BEREA — It'll be a homecoming for Hue Jackson when the Browns travel to Southern California this weekend for a game against the Chargers.
Jackson, Cleveland's second-year head coach, grew up in Los Angeles and attended Dorsey High School, which sits about 10 minutes southwest of downtown. Back in the day, he was something of a star quarterback at his alma mater. He also met run game coordinator Kirby Wilson, who grew up a few blocks away, along the way.
Jackson's roots and institutional knowledge of the area were apparent during his Wednesday news conference. He said the Browns will fly into LAX a day early to adjust to the three-hour time change and then practice at USC — where he was an assistant coach from 1997-2000 — on Saturday afternoon. Later that night, Dorsey takes on San Fernando for the LA City Section championship. And if Jackson can find the time, he might make a quick trip down to El Camino College to watch the Dragons play.
But going home, he emphasized, will be a bittersweet experience this weekend.
"I'm being very honest, I've been asked about that quite a bit even by our players, and I'm not gonna kid any of you, not right now it's not," Jackson said when asked if he was looking forward to the trip.
"To be the leader of a 1-26 team, that's not what I want to take to LA, but that's what we're going to take to LA. So that's not fun because we're trying to get to the other side of the ledger, but we are going to go there with that intent."
After another loss ultimately decided in the fourth quarter, the Browns are hoping they'll have better fortunes against the Chargers, whom they defeated on Christmas Eve last season.
Jackson, who has been open about how the team's struggles over the past two seasons have weighed on him, offered a wide smile when asked how he keeps himself steady throughout the lows. "My equilibrium is upside down," he said, laughing. "Let me be very honest with you."
Buoyed by family "first and foremost" and a young, resilient group of players, Jackson hopes Cleveland can turn itself around in his hometown.
"We're going to go there and play our tails off and play as well as we have all year. That is the goal," he said. "We have to go do it, but that's what we want to try to accomplish."