By Jeff White (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CHARLOTTESVILLE — Back when Luke Goldstein worked at the University of Southern California, its football program was going through a rough stretch, at least by the Trojans’ lofty standards.
As they do now, the Trojans played their home games in the Los Angeles Coliseum, which seats more than 93,000. But they usually didn’t come close to filling it.
“And when you have 55,000 there, the place looks empty,” said Goldstein, UVa’s video coordinator for football. “The stadium is so big.”
The Cavaliers will get their first look at the Coliseum this weekend. No. 16 USC (1-0) hosts UVa (1-0) on Saturday night.
Goldstein, whom Virginia hired in 2002, was director of video for USC’s athletics department from 1998 to 2000. He was in Los Angeles for two football seasons. USC, then coached by Paul Hackett, went 8-5 in 1998 and 6-6 in ’99.
Highlights of those seasons included a win over Notre Dame in ’98 and a victory over crosstown rival UCLA in ’99. That snapped the Bruins’ eight-game winning streak in the series.
The Trojans had some big-time players back then, including quarterback Carson Palmer and linebacker Chris Claiborne, but there “wasn’t the aura that they have right now,” Goldstein said.
Indeed, USC has won 92 of its past 105 games, dating to the start of the 2002 season. Ninety-one of those victories came under Pete Carroll, now the first-year coach of the Seattle Seahawks.
Much has changed in USC’s athletic department since Goldstein left in 2000 to become director of league video operations for the short-lived XFL. But he’s looking forward to seeing a couple of old friends — senior associate athletic director Steve Lopes and head athletic trainer Russ Romano.
During the tenure of Carroll, Hackett’s successor at USC, celebrities such as Will Ferrell and Snoop Dogg often stopped by football practice. Things were different under Hackett, though Goldstein once spotted Jennifer Lopez and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs on the football field — surrounded by bodyguards.
If the Coliseum is full Saturday, that will be the fourth-largest crowd in front of which UVa has played. The Cavaliers’ game at Penn State in 2002 drew 108,698; their game at Michigan in 1995, 101,444; and their game at Tennessee in 1980, 94,333.