The Defiant Ones?

It’s Week 0 of the college football season, and for the highest-rated team in the preseason Top 25 AP Poll, the #6 USC Trojans, it kicked off with a celebration of the announcement that after an exhaustive nationwide search, the school had decided to recruit Jennifer Cohen from the University of Washington for the role of Athletic Director.  Cohen spent 24 years at You Dub rising from assistant director of development to that school’s AD post, championing numerous fundraising causes and spearheading growth across all sports, not just football and men’s basketball.  And as Luca Evans of THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER objectively reported, even her track record addressing some issues with the football program were exactly what a USC program that had yet again been tainted by scandal needed at the top:

Cohen’s track record, since being named Washington’s A.D. in 2016, is a mixed bag but largely positive. After the brief and much-maligned Jimmy Lake tenure as Washington’s football coach, Cohen fired him in 2021 and hired Fresno State’s Kalen DeBoer, who immediately led the Huskies to a massive turnaround.

A turnaround at least in the ballpark of the kind that Lincoln Riley has led the Trojans to, producing a Heisman Trophy winner in transfer Caleb Williams, who returns to lead a star-studded lineup to potentially even greater heights and has them installed as odds-on favorites to win what will likely be the final Pac-12 championship in history and a potential College Football Playoff berth.  And in bringing in Cohen to be the first female AD in USC history, it’s pretty evident how much of a pivot that is from the person who helped bring Riley to downtown Los Angeles, the disgraced and departed Mike Bohn.

But instead of celebrating the bold move by USC to turn the page, leave it to the Left Angeles Times’ lead columnist Dylan Hernandez to turn the day into one of confrontation, challenge and dredging that led to this tirade that led what is left of their sports section, now bereft of box scores and standings so as to make room for strutting and posing like this that specifically addressed the press conference announcing Cohen called by USC president Carol Folt:

Shortly after she introduced Jennifer Cohen as the new athletic director at an on-campus news conference Monday, Folt was presented with an opportunity to explain what she learned from the botched search 3½ years earlier that led her to Bohn.  Folt was hired to clean up USC when the school was recovering from college-admission and sexual-abuse scandals that rocked its reputation. 

She was offered a chance to share how those lessons sharpened her vision for USC’s future.

She was given a platform to serve as a model of accountability for the hundreds of athletes who compete under the USC banner.

Instead, she resembled a third-rate politician who speaks exclusively to partisan cable news networks.
Of course, if you chose to read on, you’d soon learn that it was Hernandez himself that “offered” that chance., reminded what’s left of his readership that it was his colleague that led the drive to run Bohn out of town:
Bohn resigned a day after Ryan Kartje, The Times’ USC beat writer, submitted questions to him about his management of the athletic department. Bohn was accused of making inappropriate remarks about the physical appearances of female colleagues, Kartje reported, citing USC sources with knowledge of the incidents.  The comments made staffers uncomfortable and some even confronted him about his behavior, according to Kartje’s reporting. There were also complaints about Bohn as a manager, Kartje spoke to sources who said he missed meetings and was absent from important events.
And then Hernandez really unloaded, using the bully pulpit of a “column” to pile on further:

In a letter she wrote to the USC community about Bohn’s resignation, she thanked Bohn for his contributions and said she was “proud” for the progress the athletic department made under his watch.

She maintained her head-in-the-sand approach on Monday, declining even to say why Bohn resigned.

“That’s his right to talk about those things,” Folt said. “You know, we really have FERPA protections and all sorts of protections. We just don’t talk about people, their reasons.

“I’m happy to talk about other things with you.”

As I was explaining to Folt that details of Bohn’s resignation could contextualize Cohen’s appointment, university spokesman Emily Gersema interrupted and asked if I wanted to speak to Cohen.

“She’s waiting over here to be interviewed,” Gersema said.

I asked Folt if she was sure she didn’t want to talk about Bohn.

“I think I’ve said a lot,” she said.

So if one is to take Hernandez’ POV as gospel, it would appear that USC remains uniquely unrepentent, with Folt oblivious to what he and the same newspaper that continues to scream with disturbing regularity that the pandemic is back should have been item one.

News flash:  College sports is a business. A big one, with a bullet.  And USC is about to join a nationwide conference whose own pre-season favorite addressed their own elephant in the room thusly, as YAHOO! SPORTS’ Sam Cooper reported:

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh will be suspended for part of this season after all.

Yahoo Sports can confirm Harbaugh is expected to be suspended for the first three games of the regular season for making what the NCAA deemed to be false statements amid an investigation into alleged recruiting violations that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic dead period. Harbaugh informed his team of the suspension on Monday afternoon.

But as Wolverine Wire’s Isaiah Hole dutifully noted, Harbaugh isn’t exactly mssing the heart of the schedule:

Harbaugh will not be available to coach in-game during the nonconference contests against East Carolina, UNLV, and Bowling Green, but he will be able to return to the sidelines for the Big Ten opener against Rutgers. He will be able to coach during the week in practice, however.

But it’s not as if Harbaugh didn’t at least take some accountability.  As Hole also reported:

Shortly after that announcement was made, Harbaugh commented on the scenario via a team spokesman. While he still cannot comment on the NCAA’s case due to its bylaws, he gave a general offering as to his mindset given the news.  “I will continue to do what I always do and what I always tell our players and my kids at home, ‘Don’t get bitter, get better.’

See, that’s the way these things are handled in those big deal conferences, Dylan.  The one that not only USC, but Cohen’s former school will join next fall.   A move, incidentally, that came after USC had already defected and left You Dub and others scrambling for a home all summer.  If one were to be enough of an invesigative reporter to perhaps investigate some deep sports board chatter that Cohen may have been offered up to USC by You Dub in exchange for some support and even some financial concessions on TV rights that would bring them closer to the shares that the incumbent 16 Big Ten schools were getting that on paper were not offered to them or to fellow newest Big Ten member Oregon, then there might have been a story worthy of the length and vitriol that Hernandez dedicated all that space that used to go to actual information to do his best to rain on these triumphant ladies’ parade.

But that might have been expecting too much, given what Hernandez’ biography that the TIMES provides of all of its journos on their increasingly needed digital edition details:

Hernandez…graduated from UCLA in 2002

Call me surprised.

But please don’t ME defiant.


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