USC Now mailbag: You sure are fired up about Pat Haden

USC Coach Steve Sarkisian jumps in celebration next to Athletic Director Pat Haden after the Trojans beat Stanford on Sept. 6 in Palo Alto.
(Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)

Welcome back to the USC Now mailbag!

Do you know what’s great about email?

Reading more than 140 characters. Who needs Twitter for questions when we have the good ol’ fashioned way.

You wrote in. Here are this week’s responses.


Jim Parsons asks: I have often wondered why Snoop Dogg is allowed to sit on the sidelines with the USC football team. As far as I know he did not attend USC nor any college for that matter. Could it be due to his expertise in grass?

Lindsey Thiry: Ha! I see what you did there, Jim. That was clever.

As for Snoop Dogg on the USC sidelines -- that’s a thing of the past.

Remember the 2005 season under Coach Pete Carroll? The sideline was the hottest celebrity ticket in town.

That ended with the sanctions.

But here’s a new Snoop connection: Did you know that USC offered Snoop Dogg’s son, Cordell Broadus, a scholarship? He’s a highly sought after receiver in the 2015 recruiting class.

Michael Grant asks: What type of stamina workouts do they do [now with up-tempo offense]? Do they run more laps now and does this take more time for practice?

Lindsey: No laps at practice for this team.

They practice so fast during live periods that they get a conditioning workout while they’re practicing. There’s no downtime between snaps or between drills. They’re hustling everywhere.

Some players do stay after to run sprints.

They also get conditioning workouts in with the strength staff in addition to practice.

Calvin Lau asks: You weren’t around when Lane Kiffin was released on the airport tarmac upon returning from a disastrous loss in Arizona (Tempe, ASU 62-41). Interim Coach O did his rah-rah stuff and engendered a lot of public support when he won games. His downfall was losing to USC’s two biggest rivals, Notre Dame (14-10) and that other school across town (35-14), despite winning all the other games. Coach O rolled into a ball when denied the HC position and left USC before the postseason win over the Fresno State Bulldogs (45-20 in the better-take-it-seriously Las Vegas Bowl --what happens in LV Bowl doesn’t stay in the LV Bowl - Haha).

My question to you is, how long will Steve Sarkisian’s honeymoon last? Pete Carroll’s first season wasn’t anything to brag about, but his next few years were dynasty-making stuff till his sudden opportunistic departure to the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. Any conjectures on your part after the Stanford game today for next week’s USC Now Mailbag.

Lindsey: Guess what, Calvin? You’re in luck.

I was around when Lane Kiffin was fired at LAX and I was offered a cookie by interim coach Ed Orgeron. Before joining the Los Angeles Times, I covered the USC beat for In case you missed my introductory post sharing my background, here it is.

As for Sarkisian’s honeymoon -- I think it lasts as long as the team keeps winning. When the first loss comes, so will the questions about Sarkisian’s scheme and game plans.

My thought here is that someone will now write in to tell me the honeymoon ended with the Josh Shaw situation, in which case I’ll just say now that I disagree.

Off the field distractions are just that, distractions. At the end of the day, all people tend to really care about are wins and losses.

Joel asks: Please cover the additional controversy that electronic communications (text) from staff members on sidelines (in any form) is also supposedly banned by NCAA rules during a game. Such in-game electronic communications would indicate that the sideline staff could gain outside help, intelligence gathering, or other advantage during a game. Was the act of a text message to Haden legal? Should that be investigated by the NCAA?

Lindsey: You must be a UCLA fan, Joel. And work for the CIA.

NCAA Rule book, section three, article 11-B states: “Only voice communication between the press box and team area is permitted. Where press-box space is not adequate, only voice communication may originate from any area in the stands between the 25-yard lines extended to the top of the stadium. No other communication for coaching purposes is permitted anywhere else.”

The text sent from a USC compliance officer on the sideline to Haden broke the rule. However, there is no punishment for the offense.

Haden was fined $25,000 by the Pac-12 Conference for his sideline conduct.

Robert Mendel writes: Almost everyone brings “biases” into the selection process as well as different opinions on criteria for evaluating teams... Second, the statement seems to imply Haden might be biased, or is it the other members? Your meaning isn’t clear.

If you meant Haden, he isn’t selecting officials. If it’s the other members, I doubt this incident means anything to them... and it probably didn’t merit a headline and a separate article... except that’s the L.A. Times for you. Biased and sensationalized at the drop of a flag.

Lindsey: And there were a lot of flags dropped in the USC-Stanford game. Eighteen of them.

We covered the Haden sideline situation because it was absolutely newsworthy.

And you’re right, Robert. Everyone does bring their own bias into any situation.

The argument most were making -- and I’m not saying I agree here -- was that Haden’s trip to the sideline spawned from an emotional decision and that he overstepped his bounds to protect his football program.

The catch here is, what boundaries did he actually overstep? He’s the USC athletic director first, College Football Playoff committee member second.

Five athletic directors are on the College Football Playoff committee.

Jeff Shinn writes: I’m a USC grad, but disagree with Mr. Haden’s actions. ADs do not belong on the sidelines. Period. Let them watch games from the stands like the little people, or their own (if at home) luxury box, or (on the road) the luxury box seats provided by the host school.

Does Mr. Haden watch all other USC sports from the sideline? How about sit next to the coaching staff? I doubt it.

Semi-related, have you seen the “sideline pollution” that exists at college football games? Hundreds of hangers on, prospective players, assistants to the assistant headset technician, etc. No wonder the NCAA had to implement a “stay back” coach to keep the hordes from encroaching on the field.

Lindsey: I’m unable to personally verify how many other sporting events Haden attends.

However, I have seen him at basketball games sitting in courtside seats and I’ve also seen him at volleyball matches. He seems to do a pretty decent job getting around to the different events.

And yes, I’ve seen the sideline pollution and have had to weed through it on multiple occasions to do my job.

Standing on the sideline is a cool experience for a lot of fans who never would have the opportunity to see a football game up close and personal.

The trick is getting those clogging the sidelines to admit after the game that they couldn’t actually see anything that happened. The view of the game down there really isn’t that great. Trust me.

Michael Taback writes: $25,000? A slap on the wrist...

Lindsey: Interesting. What do you think an appropriate fine would have been? And why?

Nick G asks: Do you think that the way Sarkisian rotates players will help alleviate depth concerns throughout the season?

Lindsey: I don’t think anything really alleviates depth concerns except for more players.

But I do think the rotation is good for multiple reasons when it comes to personnel.

Rotating players keeps them fresh, which may help cut down on injuries due to fatigue. A rotation also helps develop more players, so if a starter goes down, there’s another guy with experience who is ready to step in.

Robert Langelier writes: Just a nitpick, I know you must be aware that USC has won other national titles than 2003 and 2004.

Lindsey: Those are just the two in recent history, but yes, there are nine others. Thanks for keeping me on my toes.

Dave Burns asks: They played in the rain and hail against WSU in ’05 and routed them, why not add that?

Lindsey: I just knew someone was going to email me and mention other games USC won in the rain. Thanks for being the one to hold my hand to the fire, Dave.

The last two seasons of rain games were listed because they are the most relevant to the current roster of players.

In 2005, most of these players were somewhere between the fourth and eighth grades.

Questions about USC? Email me at or tweet @LindseyThiry and I will answer questions in a weekly USC Now mailbag.