The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

USC’s Pat Haden Fined $25,000 For ‘Inappropriate’ Sideline Conduct

By Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times

USC Athletic Director Pat Haden and Coach Steve Sarkisian were reprimanded and Haden was fined $25,000 by the Pac-12 Conference for “inappropriate sideline conduct” during the Trojans’ 13-10 victory over Stanford on Saturday, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott announced Monday.
Sarkisian summoned Haden to the sideline late in the third quarter after the coach was called for an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty. Haden, a member of the College Football Playoff selection committee, interacted with officials.
Haden’s actions sparked controversy and calls for him to be removed from the committee.
“The conduct by USC Athletics Director Pat Haden was inappropriate,” Scott said in a statement. “Such actions by an administrator in attempt to influence the officiating, and ultimately the outcome of a contest, will not be tolerated.”
Haden issued an apology to Scott, game officials, Stanford and fans Sunday night “for any distraction I might have caused.” He also said he would stay off the sidelines for two games.
“The conduct by both Sarkisian and Haden were in clear violation of our conference’s standards of conduct policy,” Scott said. “We appreciate the public apology and recognition of the errors in judgment, as well as Pat Haden’s self-imposed two-game sideline ban. We took this into consideration as we determined the discipline. Nonetheless, the actions fell short of our expectation of our head coaches and athletics directors as role models for our student-athletes and important leaders of our institutions.”

Photo via Wikicommons

Interested in more sports and national news? Sign up for our daily email newsletter!

Freshmen Make Former USC Stars Take Notice With Their Play In Opener

By Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — Their stellar USC careers spanned different eras during the last two decades.

Receiver Keyshawn Johnson dominated games in the mid-1990s. Quarterback Matt Leinart won a Heisman Trophy in the mid-2000s. And receiver Robert Woods played the last of three record-setting seasons in 2012.

The former All-Americans watched USC’s season-opening victory over Fresno State and were struck by the same thing: A seemingly unending parade of freshmen making dazzling plays for the Trojans.

“Definitely something to be excited about,” said Johnson, who watched from a suite on the Coliseum field.

“They looked the part,” said Leinart, who monitored the game in a San Francisco television studio.

“Very, very impressed,” said Woods, who watched from his home near Buffalo, New York.

Receivers JuJu Smith and Adoree’ Jackson, tight end Bryce Dixon, and offensive linemen Toa Lobendahn, Damien Mama and Viane Talamaivao were among 11 freshmen who contributed in the Trojans’ 52-13 victory.

Smith sped and powered his way to 123 yards receiving, the most ever in a debut by a USC true freshman.

Jackson caught a touchdown pass and also played cornerback and returned a punt.

Dixon caught a touchdown pass, and the young linemen helped protect quarterback Cody Kessler from being sacked.

It was a stirring first game for a freshman class hailed among college football’s best on national signing day last February.

“I feel like everybody hyped us up,” Jackson said, “and we had to live up to it.”

Jackson is the USC first player since Chad Morton in 1996 and 1997 to play a significant amount of plays on offense and defense.

After the Fresno State game, and again this week after reviewing it, Jackson graded his performance a C.

Johnson, Leinart, and Woods gave the freshmen collectively higher marks.

“It didn’t seem like it was too big for them, which is a great sign,” said Leinart, who is a college football analyst.

Johnson, the No. 1 pick in the 1996 NFL draft, said he was surprised by Smith’s size and speed.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Smith turned several short receptions into long gains.

“His size is going to allow him to be explosive, break tackles, and gain yardage after catches,” Johnson said. “People are going to be afraid to hit him.”

Smith and Jackson also impressed former Trojans coach John Robinson, who said he watched part of the game from the sideline.

“They looked as natural as hell,” he said. “I don’t remember thinking, ‘These guys are freshmen?'”

With the opener behind, the freshmen will face a new challenge Saturday in a Pac-12 Conference opener at Stanford.

Woods, a second-year receiver for the Buffalo Bills, said there was a marked difference between playing at the Coliseum before 80,000 cheering fans and playing on the road at Stanford, where USC has not won since 2008.

The Cardinal program, Woods noted, develops smart teams not prone to making errors.

“You have to be on your game,” he said. “You can’t have any freshman mistakes. You have to play more mature than a freshman.”

USC’s freshmen accomplished the feat last week, and USC Coach Steve Sarkisian expects they will again.

“I didn’t think the moment was too big for them to play in the Coliseum,” he said, “and I don’t anticipate it will be that way Saturday.

“But if it is, we have to do a good job of recognizing it as a coaching staff and help continue to motivate those guys to get back into the right frame of mind so that they can compete at a high level. Because it’s really clear we’re a better football team when those guys are playing at a high level.”

Photo: Bobak Ha’Eri via WikiCommons

Interested in sports news? Sign up for our daily email newsletter!