El Paso Isn’t Pits for Hackett

The Sun Bowl has been good to USC Coach Paul Hackett.

He got his first head coaching job in the locker room before the game in 1989, when he was named coach at Pittsburgh shortly before kickoff of a 31-28 victory over Texas A&M.;

“Last time was just craziness,” said Hackett, who had been quarterback coach and was named interim coach in place of Mike Gottfried. “Interviewing for the job, meeting with the president, hammering out the contract. It all took away from the game. It was not a very relaxing time. The game started, and you relaxed a minute, but we ended up having to win by three points in the fourth quarter.

“They made the announcement in the locker room before the game, with CBS cameras in there. The president said the interim was over and I was the head coach.”


Hackett was Pitt’s coach for three seasons, going 13-20-1.


Don’t look for Texas Christian receiver Royce Huffman on third down.

He’ll be on the sidelines, taking off his shoe.

Huffman is TCU’s punter--a barefooted one--as well as the Horned Frogs’ fourth-leading receiver and, what the heck, their leading punt returner.

His shoeless habit limits his role as a receiver, but Huffman said he has no choice.

“If I punted with a shoe on, I’d flat-out embarrass myself. I don’t know if it’s a mental block or what. I learned to punt barefoot playing in the backyard. I just always have.”

As for his multifaceted role on the team: “If a coach came into my home and said, ‘Royce, we expect you to return punts, be a receiver and be our punter,’ I would have said, ‘Get out of here.’ I would have thought it was just a line, a recruiting ploy.”



Ticket sales had only reached 40,800 as of Wednesday evening, with capacity at the Sun Bowl 51,171. USC had to purchase most of its mandatory 8,000-seat allotment itself because of low interest. TCU sold about half of its tickets. . . . TCU has a very big Trojan fan on its team. Receiver Michael Crawford, a sophomore whose 15 catches for 206 yards were second on the team, is from Orange County and grew up with Trojan jerseys in his closet. As a senior at Orange Lutheran, he caught 75 passes for 1,366 yards and 17 touchdowns. . . . The Horned Frogs were planning to bus to Las Cruces, N.M., to spend Wednesday night in another hotel before the game to get away from the bustle in El Paso. . . . USC assistant coach Shawn Slocum’s father’s team is playing Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day, but Slocum said he probably will watch R.C. Slocum’s Texas A&M; team on TV. “I’ll probably just talk to him on the phone. I thought about going, but I think I’ll go home and watch from home in Los Angeles and enjoy it,” said Slocum, who was an assistant to his father with the Aggies for seven years before joining the Trojans. . . . USC defensive tackle Aaron Williams, hampered by a sore ankle, is doubtful for the game. David Pratchard will start at left guard over Jason Grain.

USC (8-4) vs Texas Christian (6-5)



USC (8-4)

27 Purdue 17

35 San Diego State 6

40 Oregon State 20


10 Florida State 30

35 Arizona State 24

31 California 32

42 Washington State 14


13 Oregon 17

33 Washington 10

34 Stanford 9

17 UCLA 34


10 Notre Dame 0



31 Iowa State 21


9 Oklahoma 10

35 Air Force 34

19 Vanderbilt 16

21 Fresno State 10


6 SMU 10

21 Colorado State 42

27 Wyoming 34

12 Rice 14


17 Tulsa 7

41 UNLV 18