John Robinson (American football coach)

John Robinson
Sport(s) Football
Biographical details
Born (1935-07-25) July 25, 1935
Chicago, Illinois
Playing career
1955–1957 Oregon
Position(s) End
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1960–1971 Oregon (assistant)
1972–1974 USC (OC)
1975 Oakland Raiders (RB)
1976–1982 USC
1983–1991 Los Angeles Rams
1993–1997 USC
1999–2004 UNLV
2010 San Marcos HS (CA) (DC)
Head coaching record
Overall 132–77–4 (college)
79–74 (NFL)
Bowls 8–1
Accomplishments and honors
1 National (1978)
5 Pac-8/Pac-10 (1976, 1978–1979, 1993, 1995)
Rose Bowl Hall of Fame (2003)[1]
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2009 (profile)

John Alexander Robinson (born July 25, 1935) is a former American football player and coach best known for his two stints as head coach of the University of Southern California (USC) football team (1976–1982, 1993–1997) and for his tenure as head coach of the NFL's Los Angeles Rams (1983–1991). Robinson's USC teams won four Rose Bowls and captured a share of the national championship in the 1978 season. Robinson is one of the few college football head coaches to have non-consecutive tenure at the same school. In 2009, he was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. He is a Board Member for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which is named after Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive back Ronnie Lott, and is awarded annually to college football's Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year.[2]


Early life and playing career

Robinson grew up in Daly City, California, where he attended elementary school with future Pro Football Hall of Famer John Madden, and graduated from Junípero Serra High School. He attended the University of Oregon, where he played end on Oregon's 1958 Rose Bowl team.

Coaching career

He began his coaching career at the University of Oregon, his alma mater, where he served as an assistant coach under Len Casanova and Jerry Frei from 1960 to 1971. He served as USC's offensive coordinator in 1972 under John McKay, who had been an assistant coach at Oregon when Robinson played there, then served a stint as the Oakland Raiders' backfield coach in 1975, rejoining Madden, who was by then Oakland's head coach. Robinson coached at USC from 1976 to 1982 and again from 1993 to 1997, putting up a career record as a college head coach of 104–35–4, for a winning percentage of .741.

Robinson is considered one of the more successful coaches in Rams history, twice leading the team to the NFC title game. Both of those contests ended in defeat against eventual Super Bowl champions, the 1985 Chicago Bears and the 1989 San Francisco 49ers. Robinson's tenure as Rams coach was made more difficult by the fact that the Rams played in the same division as the 49ers, the dominant team of the 1980s (the only time he won the NFC West title during his tenure was 1985), but he was also the coach who drafted running back Eric Dickerson. His 79 victories are the most in Rams franchise history.

Robinson was hired to coach football at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 1998. After a 2–0 start, the second win coming at Baylor where the Rebels won despite entering the game's final play down by three points and not possessing the ball, Robinson's first UNLV team finished only 3–8. The Rebels rebounded to win eight games in 2000. In 2002, Robinson was chosen as the university's athletic director, but he stepped down from that position a year later to concentrate on the coaching position. Despite being relieved of duty as athletic director, his tenure ended on a disappointing note with the Rebels going 2–9 in his final season in 2004.

In 2010, Robinson returned to coaching as defensive coordinator at San Marcos High School in San Marcos, California. He had never before coached at the high school level.[3]


Robinson currently serves as a color analyst on NFL game broadcasts for the Sports USA Radio Network.

Head coaching record


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
USC Trojans (Pacific-8/Pacific-10 Conference) (1976–1982)
1976 USC 11–1 7–0 1st W Rose 2 2
1977 USC 8–4 5–2 T–2nd W Bluebonnet 12 13
1978 USC 12–1 6–1 1st W Rose 1 2
1979 USC 11–0–1 6–0–1 1st W Rose 2 2
1980 USC 8–2–1 4–2–1 3rd 12 11
1981 USC 9–3 5–2 T–2nd L Fiesta 13 14
1982 USC 8–3 5–2 T–3rd 15
USC Trojans (Pacific-10 Conference) (1993–1997)
1993 USC 8–5 6–2 T–1st W Freedom 25
1994 USC 8–3–1 6–2 T–2nd W Cotton 15 13
1995 USC 9–2–1 6–1–1 T–1st W Rose 11 12
1996 USC 6–6 3–5 T–5th
1997 USC 6–5 4–4 T–5th
USC: 104–35–4 63–23–3
UNLV Rebels (Mountain West Conference) (1999–2004)
1999 UNLV 3–8 1–6 8th
2000 UNLV 8–5 4–3 3rd W Las Vegas
2001 UNLV 4–7 3–4 T–5th
2002 UNLV 5–7 3–4 T–5th
2003 UNLV 6–6 2–5 T–7th
2004 UNLV 2–9 1–6 8th
UNLV: 28–42 14–28
Total: 132–77–4
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
Indicates Bowl Coalition, Bowl Alliance, BCS, or CFP / New Years' Six bowl.
#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.

National Football League

Team Year Regular season Post season
Won LostTiesWin %FinishWonLostWin %Result
Rams1983 9 7 0 .563 2nd in NFC West 1 1 .500 Lost to Washington Redskins in Divisional Game.
Rams1984 10 6 0 .625 2nd in NFC West 0 1 .000 Lost to New York Giants in Wild Card Game.
Rams1985 11 5 0 .688 1st in NFC West 1 1 .500 Lost to Chicago Bears in NFC Championship.
Rams1986 10 6 0 .625 2nd in NFC West 0 1 .000 Lost to Washington Redskins in Wild Card Game.
Rams1987 6 9 0 .400 3rd in NFC West
Rams1988 10 6 0 .625 2nd in NFC West 0 1 .000 Lost to Minnesota Vikings in Wild Card Game.
Rams1989 11 5 0 .688 2nd in NFC West 2 1 .667 Lost to San Francisco 49ers in NFC Championship.
Rams1990 5 11 0 .313 3rd in NFC West
Rams1991 3 13 0 .188 4th in NFC West
Total 75 68 0 .524 4 6 .400

See also


  1. 2009 Kickoff Luncheon and Rose Bowl Hall of Fame Induction program
  3. "Robinson not resting on his laurels". May 25, 2010.
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