To wit: Josh David Booty, the older brother of USC quarterback John David Booty, was guest-hosting a radio show when the subject of the 2006 Rose Bowl loss to Texas and The Owner Of My Immortal Soul came up. Josh eventually segued into this heart warming story…
It [the loss] took a lot of pressure off JD for this year because he didn’t have that long streak and there’s a lot of things that go along with that. But [Athletic Director Mike] Garrett came into the locker room after the game and looked at JD and said ‘We don’t lose football games here at ‘SC.’ And he looked right at JD and said ‘Don’t ever lose a game here.’ That was a tough one for JD to swallow, I know that.
It might’ve been tough for John David to swallow because USC went 32-8-1 during Garrett’s tenure from 1962-1965. Or 36-13-2 if Garrett redshirted in 1961. I’m not even sure if Garrett played during the era when freshmen weren’t allowed to participate in varsity football. Either way, he was definitely a key part of at least three squads that each left a ghastly three games per season un-won. Plus Garrett’s only got a pathetic one national championship ring to Booty’s admittedly measly two. Talk about hypocritical!
Seriously, though, if this is true – and that’s a big if, as this is an anecdote spun on some random radio show by the brother of USC’s current quarterback – then I’m betting it surprises no one who’s followed USC football for the past decade and a half or so. Sure, it’s possible Garrett meant this as an endearingly gruff sort of “tough love” for Booty, who was Matt Leinart’s backup during the 2005 season. You know: “Hah, that kinda sucked. Losing sucks. We’re really good at winning, so, like, maybe don’t lose. That’d be cool, huh? Here, let me buy you a soda,” but with much more asshole-factor.
It’s more likely that there was no asshole-factor, however, because “factor” implies some kind of ancillary relationship. For instance, the sun being a sun is not a factor in its being hot. It is hot because it is the sun. It’s a core-thing, just like many once thought (and many probably still think) that Mike Garrett is, at his core, an asshole. Or thug. Or arrogant. Or callous. Or “not a people person the way Stalin was not a people person”. I’m trying to rack my brain here for all the terms used by my high school German teacher when describing Garrett back in ’01 or ’00. (Seriously. She was kinda vicious.)
I don’t know enough about Garrett to decide one way or the other. I’ve never pretended to be high up in the ranks, so I’ve never had to fake a glad-handing story, and definitely not one involving Garrett. I know that pretty much all the praise of Garrett has been recent, and that none of it would have existed had he not hired Carroll, and that the hiring of Carroll cannot be attributed to anyone but the One God of College Football, and His will is unknowable. I like Mike Riley and Dennis Erickson, but they don’t force me to scour the countryside every third Tuesday for virgins suitable for sacrifice, and they were way ahead of Carroll on everyone’s coaching list back in 2001. So as far as I’m concerned Garrett is a factor in the Pete Carroll Age, and he is most definitely ancillary. But thug? Stalin? I’m not sure of those things.
I do know this, though: if Josh David Booty’s anecdote is true, then damn, Mike Garrett’s kind of a dick.