Former USC Running Backs Coach John Jackson Dies

    Coach John Jackson with fullback Lynn Cain
    Feb. 17, 2017

    John Jackson, who was the running backs coach for tailbacks Marcus Allen and Charles White during their Heisman Trophy-winning seasons at USC, died on Thursday (Feb. 16) in Torrance, Calif., of complications following intestinal surgery. He was 81.

    Information on a service for Jackson is pending.

    Jackson was the Trojan running backs coach for 6 seasons (1976-81) under head coach John Robinson, and he also served as the offensive coordinator. White won the Heisman in 1979 and finished as the NCAA's second-leading career rusher with 6,245 yards, while Allen won it in 1981 when he became the first collegiate player to run for 2,000 yards in a season. Jackson also coached USC All-American tailback Ricky Bell as well as Lynn Cain, who set the Trojan fullback career rushing record, and future NFL fullback Mosi Tatupu. During Jackson’s time at USC, the Trojans won the Rose Bowl 3 times and were the 1978 national champions.

    After his coaching days at USC, Jackson worked 17 years with California Sports as a special assistant to Jerry Buss. While there, he ran Forum Boxing and helped develop the Prime Ticket sports cable network.

    Jackson returned to the coaching ranks in 1999 as UNLV’s running backs coach, run game coordinator and assistant head coach, again working under Robinson. He spent 6 seasons (1999-2004) at UNLV.

    He also was the owner and manager of the Culver City (Calif.) Ice Arena from 1982 until it closed in 2014.

    Jackson began his coaching career in 1956 as an assistant at his hometown Brooklyn (N.Y.) Technical High. He then spent 3 years in the Marines, attaining the rank of captain. From 1965 to 1967, he was the head coach at Boys High in Brooklyn, where he twice was the New York Metropolitan Coach of the Year and concurrently served as the Dean of Students at Brooklyn Tech.

    He then moved to the collegiate ranks, first as the offensive coordinator at Hofstra in 1968 and 1969 (he also was head coach of the track team). He coached the running backs and receivers at Dartmouth in 1970, then spent 5 seasons (1971-75) as the backfield coach at Illinois before coming to USC.



    Jackson is survived by his daughter, Tracie, who currently is employed at USC, and his son, John, an Academic All-American football wide receiver and baseball outfielder at USC (1986-90) who then played in the NFL with the Cardinals and Bears and in baseball’s minor leagues and is now the analyst on USC football radio broadcasts in addition to his announcing duties with FOX Sports West, plus 4 grandchildren, his brother, Pazel, and Tracie’s and John’s mother, Lillian.