The Mike Garrett era has finally come to a close.
Those loud moans and groans from Trojans fans everywhere will finally be silenced as newly-elected USC president Max Nikias announced today that Garrett will be relieved of his duties on Aug. 3 and will hire Pat Haden to take over as athletic director.
Before I get to Haden, let’s remember Garrett for all his accomplishments at USC.
He was the man responsible for raking in $375 million in his 17 years of serving as athletic director for USC. He was responsible for hiring coaches and other faculty that ultimately won dozens of championships, as well as laying the foundation for building the state-of-the-art Galen Center.
But he is also responsible for overlooking the problems and other subtleties that now have USC put on probation.
Garrett was USC’s first Heisman Trophy winner and has stated endless of times that he wanted to maintain the word "winner" linked to USC in every way since he became athletic director of USC in January 2003, but the term "winner" has been overshadowed by the term "corruption" in recent days and USC’s board of trustees, fans and alums are tired and have finally put a stamp on it.
With USC now preparing an appeal of the punishments laid down by the NCAA, Nikias decided to press the refresh button by selecting Haden to breathe fresh air into the embattled athletic department.
Whether or not the whispers were true that he apparently asked several members of the Board of Trustees whom they believe could handle the AD job, Nikias’ agenda now seems clear in that he wanted to have a person who could effectively dig USC out of its mess and prepare to take the athletic program back to where it once was.
Haden’s resume was too difficult to ignore. A Rhodes Scholar and two-time Academic All-American in football during his years at USC, he is the light at the end of USC’s dark tunnel.
It’s no secret that USC’s Board of Trustees wanted to end the Mike Garrett era after Pete Carroll left USC. After all, it was Haden, who has been a member of the university Board of Trustees since 1991, who wanted Lane Kiffin to coach the football program.
Garrett was rumored to have wanted to search elsewhere to find a new head coach to replace Carroll, even linked to Oregon State’s Mike Riley. Riley put those rumors to rest and signed an extension with Oregon State, which will enable him to coach there for the rest of his career.
It looks like Garrett wanted to please the Board, but the Board was not pleased with Garrett, who has overseen a football program facing its darkest years in quite some time. With the removal of Garrett, the reign of seeing seemingly no end to the downfall of USC has now come to an end.