Brandon Hance: Exit Interview

WeAreSC will conduct a series of interviews with Trojan seniors to get their thoughts on a wide variety of subjects relating to their experiences at USC. Our first edition will feature quarterback Brandon Hance.

What did being a member of the Trojan family, who happens to play football mean to you?
When I was being recruited here to SC, one of the big sales pitches they had was "If you go to UCLA, you'll be a Bruin for four years, but if you come to USC, you'll be a Trojan for life." And obviously, when you haven't had the opportunity to experience that, you might see that as being a little hokey, or corny, or that it's just a sales pitch. But having that opportunity to actually be involved with the program, I think that's as real as anything they can say. The alumni, the fans, the coaching staff is so close knit, it's been a great opportunity for me.

Was it a tough decision to come to USC?
I think it's a tough decision for anybody, you know, you always second guess yourself, there's always going to be two, three, four schools that are in your top choices that you are deciphering between, but in the end, I think you just need to go with your gut and be resolute in your decision

Many fans are curious of what players hang out with other players, who were your best friends on the team this year?
I think this year; especially the quarterbacks have all gotten really close, me, Billy, obviously Leinart, and Cassel, especially. And I hang out with Greig Carlson a lot; he's one of my good high school buddies. But to be honest with you, SC, another thing that is so unique about it, is the fact that everyone is so close on the team. At Purdue, it was pretty segregated, either by region; you know some guys were from the Midwest, we had about twenty guys from Texas, or the East Coast, or by position, or by ethnicity. But at SC it's pretty interchangeable, we're all pretty close, but if I had to say one specific group of friends, it's definitely the quarterbacks.

Anyone who has caught a pass from you before knows that you throw one of the tightest spirals anyone has ever seen in the history of mankind, growing up did you always know you wanted to be a college quarterback?
Yeah, absolutely.

Did you play any other sports in high school?
In high school, I was a big martial artist. Growing up, I played all the sports, from roller hockey, to basketball, football, baseball, all of it, but I ended up giving up baseball because at the time, my stepfather was a professional baseball player and my uncle was a professional baseball player. So when you're young and you've have them screaming through the fence, "Get your elbow up!!" or do this and that, I was like, "Man, the hell with that, I'm going to pursue something that no one in my family has really been successful with." I always had a strong arm so I just chose to go with football and that was it, but in high school, it was football, martial arts, and a little bit of track.

When you were in high school, did you have a favorite college team? You were an LA kid, but was there a team you really cheered for?
No, not really.

You started as a freshman quarterback at Purdue and were pretty much a phenom to start as a freshman, what did it feel like this year to be a senior and watch other freshmen get their chance to be on the field and just be on the other side of the coin?
Obviously, it's bittersweet, but at the same time, I'm happy for everyone who is getting the opportunity to do it. For me, I don't have any bad feelings about coming to SC. A lot of people always ask me, "Do you regret leaving Purdue?" and all these things. And for me, I've had a great experience here; yeah I was a starter, but I've had the opportunity to be on two national championship teams. I have a lot of really great friends, good education, all kinds of things. So I'm happy with my decision and obviously, certain things don't necessarily work out, and that's the way things unfold, but I don't have any regrets.

You had some pretty tough breaks, with injuries, sickness, and getting stitches for the most random reasons, what was the hardest thing for you to overcome while you were at USC?
Well, it's just my shoulder for sure. The knee injury, I was able to come back no problem. The meningitis, you know, I lost a lot of weight and it set me back right before the season last year, you know while we were competing, so I wasn't really able to do any of the summer workouts. But it's just my shoulder, still to this day, I still have shoulder problems. It was really tough to come back from. It's just frustrating because you have to come everyday before practice and stretch it out, put heat on it, and afterwards ice it, but it's for sure my shoulder.

Being a Division-1 College Quarterback, how did that help prepare you for any of your future career plans?
I think just for anybody, regardless of which career you decide to choose afterwards, college athletics prepares you because number one, the discipline. We have to be ready to be on the track, at 5:55 in the morning, five days a week in the spring. And teamwork, the camaraderie, having passion for what you do, competitiveness, all those things that can help you with any industry, no matter what you want to do. For me personally, I'm obviously pursuing [a career] in the entertainment business, so that also just gives me an additional thing on my resume because people associate with USC Football and a lot of people know about it, so it's given me an opportunity to meet a lot of people.

So you don't think there's any chance that we'll ever see a Brandon Hance jersey running around maybe in the Arena Football field or any other field?
I don't think so…It's not 100%, but it's pretty close.

In your past few years, do you have one favorite memory from your time with USC Football?
I don't think I have really one specific memory that stands out above others… It's kind of different because when you're not playing, there's nothing that really jumps out amongst the rest. It's kind of like; you were just able to soak everything up. The thing is, from this year, from having the opportunity to play as a freshman and to end your career not actually being a starting quarterback; you have such a different perspective. So coming into this season, I obviously knew that, so I made a conscious decision to almost be able to sit back and just be able to enjoy everything. When you're really in the moment, you're thinking so much about what the other team is doing and the game, play by play, but this year, it was more like, ‘Let's just sit back and really enjoy the guys, these victories, road trips, the plane rides, all that stuff.' To me, it's the little stuff more so than the National Championship victory or anything like that.

What would you say are the main differences between USC and Purdue? Not just geographically, but in terms of fan base and tradition, can you feel a difference between the two programs on campus and off?
Well, the thing is that so much of it just comes back to culture, just the culture of LA versus the small down of West Lafayette, Indiana. So like you said, a lot of that just results in bandwagon fans, even though I hate to say it; but I think fans just become fans anyways. To be honest with you, I found just as many crazy, die-hard fans living in LA as I saw at Purdue, which kind of came as a surprise to me. Because I thought that, you know, you go into the Kansas State's and the Washington State's, in all these kind of small, rural towns and people say "Oh, they have nothing else to do." But then you're in LA, and you see these people who, I mean thousands upon thousands of people who know everyone down to our Walk-Ons, what high school they went to, high school stats, and stuff like that, just crazy fans. So I don't really know if there is much of a difference, other than appearance and clothes, fans are kind of just fans.

What are some of the differences between this coaching staff and Purdue's coaching staff? Say you compare Joe Tiller and Pete Carroll, not just the fan base.
I would say that in terms of just the program, I would say that something that stands far and above and beyond is just how much fun we have at SC. I think there's a certain amount of professionalism that goes without being said. We all come to work, we prepare and we're ready to go. But once that's been established, it's like "Let's have the best time that we possibly can. Let's have good relationships with the coaches, and not just make it seem like it's some tyranny and they have such authority over all of our lives." And I think that's a main difference, they don't do anything here to drive us into the ground. I think we're just a collective unit. The coaches obviously coach and the players play, but at the same time, we're all somewhat on the same level and that's why we've been so successful here.

You've grown up in California all your life, we've had situations on the team both last year and this year with homesickness, people talk about Dwayne Jarrett or Fred Davis, how did that affect you when you went to the middle of the country?
Major, major…I was definitely Dwayne Jarrett times two. Honest to God, I graduated a semester early like the Tings did when they came in. But when I went back there, it was January 14th, and I had literally never seen snow before in my life. So I come to Indianapolis, in one of the biggest snowstorms in years, moving in my little, crappy dorm room, and I'm just sitting in there, looking out the window thinking, "What did I just do?" Literally, there was not a radio station that played any type of contemporary music; their mall was like a flea market, no movie theater, not even a Starbucks. It was really, really difficult for me.

How did you deal with that and what would you recommend to the future out-of-state players now that Coach Carroll is recruiting a lot more nationally?
I think there's a certain amount of homesickness any time you leave, especially if you have a close relationship with your family. I think a lot of times, the guys who have problems, are like "Mama's boys," which is fine, I was one and I know a lot of guys are. The thing is that when you come to a program like SC, specifically, I think that guys don't really have nearly as much to worry about. Because it is such a close-knit, family-oriented football program that we have here. I think that your teammates will be able to carry you through those times, as well as the coaches. Just stick through it, knowing that at the end, everything is going to work out.

What do you think the main differences are between Coach Sarkisian and Coach Smith? And what does having Coach Smith bring to the program?
I think obviously, Coach Smith just brings so much experience. I was talking to Coach Davis actually, on the flight home about some of the coaches on our staff and he was just like, "Coach Smith has forgotten more football that I have ever known," to put things in perspective that way. It's just different coaching styles, so Coach Sarkisian is obviously used to being around college athletes, where they constantly have to be on you…from class to the weight room to the football field. When I think that Coach Smith, with his background being from the NFL and professional athletes, so he won't be as much "in your face" or as demanding, he expects you to do all that…But with this group of quarterbacks, because I think we all pretty much have the discipline to do the right things, work hard, and all that stuff, so I loved Coach Smith. I had a great season with Coach Smith. I think all the quarterbacks did. I'm going to miss him; I'm going to miss him a lot.

Do you think you would ever be interested in coaching at the high school or college level?
I think it's unlikely that I would ever want to coach at the Division I level, just with the time necessary to be a successful Division I coach. Even now, I coach some high school kids on weekends; there's this program I do. And every summer, I've done this deal with student sports, we've done a four to five day camp with high school quarterbacks, so I love doing that. I love giving back and staying around the game. But in terms of being a full-time coach, I don't think that that's in my cards.
In one word, as hard as this might be to do, in one word, can you summarize these past few years with USC Football?
[Without hesitation] Awesome.

Anything else you want to say to the USC faithful fans, or the Brandon Hance faithful fans, before you bow out of the USC Football spotlight?
Just thank you for a great, great three years and keep it going. I don't want to see SC fall off; keep winning championship, make all of us alumni proud. That's it. Top Stories