John Jackson, the running backs coach for tailbacks Marcus Allen and Charles White during their Heisman Trophy-winning seasons at USC, died Feb. 16 in Torrance of complications following intestinal surgery. He was 81.
Jackson was the Trojan running backs coach for six seasons, from 1976-81, under head coach John Robinson, and he also served as the offensive coordinator. During Jackson’s time at USC, the Trojans won the Rose Bowl three times and were the 1978 national champions. In addition to Allen and White, Jackson 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.
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 University of Nevada, Las Vegas running backs coach, run game coordinator and assistant head coach, again working under Robinson. He spent six seasons at UNLV.
He also owned and managed the Culver City Ice Arena from 1982 until it closed in 2014.
Jackson is survived by his daughter, Tracie, a USC employee, and his son, John, a former USC Academic All-American football wide receiver and baseball outfielder who is now an analyst on USC football radio broadcasts and a Fox Sports West announcer; four grandchildren; his brother, Pazel; and Tracie’s and John’s mother, Lillian.