Lynn Swann, who was never really in, is out as USC’s athletic director.
He resigned today, two days after the decision to retain Clay Helton doesn’t look like the worst development of Swann’s tenure.
(There have been many bad developments.)
Fortunately for the Trojans, the Hotline has been pondering possible replacements for Swann for weeks — because Swann’s departure was inevitable.
Above all, USC must hire someone who understands major college athletics and major college football and did not play for the Trojans and hasn’t been on staff during the recent tumult.
After Pat Haden and Swann, they cannot turn around and hire Keyshawn.
If I’m advising president Carol Folt, the search is a three step process:
Step 1. Call Rick George (and get turned down).
George is in his seventh year at Colorado after serving as president of business operations for the Rangers (the Texas Rangers).
He was recruiting director for CU during the national title run under Bill McCartney, understands the challenges within college sports — he’s on the Working Group assigned to find a solution to the Name, Image, Likeness issue — and checks every box.
He would be the sheriff, coming in to clean up the mess.
Except, I would guess, George doesn’t check the box that involves a willingness to take the job.
He qualifies as a call you have to make, even though the answer is probably a no.
Step 2: Interview a handful of qualified candidates who might consider the job.
(There are plenty of qualified sitting ADs who, in our estimation, would not be interested. They are not listed here.)
UNLV athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois:
Don’t hold her alma maters against her. (She was a rower at UCLA and got her law degree from Arizona).
Reed-Francois has worked at Cal, Fresno State, Tennessee and was the No. 2 at Virginia Tech — she oversaw daily operations of the football program — before taking the UNLV job two years ago.
Colorado State athletic director Joe Parker:
He orchestrated a $38 million naming rights agreement for CSU’s football stadium, which is really all you need to know about Parker’s ability.
Yep: $38 million from Public Services Credit Union for a stadium in Fort Collins.
But if you’re curious about his background: All-American swimmer at Michigan, stints at Oklahoma and Texas.
Iowa State’s Jamie Pollard:
Highly respected in the industry, and he hired Matt Campbell.
And Fred Hoiberg.
Also: Matt Campbell.
Villanova’s Mark Jackson:
The only former Trojan on this list — but he’s not an alumnus.
Jackson is from New England, worked in the NFL and was the Chief Innovation officer at USC before moving to Villanova.
We’ll make the call; we’d talk it through; but Jackson would have to make an extremely compelling case because the Trojans are in desperate need of new blood.
Which brings us to step three …
Step 3: Hire the no-brainer, absolute No. 1 option: Washington State’s Pat Chun.
Fundraising acumen? Check.
Willingness to leave his current post? Check.
(That’s my assumption, only because Chun is not from the Pacific Northwest and didn’t attend WSU.)
Background in major college football at a blue-blood school? Check.
He spent 15 years on the athletic department staff at Ohio State.
Proven foresight for hiring head coaches? Check.
Chun hired Lane Kiffin at Florida Atlantic, which would not be a good move at USC but was a stroke of brilliance at FAU.
And brilliance, like defense, travels.
Chun gets college sports, understand football, is relentless with donors, alumni and former players and would establish an infrastructure and culture that would greatly reduce the likelihood of future embarrassment.
It’s so obvious, even the USC administration should see it.