Mailbag: Pat Haden took matters in hand, left Lane Kiffin in a parking lot

Chris Dufresne takes time during the season to answer questions on college football. This week's topics include a cloak-of-darkness firing and cloak-of-cluelessness officiating.

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 Lane Kiffin

Lane Kiffin wasn't shown much empathy when he was fired by USC Athletic Director Pat Haden. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times / September 7, 2013)

Unbuckling the mailbag:

Question: In a parking lot? Why there? Seems a bit harsh.

Twitter: @The SaintMunich

Answer: I still can't get that puzzling piece out of my head. Why wouldn't nice-guy Pat Haden not even allow Lane Kiffin on the bus back to campus, if only to clean out his desk?

Was he afraid Kiffin would barricade himself in his office and refuse to leave?

USC campus security: Lane, put your laminated play sheet down and unlock the door. We'll count to 35, the time it took to get most of your plays into the huddle.

I bet Donald Trump wouldn't fire someone in an airport at 4 a.m.

You would think Haden would have more empathy having felt this town's wrath as quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams.

"Fans love you 30 seconds at a time," Haden said at the Kiffin-firing news conference, from a place deep in his playing-days soul.

All you have to do is Google the words "Pat Haden, Minnesota Vikings and Biblical rain" to transport you straight back to that terrible day of Dec. 26, 1977.

The Rams finally got Minnesota at home for a playoff game with the better news that quarterback Fran Tarkenton was out with an injury.

Naturally, it rained Rams and dogs that day at the Coliseum and poor Pat was intercepted three times in a 14-7 loss.

The knock on Haden was he had small hands and couldn't grip the ball in bad weather — of all the God-forsaken days for it to rain!

As a 19-year-old Rams fan at the time, I was so angered with Haden I might have fired him in the parking lot of the Coliseum.

But maybe not at 4 a.m.

Q: So now we're going to stoop to blaming Mike Garrett for Lane Kiffin's failure? Is Mike Garrett also responsible for the 10-2 season in 2011?

Tim Lawson

A: Yes, don't you remember all the "Thank You Mike Garrett" signs at the Coliseum that year?

It was AD Mike who was in charge when USC got hammered with some of the worst sanctions ever handed down by the NCAA. Even if they were too harsh, it wasn't like USC was a clean program, right?

And, of course, Garrett's answer to the NCAA was that it was "nothing but a lot of envy" and "they wish they all were Trojans."

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