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The State of Troy: National Signing Day

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Each month, we interview USC athletic director Pat Haden to keep you up to date on all the happenings around Heritage Hall.

DSC_0046.JPGQ.) How do you feel about the NCAA appeal after the hearing in Indianapolis?

My perception of our trip was positive.  We had a fair hearing and the committee seemed very fair-minded.  We put on what I thought was a very good case for the reduction of our penalty.  Now, all we can do is wait.  Statistically, we have just a 10% chance of winning, but I am feeling somewhat more optimistic than that.

Q.) How was USC able to overcome the sanctions and sign a recruiting class that has everyone excited?

USC is such a unique university that so many young student-athletes want to come play here regardless of any particular circumstance.  Guys know if they come here that they will have the best academics, facilities and coaching.  There are a lot of positives for young people because USC has such a rich history.  It looks like this recruiting class is going to be a good one.

Kiffin-Sideline.jpgQ.) How impressed are you with this staff's ability to grind tirelessly throughout the recruiting process?

I am just shocked at how hard our staff is working.  I have never been this close to recruiting.  Being this close and talking to Lane Kiffin at least once a day, it ebbs and flows.  One moment you have a guy and then you have lost him and then you have him back.  The guys work so hard and travel around the country on this whirlwind tour talking to the kids, their coaches, parents and counselors.  There is so much invested in the recruiting of each student-athlete.

pathaden_display_image.jpgQ.) How different is the recruiting process from when you were highly touted coming out of Bishop Amat in 1971?

There was no Internet.  There was no demand.  You did not turn over hats.  You just kind of decided.  There was not a "Signing Day."  I was recruited by all the schools, but it was not anything like it is today.  In some ways, it was a lot easier because there is a lot of pressure on these kids today.

Q.) How impressive have the men's volleyball and men's tennis teams been to start the season?

I have been to a couple of men's volleyball games and I wish four or five of those guys played tight end for us.  They go 6'7", 6'7" and 6'8" across the front.  They are incredible athletes who hit the ball straight down.  We have a chance to have a very special season.  Peter Smith has won back-to-back championships with the men's tennis team.  He always seems like he is having a good time while he is coaching.  We have an opportunity to win another championship there.

Q.) What would be considered a successful women's basketball season?

DA2_5733.JPGMichael Cooper inherited what I call "an awkward roster."  He has had a lot of injuries, which has limited their depth.  We were 16-14 last year.  If we were able to make the tournament, it would be a big leap forward.  He is doing a good job with the women and he has an excellent recruiting class coming in.  The arrow is pointing up in women's basketball.

Q.) As March Madness draws near, how can the fans influence putting the men's and women's basketball teams over the top?

The men's team is capable of beating anybody.  Unfortunately, they are capable of losing to anybody from what we have seen.  That has been the nature of the team this year.  Against the really good teams like Kansas and Tennessee, even on the road, we are able to compete and come away with wins.  As for the Pac-10 Tournament at STAPLES Center, we want to turn it into a home court.  We are the hometown team and we should really support our men and women because we are capable of winning the tournaments.

Q.) Finally, tell us why are you so proud of the Artletics exhibit, which opened last night at the Galen Center Centofante Hall of Fame and will run through March 10?

The art is produced entirely by our student-athletes.  The really cool thing about our student-athletes is that they are not one-dimensional people.  While they are great on a mound, in a pool or on a court, they can still have this other side of them, which is really exciting.  Fans, please visit it when you attend a basketball or men's volleyball at Galen Center.

(Photos by Jon SooHoo and Pierson Clair)




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Meanwhile, Knoxville TV station WATE reported that during Lane Kiffin's farewell address to his Tennessee team, several people, including Tennessee players and members of the University's Athletic staff could hear Ed Orgeron in the background, making calls to committed recruits, including players set to enroll at the university the following morning as Spring Admits, telling them not to enroll (keeping them uncommitted to UT) and advising then that they had scholarship offers from USC.

With the college basketball season in full swing, Matt Fargo takes a look at three big games on tap that you cannot miss this Saturday. Saturday is BracketBuster day and while there are a lot of matchups that have absolutely no appeal, there is a handful that will not only be fun to watch but also have an impact on some bubble teams heading into the Big Dance. Fargo takes a look at three such matchups.Cheap Sports Apparel

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