lenient penance was juxtaposed beside Josh Gordon’s season-long trip to the gallows for an ambiguous positive drug test. The NFL has since amended its mistake.

The NCAA went the other way by loosening up its rigid punishment, slapping a Band-Aid on Penn State and sending them on their way.

Good to know that college football still has its priorities in order.