USC provided me the opportunity as an announcer. It was a national stage and my voice has been heard countless times announcing highlights from O.J. Simpson, from Southern Cal-Notre Dame games. It has been a magnificent experience. I've always been reminded of the 1974 game with the Irish. As they kicked off to Anthony Davis to start the second half I said, "It's been an Irish afternoon" and my, A.D. just made a magnificent return for a touchdown and after that I've never seen anything to equal it. I must agree A.D.'s performances against Notre Dame, both in 1972 and in 1974, are two of, if not the two best, performances in college football history.
You know, I'd been in L.A. for a few years when the Dodgers interviewed me about an announcing slot alongside Vin Scully. I go to see Walter O'Malley and he says, "Send me a tape." Send me a tape! I just told him, "Why, just turn on the radio, I'm on all the time." I felt like an actor whose on TV every day and he has to audition. I never announced for the Dodgers!
John McKay and USC may have integrated the South with the 1970 USC-Alabama game. I was there, in the press box, but not in the Alabama locker room. This was not the first time that SC integrated the South. C. R. Roberts and the Trojans went down to Texas in 1956. C.R. told me that first of all, there was another member of the team who was passing as white. When they came to the hotel, the guy at the hotel said to Jess Hill of C.R., "Is he with you?" and Jess said if he can’t stay we're not staying. Word got out and the room was full of ministers, cab drivers, the whole black community showed up afraid that somebody was going to get killed. They protected C.R.
In 1970, I fully understand the story about McKay and Sam Cunningham and Bear Bryant, and about how their famous meeting could have happened in the hallway instead of the Alabama locker room. Yes, that place was crowded and it could have been there. Legion Field is in the "darkest" part of town, you have to drive through a terrible neighborhood to get there, not unlike the Coliseum. But I never knew much about race problems. All I knew is we had a hellacious football team.
That team was loaded with talent, but Stanford beat us two years in row. I don't care about Don Bunce or Jim Plunkett, I've often thought but nobody said it, these were freshman or sophomores who'd make up the 1972 national champions, but I've often thought they had racial problems of their own. They were too good not to win. Stanford was good, but we had no business losing. I respect Rod McNeill, and if he and a few others say the 1970 and '71 teams had some racial problems, well as I say, I never said it but it confirms suspicions I've had for years. I do think there was tension over the fact that Jimmy Jones was a black quarterback, while Mike Rae, who was spectacular, sat behind him.
I'd have to go back a long way, but Brice Taylor was an All-American in 1925, and Willie Wood played quarterback for McKay. It was never "who wants a black quarterback?" Maybe McKay felt he was forced to play Jones. I just don't know, I was too close to it.
I do know that the 1970 team was made up in large measure by sophomores, and the experience they shared at Alabama, combined with coming together through Bible study as I've been told they were, created what is simply the greatest, most magnificent team in college football history, the 1972 national champions. John McKay unhesitatingly called it the best team ever, and I second that whole-heartedly. Jim Sweeney at Washington State said they were not the best team in American, the Miami Dolphins were, and it is possible the Trojans would have beaten some NFL squads. The 2005 team looked to be better, and on offense they were, but ultimately their defense was not as tremendous.
To be a part of the magnificence of USC, why it's been an honor and an incredible experience. I don't know who has the greatest tradition in the game. Some years Notre Dame is magnificent, other years USC, other years Oklahoma or Michigan, Ohio State or Nebraska, Alabama or Texas. I just know the University of Southern California is equal to any of them.
That said, Southern Cal has a panache, a gravitas that is found perhaps only at Notre Dame, what with their Hollywood glamour, Rudy and "win one for the Gipper." I understand there will be a film version of the 1970 USC-Alabama game, based on the book One Night, Two Teams: Alabama vs. USC and the Game That Changed a Nation, and why, it's appropriate it be given the tag line, "USC's Rudy." There have been movies with USC references and about the school. There was a TV movie about Ricky Bell. There was Love and Basketball. One on One was loosely set at USC.
The Donald Segretti character referred to the "USC mafia" in All the President's Men, and in the TV movie about Rocky Bleir, when Bleir goes in for surgery after being injured in Vietnam, the doctor told him he was a USC graduate who was in the stands when the Irish beat us, 51-0, but that doctor sewed Rocky up beautifully and he returned to play for Pittsburgh.
But for a school that produced John "Duke" Wayne and Ward Bond, and all the extras in Salute and numerous Biblical epics, Napoleonic extravaganzas; our fight song "Conquest" comes from the movie Captain From Castile; all the gladiators in Spartacus were Trojan football players; well, it's magnificent that we finally have a real box office epic about our team.
Silver-tongued orator Tom Kelly lent his Irish wit and charm to radio broadcasts of Southern California football from 1961-88 before moving to Fox Sports, where he and Craig Fertig teamed up on TV games. In addition Kelly handled numerous other assignments in various sports. The first time many fans heard that Alabama coach Bear Bryant supposedly said that Sam Cunningham "is what a football player looks like" was on Kelly's 1988 documentary of USC football history, Trojan Video Gold. He is also the author of Tales From the USC Trojans and is a member of the USC Athletic Hall of Fame.
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism