Notebook: USC AD Pat Haden fine after pregame issue

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — A trying week for USC athletic director Pat Haden got downright scary Saturday night at Notre Dame Stadium.

A USC spokesman said Haden felt light-headed during pregame and went down on one knee on the field. He was then assisted off the field and attended to by Trojan team doctors in the locker room area.

USC sports information director Tim Tessalone updated Haden’s status after 14th-ranked Notre Dame 41-31 victory over the Trojans and said the A.D. was fine.

After being checked out by USC's medical staff, Haden was taken to a local hospital for further examination, then released after being cleared there. He then flew back to Los Angeles on a private plane. 

Haden has been under fire this week for his handling of second-year USC coach Steve Sarkisian, put on indefinite leave on Sunday by Haden and then fired a day later and replaced by offensive coordinator Clay Helton on an interim basis.

Multiple outlets reported Sarkisian has since entered a treatment facility for an alcohol addiction. Haden came under fire for not taking action against Sarkisian during an August donor event in which alcohol was a factor in questionable behavior from the coach.

USC president Max Nikias this week came out in support of Haden’s handling of the Sarkisian situation and giving the coach a second chance.

Personnel matters

The meaningful downs Chase Hounshell saw playing a bit out of position on the interior of Notre Dame’s defensive line as a freshman hinted at perhaps a starting role in the not-too-distant future.

Four years, multiple shoulder surgeries and a position switch later, it finally happened.

The grad student was ND’s starting tight end Saturday night against USC.

Hounshell flipped to tight end from defense this past offseason. He missed all but one game over the 2012 and 2013 seasons with shoulder problems.

• The roller-coaster season continues for Notre Dame free safety Max Redfield.

A week after what Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly called Redfield’s best game at ND — a 14-tackle performance in a 24-22 loss at Clemson on Oct. 3 — Redfield got pulled in the first quarter of a 41-24 win over Navy and replaced by Matthias Farley.

Farley, a grad student, started in place of southern Californian Redfield Saturday night against USC. Redfield did see special teams action, then saw extensive action late in the game at safety and recorded his first interception fo the season.

• Sophomore Alex Bars made his second straight start at left guard, after Quenton Nelson suffered an ankle injury in the loss at Clemson on Oct. 3.

But with 7:27 left in the second quarter Saturday night, Bars suffered what appeared to be a left ankle injury and left the game. NBC reported the injury as a dislocated ankle.

ND head coach Brian Kelly after the game said he didn't know the severity of Bars' injury. 

Nelson, who hadn’t played since the Clemson game but practiced all week, came in for Bars.

By the numbers

After getting burned Saturday night for a long gain on a trick play for the third time this season — a 75-yard receiver-to-receiver TD pass — Notre Dame unveiled its own version of a trick play — well sort of.

Late in the second quarter and leading 24-17, ND kept its offense on the field on fourth and 3 from its own 41-yard line. But just prior to the snap, Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer took a few steps back and ended up punting the ball.

It ended up as a net punt of 43 yards with no return, and it wasn’t a fluke. Kizer averaged 42 yards a punt in high school at Toledo (Ohio) Central Catholic.

Later on, ND pulled off a real trick play, a 35-yard pass from wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr., to tight end Alizé Jones. Three plays later, the Irish went ahead for good, 38-31.

• Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly moved up a spot to No. 2 on the winningest active coaches list earlier this week without his team taking the field.

When South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier abruptly resigned Tuesday, it deleted him from the No. 2 spot. Kelly, ND’s sixth-year head coach, moved from 3 to 2, with his 221 career victories heading into Saturday night’s clash with USC.

Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer tops the list (275 heading into Saturday), followed by Kelly, Texas State’s Dennis Franchione (211), Kansas State’s Bill Snyder and Missouri Gary Pinkel (both at 190), and Alabama’s Nick Saban (182).

• At least one team in the ND-USC rivalry has been ranked in the AP Top 25 in 66 of the 78 meetings since 1936 (the first season of AP national rankings), while both teams have been ranked a total of 33 times.

But the last time both were ranked was 2006, the year after the Bush Push Game.

Squibs

Former Notre Dame All-Americans and recent Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees Tim Brown and Jerome Bettis were honored on the field before the game.

Both players spoke to the Irish team on Friday.

• USC is the only FBS school never to have had surnames on the back of its jerseys.

ehansen@ndinsider.com | 574-235-6112 | Twitter: @EHansenNDI

Southern California athletic director Pat Haden speaks with the media during a press conference after an NCAA college football practice in Los Angeles Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. He named the Trojans' offensive coordinator, Clay Helton, to take over for head coach Steve Sarkisian, whom Haden fired Monday. (AP Photo/Richard Hartog)