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THE INSIDE TRACK | T.J. SIMERS

New USC Worry: Do We Need a Stinkin' Badger?

November 26, 2000|T.J. SIMERS

Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame . . .

Sorry, it's a catchy tune.

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If some USC fan tells you now it can't get any worse, oh, I think it can.

Let's say some of the speculation is true-- informed sources for a change actually being informed--and Coach Paul Hackett is fired and replaced by Wisconsin's Barry Alvarez.

Alvarez would want to finish what he started, returning to Wisconsin to take his players to the Sun Bowl.

And there USC's new coach could lose to UCLA.

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NOT THAT ATHLETIC Director Mike Garrett has any chance of screwing this up, of course, but if this is going to happen, I say make Alvarez's hiring conditional on beating UCLA, keeping in mind that he is already 1-0 against Bob Toledo with a 38-31 Rose Bowl victory in 1999.

Let's face it, if Hackett can beat UCLA this season in the Rose Bowl, and Alvarez can't take him in El Paso, they ought to fire the guy right away.

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ONE MORE ALVAREZ note: He went 6-16 his first two years at Wisconsin.

Thank heavens Trojan fans are so patient.

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I DON'T KNOW how it happened, but UCLA's defense gave up 21 points Saturday even though the team didn't play.

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WHILE PLAYERS AND coaches returned to the Trojan locker room after losing to Notre Dame, senior linebacker Zeke Moreno remained on the field--refusing to accept the end of his college career.

"It's a part of you," he would explain later. "The hardest part was leaving that field and saying goodbye to a game I love so much."

A week ago he stood on the ladder before the USC band, leading them in a victory salute after the Trojans' win over UCLA. On this Saturday he returned to the band in defeat, and began hugging the musicians one by one. In return, many of them asked for his autograph as a keepsake.

An hour later he was still in full gear sitting before his locker, the shredded jersey across each of his shoulders telling of his effort in defeat--a season-high 14 tackles.

"When Chris Claiborne was here, he left the field with a smile on his face with a win," Moreno said. "I wanted to finish that way so badly--I was looking forward to the crowd rushing the field."

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FOR THE RECORD, the "Expect to Win" sign above the door leading from the Trojans' locker room was officially torn off the wall by a maintenance worker a little less than an hour after the season was over.

No one objected.

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CLIPPER COACH ALVIN GENTRY offered an explanation before Saturday's game against Phoenix why a missing person's report should not be filed on Darius Miles.

"I think he's going to be a tremendous defensive player, like Scottie Pippen in that he will be able to cover a wide variety of players," Gentry said.

Now if he could only shoot.

"It's a problem," Gentry said. "But he's working hard on it."

This is why he left high school to play pro basketball. If he had gone to college they would have weighed him down with things like classes at a time when he really needs to be working on his shooting.

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I KNOW THE Clippers are still learning, but it's a bad sign when the fans have to yell to them to shoot before the 24-second clock expires.

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ONE OF GEORGIA FRONTIERE'S former husbands went to jail years ago for scalping Super Bowl tickets, but Tampa Bay owner Malcolm Glazer has been so bold as to send out a letter announcing his intentions in a new scalping twist.

Glazer will allow suite holders to purchase tickets to this year's Super Bowl in Tampa at the face value of $325 each so long as they write out another check and make at least a $1,000 donation to the Glazer Family Foundation.

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AFTER GOING TO the Lakers' game against Minnesota, I noticed one other thing the Dodgers can offer free-agent shortstop Alex Rodriguez--the Staples Center courtside seats of Dodger chairman Bob Daly.

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USC SPORTS INFORMATION director Tim Tessalone had his streak of attending 243 consecutive Trojan football games ended Saturday after suffering a punctured lung and broken ribs in a traditional Thanksgiving Day family softball game.

Tessalone collided with another outfielder, making the fundamental mistake of not calling for the ball, and in addition, failed to make the catch.

That's what happens when you make Hackett honorary coach.

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

"Haven't you learned anything about Steve Lavin? He's a cat with nine lives."

So when he chokes, we should write it off as a fur ball?

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

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