Lynn Swann has spent his life around sports, football in particular. From the time he was a kid playing youth football, all the way through his Hall of Fame career with the Steelers, and beyond in his broadcasting role with ABC Sports, and through his involvement in an ownership role in Arena Sports.
Now he is embarking on a completely different role, but one that will keep sports, and his love of football, right at the forefront.
Swann is in his first year as the Athletic Director at his alma mater, the University of Southern California, and it kicks into high gear today when the Trojans kick off the 2016 season against Alabama.
"It is tremendous," said Swann. "It's exciting for me to go back to my alma mater. To be able to help a significant group of young men and women compete, to get an education and have a college experience and basically to be a mentor to that group of people is special."
Swann said a lot went into the decision to accept the position, and he shared that as well as his excitement for football season to get rolling in this exclusive interview.
What went into the decision to make such a change and take this position? Swann: "It was a process. First I was contacted and they asked me if it was something I would consider. I said let me think about it.
"Two of the people I talked to, I sat down with over lunch and disguised what the discussion was about. I sat down and talked with Dan Rooney and sat down and talked with his son Art. I talked with them about heading up a franchise or organization. How you build a winning attitude and their philosophy about a program, a business around sports. That is what the athletic director's job is at a university, it is the business of sport, but it is young people. It's a lot of history and tradition. I wanted to get their insight.
"I talked to other people and asked if they thought if I was offered a job like this how they thought I might do. To a person they thought I would do a good job. I think it's important in terms of the self-evaluation you need to move forward. Sometimes a job seems like it will be fun and you think you might do a good job of it, but other people see you in a different way. Things worked out.
"There were a number of candidates and I ended up being the last guy standing and got the job."
Are you excited for the sports seasons to start? Swann:** "I would be disingenuous as a guy who played Pop Warner football for two years, high school and college football and professional football and a career in broadcasting covering football. I am always excited for the beginning of the football season. This is no different.
"Our team at USC starts our season out in Dallas against Alabama. There is some coincidence there too. When I was a freshman at USC, USC went to Alabama and played them the first game of the year. My sophomore year, my first game as a starting receiver for USC, it was against Alabama. Now my first game as the athletic director at USC is also against Alabama."
What's it been like so far?Swann: "I started the end of June, early July and I had a great chance to meet and talk to all of the head coaches and get to know them a little better. I got to meet and talk to the staff and learned from the staff about what has been going on at USC and how things operate and run.
"I will miss Pittsburgh. There is always a part of me that will be in Pittsburgh. My children grew up in Pittsburgh. It will be missed." What is it like to hear Lynn Swann, Athletic Director? Swann:
"It's okay. I have been fortunate to play on some really good teams throughout my sports career, and to have a career in broadcasting, and to be in that arena where people know who you are. I don't take myself or titles too seriously. It's about other things you do. It's about the young kids, helping them grow up to be strong adults and mature and make good decisions. It's about giving them their chance to grow and fulfill their dreams. That's what it will be about. It will be about maintaining history and traditions at the University of Southern California, helping my staff to be better and stronger, helping the coaching staff do a great job and create a great experience and time for the kids in college."