Saturday, September 4, 1999

R A I N B O W _ F O O T B A L L

Rainbows also
must battle USC

Besides the Trojans' superior
talent, Hawaii must deal with
the school's celebrated
football history

Bullet See also: Game Face

By Paul Arnett


There is a mystique about the Southern California Trojans that doesn't end at the Los Angeles city limits.

From coast to coast and points in between and beyond, people have heard of the USC Trojans. They have seen them play in the famed Coliseum. They know of the illustrious alumni, on both the football field and the back lots of major Hollywood studios.

The media guide calls it 111 years of tradition. Imagine, USC's first football game against Alliance AC in November of 1888 came when King David Kalakaua ruled the sovereign nation of Hawaii.

USC can boast of eight national championships, four Heisman Trophy winners, 28 Rose Bowl appearances and 121 All-Americans. These football heroes walked the same halls as several future film stars, including John Wayne, Tom Selleck and Marlo Thomas.



Bullet When: 6:35 p.m., tonight
Bullet Where: Aloha Stadium
Bullet TV: Live on KFVE
Bullet Radio: Live on KCCN
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Movie moguls Steven Spielberg and George Lucas and equally effective directors Ron Howard, Robert Zemeckis and John Singleton graduated with the likes of Marcus Allen, Charles White, O.J. Simpson, Mike Garrett, Keyshawn Johnson, Bruce Matthews, Junior Seau, Frank Gifford and Pat Haden.

Even Hawaii's Los Angeles-based contingent, which will do battle with the No. 21-ranked Trojans tonight at Aloha Stadium, can't escape the powers of USC's past. This week, they spoke in reverent tones when describing their feelings of playing the Trojans.

"When you grow up there, all you hear about is SC and UCLA,'' said starting offensive tackle Adrian Klemm. He played his high school ball in Santa Monica, Calif., and looks forward to going helmet to helmet with the men of Troy.

"This is a great opportunity for us,'' Klemm said. "We have nothing to lose. It's going to make other people notice us, if we go out and beat a quality team like USC.''

The casual fan still sees USC as a top-ranked foe, but influential members of the alumni may be taking a more critical view. While this program is steeped in tradition - USC still plays Notre Dame every season - it has been awhile since the Trojans finished No. 1.

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They haven't won a national championship since 1978, coincidentally the last time they played the Rainbows. And USC hasn't produced a Heisman Trophy winner since Allen turned the trick in 1981.

This perceived lack of success has been particularly tough on the coaches. Over the last 20 years, John Robinson (two different terms), Ted Tollner and Larry Smith have tried to recapture the magic, only to fall short of pulling a rabbit out of their hat.

Now it's up to Paul Hackett, who in his second season will be trying to lead USC back to the promised land.

"We were disappointed at how things ended last year,'' Hackett said. "We accomplished some things, but we weren't satisfied. Our team can and hopefully will do better this season.''

The first time around the Pac-10 block party would have been a successful one for Hackett had USC not stumbled and fallen to Texas Christian in the Sun Bowl.

Granted, then top-ranked UCLA beat USC for an eighth consecutive time. The Trojans also lost to bowl-bound Oregon and Florida State. But they did beat Purdue and Notre Dame to improve on back-to-back mediocre campaigns under Robinson and should have an opportunity to compete for the Pac-10 title this season.

"I want to win every game every time I step on the field,'' said sophomore quarterback Carson Palmer. "We learned last year at the Sun Bowl not to take any team for granted, including Hawaii. If we want to be a top 10 program, we have to prove it on the field each weekend.''

Palmer is not alone in wanting to make a run for the Rose Bowl. Talented teammates Chad Morton at tailback and R. Jay Soward at wideout possess the kind of talent necessary to be a title contender.

"We know this game is going to be tough,'' said Soward. "But if we take care of business on the field, hopefully this will be the first of many wins for us this season.''

That's the kind of talk Hackett likes to hear. He just hopes they can walk the walk and help him achieve his first national title as a head coach. He was an assistant under Robinson during the 1978 championship season as was former UH defensive coordinator Don Lindsey. Hackett and former UH head coach Fred vonAppen also won a Super Bowl together in San Francisco.

"I know what it's like to be on a championship football team,'' Hackett said. "And I believe we can have a program like that here at USC once again. We have a proud tradition at USC. Each of our players knows that and wants to be a part of something special.''
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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