Mike Garrett’s post sanctions tenure didn’t last long at USC with Tuesday’s announcement that former NBC Notre Dame color commentator Pat Haden would be taking over as the Athletics Director for Southern Cal.
The news of Garrett’s departure from USC shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. After the sanctions were handed to USC, Garrett was defiant, if not arrogant towards the NCAA’s decision. Under his guidance, USC also had to recently send out letters of apology to several schools after incorrectly accusing the schools of illegally contacting USC freshman Dillon Baxter.
The arrival of Haden was one of several moves made by incoming USC president MaxNikias aimed at cleaning house within the athletic department at USC in the wake of last month’s major sanctions passed down by the NCAA. Southern Cal will also remove all displaying recognizing the accomplishments of Reggie Bush and OJ Mayo from Heritage Hall – including the Heisman Trophy the school received when Bush won the award in 2005.
With Haden’s departure from NBC, a hole was created in the NBC Notre Dame coverage team. Haden had provided the color commentary during Notre Dame home games for the past 12 years most recently alongside play by play announcer Tom Hammond.
NBC didn’t say anything about a replacement for Haden on Tuesday, but that hasn’t stopped Notre Dame fans from speculating about how might replace Haden.
As former Trojan quarterback who engineered one of the worst comebacks against the Irish, most Notre Dame fans were never too keen with Haden announcing every home game. Not that Haden was bad at what he did. Hearing a former USC quarterback providing the commentary over some of the leanest years of Notre Dame football, however, never set well with many Notre Dame fans.
John Walters did an excellent job outlining almost every imaginable replacement for Haden over on Fan House.
One of the more interesting names Walter’s threw out was former Notre Dame quarterback Steve Beuerlein. I think NBC will want to avoid having a “homer” commentator for its Notre Dame coverage, but someone like Beuerlein isn’t really a marquee name like a Jerome Bettis, Joe Theismann, or Joe Montana would be. Beuerlein has done some color commentary for CBS previously and even did a few Notre Dame-Navy games in recent years. He was more than solid in his coverage and would provide a unique perspective to the NBC coverage.
Given the number of subway alumni who tune in weekly to Notre Dame games, having someone in the booth who can relate to the uniqueness of Notre Dame and provide stories about his days in South Bend would be a nice touch. Beuerlein has the personality to be able to pull off giving a fair and balanced view of the action as well and isn’t overly opinionated like, say, Joe Theismann was as a commentator.
Whoever NBC gets, they may have a little trouble in the process. With only 7 games to televise compared to the other networks which have games every week for their announcers, the chances of recruiting a top notch commentator from another network are slim. Working in their favor, however, is NBC’s Sunday Night Football. They could put together a nice package including a role on their weekly pre-game show to lure in a talented announcer.
Now, if only NBC would do something about finding a new play by play commentator too…