Monday, September 08, 2014

That one time a USC administrator REALLY yelled at a ref.

USC President John Hubbard, in tie, puts his arm around the shoulder of Homer the Rabbit as USC coach John Robinson looks at 1978 USC-at-Hawaii football game (photo from

 [UPDATE October 2015: If you have arrived here in the aftermath of Steve Sarkisian's alcohol issues -related firing, then please note two points of clarification:
Steve Sarkisian's battle with alcohol is not funny at all. 
This mostly-unrelated story is.
What they have in common is USC football and, almost certainly, booze. Though possibly not even that. Judge for yourself]
[Original post]
USC Athletic Director Pat Haden just got fined $25,000 for talking to a referee on the sideline of the Stanford football game.  I find it impossible that anyone, regardless of rooting interest (other than maybe Haden), could be anything other than wildly amused by this.
However, I'd like to offer some perspective.
When I was covering SC's football team for the student paper in 1993, I heard a rumor about an incident in the even-then distant past.
  A school official on a road trip. A fight with a referee. A flag that nearly cost the team a national title.
When I first heard this story in the early '90s, John Robinson was USC's head coach. As it happened, his 90s run as coach was his second go-around at the school after winning national titles in the 70s. The rumor dated to his first tenure, and involved then-USC President John Hubbard. By the 90s, Hubbard had retired to a tiny office in the middle of campus to leisurely teach history.
   So one afternoon, I stood in the hallway outside his office for 5 minutes psyching myself up to knock on his door and ask him about a rumor that I was sure had to be false.
It was true.
(and by all means, soak in the hopelessly earnest Jim Murray impression)