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This Was Only a Sample of USC's Football Woes

October 22, 2000|T.J. SIMERS

I would say Paul Hackett's chances of returning now as Trojan football coach are about the same as my chances of getting a return call from USC President Steven Sample.

For all I know Sample still doesn't know USC's football team lost Saturday, because I'm not sure anybody can get through to him.

However, it's one thing to lose games to traditional football factories like Oregon and Oregon State, but when it becomes a test of brainpower and USC can't keep up with Stanford, and Trojan donors are screaming, "What an idiot," I'm guessing an academic-minded Sample is going to hear about it.

But who knows? Maybe it's the prez's goal to make USC the Harvard of the West. If so, he already has his Ivy League-like football team.

They are going to have to redo Sample's bio in the Trojans' football media guide next season to note the fact no other president at USC has ever presided over a football program that has opened a Pac-10 season with four consecutive defeats.


LAST WEEK SAMPLE gave a vote of confidence to Athletic Director Mike Garrett, which makes you wonder if he should be allowed to participate in the presidential election.

Obviously what he should have done was give Hackett a cheat sheet to help pass the test at Stanford. Ask yourself this: How many times during a USC football game do you find yourself yelling: "What was that guy thinking?"

On fourth and two with a little more than five minutes to play and a 10-point lead, USC blitzed Stanford, and Stanford ran the ball, and because USC blitzed, there was no one to stop Stanford after busting through the line--not for a first down, but for a 20-yard touchdown.

USC's preseason-hyped defense, by the way, has been a no-show, and while Hackett knows nothing about defense, he doesn't have to make it so obvious.

The game with Stanford, however, was still the Trojans to win after the Cardinal botched the extra-point attempt. But Hackett has majored in conservatism at USC, and if he flunks out, it will be because he took this course of action far too often.

On third down, and with enough yards to go that it should have been a no-brainer to call on Carson Palmer's talents, the Trojans ran, stopping two yards shy of a first down. They had to punt, giving Stanford the ball against USC's defense, and you probably already knew what outcome was going to be.

It could have been worse, of course. Had Stanford not carried on as if they didn't expect to beat USC, they would not have been penalized for excess celebrating and would have added the extra point to really pile it on.


WHO GOOFED? I'VE got to know. After UCLA and USC had played six games earlier this season, they were a combined 6-0; now they are a combined 7-7.

Over the last two years, UCLA's Bob Toledo is 8-10--Hackett is 9-10.


THE BRUINS HAVE sunk so low that even UCLA wide receiver Freddie Mitchell was left speechless. "I'll stay out of trouble that way," he said.

Mitchell was one of the students interviewed on the UCLA campus for the Jay Leno show, which aired Thursday night.

Asked who the first president was, Mitchell said, "Benjamin."

When asked what the Democratic Party symbol was, he replied, "the eagle."

As Mitchell explained to everyone after appearing on the show: "You don't get on TV giving the right answers."


UCLA HAD THE BALL first against Oregon State, but Bruin fans know better than to start counting their doughnuts. For the fifth consecutive home game the opposition scored first, negating a Krispy Kreme promotion that awards each fan with a box of doughnuts in the unlikely event UCLA scores first.


SHAQUILLE O'NEAL AND the Lakers' crowd have already taken to him, but I have a feeling before this season is over there are going to be a few NBA players who think rookie Mark Madsen is downright annoying.

As Coach Phil Jackson noted the other night, you know what you are always going to get from him: "Intensity."

Known as "Mad Dog," he is. It's like trying to keep a golden retriever from fetching a ball, and Madsen already has the black eye to prove he doesn't surrender easily--his second black eye in the same eye in the same week.

"I've always been a scrapper," Madsen explained. "There's a little finesse in the bag, but it might be a few years before I whip that out."

Remember, Mad Dog's still just a puppy.


HOW'S THIS FOR a new one? Mike Tyson has a fight, and everyone leaves the bout thinking the other guy needs psychological help.


THE BIG TEN representative in the Rose Bowl will be Purdue and quarterback Drew Brees if the Boilermakers win their final three games.

Purdue has a home game against Ohio State, followed by a trip to Michigan State and a home contest against Indiana.


THE GOOD THING about Fox owning the rights to every World Series, playoff and All-Star game is every man, woman and child now has the opportunity to get on TV. Extra innings for the first game of the World Series forced Fox to start showing every fan in the stands a second time.


I POINTED OUT Friday that schools traditionally schedule weak sisters for homecoming opponents, noting that USC was going to be Stanford's homecoming guest Saturday.

I forgot that Cal's homecoming guest last week had been UCLA.


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

"I just want you to know that I have been a life-long Angel fan."

Say it ain't so, Joe.


T.J. Simers can be reached at his e-mail address:

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