Open Letter to Pat Haden, Athletic Director, University of Southern California
Like many other members of the Trojan Nation, I have been concerned about the football program. It now seems to be on shaky ground, and that is regrettable, since USC's growth was based at least partially on it's football dynasty. UCLA had John Wooden, so there was not much hope for us in basketball. The Trojans did have a baseball dynasty, but that may have been before your time. They do have a baseball field named after the coach of those teams, although I am not sure if anyone still uses it.
Let me take a moment to ask you to consider what they do up in Stanford. This is a school with much higher athletic standards than USC, and they are located far off the beaten path. So, you have a much larger pool of athletes available to you. Yet, even with your advantages, their football team is much more successful than yours. Does that seem strange to you?
Also, Stanford has employed three African-American head football coaches. They were Dennis Green, Tyrone Willingham, and David Shaw. As you know, Shaw is still the head coach and he has been beating the Trojans with great regularity. Green and Willingham enjoyed great success during their coaching careers at the Farm.
Currently, USC has this strange and tenuous relationship with Lane Kiffin, their current head football coach. Last year, he and the other coaches felt that he had the most talented team in the nation, and they voted that way. Kiffin also voted that USC had the best team, although he tried to keep it a secret, and was unable to do so. The team had a horrible year, and allowed the University of Oregon to set a record for the most points scored against the Trojans. Then they went to El Paso to play in the Nothing Bowl, and they lost that, too.
This year, your head coach could not decide who his starting quarterback would be. It seems to me that every other football coach in the world, from Little League through the NFL, routinely picks one person to be the starter. Everyone, that is, except your head football coach. He dillydallies around that decision, and ultimately lost a game to lowly Washington State. Then, somewhat chastened, he selected Cody Kessler, who then led the team to a victory over Boston University. Do you wonder if the outcome against Washington State would have been different, if he had made that decision a week earlier?
There are at least two outstanding African-American head coaches in the college ranks today. There probably some more, but I call your attention to Charlie Strong as Louisville, and Kevin Sumlin, at Texas A & M. They are both outstanding coaches and their teams are ranked among the Top 25 in the Nation. I do not know if they are available, but it certainly would not hurt to check on them.
The PAC-12 Conference is a lot more competitive than it used to be. As painful as it must be for you, the current football program at USC is in disarray. You need a professional, organized, head coach who knows how to build and sustain a winning program. He also needs to be a person who is comfortable with that responsibility. Trojans all over the world are hopeful that you will find and hire that person.
By the way, I do want to congratulate you on your choices for the head coaches of the men's and women's basketball teams. Unlike the days when you and I were students, these teams have wonderful training facilities, and they can play their games in a beautiful arena. So, that part of your problem seems to have been solved. Now you can concentrate on broadcasting and football.
Respectfully, John Randolph Rogers