A few years ago, I started researching past USC coaching staffs, to demonstrate how many future head coaches/big-time assistants were on the staff.
At the bottom, I will recap the 1972 USC staff. But let’s look at this staff:
Clancy Pendergast: Zero personality and zero interest from other schools/NFL teams.
Graham Harrell: A puffed-up profile from all the offseason hype but has been a bust in first five games. Plus do you want Eb Dawson leading your program?
John Baxter: Known within coaching circles for self-serving, odd demeanor. Not to mention awful special teams play.
Mike Jinks: Fired after two seasons at Bowling Green.
Greg Burns: Bounced around Pac-12 going from USC to Oregon State until Clay Helton rescued him. Career assistant.
Johnny Nansen: Stays close to Helton. Keeps job.
Chad Kauha’aha’a: Seems competent but the d-line is not dominant.
Keary Colbert: Former USC star receiver establishing himself.
Tim Drevno: Fired by Jim Harbaugh. Doing nothing this season. Not a head coach.
OK, now let’s check with 1972:
- There was Ray George, who was an actual member of the Thundering Herd teams of 1937-39 and one of the greatest linemen in USC history. He played on the 1938 team that upset top-ranked Notre Dame and previously unbeaten and unscored-upon Duke in the 1939 Rose Bowl. He later became the head coach at Texas A&M and beat coaching legends Bud Wilkinson (Oklahoma), Red Sanders (UCLA) and Bear Bryant (Kentucky).
- Then there was wide receivers coach Wayne Fontes, who was the Detroit Lions head coach from 1988-96. He is the only Lions coach to lead the team to the NFC championship game (1991) and he drafted Hall of Fame tailback Barry Sanders over some objections.
- Offensive coordinator John Robinson succeeded John McKay at USC, where he won a national title, and also coached the Los Angeles Rams, where he reached two NFC title games.
- Willie Brown was a former star player and also coached in Tampa Bay with John McKay. He got fired when he stood up to McKay over who should play wide receiver.
- Craig Fertig became the head coach at Oregon State (1976-79).
- Dave Levy was just inducted into the USC Hall of Fame and can stand next to anyone in coaching acumen. Find a former USC player who doesn’t think Levy was the best coach on the staff and should have succeeded McKay.
- Marv Goux is Mr. USC, the most inspirational assistant coach or coach in school history.
- Don Lindsey later became USC’s defensive coordinator under Robinson and worked as an assistant for Bryant, Frank Broyles, Lou Holtz, Bill Curry and Jim Sweeney among others.