USC’s Sarkisian regrets calling AD to sideline

There are plenty who wish USC athletic director Pat Haden wouldn’t have come down from the press box during the second half of USC’s 13-10 win at Stanford on Saturday. 

USC head coach Steve Sarkisian is one of them.

"It was just a spur of the moment, gut feeling," Sarkisian admitted during a Sunday evening teleconference. "Quite honestly looking back at it, I regret putting Pat in that situation."

At the time, the USC head coach had just been tagged with two penalties — one for delay of game and the other for unsportsmanlike conduct. It’s safe to say he and the officials weren’t seeing eye-to-eye, at all.

Sarkisian was irate and more yellow flags certainly could have followed. 

After the win, Sarkisian acknowledged he needed someone to step in. That someone was Haden.  

During a national television interview, Haden says he received a text message asking him to come down to the sideline. And so he did.

Haden sprinted to Sarkisian’s aide and the two could be seen during the broadcast with a look and body language that reeked of disagreement with what they were being told by officials.

Of course, Haden being on the sideline and talking to officials is something you just don’t see athletic directors do. It’s not against the rules, it’s just bizarre.

What is against the rules is the text Haden received that prompted him to come down from the press box. NCAA rules prohibit any communication from the field to the press box that is not verbal.

The song being sung the loudest, however, is by those who feel the USC AD should step away from his post on the College Football Playoff committee. Some feel Haden could have a bias as a result of coming to the sideline to talk to the officials. 

Committee members are supposed to be viewed as impartial. However, it should be noted that when the time comes for the selection committee to vote, Haden will not be allowed to vote for USC.

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On Sunday, Haden issued a statement of apology. 

"I apologize to (Pac-12) Commissioner (Larry) Scott, to the game officials, to Stanford and to the fans for any distraction I might have caused during Saturday’s football game," the statement read. "In retrospect, I should not have approached the game officials.  I should have waited until after the game and gone through the appropriate channels. 

"In the best interests of our team and our coaches, I will stay off the sidelines for our next two games." 

Haden showed a passion that could be argued as unmatched by others in his position as athletic director. In an uncustomary request, the coach asked for his AD’s assistance in the middle of a game. The AD came to his aide. Now, they both realize it probably shouldn’t have been done. 

 "It’s my job to manage the game," Sarkisian said. "Pat’s job is not to manage the game and manage the officials. That’s my job to do."