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THE INSIDE TRACK | T.J. SIMERS

Trojan Fans, It's Time for Extreme Measures

October 10, 2000|T.J. SIMERS

The headset will be cumbersome, the time away from the food line, the bathroom and not being able to laugh out loud any longer will be serious inconveniences, but it's pretty clear now that I should be in contact with USC football Coach Paul Hackett at all times.

I know some people have had it with him--unless you are from UCLA and you are urging USC officials today to extend his contract indefinitely.

And I know there were fewer than 50,000 people sitting in the Coliseum on Saturday--it became a Sparks-looking crowd midway through the fourth quarter--who stayed to the end, satisfied at least that they knew from the beginning that "Hackett couldn't coach to save his life."

I wouldn't say it like that, but it's probably time for him to start coaching to save his job.

This is a problem, of course, because he can't coach.

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I DO NOT find this alarming, however, because there are many days when the paying customers are quick to point out that I cannot write.

Now if they abandoned me, as quickly as Trojan fans want to disassociate themselves from Hackett, well, we don't need to go there.

I get people writing all the time to tell me what to do, and if they are willing to take their valuable time to second-guess, then I should be open to trying what they say, although sometimes it's anatomically challenging.

Dodger Manager Davey Johnson, of course, made the mistake of cutting the second-guessing umbilical cord, and said he would never again talk to a know-it-all. And look what happened to him.

Phil Jackson, of course, would tell you that he's pretty smart, and while you might say, "Just get the ball to either Kobe or Shaq," it can get complicated, trying to keep track of five players on the court at one time. So I'm sure Phil and I will have several discussions in the coming months, and although I won't be on the bench, we'll probably have hand signals.

Clipper owner Donald Sterling sent me a VIP pass for the front row, presumably because he knows Alvin Gentry is going to need help before Sterling fires him. But I had to return it because the editors here frown on things like that--afraid I won't have time left in the day to advise them.

As we all know, Bob Toledo is coachable, or someone is pulling my leg and never passed on my halftime notes after the Bruins fell behind Arizona State a week ago.

As you probably guessed, I've already gotten a call from someone at UCLA suggesting that Steve Lavin and I get together before the season begins.

It's a full-time job trying to help coaches in this city, and just imagine the workload if the Arizona Cardinals or San Diego Chargers move here.

Hackett's a challenge, but we begin with a few suggestions:

1. After all USC touchdowns, the Trojans will go for two points.

2. There will be no more clapping along the sideline unless it's to box someone's ears for making a mistake.

3. Kicker David Newbury may attend games, as long as he buys a ticket.

4. All USC recruits will be confined to a holding area outside the stadium until it can be determined for sure that the Trojans are going to win.

5. Athletic Director Mike Garrett will be asked to wait with the recruits.

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JUST ONE OTHER suggestion beyond sending a limo for wide receiver Kareem Kelly, so Carson Palmer will have a wide receiver who can catch.

USC hired Hackett not because of his dreadful record at the University of Pittsburgh, but because some people regard him highly as an offensive coordinator. Right now, USC is getting a cheerleader who has no real feel for the game because he spends more time promoting self-esteem than plotting strategy.

It might be time to do what he is supposed to do best, and that's put on the headset and never take it off. I'm sure offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is a brilliant coach in the making, but if there's a mute button on the headset, it's time for Hackett to hit it.

We can't have Hue, Paul and myself all talking at the same time.

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WHO CHOREOGRAPHS THE Trojans' halftime show, Allen Iverson?

The Trojan marching band's entire halftime routine was dedicated to beating up USC's Pac-10 opponents--beginning appropriately with the theme song from "Mission: Impossible." When it came time to make fun of UCLA, a bear with a UCLA jersey was brought out and propped atop a garbage can.

This was the cue for the guy dressed like Tommy Trojan riding Traveler to lower his spear, set the horse in gear and plunge the weapon into the bear.

It was wonderful family fare if you're into teddy bear abuse.

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LAST FRIDAY, DODGER Chairman Bob Daly said he hadn't given a thought to what qualifications he might be looking for in a manager and had not put together a list of candidates. He said that work would start Monday.

We know this about Daly--nothing gets in the way of his time off.

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DID YOU NOTICE that once it came out that Kevin Malone had supposedly talked to the Giants' Dusty Baker, Baker began to act like a Dodger manager, mishandling his bullpen and not pinch-hitting for a starting pitcher with the bases loaded and the season on the line?

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NEW YORK MAY get its subway series, but right now we get Mike Piazza versus Jim Edmonds.

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

"What happened to your football picks for the week? I miss your expertise."

I apologize, Nancy, for not running them last Friday--here they are: Tennessee, Detroit, Miami, New Orleans, Pittsburgh in an upset over the Jets, New England, Washington, Denver, Oakland in overtime, Carolina, the Giants, Baltimore and Arizona.

Record for the week: 13-0.

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

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