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THE INSIDE TRACK | T.J. SIMERS

You Heard It Here First: Paul Hackett Is a Winner

November 08, 2000|T.J. SIMERS

Dear USC Alumni & Other Certified Wackos,

Now that Paul Hackett has proven he's a great motivator, capable of whipping his troops into an overtime frenzy against a favored foe and winning on the road, isn't the guy entitled to a one-week "Fire Hackett" moratorium?

I've listened to the calls this week, and read the e-mail, and while Hackett's team might lose on occasion, you people have entirely lost it.

This is no great surprise--you weren't happy when the team started the season 3-0. Listen to yourselves: You get outraged when he can't win--he wins, and you're not satisfied the way he wins.

I think it's pretty obvious you people need to be more like me, and accentuate the positive. It's like I've always said, "Just win, baby, and I will shower you with praise."

Or, it's like a UCLA philosophy grad once told me, "A win is a win."

Is there really any difference between UCLA's defense going belly-up through an entire game on the way to a 37-35 victory, and USC blowing a 29-point lead in one quarter, but winning 44-38? A win is a win.

Do you know what happened to the Rams in the first half of Super Bowl XXXIV? Didn't think so. They didn't score a touchdown, but it doesn't matter, does it, because the game ended on the final play in dramatic fashion with St. Louis hanging on for a 23-16 win.

I don't know how many people have said to me this week, "After blowing that 29-point lead, if the Trojans had lost there would have been no reason for Hackett to get on the plane home."

But the Trojans didn't lose.

Some people thought it ridiculous that after blowing the lead, the Trojans would celebrate on the field, jumping all over each other as if they had won the Rose Bowl.

I hope none of this negativity ever creeps into this column.

Here you have kids practicing every day, getting their butts kicked five weeks in a row, they win in dramatic fashion a game you never expected them to win, and you begrudge them their celebration because the guy you think can't coach, wins.

We're not talking about a contract extension here--I don't believe in accentuating the positive that much--but Hackett deserves a critic's dispensation this week. While the alumni quit on him long ago, his players have not, and they will never have a better opportunity than what they had in the overtime session in Arizona.

A win is a win, so back off.

P.S. However, if Hackett loses to Washington State on Saturday, I'd suggest finding the closest goal post and stringing him up right on the spot.

*

I HAVE IT on good authority that none of the Dodgers were given a Gold Glove on Tuesday for fear they might drop it.

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THIS COMES FROM very clever e-mailer Bill Cohen: "Any truth to the rumor that the Electoral College has been invited to play Kansas State in a nonconference game next year?"

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I WENT TO Staples Center to see Jack, the hockey-playing chimpanzee, make his final appearance after a six-week, coast-to-coast tour, and I've also seen the Ducks play. I'd go see the chimp again.

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TALK ABOUT SKELETONS in the closet. I'm guessing they kept it quiet that his brother, Bruce, is general manager of the Raiders, which explains why George Allen defeated Chuck Robb to become senator of Virginia.

And whoever thought a milk-drinking, ice-cream-eating George Allen--the former coach of the Rams--would raise one son comfortable walking through a Raider parking lot and another at ease with politicians.

*

IF YOU ASKED the Houston Rockets right now what's the tougher task--beating the Lakers or the Clippers--they'd have to say the Clippers.

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THERE HAVE TO be easier ways to make a living, but when King goalie Jamie Storr takes the ice, his parting advice from Coach Andy Murray is, "let the puck hit you."

Murray explained that when Storr is standing still and he's getting drilled by the puck, you know he's playing well. When he's moving for the puck--or running from it--he's not.

The Kings lead the league in scoring, and if Storr can take the beating, that's a pretty entertaining combo. Well, as entertaining as hockey can be.

*

NOW THAT BASEBALL is on the verge of calling the high strike, there's no telling how many times Mo Vaughn is going to strike out.

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IN HINDSIGHT, R.D. Hubbard probably ran the best race in the pursuit of football for Los Angeles, coming as close as calling a news conference to announce the Raiders were going to move into a new stadium at Hollywood Park.

It's one of the few times he hasn't hit the finish line, and Thursday in a ceremony at Hollywood Park the horse racing industry will honor him with the Commissioner's Cup for his extraordinary contributions to thoroughbred racing.

If anyone has a sense of humor, they'll stick a football in the cup.

*

YOU MIGHT WONDER why Raider fans haven't been heard from, while everyone else is touting quarterback Rich Gannon for his standout play. Well, it's one thing to get them to put down all their weapons and chant in unison--quite another to expect them to spell out "MVP."

*

TODAY'S LAST WORD comes in an e-mail from Chris:

"With the amount of time you spend being so negative about the Lakers, I am now convinced that not only did you get teased as a young kid playing sports, but none of the girls cared for you either."

Thanks for reminding me.

*

T.J. Simers can be reached at his e-mail address:t.j.simers@latimes.com.

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