The Raiders had the right idea when they picked a quarterback in the first round of the 1991 draft after Jay Schroeder showed that he could take them to the AFC championship game, but not the Super Bowl. . . .
The problem was that they took the wrong quarterback. . . .
They should have chosen Southern Mississippi senior Brett Favre instead of USC sophomore Todd Marinovich. . . .
It turned out that Marinovich’s Raider career lasted as long as his USC playing career--two seasons. . . .
His erratic off-the-field behavior led to his early departure from both places. Surfing and partying often seemed to be more important than football to someone who was programmed to be a quarterback from his infancy by his father, Marv, also a former Trojan and Raider. . . .
I have never seen a more mature freshman than Marinovich the day he led USC on a drive nearly the entire length of the field in Pullman to beat Washington State in the closing moments. . . .
I have never seen a more immature sophomore than Marinovich the day he argued with USC Coach Larry Smith on the sidelines during the fourth quarter of a defeat to Michigan State in the John Hancock Bowl. . . .
Marinovich was arrested on drug charges after the season, but the Raiders, partial to renegades, believed they might have drafted the next Kenny Stabler when they took the southpaw with the 24th over-all pick. . . .
Favre was selected in the second round by Atlanta, threw five passes his rookie season, and was traded for a first-round pick to Green Bay, where he developed into one of the NFL’s best young quarterbacks last season. . . .
Oh, yes. On the day they cut Marinovich, the Raiders agreed to terms with Rocket Ismail, who was taken in the fourth round of the ’91 draft after signing a four-year contract with Toronto of the Canadian League.
John Robinson can only hope that his return-to-college- football season turns out as well as Bill Walsh’s did after Stanford lost to Texas A&M; in the Disneyland Pigskin Classic last year. . . .
USC might have to go to a ball-control offense after the injury to starting tailback Dwight McFadden--a ball- control passing offense, that is. . . .
About the only Trojan bright spots on opening night against North Carolina were the accurate throws of quarterback Rob Johnson, especially to his tight ends and running backs, and the excellent pass protection he got. . . .
Robinson’s worst fear was realized when the Trojans appeared to be a step slow all night. . . .
The baseball season isn’t dead yet in Southern California, where the great rookie home run and RBI derby between Angel outfielder Tim Salmon and Dodger catcher Mike Piazza might go down to the last day. . . .
Salmon has 28 homers and 85 RBIs with 32 games left; Piazza has 27 homers and 84 RBIs with 33 games left. . . .
Piazza’s next home run will tie him with Matt Nokes for the major league rookie catcher record. Nokes hit 32 in 1989 for the Detroit Tigers, but only 28 during games in which he caught. . . .
A first baseman, Mark McGwire of the Oakland Athletics, hit 49 homers as a rookie in 1987. . . .
Don’t expect Vince Coleman to regain the National League stolen base leadership from the Florida Marlins’ Chuck Carr. . . .
The Boston Red Sox gave up on Phil Plantier too soon. . . .
Much of the Cy Young Award talk has been about the Giants’ John Burkett and Billy Swift, but the Atlanta Braves’ Steve Avery is making a strong bid. The Braves have won 21 of Avery’s last 23 starts. . . .
Reggie Jackson’s brother, James, has been selected as executive director of the Negro League Baseball Players Assn. . . .
The Colorado Rockies will have a larger home attendance than the Philadelphia Phillies for the entire decade of the 1930s. . . .
In their final season at Municipal Stadium, the Cleveland Indians will draw 2 million fans for the first time since 1949. . . .
The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, despite being in last place in the second-half standings, set a California League home attendance record of 331,995, smashing the old mark by 112,561. . . .
Look-alikes: Long Beach Little League star Sean Burroughs and former Atlanta Braves slugger Bob Horner. . . .
The Bullfrog-Blade International Roller Hockey playoff game tonight at Anaheim Arena will mark the first postseason game between professional teams from Anaheim and Los Angeles. . . .
South African lightweight Pheneas Nhlengetwa pronounces his last name the way it looks.