HERO Sports is counting down the 100 days until the kickoff of the 2018 college football season on Saturday, Aug. 25, with daily trivia. Each day, from May 17 through Aug. 24, we'll publish one college football trivia question.
USC head coach Paul Hackett was fired on Nov. 27, 2000, two days after 17-point loss gave the Trojans just their second losing season since 1983. So for the second time in three years, USC was seeking a head coach.
The Trojans cast their net wide and landed on three candidates, one of whom was their eventual hire, former New England Patriots' head coach Pete Carroll, who hadn't coached since 1999. But Carroll was not the first choice of athletics director Mike Garrett.
Who did Garrett want as head coach?
The finalists were reportedly Carroll, Colorado State head coach Sonny Lubick and San Diego Chargers' head coach Mike Riley. Lubick was widely believed to be their last choice of the trio. Riley was the first choice and Carroll was in the middle.
In 2014, Steve Bischeff of WeAreSC.com wrote about it:
It was late in 2000, and Riley was coaching the San Diego Chargers at the time, suffering through a difficult season. Trojans athletic director Mike Garrett, remembering how respected Riley was as a former USC offensive coordinator, had picked him as his guy after an impressive interview.
All that was left was President Steven Sample's approval, and Riley was in a limo on the 405 freeway, coming to Los Angeles to seal the deal when his cell phone rang. It was Chargers president Dean Spanos telling him if he made the trip to L.A. for the interview he no longer had a job in San Diego.
"I had a family and I just couldn't take the risk," Riley explained.
As a result, USC hired Carroll and though his time led to crippling sanctions after he returned to the NFL, he was darn successful, winning 97 and two national championships in nine seasons.
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