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USC hired inexperienced alum Lynn Swann as AD, which is so very USC

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He played at USC, is widely respected and has a solid reputation. Most importantly, he played at USC.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Pro Football Hall of Famer, former USC wide receiver and former television broadcaster Lynn Swann is the Trojans' new athletic director, the school announced Wednesday. That's surprising!

According to Wikipedia (since I confess to not keeping track of Mr. Swann over the years), here's what he's been up to since leaving the broadcasting business:

In October 2009, Swann joined the Augusta National Golf Club. He is a dues-paying member of the home of the Masters golf tournament, which is held every April.

On August 19, 2010, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that Swann would be a part of the ownership team for Pittsburgh's AFL expansion franchise, which began playing in the spring of 2011. Swann has said that, despite his football experience, he doesn′t interfere in the day-to-day coaching, although he will occasionally give some advice.

Swann made an appearance, playing himself in the role of a sideline reporter at the "Bourbon Bowl", in the 1998 Adam Sandler comedy feature film The Waterboy.

He was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame on December 30, 2013 at the Pasadena Convention Center.

On April 13th, 2016, Swann was named the next Athletic Director of the University of Southern California, succeeding retiring Pat Haden.

The former Pittsburgh Steeler also ran to be the governor of Pennsylvania in 2006 and has endorsed various Republicans and so forth.

He has no major experience in college athletics administration, let alone at this level. But that's nothing new.

"The last USC AD with previous experience was Mike McGee, who led the Trojans department from 1984-93," per Coaching Search.

Our USC blog's initial reaction to the Swann hire:

Hiring USC people to do important jobs just because they're USC people is kind of USC's thing.

Look at their last three football head coaching hires.

  • In 2010, the Trojans hired Lane Kiffin, who was 7-6 in college and 5-15 in the NFL at the time. He'd need five more seasons and a stint under Nick Saban before he'd be taken seriously by most people as an eventual Power 5 head coaching candidate. They hired him because he worked for Pete Carroll at USC.
  • In 2014, the Trojans hired Steve Sarkisian, who'd taken five years to fully turn around Washington, but had overall done a pretty good job in the Pac-12. They hired him because he also worked for Carroll, seemingly trying the same thing all over again and hoping it would work out differently.
  • For 2016, the Trojans hired Clay Helton, the frequent interim who currently has a 6-4 record as a stopgap part-time head coach. They hired him because he worked at USC a long time and has absolutely been less bad than his various temporary bosses.

So why would the search for a new athletic director be any different? Previous AD Haden, who stepped down amid health concerns, was a star USC player in the 1970s. Haden's record of coaching hires proved highly suspect. So USC chose to do exactly the same thing again, hiring one of Haden's college teammates.

That's so USC. One extremely informal poll reveals this is a common reaction among college football fans:

Will he be a good AD? Maybe!

The most important tasks are staying out of NCAA trouble, keeping boosters happy and hiring good head coaches in the revenue sports. The importance of avoiding the NCAA goes without saying for USC, and hiring good coaches should be easy (you'd think) with USC's resources. Good coaches thus keep boosters happy. Swann could perform well at all that stuff.

But there's no reason to assume he will, just as there's no reason to think USC looked far beyond the portraits on its own walls, which is indeed so USC.