Just to put into perspective what LSU is getting with its newest football consultant, try this: John Robinson has been in the College Football Hall of Fame for 10 years.

Maybe that's how, a year after his induction, he was able to land the job of defensive coordinator — at San Marcos (Calif.) High School.

OK, he's better known for two hitches as head coach at Southern California, where he won a national championship, and eight years with the Los Angeles Rams with whom he reached two NFC championship games.


Mainly, however, for LSU purposes, Robinson will never be forgotten (nor soon forgiven) for being on the opposing sideline in 1979 when the Tigers suffered one of their most excruciating losses ever, 17-12 to Robinson's powerhouse Southern Cal team.

LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger is kind of the self-proclaimed old man of the LSU staff, the gray beard so to speak.

One of the interesting subplots of this season is how old man Ensminger, 60, will interact with the Tigers' latest incoming wunderkind, 29-year-old Joe Brady (the passing game coordinator) and his run-pass-option obsession that is supposed to drag LSU's offense into the 21st century.

Robinson, an old friend and mentor of head coach Ed Orgeron's, will turn 84 later this month.

So he was 44 that infamous night in Tiger Stadium when he had two Heisman Trophy winners in his backfield — Charles White won it that year; fullback Marcus White would eventually move to tailback and win it two years later.

Old Man Ensminger will be the closest man Robinson will have to his own age on staff. Ensminger was the LSU quarterback in that game — the current gray beard was barely shaving then.

But if, as he said, Robinson still has coaching in his veins and really misses being around a team, good for him.

In today's college football Power Five brain race, you can't have too many of these consultants.

LSU fans, who are being assured once again that this time, for sure (and they really mean it this time), that the Tigers will have a modern wide-open offense, may be fearful that Robinson will bring his famed Student Body Right with him from Southern Cal.

Keep in mind that "consultants" don't actually "coach," at least not on the practice field and certainly not during games.

And Robinson was always known as one of the nicest guys in coaching.

But more likely many fans will choose to remember that Robinson never did really apologize for stealing that 1979 victory that LSU had all but earned.

One of them is Robinson's wife, Beverly, who grew up in New Orleans and attended LSU. Robinson told a radio station Tuesday that about a once a week she still insists to him that Southern Cal cheated to win that game.

Technically, the Trojans did. But it wasn't Robinson's fault.

Certainly Southern Cal was the better team, the defending national champions in the coaches poll and ranked No. 1 in both when the Trojans went to Baton Rouge. It was an average LSU team in Charles McClendon's last season.

But what a game.

There were no seismic earthquakes recorded, but if not the loudest Tiger Stadium has ever been, it might have been the longest sustained roar, from start of finish.

Ensminger threw a touchdown pass to LeRoid Jones, but the Tigers missed an extra point and had to settle for field goals after twice driving inside the 10-yard line.

Still, LSU led 12-10 in the final 4 minutes when controversy took over.

The Trojans, probably down to their last series, faced third-and-13 in their own territory when the drive was kept alive by a face mask penalty called by the split crew of SEC and Pac-10 officials.

It was kind of chintzy, more of a hand grazed across the mask by defensive tackle Benjy Thibodeaux, but it shouldn't have mattered.

Just before the snap the entire right side of the Trojans' offensive line jumped offside, so at worst it should have been offsetting penalties for another shot at third-and-long.

Instead, the Trojans used the gift to score with 30 seconds remaining and won 17-12. Even then Ensminger got close enough to throw two desperation passes into the end zone, one of which was catchable.

No matter.

LSU still exited the field to a standing ovation from the crowd.

McClendon never forgot it.

After the season was over, McClendon's last football game as head coach was the East-West Shrine all-star game.

He said later he noticed that the side judge in that meaningless game seemed to be avoiding him.

He figured out why late in the game. He finally caught up with him and recognized him as the Pac-10 official who had missed the call when the Trojans jumped offside.

"Ah-ha," Charlie Mac told him. "I knew it was you."

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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