Morning Buzz: When Did USC Ever Hire A Marquee Football Coach?


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.


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  • Ray Reyes

    Good observation, and it for the most part, has worked out fine.

    • worked out FINE???

      El Rey, last time i looked, there was NO CRYSTAL at HH!!!

      and we’ve been in the BCS (non-Mythical) era since 1998!!!!


      • Mike 70

        where is the crystal ball at your dump/swamp?

        • sorry, i forgot we don’t have a “Crystal-Free DYNASTY” like you trOXans!!!


    • B.Miller


  • Ray Reyes

    Waiting for the TROLLS in 3…………….2………………..

    • Helen

      Ray: you need to start your countdown at 1 as I find the trolls can’t count all the way up to 3.

  • Helen

    Scottie: this is pretty standard SOP with professional sports.

    Uninspiring list? Pete Carroll, John Robinson and John McKay were some of the best coaches in the history of college football. Most schools have none.

    “Maybe when I teased an administrator at Sarkisian’s press conference by saying, “Who’s next? Brennan Carroll?” – and you wonder why nobody takes you seriously dude.

    • B.Miller

      What do you mean “nobody takes Wolf seriously”? Charlie Bucket, and ThighMix, believe in ever little whisper

  • UCLA Bleauz

    How many national championships have Sumlin and Petersen won?….Yup…Just as many as Mora….

    • Helen

      Don’t you feel sorry for the dead horse that Scottie keeps beating?

      • UCLA Bleauz

        Even the dead horse is laughing at him…….

    • #NoCrystalU

  • timtrojan

    Administrator = guy handing out donuts

  • TrojanFamily

    Id have to agree with Ray and Helen here. Considering USC’s football success, hiring their assistants has worked out quite well. Two of the four most successful coaches in their history (McKay and Robinson) were assistants. A third, Pete Carroll, was definitely not a marquee hire.

    This story plus USC’s history makes the idea of hiring a marquee coach laughable. I’m glad the blogger exposed how bad of an idea it was. Hopefully the sportswriter who advocated is as embarrassed as he should be.


    I don’t understand what Wolf is trying to prove? If anything, he is proving that his adamant thoughts on going after “marquee” coaches isn’t the best idea.

    • UCLA Bleauz

      Wolfie is always looking for the quick fix…..and for someone who who seemingly glorifies the USC tradition, he is rather eager to speak ill of the Trojan family

    • Helen

      He’s trying to beat another dead horse that USC didn’t hire Kevin Sumlin or Chris Petersen.


    wolfman, you always go for the KILL SHOT!!!

    Brennan Carroll!! HAWR!!!



  • Go Tama

    McKay, Success
    Robo 1, had some great years, got bored and left USC on probation
    Tollner, ( should have been Levy ) DISASTER
    Smith, never got the USC tradition, took Tollners recruits and won, failed with his own, cried at his presser when he left.
    Robo 2, no help from the AD to get top assistants, fail
    Hackett, DISASTER
    Carroll, was choice 3 or 4, revived a dead program, ran off the adult assistants who would tell him no or whom he thought was getting credit for the teams success, ego got the better of him at the end
    Kiffin, DISASTER
    Sark ???????

  • rusoviet

    Same could be said about ucla – Sanders – Billy Barnes (58-64), Prothro (65-70) Rodgers (71-73), vermeil (74-75), Donahue (76-95), Toledo (96-01), Dorrell (03-07), Neuheisel (08-11) and Mora with one caveat – 1 NC for 60 years

    • Trogan Fan

      another day, another Trogan who MUST post about UCLA. HAHA! Yesterday U!

      • rusoviet

        Uh yeah lunchie – that ‘1 NC’… it’s 60 years ago to be exact….

    • Bruin 34

      Do your research genius! No team has ever one a NC. Win the first playoff and you might have an argument. Oh wait! Nevermind.

      • rusoviet

        Oh gosh let’s all go ‘ruin’ and drag out Woodie’s corpse

        • Bruin 34

          That’s your pathetic response? Lol. Smh.

          • rusoviet

            oh man I really dig your passion! I love the ‘protect the con job’…

  • Jack B

    Stick with what you think you’re good at Wolfie: fashion (Sarkisian’s shirt colors, shoes in statues), architecture (old bears holding footballs on buildings, HH arrangements), musical chairs (where the band will be sitting), Lane Kiffin (all you think about), Pete Carroll (you said he’d never be successful in the NFL).

  • lets just take a look at the wolfman’s marquee hire theory, shall we??:
    Alabama: 3 BCS titles
    Fla: 2 BCS titles
    LSU: 1 BCS title
    Oklahoma: 1 BCS title
    Texas: 1BCS title

    so….hiring Marquee coaches CAN WORK!!! remarkable!!!

    Southern Cal: #NoCrystal

    • Helen

      Where’s Boise State and Texas A&M? They had “marquee” coaches didn’t they?


      • UCLA Bleauz

        Is Jim Mora considered a “marquee” coach?

        • Dummies ALWAYS have UCLA on the brain…..this was about Southern Cal!!

          you Dummies could be talking about cat turds, and right away you’re all claiming to have better cat turds on campus than UCLA!!



      • Neither is a Marquee program. wolfman is talking about marquee programs, like Southern Cal!!



        • Helen

          Oh, my mistake. I thought he said “When Did USC Ever Hire A Marquee Football Coach?” and specifically name Kevin Sumlin and Chris Petersen.

    • Tom Oday

      Honey Bucket…all “paper championships” right?

      • NOPE, this are all LEGIT BCS champeenships won ON THE FIELD….not declared champs by some obscure magazine or kooky computer hacker.

        You know, like the one that Pete won, that was STRIPPED for cheating??


        • Tom Oday

          You are saying they played their way into BCS NC games?