A former USC athletic dept. employee relayed a story about Jess Hill being hired as a football coach in 1951.
“When they promoted Hill, the athletic board had not considered him. Someone said, `How about (USC track coach) Jess Hill?’ Another said: `Why I never thought of him.’ ”
It would be easy to make fun of that story if it were not business as usual for USC. Think about some of the coaching hires. Don Clark (1957) was a USC assistant. John McKay (1960) was a USC assistant . John Robinson (1976) was a former USC assistant. Ted Tollner (1983) was a USC assistant. Larry Smith (1987) was a fellow Pac-10 coach at Arizona. Robinson (1994) again. Paul Hackett (1998) a former USC assistant. Pete Carroll (2001) an out of work former NFL coach. Lane Kiffin (2010) a former USC assistant. Steve Sarkisian (2014) a former USC assistant.
Could you make the list seem more uninspiring if you tried? It makes the idea that someone like Kevin Sumlin or even Chris Petersen getting the job seem laughable. Maybe when I teased an administrator at Sarkisian’s press conference by saying, “Who’s next? Brennan Carroll?” I wasn’t so far off.
The above photo is the 1959 press conference where USC announced Don Clark (right) resigned and John McKay (left) would become the new football coach. Athletic director Jess Hill (center) was the Trojans’ coach from 1951-56. Photo courtesy USC digital library.