5 Worst USC football head coaching hires of all time

We count down the five worst head coaching hires in USC football history.

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No. 1 Paul Hackett (1998-2000)

Sometimes, following in the footsteps of greatness is tougher than one might imagine. That's what Paul Hackett found out when he took over for the legendary John Robinson after Robinson's second stint as USC head coach. Though Hackett had all the pedigree one could hope for, it didn't translate into success in L.A. and because he never had any memorable moments as head coach, he tops our list.

On the surface, Hackett seemed like a brilliant hire. He’d worked under legendary NFL coaches such as Bill Walsh, Tom Landry, Marty Schottenheimer, and under Robinson. What's more, he was regarded as one of the brightest minds in the game as the Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator. He had even been a USC assistant during its 1978 co-national championship season.

None of that mattered though. Hackett would go just 19-18 overall in three seasons getting to just one bowl, the 1998 Sun Bowl. He never won a PAC-12 title making him the first coach to fail to do so since Sam Barry (who coached only one season at USC) in 1941.

What was surprising was that Hackett actually recruited well. In fact, he left the cupboard stocked fairly well for his successcor, Carroll, who would win the PAC-12 in just his second year on the job.

However, Hackett couldn't get his talent to execute on the field. That was surprising given that it was expected that he would give USC a strategic advantage since he had been mentored by some of the most iconic coaches in NFL history.

All three seasons of Hackett's tenure saw the program regress. He went 8-5 to start out before a 6-6 campaign and ultimately a 5-6 mark in 2000. That was the program's first losing season since 1991 and only the second since 1983.

Overall, he would go just 10-14 in conference play. That certainly wasn't up to the standard that the program had established.

Unlike other men on this list, there isn't much to point to as a high point for Hackett. He never sniffed a conference crown and only reached one rather insignificant bowl game.

While he didn't have the off-field scandals or embarrassments that other coaches had during their USC tenures, he also never gave Trojan fans anything to believe in. He was an exciting hire when he got the job but that quickly faded when his teams hit the field.

It is hard to have no success at USC. This is a program built for excellence by decades of winning. It is one of the marquee brands in the sports world and at times, the bus almost drives itself to at least eight wins. However, Hackett proved that incompetence can overcome pedigree.

He took over for a coach who had won a National Championship and inherited a healthy and vibrant program. However, he quickly proved to be incapable of leading USC anywhere but to the bottom and so he checks in as the worst USC football coaching hire of all time.