McKay Corner 7/24

A weekly look at former USC coach John McKay

Coach McKay's Corner - 7/23/01

Coach's thoughts on what brought him to USC:

      "During my years as an assistant at Oregon, I met the man who suggested I come to USC, badgered me until I agreed to, and then was instrumental in my becoming head coach. His name is Nick Pappas, now USC's director of athletic support groups (sic). Nick led the Trojans in rushing back in 1935 when he had more hair.
      Pappas was a USC assistant under Jess Hill from 1950 to 1956, and he and I often bumped in to each other while scouting. I guess my scouting methods impressed him. When Nick was scouting, he spread paper everywhere and worked furiously, taking down everything that happened on the field. Meanwhile I scarcely took a note, puffed cigars and went out at halftime for hotdogs. Nick spent his halftimes shuffling all that paper. It looked like a paper drive.
      Occasionally, he missed a player or two and he'd have to ask me how an end was slanting or where a tackle lined up or something like that, and I'd tell him. Or I might peek over his shoulder and correct a defense he had copied down. So Nick would leave me and tell people "That son of a bitch McKay is a genius." Well, McKay wasn't a genius. He just had a more simple method.
      If you only scout Notre Dame by film, for example, you'll be in trouble, because they're sneaky, like we are. They slow their films down so the players don't seem as quick as they are. Some of them look like they are running in glue. I've fallen for that routine before. You think somebody you're going to play isn't too fast and then you get down on the sideline and they're running every which way and knocking the hell out of you. Other teams con you by speeding their films up. They look like the Keystone Kops.
      Besides impressing Pappas when we scouted together, I guess I startled him a couple more times when Oregon beat USC. One time we stung them with a surprise quarterback sneak off tackle that went 66 yards for a touchdown. Another time they were favored to beat us, but we shut them out, 25-0. They never could figure out our defense.
      After both games the USC coach, first Jess Hill then later Don Clark, went into our dressing room to ask Len Casanova about the quarterback sneak, then about the defense. Pappas went with Hill and Clark. On both occasions Cas gave them his big charming smile, pointed at me and said, "Ask John. He put it in." Pappas filed away all those memories."

All above from McKay: A Coach's Story by John McKay & Jim Perry (1974)
Next week: more of how John McKay became USC's head football coach

RIP Coach McKay.
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