USC more interested in reliving the past than improving the present –

6 months ago Comments Off on USC more interested in reliving the past than improving the present –

Lynn Swann was named USC’s new athletic director on Wednesday. (USATSI)

When USC announced Wednesday that it hired Lynn Swann to be its new athletic director, the move came as a surprise to many … but it probably shouldn’t have.

Sure, Swann has never spent any time as an athletics administrator in any capacity, but neither did the man he’s replacing, Pat Haden. Swann did play football at USC, however, just like Haden did, and that seems to be the only thing that matters around the Trojans when it comes to making a major hire.

USC refuses to hire somebody that isn’t related to USC.

The Trojans has been reliving the same cycle for over 20 years now, and Swann becoming the athletic director is the school once again repeating the same mistake it always makes, doing so in hopes of once again rekindling the level of success the football program had under Pete Carroll.

This has nothing to do with Swann himself, who had a Hall of Fame NFL career before going on to work for ABC Sports, and then running for Pennsylvania Governor in 2008. It’s possible Swann will be the man to lead USC back to glory, but recent history strongly suggests otherwise.

In 1992, then-USC athletic director Mike McGee announced he was leaving to become the athletic director at the other USC, South Carolina. He was replaced by Mike Garrett, a man who had spent the previous three years (1990 to 1992) working in the USC athletics department as an associate athletic director under McGee, as well as business and management experience. He also played football at USC and won the Heisman Trophy in 1965 before going on to an NFL career.

The first decade of Garrett’s tenure didn’t go that well. His first move with the football program was to fire Larry Smith and bring back John Robinson. Robinson’s second go-round with the Trojans didn’t go nearly as well, and after five seasons, he was replaced by Paul Hackett, a former USC assistant under Robinson.

Hackett lasted only three seasons at USC, going 19-18 and losing his job following the 2000 season.

That’s when Garrett would do something different. He hired a football coach that had absolutely no ties to USC. He never played there, and he never coached there. In fact, it had been nearly 20 years since the coach had even spent time on the college level as he’d been working as an assistant and head coach at various places in the NFL.

That coach was Pete Carroll, and in his nine seasons at USC, Carroll brought the dormant program back to life. He won seven conference titles and two national championships during those nine seasons — though the 2005 campaign was later vacated. The sanctions the Trojans faced no doubt played a role in Carroll’s decision to leave USC for a return the NFL as coach of the Seahawks. (That move, of course, has worked out pretty well for him.)

In 2010, after the NCAA leveled USC with the aforementioned sanctions related Heisman Trophy-winning running back Reggie Bush, the Heisman-winning athletic director lost his job. Garrett was replaced by Pat Haden.

Seeing a trend here?

Carroll was replaced by Lane Kiffin, a coach who had served on Carroll’s USC staff during the Trojans’ most recent glory days. A few years later, when Haden fired Kiffin, he replaced him with Steve Sarkisian, another coach from Carroll’s title-winning staff.

Sarkisian’s exit brought Clay Helton on as interim coach. Helton, who did not work under Carroll, was a member of Sarkisian’s staff. Haden ultimately chose to give Helton the full-time job, decision met with some skepticism by critics.

Now Haden is being replaced by another former USC player with no administrative experience in Lynn Swann.

Since losing Pete Carroll, USC has been doing everything it can to find the next Pete Carroll, yet it absolutely refuses to do the one thing it did to find Carroll.

Instead of chasing the ghosts of tradition, USC needs to look to the future at what it could be, not what it has been.

The Swann hire just goes to show USC’s not done living in the past yet.

USC more interested in reliving the past than improving the present –