Southern California Coach Hackett Fired
L O S A N G E L E S, Nov. 27 -- Paul Hackett was fired as SouthernCalifornia’s football coach today, two days after the Trojanscompleted their first losing season since 1991 and just their thirdin the last 39 years.
Hackett had two years remaining on the five-year contract hesigned in 1997 as the successor to John Robinson. It’s believedHackett, an assistant under Robinson at USC from 1976-80, is beingpaid a buyout estimated at $800,000.
The school said a search for a new coach will begin immediately.
Hackett was to speak at a news conference later in the day.
Harsh Words for Hackett
USC had a 19-18 record under Hackett, including a 5-7 mark thisseason.
“Unfortunately, his hard work over the past three years has nottranslated into success on the field,” athletic director MikeGarrett said. “He has not made the consistent progress that weexpect at USC.”
It was a year that began with great promise when the Trojansopened with wins over Penn State, Colorado and San Jose State torise to eighth in the rankings.
However, a 31-21 loss at No. 5 Oregon State in the Pac-10 openerfollowed, triggering USC’s first last-place finish in theconference. The Trojans actually wound up tied for the cellar inthe Pac-10 with a 2-6 record, including losses at home toCalifornia and Washington State.
Hackett’s fate probably was sealed with a five-game losingstreak this season. If there was any hope, it most likely wassnuffed out with the 33-27 loss to Washington State on Nov. 11.
The Trojans topped crosstown rival UCLA 38-35 a week later,giving them an opportunity to beat the Bruins and Notre Dame in thesame year for the first time since 1981. However, mistakes played amajor role in a 38-21 loss to the No. 11 Fighting Irish on Saturdaybefore a crowd of 81,342 at the Coliseum.
The Trojans had two punts blocked that Notre Dame turned intotouchdowns, and committed three turnovers, giving them 36 for theseason compared to 17 for the opposition. The kicking game was amess all year, and careless penalties and clock mismanagement alsocropped up often.
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