Let’s Look At The USC Coaching Staff

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.

36 thoughts on “Let’s Look At The USC Coaching Staff

  1. Great photo. Looks like Kermit Johnson getting tackled? ucla #64 looks like he could start today for the bruins.

    Those were the days…good people wanted to work with McKay.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Just cuz all our position coaches were fired from their last 3 jobs doesn’t mean they’re not a good fit at USC….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That was probably the secret of USC’s success…..their assistants. They had a lot of great assistants that you didn’t even mention. Assistants are really the ones who do all the coaching. But great assistant are drawn to a great HC. They won’t come to a program where the HC is on the hotseat and they may be looking for another job next year.

    Liked by 6 people

      1. Sir,

        I don’t think SC will beat ND with the present staff that they have. If I am wrong, then let me know and I will admit it. I do hope they beat nd, but the team is too undisciplined to play in that game and win. If they had the ’72 staff, then yes, SC wins by a lot. It is just my opinion


  4. John Baxter’s ability to hang around USC even though he sucks right now might be due to a book he authored on how to make kids not hate school and love learning.

    Helps give the impression that the “student – athletes” on the football team are really “student – athletes.”


    Liked by 1 person

    1. If he’s like me he forgot his password. At work I have three the shortest of which is 14 characters long with a capital letter, number and special character. Here it’s an expletive and another school name.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. So what you are saying is; if we took the football brains available on our coaching staff and combined them into a ball, and jammed that ball up the ass of an ant, they would still roll around like a pea in a boxcar?
    Aren’t you being a bit generous? (Unless you were talking about the Theif ant – about 1/32 of an inch long)

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Memo to: Kal86 @ Strawberry dump

    I never had the grades to contemplate a university education like you claim.

    But, I do know the difference betwixt the possessive form of the second person pronoun “your,” and “you’re,” the contraction of you are.

    Perhaps 86, an ESL course might be helpful.

    #Prortal on


  7. You are comparing the current USC coaching staff against the 1972 USC coaching staff that was part of possibly one of the top five greatest teams of all time? You are also comparing what that coaching staff went on to do, as compared to what the current staff has already done. That would be like comparing John McKay’s NFL record (44-88-1) to Pete Carroll’s (84-18) at USC and conclude that McKay sucked as a coach.
    I am not saying this current staff will go on to be great coaches in the future, but come on sw, you can do better than that, right? .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good post, USCDude. But Wolfie loves to stir the pot with outrageous accusations and points-of-view, and his “5&10 Show” built this blog for him.


    1. Mule go stand on Colorado blvd and hand out comp tickets so Mr. unlisted phone choc chipster can see people in the stands.


  8. That’s the difference between Clay Helton, and Ed Orgeron. Neither had coordinator’s experience, but one was smart enough to surround himself with top assistants, and the other didn’t feel the need to. Can you imagine Orgeron giving Tee Martin the keys to his offense at LSU, or Clancy Pendergast running his defense, while Neil Calloway coaches the offensive line? 😂😂. Only Helton would select a staff of inexperienced, or washed up clowns like that

    Liked by 5 people

  9. Stop living in the past. I absolutely love SC football history, however, times have changed. In the 60s and 70s, USC could offer 125 scholarships, there was no transfer portal, there was no social media, and there were only 3 major broadcasting companies (basically, if you wanted exposure, you’d go to USC, TX, OK, NB, Bama, Domerville, Ohio St, or Michigan with a few exceptions). The best coaches were where the best players were. Not discrediting them, but eras were different.


  10. Nice trip down memory lane. Marv Goux lived on Olympiad Dr. in View Park in the 1960s. I used to see him watering his lawn all the time.


  11. This may be the worst coaching staff – starting with the head coach – we’ve had in the last three decades. Hard to believe a hall of fame AD didn’t get this and didn’t fire the head coach as his first act. We have a good coach, could do well at Oregon or Cal but we’re SC — we need a great coach that can match the legacy of our program.


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