Pat Haden will replace Mike Garrett as the new athletic director at USC. On the surface, Haden sounds like a terrific hire.
A former USC quarterback, Haden graduated Magna Cum Laude, was a Rhodes Scholar, and has a law degree from Loyola. Better known for his broadcasting work on NBC (which includes Notre Dame football), Haden is also a partner in the private equity firm Riordan, Lewis, and Haden.
I have written multiple times that Mike Garrett needed to go, and his "retirement" is a long-time coming, particularly in light of the recent NCAA sanctions. But while Haden sounds like a great hire on paper, it's prudent to ask if he's the right hire.
Personally, I felt like USC needed someone who was an established athletic director at another school and had longstanding relationships within the NCAA. The new USC AD will ultimately have to repair USC's image and standing with the NCAA. UCLA's athletic director Dan Guerrero sits on numerous NCAA committees (including the basketball tournament selection committee), and has plenty of buddies within the organization of college athletics. Conversely, Garrett seldom involved himself with the NCAA bureaucracy, and ingratiated himself to few people within the system, despite being at USC for nearly 20 years. In hindsight, USC's sanctions shouldn't have been a surprise given how few friends Garrett had.
This is not to say that Haden can't build some of these important relationships. He's incredibly well-liked and has an affable and comfortable personality that comes through when he broadcasts games. He also has the intelligence and business savvy to handle a complicated operation like the USC athletic department. But Haden will have to learn the NCAA rule book, and he'll need to learn sports besides football in order to be successful. Haden wasn't the first name I thought of when I considered new athletic directors, but I do think he has the ability to put USC on the right track.