Pat Haden: Lane Kiffin 'battled me'
USC athletic director Pat Haden intends to keep his search for the Trojans' next coach very private over the coming weeks.
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"You can't forget your current team," Haden said Monday during an appearance on "The Herd with Colin Cowherd" on ESPN Radio. "I don't want to be talking publicly about searches for the next three months while we have eight games to play and a senior class that deserves my support and respect and effort and energy."
Haden fired Lane Kiffin at the Trojans' private airport terminal in Los Angeles after the team plane returned from Arizona early Sunday following a 62-41 loss at Arizona State. Ed Orgeron, the former coach at Mississippi who was Kiffin's top assistant, has been named USC's interim head coach.
The Trojans are 3-2 overall and 0-2 in the Pac-12.
"We'll get it done," Haden said, speaking about the topic for the first time outside of a news conference setting. "This happens every year in college football. We'll do a search.
"We think we have a very attractive job and we'll get the right person for our job. But I'm not going to be talking about it a lot publicly because I don't think that's respectful and fair to our senior class in particular."
Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio is expected to emerge as a candidate to replace Kiffin permanently, NFL sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter.
"There isn't anything to say," Del Rio, a former All-American linebacker at USC, said after the Broncos-Philadelphia Eagles game Sunday. "It's all speculation at this point. I've got a job to do here. My focus is right there."
Haden also went into detail with Cowherd about his 45-minute discussion with Kiffin -- which ended with the coach being relieved of his duties -- after the team returned to Los Angeles about 3 a.m. Sunday.
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"He battled me," Haden said. "… He really battled and made it very difficult. We had a very honest discussion for 45 minutes. At the end of the day, I felt the decision had to be made."
Haden commended Kiffin for his effort in coping with NCAA sanctions that were announced after Kiffin had arrived at USC after one season at Tennessee.
"I don't think he probably would have taken the job four years ago had he known what he was getting himself into," Haden told Cowherd. "I just thank him for giving every single ounce of energy that he had."
Kiffin's record in four years at USC was 28-15.
ESPN's Adam Schefter and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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