John Robinson evidently could, as was suspected here, have been the new coach of the Redskins if he had pushed to get out of his U. of Southern California contract. Or of the Saints.

"I seriously considered offers from Washington and New Orleans," Robinson is quoted by interviewers at a banquet stop in Portland. "But I'm pretty well locked in at USC. My contract runs for four more years and I have a five-year option after that". . .

John McKay, Robinson's Trojan predecessor who opted for Tampa Bay at the Bucs' founding, has been hospitalized "a few days for some tests . . . planned for quite some time," according to his wife. No further particulars. . . Wish him well, and same for John Battaglia, Charles Town Turf Club general manager, taking "a short leave for reasons of health" this month. Destination: St. Luke's Hospital, Houston.

George Halas, Papa Bear, observed his 86th birthday (Monday) by saying no way will the Chicago club pay Walter Payton, the new free agent, any $1 million a year to keep the $475,000-for-1980 ball-carrier. . . Vince Ferragamo, the could-be ex-Ram, and agent have embarked on an Ontario visit from which the underpaid-for-1980 passer says, "I may return a Tiger-Cat." The Hamilton club has CFL rights to the Los Angeles star, but Ti-Cat owner Harold Ballard will be on the road with his other property, the NHL Toronto Maple Leafs, the next 10 days and probably won't tete-a-tete with Ferragamo this trip. And, of course, Hamilton Coach Frank Kush is tied up in court at Phoenix.

Kush, the former Arizona State martinet, following several days of testimony by Kevin Rutledge, his 1978 punter suing him for $2.2 million, has taken the witness stand and repeatedly denied Rutledge's allegations or said he couldn't remember. Player and coach differ over whether Rutledge volunteered to be red-shirted -- laid out a year -- or whether Kush and assistant Bill Maskill tried to badger him into it. In any event, Rutledge stayed with the varsity that season, and as game accounts cited in court note, during a 41-7 loss to Washington, three of his punts traveled 26, 29 and 27 yards, leading to three Husky scores -- and kush testifying there was "a possibility" he may have slapped Rutledge's helmet along the sideline.

"They were all critical," Kush said of the punts. Enough to anger you enough to assault the perpetrator? Rutledge's attorney said.

Enough, as Rutledge testified, for you to tell him after the game to stick his head in a bucket of water and drown himself? "I would never say a thing like that to a young man." said Kush. . .

Lawsuits, lawsuits. The Cleveland Cavaliers are suing the radio station that does their NBA play-by-play, seeking $10 million damages and termination of broadcast rights. WWWE, the suit alleges, not only knocked the Cavs on game commentary butcriticism of club owner Ted Stepien on the Pete Franklin talk show reputedly caused the team to suffer at the gate. . .

The Reagan inaugural commitee asked for a waiver of the Prince George's County 10 percent admissions tax for the Jan. 19 gala at Capital Centre, and the Atlantic Coast Conference is pressing for same for its March 5-7 basketball tournament. ACC Commissioner Bob James complained that if the tax is not waived, at least for non-Maryland residents, the conference might scratch off the centre for any future tournament. P.G. County Council agreed yesterday to study further the exemption request -- which members were told could cost the country $100,000. . .

The Naval Academy, cradle of NFL coaches; add to the zillions Tom Bresnahan, just hired as offensive line coach by the Kansas City Chiefs after eight Navy years.