By Rock Mayock 1:00 a.m. | While many of the USC faithful are still bemoaning the loss to Stanford, the FOOTBALLPHDS have been in a more reflective mood as we remember another era of Trojan football. Long before Trojan fans were complaining about Lane Kiffin and his questionable play calling, their ire was directed at a different coach. Naturally we are talking about Paul Hackett.
As we know, John “Big Head” Robinson was the face of USC football prior to Hackett. Big Head was a larger than life National Championship winning Trojan icon who left USC for limited success as head coach for the Los Angeles Rams. After his stint in NFL fizzled, Big Head returned home to USC but apparently his time in the NFL was taxing. Big Head went on to coach 5 seasons at USC going 37-21-2 including a win in the 1995 Rose Bowl. Eventually Big Head was unceremoniously dismissed by Mike Garrett and the city of Los Angeles was clamoring for an exciting new carnation of Trojan football. Instead of replacing Big Head with a sexy big name head coach, Garrett hired Paul Hackett.
During his three year tenure, Paul Hackett was unfairly maligned for the perceived underachievement of the USC program under his watch. Sure the team became progressively worse with each passing season posting records of 8-5, 6-6 and 5-7. Sure the offensive playbook was so overly complicated that his former players still don’t understand it. Sure Hackett was completely incapable of relating to his players. What people conveniently neglect to remember is the excitement, the memories and the tradition that accompanied Hackett.
Let us first recall a typical USC offensive possession within the Hackett offense:
- First Down: Chad Morton up the middle for a 2 yard loss.
- Second Down: Mike Van Raaphorst throws an incomplete deep ball to a wide open R. Jay Soward.
- Third Down: Chad Morton up the middle for a 3 yard gain.
- Fourth Down: Punt and pray it doesn’t get returned for a TD.
Granted, this innovative play calling only produced a 19-18 record but it also created a sense of reliable predictability. The benefits of reliable predictability are numerous:
- There is no pressure to meet undue or lofty expectations.
- Low expectations created tepid fan support which resulted with poor home game ticket sales.
- Poor ticket sales resulted with an often half full Coliseum which alleviated traffic congestion, over crowded concession and bathroom lines and wide open concourses.
- A half full Coliseum allowed fans to basically sit where they wanted to have cheer sex with their favorite Song Girl or verbally express their angst towards coaches, players or Yell Leaders (we’re talking to you Logan).
These low expectations enabled the Trojan faithful to create their own brand of football traditions. The FOOTBALLPHDS remember with great fondness sitting outside of the Third Street Promenade Fat Burger debating how bad of a team USC would field while powering down Double King Burgers and chili cheese fries. The FOOTBALLPHDS miss making the Halftime rounds through the Coliseum concourse to inspect the newest batch of Trojan coeds. In short, it was a simple more innocent time.
In the event that things don’t work out with Lane Kiffin the FOOTBALLPHDS would like to make a suggestion to Pat Haden. Please not go through the trouble of trying to sign a high profile coach like Nick Saban or Rex Ryan. Instead you should look to your past to move forward into the future. Therefore it is prudent to rehire Paul Hackett… and bring back the Yell Leaders while you’re at it.