It's a basic concept. As a kid, we likely played the game. A group sits in circle, facing inward, while another player, who is "it", walks around tapping or pointing to each player in turn, calling each a "duck" until finally calling one a "goose". Or maybe it is "Duck, Duck, Swann"?
Such is the state of affairs at USC.
Today, Lynn Swann is the new Athletic Director at the University of Southern California.
As was expected, social media has weighed in, and the response was a mix of positive and negative.
#Trojans fans can be brutal. Some of you guys have already written off Lynn Swann. pic.twitter.com/bkkf5iM0Aj— Steve Mason (@SteveMasonESPN) April 13, 2016
A quick glance at Swann's wikipedia page will tell you all about his legendary accomplishments on the field including a National championship, All-American honors and a college career worthy of induction to the College Football Hall of Fame. Swann also played over nine seasons in the NFL, with 336 receptions, 5,462 yards, and 51 touchdowns. Those stats helped get him inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
A worthy candidate by every measurement for any HOF.
Of special note today, he has never served as an athletic director, at any division. He has never hired a coach in any sport.
He's never acted as a fundraiser for a division I institution (though he has raised money as a politician).
In Los Angeles, at this hour, Lynn Swann may be the most powerful man in all of college sports:
Super Star Status,
Hall of Famer,
Athletic Director, USC.
In LA, where stars are manufactured, how could he NOT succeed?
Don't bet on it.
Let's understand a few things; AD's are gatekeepers. Not the main attraction. College sports are about coaches, not athletic director's. I don't want to hear from Greg Byrne at Arizona as much as I want to hear from Rich Rodriguez or Sean Miller. At Oregon, it isn't Rob Mullens I am looking for so much as it is Mark Helfrich or Dana Altman.
For a moment think: it is no longer Clay Helton or Andy Enfield; it's Lynn Swann.
USC has made a conscience decision to hire a figurehead, someone for the media and the alumni base. The thinking is that a link to the lineage, the greatness of USC, cures the ills that ails a program on the cusp of mediocrity.
It won't be Lynn Swann catching the big pass for a touchdown on Saturdays in the Coliseum, or hitting a three pointer to win a game in the NCAA tournament.
But he'll be asked to comment, to opine on USC, success or fail.
USC hired a cheerleader today, a PR rep. They hired someone to, slap backs, and talk about the good ol' days. "He'll be the bridge to a better future", they'll say.
He probably won't.
The NCAA is in unprecedented territory. "Satellite camps" and "pay for play" will be what the next generation of Trojan athletes will wrestle with every single day. Not to mention budgets, rules, and the ‘what if' when a kid or assistant goes "rogue" for the "best of the team".
That happens at D-I programs. Even the best of them.
Look at North Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio State. Everything from study tables to tattoos.
Athletic Director isn't an introductory gig at USC. "Learning as you go" seldom yields results that are page one in anybody's resume.
Maybe he'll best the conventional wisdom. I just wouldn't bet on it.
USC shouldn't either.
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