USC’s sideline summoned to the press box for help and Trojans Athletic Director Pat Haden responded.
Haden jogged across Stanford Stadium field between the third and fourth quarters of USC’s 13-10 victory after he said he received a text message saying USC Coach Steve Sarkisian wanted to talk to him.
The Trojans had just been penalized a combined 35 yards on three consecutive plays: five yards for a delay of game, 15 when Sarkisian received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for arguing with officials, and then 15 more when linebacker Hayes Pullard was penalized for targeting and ejected from the game.
Television cameras showed Haden as he stood next to Sarkisian on the sideline, engaged in an animated conversation with officials.
At one point, a broadcaster said Sarkisian had to pull a “fired up” Haden back from the discussion.
During a rare in-game television interview, Haden told a sideline reporter that Sarkisian “felt the penalty he received was unfair.”
“The referee explained he had warned him,” Haden said. “So that’s why he got the penalty. It’s been a really frustrating quarter with penalties, believe me.”
The Trojans were penalized four times for 40 yards in the third quarter.
Asked whether he was happy with the response from the officials, Haden said: “Most athletic directors and coaches are never happy with the explanations they get, but we got an answer and we have to move on and have a good fourth quarter.”
USC finished the game with 10 penalties for 87 yards.
The decision by Haden to run to the sideline to assist his coach is now raising eyebrows -- not just because of its bizarre nature -- but because Haden is part of the 13-member College Football Playoff selection committee.
In postgame interviews, Haden said he was not arguing with officials and did not get emotional. However, television footage seems to suggest otherwise.
Through a spokeswoman, College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock declined to comment on Haden’s sideline incident because he had not had a chance to see it.
Haden is recused from voting for USC in the selection process, but his actions Saturday bring into question the biases committee members take into the selection process.
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