The eldest son of Trojan football coach John McKay, the younger John always wore the moniker J.K. to separate him from his father. A star on the 1974 Trojan national championship team, young McKay played in the NFL at Tampa Bay. Known as a laid-back guy who enjoyed partying at Southern California (while his roommate Pat Haden burned the midnight oil in the other room), McKay eventually went to law school before forging a successful career as an L.A. attorney and real estate executive. He has been active in the city's efforts to bring a pro football franchise back in the years since the Raiders and Rams left town.
When you're talking about the effect of that 1970 game at Birmingham, I think the caveat I might add is, and there's no better fan than I was of Bear Bryant, but he was frustrated and not sure how to integrate the University of Alabama. He was a man of great principle, but he was first a football coach, so you can't underestimate the importance of winning. He was highly competitive, so winning games was part and parcel of the same goal. It's a perfect example of a practical goal allowing for an idealistic goal to flourish.
How it all started, I think they were at a golf tournament out in the desert. My dad didn't talk after the fact about scheduling it before the game. I remember him telling us that he and Bear had decided to play. Bear had asked and my dad said yes. My take on it then was that it would help Bear to get his program back where it was before.
After the game, my dad told a million times how Bear brought Sam in to his locker room, introducing him as "what a football player looks like."
Bryant asked my dad if he could "borrow" Sam, but I'm not sure if it came in the locker room, or when they shook hands on the field. My impression was he came in the locker room. The story that Bryant's statement occurred in the hallway between the lockers, and was in front of alumni and old-timers, with the door open so Sam could see the Alabama players undressing, as you tell it, makes sense to me. At banquet after banquet, I know my dad repeated the story. I don't think Bear would say it in a confrontational way to make a point. In Sam's mind, that hallway may have seemed like a crowded locker. Also, 1970 is just two years removed from 1968, so he probably had a little trepidation,
I've heard the gun stories from John Papadakis. He told me that story, and it makes some sense. My political take of that 1970 game, you'd almost have to ask that to the Alabama people, but it meant different things to different people. The impact on the schools in the South was tremendous, but not from the immediate SC perspective. Coming out of difficult times in our country, the game was profound. Those SC teams were struggling, and I think even SC struggled with race relations. SC had more white players and fewer black players those years. They had more than the other schools, but in 1970 and '71, my dad's worst years, you have to ask those guys, but I think there was suspicion. There were problems. When I got there it was in the past if it ever existed at all, and beginning in 1972 our team really came together. Overall, an event like that 1970 game helped achieve that, but it was a rocky road.
You can't go so far as to say the game had a direct cause and effect, but politically it was emblematic of that change, and the nature of the game that happened since then, but it's part of that story, the transformation of the South, of acceptance of different political points of view.
The interesting larger story, as it relates to my dad, is he's emblematic in the part played by conservatism in the changing of the South. He was a conservative Republican who was totally race neutral. He received death threats in the old days when he started Jimmy Jones, which was not popular even in Southern California back then. He was race neutral in all regards. He did not advocate Affirmative Action, but in his case he believed and lived up to the principle that the job goes to the best man for the job.
His quote about wanting to beat Stanford by not 1,000 but 2,000 points, he said it because he was getting abused by the Stanford rooters. I've heard tell him that story. He talked about the things that were said. He was criticized for having too many blacks, as if Stanford was providing more help to blacks by not having so many. But he provided more opportunity having more blacks than not just Stanford but other programs, some of whom were more liberal than he was, but were not doing as much for minorities.
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism