LOS ANGELES — Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne often jokes that Southwest Airlines serves as his private jet when he travels for business.
This week, Byrne had some company on his ride.
When he traveled from Oakland, Calif., to Burbank, Calif., on Wednesday on Southwest, USC athletic director Pat Haden sat across the aisle from him.
The two were at the Pac-12 athletic director meetings in San Francisco earlier this week. They caught the same flight to the Los Angeles area for Thursday’s game.
Haden is looking for a football coach after firing Lane Kiffin last month. Byrne has been in that boat before: Arizona’s boss fired Mike Stoops in-season in 2011 before hiring Rich Rodriguez.
Byrne said he and Haden chatted about what the USC athletic director is going through right now. Byrne gave his colleague some general advice on the flight.
“I’m not going to talk about candidates, but athletic directors do a good job of talking to each other about different processes,” Byrne said before Thursday’s game. “Coaches do that good. We talk shop. Pat’s become a good friend, and I really like him a lot.
“You may have athletic directors from other conferences call you and ask about a specific candidate, but usually inside the same conference, you don’t do that.”
Haden was hired at USC shortly after Bryne was brought on at Arizona.
Earlier this week, reports surfaced that USC reached out to Tony Dungy and Jack Del Rio about the opening in Los Angeles. It turned those offers weren’t real; a prankster had called both coaches posing as a USC representative.
Haden went on the offensive after news broke of the impostor.
Byrne, on Twitter, praised Haden for it, tweeting “Good for Pat Haden addressing misinformation. One of the biggest challenges in a search.”
Byrne elaborated on that point Thursday.
“He addressed it head on and I thought that was really good,” Byrne told the Star. “There’s so many people out there that don’t care about ethics and how their actions affect others.”
QB Scroggins suits up to face his old team
For the first time since the UNLV game, quarterback Jesse Scroggins dressed.
The quarterback didn’t dress because of a discipline issue against UTSA. The UA left him home when it traveled to Washington two weeks ago.
Scroggins signed with USC out of high school before transferring to El Camino Community College. The signal-caller was expected to compete for the starting job but has fallen to third on the depth chart.
Freshman defensive lineman Luca Bruno, cleared to play by the NCAA last week, didn’t travel with the Wildcats. Bruno hadn’t been cleared because of a clearinghouse issue with the NCAA and wasn’t allowed to practice with the UA. Because of that, he fell behind.
Jake Fischer, questionable with an ankle injury, started at middle linebacker. Guard Chris Putton, who tweaked his knee against Washington, sat in favor of Lene Maiava. Putton, however, entered the game in the second quarter.
RichRod speaks his mind on Internet show
Rodriguez recently sat down with Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis for an Internet show on CampusInsiders.com.
The full interview with Rodriguez, that was filmed earlier this month at Richard Jefferson Gymnasium, will air on the site Monday at 10:30 a.m.
The show put a few highlights on YouTube for previewing Thursday, and we checked them out.
A few things that caught our eye:
Rodriguez said, “I get mad” when people bring up the violations that occurred when he was the head coach at Michigan. “To me, and I don’t mind saying it, I thought it was a bunch of BS,” he said. One of the violations, Rodriguez said, came because strength coaches put a rubber ball at the end of a stick to work on players’ burst off the line of scrimmage. Another was allowing quality control personnel to watch video with the coaches.
The coach said he never accepted the Alabama job when he was at West Virginia. He said he met with then-Alabama athletic director Mal Moore in New York after the season to discuss the opening but never officially took it.
Rodriguez related a story he recently told the Star about the first time he realized he was onto to something with his no-huddle, spread offense. His Glenvilla (W. Va.) state team scored 49 points in a loss at Indiana State.
UA commits unofficial pregame visitors at SC
Even though it was a road game, Arizona had four 2014 commitments at the game as unofficial visitors for USC.
Los Angeles Salesian teammates Marcus Ware, Jamardre Cobb and Rodney Carr were on the USC sideline prior to the game. The three high school teammates committed to the UA in the summer. Cornerback Naijiel Hale, a cornerback from nearby St. John Bosco High School, was also on the USC sideline pregame.
Ware, Cobb and Hale are four-star recruits. The four players remain committed to the UA despite taking some unofficial and official visits to other schools.