- Greg Katz, Columnist, WeAreSC.com
LOS ANGELES -- Howard Jones, John McKay, John Robinson, and Pete Carroll are the Fab Four of USC football coaches. Each won at least one national championship, and each established his own unique legacy.
As the 22nd head football coach at USC, Lane Kiffin might have the opportunity this season to join the very exclusive club of national-championship coaches. If Kiffin hopes to become the fifth head coach of this exclusive club, he might want some biographical background on the current membership.
Howard Harding Jones: Born in 1885 in Excello, Ohio.
USC Record: 121-36-13 (1925-1940)
The Background: As a player, the physical Jones competed for three seasons at Yale, which never lost a game. He was a head coach at Syracuse, Yale, Ohio State, Iowa and Duke before coming to Los Angeles.
The Hire: Looking to replace Elmer "Gloomy Gus" Henderson, the Trojans pursued Notre Dame legend Knute Rockne. Rockne declined but recommended Howard Jones, then the coach of Iowa, who had beaten Rockne and Notre Dame in 1921. You can credit Rockne for the Trojans' eventual success on the national championship level.
The Accomplishments: Four national titles (1928, 1931, 1932, 1939), seven conference championships and five Rose Bowls.
The Inside: Jones was a man fully consumed with football. Many have described Jones as "taciturn." The Trojans legend didn't say much, and the players kept their distance. With a tough, stern face, he was intimidating and gruff and a great football coach.
The Legacy: Jones' national-title teams were known as "The Thundering Herd" and provided the foundation and the mindset of the great Trojans running attack for generations to come.
Did You Know? One of Howard Jones' players at Troy was actor John Wayne (Marion Morrison).
The Finale: Passed away due to a heart attack before the 1941 season and later was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame (1951) and was a charter member of the USC Hall of Fame (1994).
Howard Jones, John McKay, John Robinson and Pete Carroll have formed the Mt. Rushmore of national-championship winning coaches at USC. Lane Kiffin wants to join that fraternity this season.