Lynn Swann hire earns more questions than praise for USC

Apr 6, 2016; Augusta, GA, USA; Lynn Swann (left) talks with club members during a practice round prior to the 2016 The Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 6, 2016; Augusta, GA, USA; Lynn Swann (left) talks with club members during a practice round prior to the 2016 The Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports /

Lynn Swann’s selection as the next athletic director at USC was met with skepticism around the country, with media outlets far and wide questioning the move.

“Here we go again,” was the refrain around USC Wednesday after Max Nikias announced the hiring of Lynn Swann as the replacement for Pat Haden.

There USC goes again, tapping a former player without experience to run the athletic department.

And here we go again, with local and national media lambasting Max Nikias and company for the decision to keep a hire firmly within the Trojan family.

Here’s a round up of what commentators had to say about the hire:

Gary Klein of the LA Times:

"USC is big on tradition. Traveler, the white horse, runs the sidelines after touchdowns. The Trojan Marching Band plays “Fight On” after every first down and touchdown. And USC hires former Trojan football stars as athletic director. USC President C.L. Max Nikias did it again Wednesday when he announced that former All-American receiver Lynn Swann would succeed Pat Haden… …The hiring of Swann came as a shock to many, but it probably shouldn’t have."

Ryan Phillips of The Big Lead:

"Swann could wind up being a home run hire, but from the outside looking in, it appears USC is just doing more of what USC tends to do… …Swann is a 64-year-old with experience in the world. I’m just not sure he was on top of anyone’s list as a potential great athletic director. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong, but this just seems like another insular hire from USC."

Aaron Torres of Fox Sports:

"Over the past few months, USC has been searching for a new athletic director, and just about everyone expected the hire to be a home run. After all, when you give one of the most resource-rich athletic departments in the country a full two months to make a move, you’d think they’d go big, right? Well, not exactly. Because in a move that only USC could make, they eschewed all the people with actual experience running a major college athletic department, or even experience working in college sports at all, and instead, went with … Lynn Swann. Yes, Lynn Swann…. …The hire, announced Wednesday, was typical USC. Unfortunately for fans, no program sticks to its roots and relishes in its glory days quite like the Trojans do. And no athletic program has suffered more over the past decade or so because of it. Trojans …Even if he was the best candidate, doesn’t anyone at USC have the sense to say “maybe we should stay away?” “Maybe we shouldn’t hire another former Trojan?” “Maybe we’ll look really bad if this guy doesn’t work out?”"

Ted Miller of ESPN’s Pac-12 Blog:

"This is another seemingly outside-the-box hire — no one saw this coming — that is decidedly inside USC’s box, its comfort zone…. USC could have taken a different approach. As a preeminent national football power, it could have asked a simple question: Who are the nation’s best athletic directors? And then gone after one of them. What about Chris Del Conte at TCU? Or Tom Jurich at Louisville? Or Greg Byrne at Arizona? Or Mark Hollis at Michigan State? Or John Currie at Kansas State? …This is another uncertain move that won’t energize the fan base, just as when Garrett hired Lane Kiffin to replace Carroll, and Haden tapped Sarkisian and Helton. It might work out, but no one will be surprised if it doesn’t. USC football has meandered around since 2008. It’s flirted with returning to national relevance but ultimately proven incapable of mastering itself enough to sustain success. Hiring Swann doesn’t suggest a seriousness about unquestioned competence. It suggests that USC hasn’t learned any lessons from its recent past."

Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports:

"USC refuses to hire somebody that isn’t related to USC. …Since losing Pete Carroll, USC has been doing everything it can to find the next Pete Carroll, yet it absolutely refuses to do the one thing it did to find Carroll. Instead of chasing the ghosts of tradition, USC needs to look to the future at what it could be, not what it has been. The Swann hire just goes to show USC’s not done living in the past yet."

It should be noted that Dan Weber of had a different take on why the Trojans have continued this trend of in-hires and what the new athletic director can do to make the most of his opportunity:

"It’s something of a curse around here. USC has so many great ex-jocks, so many Heisman Trophy winners and Hall of Famers with golden resumes and law degrees, national broadcasting gigs, business success, friends in high places and much more to them than just football that it makes it really hard to go outside the Trojan family — and very easy to stay within…. …Here’s a suggestion from a smart, interested Trojan alum that came our way and we endorse it wholeheartedly. In the more than two months that Lynn has before starting his job, he should visit with the AD’s at the nation’s top programs – Stanford, Notre Dame, Florida, Alabama, Michigan State – and pick their brains. Have a frame of reference before sitting down with the USC staff in July… …Here’s another place having Lynn Swann over an established AD with established and successful coaching ties might just be for the best. No need to be looking over Clay Helton’s shoulder with another guy from another school in mind if…"

The media has made their stance clear as day, but what do the fans think?

Voters on Twitter actually looked quite favorably on the hire, with just under 75% giving Swann a thumbs up.

Those results, while certainly not representative of the entire Trojan fanbase, suggest that through all the skepticism surrounding Swann’s selection there is still optimism within the fanbase.

While media outlets are unlikely to give Swann the benefit of the doubt thanks to past hires, there may be a much needed grace period for him on the grassroots level.