John Baxter is a teacher. The fact that he is one of the country’s best and most innovative football coaches is incidental to the fact that he is a teacher first, last, and in between.As the athletic director at the University of Southern California, I have had the pleasure of working with John the past three years. He is the most remarkable special teams football coaches I have met in over 40 years involved in the game of football. What makes John so different, so special, is his ability to teach and relate to young men and help them with their academic and life success.Wherever John has coached, his Academic Gameplan has helped launch hundreds of young football players’ successful academic careers. I have seen it here at USC. I have seen John’s passion firsthand, sometimes attending his Academic Gameplan meetings (which often start at 6:30 a.m.!) at which his students, who happen to be some pretty darn good football players, learn some of life’s lessons particularly well. His plan also prepares them for the rigors of a first-rate college education.His success has been phenomenal, both at Fresno State and now at USC. John is one very special person and teacher. We are lucky to have him at USC and I believe that anyone who reads his book will understand why Coach Baxter and his students have been so successful in life and in athletics.
—Pat Haden


Pat Haden, a Rhodes Scholar, was a two-time National Championship Quarterback at the University of Southern California and quarterback of the NFL Los Angeles Rams before becoming a lawyer, a successful businessman, and football broadcaster. He assumed the athletic directorship at his alma mater on Aug. 3, 2010. He quarterbacked the 1972 and 1974 national championship USC Trojans, and was quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams from 1976 to 1981. He holds a BA degree, magna cum laude, from USC, where he was a Phi Beta Kappa; a BA degree in economics from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar; and a juris doctorate from Loyola Law School. He is a partner at Riordan, Lewis & Haden, a private equity law firm based in Los Angeles.


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