By STEVEN TRAVERS
Foreword by PETE CARROLL
Triumph Books (a division of New York publishing giant Random House)
How many Trojan legends did USC historian Steven Travers talk to? Well over 60. In his fourth book chronicling the fabled history of Trojan football, USC graduate Travers called, sat down with, and like a private investigator tracked down, storied Trojan stars past and present; far and wide, old and young; superstars and the less-well-known. His effort is nothing less than a journalistic tour de force. Here this man, who has been described as the "next great USC historian," lives up to the moniker through sheer effort, production and excellence, simply manifesting itself in this magnificent work; the "college football version of baseball's The Glory of Their Times."
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A TROJAN: SOUTHERN CAL'S GREATEST PLAYERS TALK ABOUT TROJANS FOOTBALL
Foreword: What It Means to Be a Trojan by Pete Carroll
Norman Bing, Ambrose Schindler
Bill Gray, Jim Hardy, Gordon Gray
Frank Gifford, Al "Hoagy" Carmichael, Tom Nickoloff, Sam "the Toe" Tsagalakis, Marv Goux, Jon Arnett, C.R. Roberts, Monte Clark, Ron Mix
"Prince Hal" Bedsole, Willie Brown, Craig Fertig, Bill Fisk Jr., Tim Rossovich, Ron Yary, Adrian Young, Mike "Razor" Battle, Steve Sogge, John McKay
John Vella, Sam "Bam" Cunningham, Allan Graf, Rod McNeill, Manfred Moore, J.K. McKay, Richard "Batman" Wood, Clay Matthews, Frank Jordan, Paul McDonald
Keith Van Horne, Roy Foster, Jeff Brown, Michael Harper, Tim Green, Steve Jordan, Jeff "Breeg" Bregel, Rex Moore, Mark "Aircraft" Carrier, John "J.J." Jackson
Todd Marinovich, Scott Ross, Derrick Deese, Matt Gee, Taso Papadakis, John Robinson
The NEW MILLENIUM
Carson Palmer, Kevin Arbet, Brandon Hancock, Matt Leinart, Tom Malone, Mario Danelo
Throughout the 20th Century, it was considered an article of faith that the University of Notre Dame had the greatest collegiate football tradition of all time, but under Coach Pete Carroll, the University of Southern California Trojans have caught up to, and indeed surpassed, the Fighting Irish as the greatest historical program in the land.
Now for the first time in one book are all the great first-person stories, as told by the legendary Men of Troy themselves, in this modern college football version ofThe Glory of Their Times. Two names surface throughout: Marv Goux, the late, legendary assistant coach who symbolized What It Means to Be a Trojan, and Coach Carroll, who sought out Goux in his later years to get to "the essence of what the University of Southern California is all about."
The stories told by the men in these pages tell the tale of a unique university, experience and football past that seemingly mirrors the words of General George Patton when asked his opinion of Morocco: "It's partly the Bible and partly Hollywood." Indeed, Trojan football over the decades has resembled something beyond exciting, albeit miraculous, while at the same time symbolizing movie star glitz and glamour. No man has better suited this persona than Coach Carroll himself, a man referred to by Trojan alum and college football broadcaster Petros Papadakis as "the Prince of the City."
Dozens of stars were interviewed, many of whom do not appear in this book for lack of space; but who will appear in a future version of this great tome. Interviews with the late, great coaches John McKay and Marv Goux from 2000 appear within these pages. The last interview legendary quarterback Craig Fertig ever conducted is in this book. A moving tribute to deceased kicker Mario Danelo, written by ex-player Tim Lavin after his funeral service, perhaps tells What It Means to Be a Trojan as well as any other story.
Brittany Lange/(312) 252-1250
Natalie J. King/(312) 252-1252
CONTACT THE AUTHOR
AUTHOR'S WEB SITE
Ian Kleinart/(212) 431-5454
Objective Entertainment, New York City
All the players and coaches interviewed are invited to a re-union to be held as part of Professor Dan Durbin's class "Sports, Culture and Society" at USC's Annenberg School for Communications (date TBA), along with author booksignings at Annenberg, the USC bookstore, USC Collections in Orange County, and the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. In addition, individual players will conduct booksignings at the Coliseum on selected game days.
Feature, Marin Independent Journal (July 18); appearance, Comcast Sports Bay Area's Chronicle Live, hosted by Greg Papa (Friday, July 24, 5, 11 PM).
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A TROJAN
Foreword by Pete Carroll
Growing up as a kid loving football in the '60s and '70s, I could not help myself, I loved USC football! It could have been the great teams, the great players, the Coliseum, the many championships or the Rose Bowl spectacles. The pagentry was awesome! The Cardinal and Gold, Traveler, the sounds of the irrepressible Trojan marching band, the beautiful cheerleaders in any combination could have been enough to enrapture a young impressionable fan like me. There was something more to the connection than those tangible aspects of the Trojan experience. It was something more profound than the obvious. There was a style and grace, and an air of confidence that was unique. In those days I couldn't have explained it, I just dreamed of being a part of it.
I witnessed it firsthand as a fan at the Coliseum in 1969 when SC was playing arch-rival UCLA for the conference championship. My high school friends and I traveled from the Bay Area to the southland to see one of the great classic matchups in college football. As luck would have it, our less than stellar connections awarded us seats seven rows from the top of the Coliseum just below the old clock, at the at the far end of the field in the extreme opposite end zone. In the closing moments of a highly contested game, USC quarterback Jimmy Jones threw a strike to Sam Dickerson for the game-winning touchdown, in the extreme opposite corner of the end zone. Through the haze and the darkness we couldn't see a thing but the SC faithful cheering wildly, with the news of the catch working its way to even the far reaching corners of the Coliseum. The Trojans had won and my school boy dreams had been validated . . . how could you not love Trojan football and USC?
Many years later, having served as a football coach at this great university, I now know precisely what it is that separates the Trojan experience from any other. It is the collection of all the incredible elements that stand together to define the "spirit of Troy." The pride and the passion that come along with being a member of the Trojan family is legendary in Southern California and around the world. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to realize a dream and represent all those that have come before us. Being able to partake and share with our fans the essence of the "spirit of Troy" is a true honor of a lifetime and for that I will always be grateful . . .
STEVEN TRAVERS' BOOKS
STEVEN TRAVERS' GOOGLE SEARCH
1960 - 1975
Coaches are different today than in my day. You don't see as many Bobby Knight types today. I like Bobby personally. I know him through <former USC basketball coach> Bob Boyd, and we're friends. When USC hires a football coach, his record the first two years is favorably compared to my losing record in 1960-61, yet they never live up to what I accomplished after that.
What people forget is that we had a losing record for most of the six seasons before I got there, plus we were on probation my first two years, so it's hard to get guys steamed up. We just didn't have enough speed. USC had been penalized by the NCAA in the wake of a conference-wide recruiting scandal dating back to Jon Arnett's career in the mid-1950s. Even USC'S national-best 1959 baseball team was banned from post-season play.
My strategy was to recruit great athletes, regardless of position. I respect high school coaches, who know that the best athlete on the team is usually the quarterback. It's similar to youth league baseball, where the best athlete is usually the pitcher. Bobby Chandler was a quarterback in high school. Hal Bedsole was a junior college quarterback. Lynn Swann and Anthony Davis were high school quarterbacks.
Applying this philosophy to linemen, who because of their size don't play skill positions; we looked for guys who could run, cover kicks and had the ambition to do those things. Linemen were not as big then. Now I see some fat guys playing. Ron Yary would be just as good today, given training techniques. Weight training was not the thing to do. Billy Fisk was an All-American lineman who played at 245 pounds, but most linemen were 235. Tom Seaver was a baseball Trojan who was one of the first to lift weights, back in the 1960s.
We won the national championship in 1962 alternating quarterbacks. In general
I don't favor the practice, but we had three “teams.” Pete Beathard went both ways. Bill Nelsen ran the "gold" team, and Craig Fertig was on the third team. That was a special season, we beat Notre Dame, 25-0.
We beat Wisconsin in a wild Rose Bowl. Tell me about that. We were up 42-14, but Marv Marinovich got kicked out for punching a guy and Gary Kirner wasn't suited up. We lost all our tackles, had guards playing tackle, so we couldn't rush the passer, and Ron Vanderkelen just sat back there and passed. Willie Brown saved us with an interception at the end. He never got the publicity he should get. Vanderkelen was the MVP and set the Rose Bowl passing yardage record, but never did much past that game. Brown played for the Rams and the Eagles.
Some players and others have said that given almost unlimited scholarships, USC could recruit so many great players that our bench guys were better than most teams they played, and that you would recruit a player for the sole purpose of keeping him off a rival's roster. I've said it a million times, that's baloney. The budget was for 100 scholarships, and I never used more than 72. I allocated the rest for baseball and track. I recruited Mike Holmgren, who sat on the bench for four years, but it was never my intent to do that. No kid will come to school just to ride the bench, the excitement is to play. Jim Fassel, who coached with the New York Giants, sat on the bench before transferring to Long Beach State.
One of the things we did was nullify Notre Dame's recruiting advantage with Catholic schools in California. After John Huarte and Jack Snow came out of Mater Dei in Santa Ana and St. Anthony's of Long Beach, I hired Dick Coury from Mater Dei. He brought in a lot of players, including Toby Page. After that we brought in guys from Bishop Amat and Serra High in the Bay Area.
Bishop Amat High School was the best program in the state in the 1960s. Adrian Young, Pat Haden and John Sciarra played there. My son, J.K. McKay, played there, and later Paul McDonald was their quarterback. Bishop Amat was great, they had very good teams, and some of the best high school passing teams ever. Phil Cantwell and later Marv Marinovich's brother, Gary, coached them.
There was a charisma at USC. Rod Dedeaux was my buddy. We both got along with the kids, and liked to have a good time. He had a gregarious personality, he had a sense of humor, and I got along well with him. We both got along well with the press.
When we lost to Notre Dame, 51-0 in 1966, I told the team to take their showers, that "a billion Chinese don't care if we win or lose." The next day I got two wires from China asking for the score. I guess Chairman Mao was taking a break from the Cultural Revolution, which started that year, 1966.
Pat Haden was the best prep quarterback in America, his father was transferred to San Francisco, but he wanted to keep throwing to my son his senior year at Bishop Amat. He moved into my home, which made it hard on recruiters from Stanford and Notre Dame. I thought we had a good advantage. We were close with the Haden's, and later my son Richie was going to stay with the Haden's instead of transferring when we moved to Florida. Haden was a great player in college, and an accurate passer in the pros. He's a very intelligent guy.
At 5-11 he was considered too short to be a successful pro quarterback, but that's a bunch of baloney. Doug Flutie proved that wrong, too. Fran Tarkenton's not six feet tall. You throw passes through the creases, not over linemen. The same is said of wide receivers, yet Lynn Swann never had a problem at 5-11.
We had some players who had a reputation for being kind of crazy. Fred Dryer once said he heard Mike Battle was institutionalized. Tim Rossovich was once featured in Sports Illustrated eating glass and setting himself on fire. Well, Fred has a sense of humor. I heard Battle was married, but I don't know. I don't really know what was up with Rossovich. Once I was called to his dorm because he had “mooned” some girl, but then I found out the girl mooned him first. Neither one was ever arrested, and they were both fine players.
It broke my heart when the O.J. Simpson case hit the news. I still don't know what happened with O.J. I do know this, the guy I knew and the other players knew, never would have done anything like that. It was just terrible; he was one of the most admired guys in America.
The 1974 USC-Notre Dame game might have been the greatest, most exciting sporting event in L.A. history. 55 points in 17 minutes against Notre Dame. I've been asked to what extent do I feel that the hand of God just controlled my team's destiny, and to what extent did I think I controlled the outcome of that game. All I can say is, If I was in control, we'd have scored more than six points in the first half. I have no idea what happened, it was the damndest thing I ever saw. I did tell the team at halftime that A.D. <Anthony Davis> would return the second half kick for a touchdown, and we were going to win that game.
Ara Parseghian must wake up in a cold sweat thinking about it. Ara never coached again. I hear from Ara every once in a while, but I try to be kind about reminding him. I'd made a vow after the 1966 Notre Dame debacle. I told the press we'd never lose, 51-0, again, but over time it was changed to “We'll never lose to Notre Dame again.” We almost never did.
Regarding college football dynasties, you have Knute Rockne, Notre Dame, 1920s. Howard Jones, USC's Thundering Herd in the '30s. Bud Wilkinson, Oklahoma, 1950s. In recent years, Miami dominated the 1980s, and now we are seeing the Bobby Bowden era at Florida State. Still, many believe that Trojan football from 1962 to 1981-82, which encompasses my tenure and that of John Robinson, and includes four Heisman Trophy winners ending with Marcus Allen, is the greatest era of dominance in history. Well, I guess that's true or close to being true. At least we never had a player go to jail. We did have very good players.
Ronald Reagan looked at George Bush as a continuation of his Presidency, and Bill Clinton views Al Gore the same way, but I didn't look upon John Robinson the same way. At one time were close, but now I don't know what's going on.
I want to say something about the academic accomplishments of our players. Jealousy caused our detractors to say we did not have student-athletes, but that's baloney. Let me talk more about Pat Haden, a Rhodes Scholar. Bill Bradley, another Rhodes Scholar, was viewed as a future politician, and I know Pat's name has been brought up in that context. Pat Haden's a wonderful young man who I never had to worry about. In all honesty, Bill Nelsen, Craig Fertig, Mike Rae, Vince Evans, etc., we never had anybody who was trouble. They were all smart guys. Haden went to law school, but he was never really a political person. Bradley, too, he's a quiet guy. You have to wave your arms around and pound the table to be heard in politics.
My son, J.K., went into law and practiced at a big L.A. firm, as did Haden. J.K. went to Stetson law school and practiced a few years. Now he's in Beverly Hills, and he works with Ed Roski's company. He was involved trying to get a professional football team in Los Angeles. It's a tragedy that they don't have one. J.K. played for me with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
I'm often asked, "What is the greatest college football team, for a single season, of all time?" The answer to that is easy: the 1972 USC Trojans.
Jim Murray is the greatest writer of all time. I had good relations with journalists. Some of the greatest writers in the Los Angeles press corps included Bud Furillo. Bud and I were friends. He was around a long time, with the Herald and all over. Furillo may be, now that Murray has passed on, the man who has seen it all longer than anybody else in L.A. Mal Florence was a Trojan and a good writer, a friend with great knowledge. John Hall of the L.A. Times was another great guy. I never knew Bob Oates that well 'cause he covered pro football. Jim Perry was USC's former sports information director. He and I wrote a book together,McKay: A Coach's Story.
In 1976 I left SC and took the Tampa Bay job, only before free agency it was harder to build an expansion team quickly in those days. The team started off with 26 consecutive losses. Do I have regrets? Yes. When I assembled the team and got my first look at them I knew I'd made a mistake. I said something like, “We stunk and then it got worse." Somebody asked me what I thought of my team's execution and I replied, "That's a good idea." However, we were the fastest expansion team to make the play-offs in 1979, and we made it three times.
I consider myself a Trojan for life. I still follow them on TV. The best part of my life was being a Trojan. We would walk through campus to go to lunch, and you could just feel the great atmosphere, everybody was electric. That's something I'll always miss.
In 2000 USC was named College of the Year by the Princeton Review, and our school is really involved in a positive way in the surrounding community near campus. What people don't realize is that, with all those riots that have occurred all around that neighborhood, nobody ever touched the University, because people in that area know what the University means to the area. I stayed in touch with athletic director and former Heisman Trophy winner Mike Garrett. I heard from Garrett recently about a re-union of the 1974 team.
I was close with Paul Bryant. I want to touch on the role that the 1970 USC-Alabama game played in civil rights progress. I heard Reggie Jackson tell a story about how he knew the South would integrate. He played for the A's Birmingham farm club in 1966, and Charlie O. Finley brought Paul into the clubhouse. Paul met Jackson, who had played football at Arizona State, and told him he was the kind of player he could use. Fast-forward four years. Sam “Bam” Cunningham scored four touchdowns in our 42-21 victory at Birmingham.
Cunningham was black. Alabama was still all white. Paul Bryant came into our locker room and asked if he could borrow Cunningham. I said sure. He took him into the Alabama locker room, and had him shake hands with each player, and he introduced him by saying, “Fellas, this is what a football player looks like.” Bryant always said Cunningham did more to integrate the South than any speech.
USC, and UCLA with Jackie Robinson and Kenny Washington, has a long history of providing opportunity for black athletes. SC's first All-American in the 1920s, Brice Taylor, was black. Back then, you never heard of civil rights. Nobody was let in because of their color, they had to qualify like everybody else. Like Simpson, he had to go to a junior college before he could get in.
My other son, Rich, is having success as general manager of the Buccaneers. Well, he played football in high school and at Princeton. He's a smart kid, and he's doing very well in his current job.
He was an Irish Catholic from West Virginia, with a gift for wit and humor. For 16 years at the University of Southern California, John McKay was one of the greatest football coaches of all time. His teams won four national championships (1962, 1967, 1972, 1974), five Rose Bowls (1963, 1968, 1970, 1973, 1975), two Heisman Trophies (Mike Garrett, 1965; O.J. Simpson, 1968), and were unbeaten three times (1962, 1969, 1972). McKay was named AFCA Coach of the Year and also the Football Writers Association of America Coach of the Year in 1962 and 1972. His 1972 Trojans are considered by a large majority of historians to be the best team in college history, and the 20-year run (1962-82) that he started and was completed by his successor, John Robinson, is the most dominant two decades any program has ever had. He was elected to the USC, Rose Bowl, and College Football Halls of Fame. He co-wrote McKay: A Coach's Story with Jim Perry. Had McKay stayed at USC he likely would have won more games than Bear Bryant, Joe Paterno or Bobby Bowden, but he left to take over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, leading them to the 1979 NFC championship game. His son, J.K. McKay is a Trojan legend, and his other son, Rich, one of the most successful general managers in pro football. This interview, one of the last he ever conducted prior to his passing, occurred in 2000 and appeared in a StreetZebra magazine article titled, "He Was a Legend of the Old School Variety."
SAM "BAM" CUNNINGHAM
1970 - 1972
I was born in Santa Barbara and went to Santa Barbara High School. Marv Goux was born there, and went to the same high school and junior high that I went to. I think Santa Barbara is the second oldest high school in the state of California. I played football, ran track and played basketball for the Dons. I did the decathlon at USC but I was not really on the track team.
I was recruited by many programs, and I took many trips; to Michigan State, Oregon, Cal, Arizona State. Frank Kush, the coach at ASU, was crazy. Colorado recruited me but I did not take that trip, I was too tired. I got a letter from Alabama. I'm sure Coach Bryant would have used me if I'd decided to be the guy to come there, but it was a tough situation for black athletes in the Deep South, so yeah they tried for me, but I wasn't going to go there.
Marv Goux was the main recruiter for this area, but he did not have to do a whole lot of recruiting for me. He had known me, his brother knew me, Santa Barbara was not very big, maybe 60,000 people and three high schools; a small Catholic school plus a couple public schools. At that time and place, my parents knew what I did before I even got home.
I graduated from high school in 1969, and the first time I met Coach John McKay was at dinner with him. He was funny, different from my high school coach who was a retired military man and as a high school senior you don't really interact the way grown-ups would. McKay struck me as a pretty decent man and his credentials spoke for themselves. The USC freshman football team of 1969 consisted of lots of great high school athletes, most of whom had competed in high school football or track, so we knew each other. It was cool to me, I grew up competing, it didn't bother me, nobody had ever spoiled or catered to me, it had always forced me to play and compete, so it was like that at SC. After they get there, the recruiting is over, they don't tell you you're the best anymore, but for me it was easy. Maybe some others had not had to compete as much as a prep, it was not that I was so good but I always had to compete with others in high school. We all bonded and hung out together at USC: Manfred Moore, Charles Young, Rod McNeill, Chris Chaney, Allan Graf.
Eventually we formed something we called the "Big Five," and it consisted of Charles Young, Rod McNeill, Manfred Moore, Edesel Garrison, and myself. Later Lynn Swann became the "plus one" but he was younger, smaller and we made him fight his way in. He made himself a pain in the behind, so we'd mess with him. It was all in good fun, we loved each other, and it was just the right chemistry. Lynn was from Northern California, he'd gone to this preppy high school and was a real hot shot so we had to mess with him just to keep his head from getting too big.
That freshman year we played three games, against Stanford, Cal and UCLA I think. Freshmen couldn't play varsity in those days. This was an incredible group of athletes and expectations were huge that we would form a great team, but we thought it would materialize into Rose Bowls and national championships immediately. That was the expectation at USC, where the Trojans had won or come close to several titles in the last couple years; had unbeaten teams; we went to the Rose Bowl like it was on the schedule, so I figured it would be that way for us.
The first game of the 1970 season certainly convinced us that our time was now, that what we expected would materialize immediately. That was the famed game at Alabama. Going back to 'Bama I just kept it simple; get in and play well, and not dwell on the political side. I did not grow up in the Deep South. I knew if I got in and did not play well I'd not get in again. If I got a chance I had to execute. It was exciting, it was our first road trip, and if I'd known how historical it was gonna be, I'd have paid more attention, but it seemed like it was just another game at that time, at least for me, considering what my priorities were, which were: get in, play well so I can get in and play again. At USC there were a lot of guys who were good enough to play, so if you didn't get the job done it'd be a long time before you got in again.
That said, you knew this was a special game between two great football powers, and we happened to win that game. I could run to daylight or over people. That night at Alabama, they didn't have anybody who could stop me. That's just the way of it. Rod McNeill was more of a daylight runner. It didn't make any difference if somebody was in my way, I could go over you or around you, but that night I mainly just went over people.
The nighttime crowd at Legion Field was into it at first, they had every reason to feel they'd play well, but as the "Tide turned," they were trying to figure out what was happening. There are times when I'm in the stands, and my team is being destroyed, and it was like the first half of the 1974 USC-Notre Dame game. In the first half the fans were not in it until that last touchdown that Anthony Davis scored before the half, so it was like that. We came out like gangbusters, they were hyped from the beginning, but we took the wind out of their sails. They were watching history. I mean, there's only one story. That's what they saw. There was no way for them to spin it. I was not paying attention Bear Bryant. Again, my focus is always the next play, do well, and if you make plays you get to stay in the game.
It's been written that you could hear black fans outside the stadium, but I was not acutely focused on that. I was caught up in the fact that I had a chance to play and I never dreamt of it. I was not focused on the small group of black fans sitting behind the end zone rooting for us. We played a near-perfect game and destroyed them 42-21, and their fans were silent, every ounce of what they brought was gone.
As we showered and got to the bus I heard the black fans who were outside the stadium. We delivered something to them, we won the football game, that was the first thing, and when you win other things happen; and when you win in so dominating a fashion, whatever had been talked of or planned or put in motion now had a full head of steam. I tell people you don't have time to savor or enjoy, but we had to get ready for Nebraska after that.
For me there was no real weight off my back, it was a senior team and they had played two years, and they knew what it is to deal with the pressure to be a Trojan. I had been a baby and now I knew I could play college ball.
Charlie Evans was a white senior fullback, he was ahead of me and if I was going to get significant playing time, I'd be taking mostly his time. He started that game and even scored a touchdown, but he was expecting a glory year. You don't get a lot of chances, and he knew the consequences that come from that, that your best shot rolls around and either you make the most of it or you don't. I'm a sophomore, but that game set the tone so that I got a lot of time after that. He was a good player and he played, but he did not attain the kind of glory he hoped and might have achieved had he gotten the playing time he hoped for. I never talked to Charlie about it. I'm told it grates on him to this day, and I'm sure it does, but he carried the ball before I did, he scored a TD in that game, but not the first two TDs.
Clarence Davis had a good game and normally he would have scored the first touchdown, being the starting tailback. He was an All-American in 1969, and if there was a civil rights story that night, everybody thought it would revolve around Clarence, because he was already an established star and because he had been born in Birmingham and symbolized the flight of black athletes from the South. But what made it so different for the fans looking on was that we had an all-black backfield and started a black quarterback, Jimmy Jones.
This was really unusual, not just for the South. It was something you saw at USC and almost no where else. Willie Wood had been USC's black quarterback and captain in the late '50s, which was really groundbreaking. Minnesota had a guy named Sandy Stephens, and Michigan State had a black quarterback, Jimmy Raye, a couple years earlier. That was about it.
That game at Birmingham is considered a seminal moment, but it could have happened earlier. USC had a history of black players, going back to Brice Taylor in the 1920s, although they kind of dropped the ball some for a few years after that, but in 1955 USC went to Texas with a black running back, C.R. Roberts, and he had a game comparable with mine. The Texas players shook his hand and accepted him because when you play you have a sense of respect for courage and talent that can't be denied, but the Texas fans kept jeering him and change did not result. Besides, Texas is a different mentality than the rest of the U.S. They just have their own way of doing things.
After the Alabama game I got a chance to speak to Bear Bryant outside the locker room. I think he also talked to Clarence Davis and a few others. You don't normally get a chance to talk to the head coach after games, that was unique, and then I got cleaned up and moved.
Tody Smith was a senior on our team that year. Tody was cool and he had a lot of pressure, being a senior plus he was the younger brother of Bubba Smith, and his father was a well-regarded coach in Beaumont, Texas. Tody's attitude going to Alabama was different from mine and some of the black players from California; his perspective being from Texas was not the same as mine. His brother, Bubba was a real character.
Fred Lynn was a football player at USC when I was there, but he quit and concentrated on baseball. Later he was asked about that and he said, "My football career ended courtesy of one too many hits from Sam 'Bam' Cunningham." Fred became an All-American on several College World Series champions at USC, and in 1975 he was the American League Rookie of the Year and MVP with the American League champion Boston Red Sox.
Fred was not a "come up and stick your nose in it" kind of guy. Fred was a talented athlete and he needed to play baseball. Most of this came out years later, it was not part of the conversation at the time, but it shows how much talent he had that he became a great baseball player. We had a lot of multi-sport athletes. Rod McNeill ran track, Charles Young was good in hoops. Anthony Davis was a baseball star. We had lots of great athletes, but you had to determine what you wanted to be at some time.
Charles Young was a leader. We were all young and great athletes. He and I hung out together a lot. If I needed somebody at my back it was him I wanted, as I hope it would be for him, too. He came from Fresno, which is different from Santa Barbara and took more adjustment to the social scene at SC. There were not a lot of blacks on campus then. Before it became a non-denominational university, USC was a religious university, and it was very traditional, conservative, and for the black athletes at that time we needed to be cognizant of this. It was not a discriminatory attitude, but you sensed that there were rules of conduct and we had to live within those rules.
Marv Goux told us, "Just don't do anything to disgrace the University, the football program, your teammates, your family, or yourselves." We understood this and lived it. You have to understand, within the black community there was not much there at SC. There was a cycle of movement as many had lived through the 1965 Watts riots, and there was an increase in black recruits who were brought in to keep the football program as great as it was, and if you get an education while there, then so be it. Charles Young knew that there was a trade of sorts, education for football; opportunity for us, glory for the school.
The neighborhood around USC had undergone some major change after the Watts riots, but USC is very important to that community and has always been viewed as a friend. It was not bad for us, and the University has expanded, so slowly but surely USC has helped to keep the area relatively benign. People are sending their kids to a school that's asking them to pay a lot of money, so they want to feel it's safe for them. There's a lot of history in that whole neighborhood area, and USC has always been part of it.
John Papadakis and I never competed against each other for the fullback job, but we had competed vs. each other as shot-putters in high school, and he's really emotional and takes it personal, but he made me a better player because I had to stand up and fight and we had physical confrontations. We developed great a friendship because of what we went through. John had been a running back but they turned him into a linebacker. I could have played linebacker. My philosophy about the game was that I just wanted to play. I was not worried about statistics or even my position. I wanted to play and I wanted to win.
I was never so vain that I needed to be the center of attention, the star. I was not raised to worry about how many times I touched the ball, it was a team sport, I wanted to be part of it, and I just wanted to win.
It all comes down to what people think about you 30 years later. If you can make yourself think of that you will act different. Either you're humble or not. If people throw all this money at you, you have to say the same, we did the same as the original cats who played football, only we made more money in the NFL than our predecessors. I've seen so many amazing athletes, and I might say I did the same thing that some guy does today and he makes millions, but I don't make a big deal of it.
I got the ball a lot my junior year. There was no dedicated tailback. I made All-American in 1972 because the team was so good, like Charle' Young averaging only about two catches a game, but he'd make 20 or 30 yards when he did catch it. John McKay made comments that he did not use me to run the ball as much as he'd like, and my yards were not all that high, but Charles and I were All-Americans in part because there was a recognition that we'd sacrificed for the team. We had so much talent spread out that no one guy was going to have sparkling stats. I don't know how you become an All-American, there's a lot that goes into it, the right team and publicity, but I never worried about it and just let things happen.
I tell you, that 1972 team, the reason some people thought the 2005 Trojan team was better was we were "vanilla" in what we did. We could've run what Pete Carroll's team runs today, and if we did it we'd've been even more untouchable. The only problem with the 2005 team was they lost leadership on the defensive side of the ball. They got caught up in the hype and we never got caught in the hype. We had cats who grew up together from '69 on, and had no great success or bowl games for two years prior, so we were really hungry. You come to USC and the expectations are the Rose Bowl, but we didn't have anybody in '72 who'd been to one.
Now they have so many guys drafted, they're not as hungry as we were in '72. Back then, you would come in and the Rose Bowl was the only game, if you don't make it there you don't go anywhere, so the motivation is to try and get there. Just to win the Rose Bowl, we felt we had to go undefeated to get that. Coach McKay said it was one of the easiest teams he ever coached. He said, "I just had to make sure we get off the bus." I just looked at teammates and I could see their mindset, and we'd say, "We got this." It was the most fun I ever had playing, hanging out, that journey, the outside bonding. We partied together, we were broke together, we would eat together, visit families in our hometowns, we were all we had. There was no discrimination against the black players at USC, but it was a social scene on campus that took getting used to, so we bonded with teammates because that was our comfort zone.
We were bound by the people you are with there, to make this work and we did. Football is hard work, it's a test of your heart and emotion, your sincerity. It's assumed you will be in shape, but beyond that you have to want it bad, and we wanted it bad.
Mike Rae was our quarterback and we were so run-heavy that the quarterback just had to hand off, but he could throw any pass he needed. He had been great at Lakewood High School. It always amazed me if any passer comes to SC, guys could go to Stanford where they'd throw, they could go anywhere and play, he really had to wait his turn, but he had a chance at the pros and it worked out in the long run. There were just a lot of great athletes.
Edesel Garrison was ahead of us. He'd come in on a track scholarship, then decided to concentrate on football, but he'd been a state champion sprinter at Compton High School. Anthony Davis was a sophomore in 1972 who got lucky because he was third string and we had some injuries. Rod McNeill was injured so he got to play, and Allen Carter got hurt, and he was great, the fastest of all the running backs we had. But A.D. was special. He was A.D. He had a great sophomore year on a great team, but any one of those running backs could do well. McNeill had a bad injury but he gutted it out and got his share of playing time.
The real key to that team was the defense. In 1970-71 we ran an even-front defense and did not move well out of it. Vs. Nebraska, Alabama, and Oklahoma, they ran wishbone lateral offenses and we were always behind. McKay changed in 1972 and ran an odd front defense and brought in Richard "Batman" Wood, who was by far the pearl of that defense. This guy came from New Jersey, across the river from New York City, and he was an unreal player and unique character.
I introduced myself to Wood and he introduced himself as "Batman from Gotham City." I asked, "What do you play?" and he says "Linebacker." I say, "You don't have big legs," and he just kind of looked at me like I was crazy, like, "When you see me play linebacker you will not question my ability to play that position." He was not as imposing-looking as say a Ted Hendricks, but he was a great athlete. Then there was safety Artimus Parker and Charles Phillips, who was a rover: linebacker, safety, he was 6-3 and incredibly athletic, later a great pro with Oakland.
That 1972 team could have beaten some lower-echelon teams in pro football. Washington State coach Jim Sweeney was asked if we were the best team in the country and he answered, "No, the Miami Dolphins are."
John Hannah was my teammate all those years in New England. He was an All-Pro, a Hall of Famer, a great blocker to run behind. He'd been on that 1970 Alabama team we beat, but we did not really talk about 1970. Why would he wanna talk about a game they did not win? I wasn't gonna grind him about it. John was from Alabama and he had to get adjusted to the fact that probably 40 percent of the NFL was black in 1974, but he was a gentleman and friend, a good teammate. Before integration really took, you had a lot of players coming out of the black colleges, but they weren't as fundamentally sound coming out as guys who played at big schools, major universities you already knew about. So a lot of black kids were not as fundamentally sound.
A large part of the effect of the 1970 game is that it forced a changed in those small schools, plus the AFL had an effect as well. The AFL had created additional pro football jobs and that meant more black players, and a lot of those early guys had been at black colleges. Al Davis got out ahead on this, he scouted less-known black colleges and found guys like Willie Brown and Gene Upshaw. Vince Lombardi built the Packers with a fair number of these guys, as well.
Sam "Bam" Cunningham was the hero of the legendary 1970 win at Alabama that is credited as a "tipping point" in "turning the Crimson Tide" against segregation. He was an All-American and captain of the 1972 Trojans, generally considered the greatest college football team ever. In USC's 42-17 thumping of Ohio State in the 1973 Rose Bowl, he scored four times to earn Player of the Game and eventually Rose Bowl Hall of Fame honors. After playing in the Hula Bowl, College All-Star Game and Coaches All-America Game, Sam was made the first round draft pick of the New England Patriots, where he played until 1982. He is a member of the USC Athletic Hall of Fame and will someday be in the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame. His brother, Randall was a star quarterback with the Philadelphia Eagles.
1970 USC-ALABAMA DOCUMENTARY:
Steven Travers, a former professional baseball player with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Oakland A's organizations, is the author of over 15 books, including the best-selling Barry Bonds: Baseball's Superman, nominated for a Casey Award as Best Baseball Book of 2002; and One Night, Two Teams: Alabama vs. USC and the Game that Changed a Nation (a 2007 PNBA nominee, subject of the CBS/CSTV documentary Tackling Segregation, and soon to be a major motion picture). He attended the same suburban California high school as USC football coach Pete Carroll, and helped pitch their baseball team to the national championship in his senior year, before attending college on an athletic scholarship and earning all-conference honors. After pro baseball, he graduated from the University of Southern California. Steven was also a graduate volunteer coach at USC, Cal-Berkeley and in Europe; served in the Army; attended law school; and was a sports agent. He has written for the Los Angeles Times and was a columnist for StreetZebra magazine in L.A., and the San Francisco Examiner. His screenplays include The Lost Battalion, 21 and Wicked. His 2006 book The USC Trojans: College Football's All-Time Greatest Dynasty was a National Book Network "top 100 seller." In 2009 he also published Pigskin Warriors, a detailed history of collegiate football. Steven is a regular guest panelist at USC's Annenberg School for Communications, has made several speeches on the USC campus, and made numerous appearances before Trojans and football groups far and wide. A sixth-generation Californian, he has a daughter, Elizabeth Travers, and lives in the Golden State.
"Those who criticize you out of malice are small and petty people; unimpressives whose words carry no weight nor substance, motivated by knowledge that what you do, they cannot, or will never do. Go forth and produce excellence. Let this be your answer and your monument. It shall stand the test of time. The words of the unimpressive will blow away with the wind, yet always be of Christian charity, uttering kind words with a generosity of spirit."
- Steven Travers, 2009
Books written by Steven Travers
One Night, Two Teams: Alabama vs. USC and the Game That Changed A Nation (also a documentary, Tackling Segregation, and soon to be a major motion picture)
A's Essential: Everything You Need to Know to Be A Real Fan!
Trojans Essential: Everything You Need to Know to Be A Real Fan!
Dodgers Essential: Everything You Need to Know to Be A Real Fan!
Angels Essential: Everything You Need to Know to Be A Real Fan!
D'Backs Essential: Everything You Need to Know to Be A Real
The USC Trojans: College Football's All-Time Greatest Dynasty
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly Los Angeles Lakers
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly Oakland Raiders
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly San Francisco 49ers
Barry Bonds: Baseball's Superman
Pigskin Warriors: 140 Years of College Football's Greatest Games, Players and Traditions
The 1969 Miracle Mets: The Improbable Story of the World's Greatest Underdog Team
Dodgers Baseball Yesterday & Today
What It Means to Be a Trojan: Southern Cal's Greatest Players Talk About Trojans Football
A Tale of Three Cities: The 1962 Baseball Season in New York, L.A. and San Francisco
God's Country: A Conservative, Christian Worldview of How History Formed the United States Empire and America's Manifest Destiny for the 21st Century
Angry White Male
The Writer's Life
From the Frat House to the White House to the Big House
Praise for Steven Travers
Another bull's-eye by Steven Travers. He has captured the love, laughter, and largesse of the 1962 baseball season, maybe the most entertaining season of all time, especially in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Yes, he can. And did. _
- Maury Allen, author of Yankees World Series Memories
Steve Travers does a really fine job of capturing not only the highlights and sidelights of those memorable days in the early 1960s, but he also focuses on some of the legends of that golden era, including Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Maury Wills, Orlando Cepeda, Don Drysdale, Whitey Ford, and so many more. Entertaining, informative, and a great read for the hardcore and the casual fa
- Bruce Macgowan, Comcast SportsNet Bay
ESPN Voice Jon Miller dubs the 1962 baseball season his 'coming of age as a baseball fan.' Steven Travers relives that season in this engaging and lively work. A book utterly worthy of an unforgettable yewar.
- Curt Smith, author of Voices of the Game and Pull Up a Chair: The Vin Scully Story
Steve Travers has written a literary masterpiece, One Night, Two Teams. He is going to be a legend.
- Mr. Football (Vince Turner), Radio Blogspot
Steve Travers is the next great USC historian, in the tradition of Jim Murray, John Hall, and Mal Florence! . . . the Trojan Family needs your work. Fight On!
-USC Head Football Coach Pete Carroll
. . . Steve Travers tells us all about the exciting and remarkable football . . . . that not only changed the way the game is played; it . . . changed the world.
-Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump
In both Dodgers Past & Present and A Tale of Three Cities, Steve Travers provides photos and stories I never knew before.
- Fred Wallen, John Woolard. Sports Overnight
Steve Travers combines wit, humor, social pathos and historical knowledge with the kind of sports expertise that only an ex-jock is privy to; it is reminiscent of the work of Jim Bouton, Pat Jordan and Dan Jenkins, combined with Jim Murray' turn of phrase, Hunter Thompson's hard-scrabble Truths, and David Halberstam's unique take on our nation's place in history. His writing is great storytelling, and the result is pure genius every time.
-Westwood One radio personality Mike McDowd
Steve Travers is a great writer, an educated athlete who knows how to get inside the player's heads, and when that happens, greatness occurs. He's gonna be a superstar.
-San Francisco Examiner
Steve Travers is a phenomenal writer, an artist who labors over every word to get it just right, and he has an encyclopedic knowledge of sports and history.
Steve Travers is a Renaissance man.
-Jim Rome Show
He is very qualified to continue to write books such as this one. Good job.
-Marty Lurie/"Right Off the Bat" Oakland A's Pregame Host
Steve's a literate ex-athlete, an ex-Trojan, and a veteran of Hollywood, too.
-Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton/XTRA Radio, San Diego
You've done some good writin', dude.
-KFOG Radio, San Francisco
[Travers is] one of the great sportswriters on the current American scene.
-Joe Shea/Radio Talk Host and Editor
Travers appears to have the right credentials for the task.
-USA Today Baseball Weekly
A very interesting read which is not your average . . . book. . . . Steve has achieved his bona fides when it comes to having the credentials to write a book like this.
-Geoff Metcalfe/KSFO Radio, San Francisco
This is a fascinating book written by a man who knows his subject matter inside and out.
-Irv Kaze/KRLA Radio, Los Angeles
Travers . . . established himself as a writer of many dimensions . . . a natural.
-John Jackson/Ross Valley Reporter
Steve Travers is a true USC historian and a loyal Trojan!
-Former USC football player John Papadakis
Pete Carroll calls you "the next great USC historian," high praise indeed.
- Rob Fukuzaki/ABC7, Los Angeles
Steve Travers is perhaps my favorite writer, a great writer and I always enjoy his musings, particularly on SC football - huge fan!
- Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane
Steven Travers is one of the most accomplished sports sports journalists in our nation today and One Night, Two Teams is his defining work to this point.
Travers, a USC grad, portrays the game and USC's victory as a tipping point in the integration of college football and the South, a triumph for the forces of equality . . . his larger view of the game hits home in most respects, and he provides a compelling account- drawing from dozens of interviews with participants, coaches, drawing from dozens of others - of a clash between two schools with decidedly different approaches to the composition of their football rosters . . . Ain all, an intriguing premise and a well-told story.
- Wes Lukowsky, Booklist
The book is not just about sports but how sports and that September 1970 game in particular relate to the intertwining of sports, race, politics, history, religion and philosophy.
- Harold Abend, In Scope
One Night . . . is a tour de force.
- Marin I.J.
Travers combines wit, humor and historical knowledge in his writings.
- University of Southern California
Wow what a great job!!!! . . . I love the book . . . It's one of those you look forward to reading at special times . . . I can't say enough!
- Lonnie White, Los Angeles Times
This is a book about American society. It sheds incredible light on little-known events that every American must know to understand this country . . . In 20 years, people will say of this book what they said about Roger Kahn's The Boys of Summer.
- Fred Wallin, Business Talk radio
Steve is the USC historian whose meticulous attention to detail is a revelation. He is the best chronicler of USC ever.
- Chuck Hayes, CRN “Sports Corner”
This is fabulous, just a terrific look at our history. Travers is one of the best writers around.
- Rod Brooks, “Fitz & Brooks Show,” KNBR/San Francisco
You have created a work of art here, an absolutely great book. We love your work.
- Bob Fitzgerald, “Fitz & Brooks Show,” KNBR/San Francisco
When it comes to sports history, this is the man right here.
- Gary Radnich, KRON/5, San Francisco
Author Steven Travers discusses his new book . . .
- Orange County Register
. . . Join Steve Travers . . . at the Autograph Stage . . .
- ESPN Radio
. . . Steve Travers, author of One Night, Two Teams: Alabama vs. USC and the Game That Changed a Nation . . .
- Los Angeles Daily News
Steve Travers, a sports historian . . .
- Los Alamitos News-Enterprise
Hear this dynamic speaker tell how this famous game changed history.
- Friends of the Los Alamitos-Rossmoor Library
This is a fabulous book.
- Michaela Pereira/ KTLA 5, Los Angeles
Travers presents this particular game in 1970 as a metaphor for the profound changes in social history during the emancipation of the South.
- Publishers Weekly
. . . Explored in rich, painstaking detail by Steve Travers.
- Jeff Prugh, L.A. Times beat writer who covered the 1970 USC-Alabama game
You're a prolific talent.
- Curtis Kim, KSRO Radio, Santa Rosa
Is there anything you've not written?
- Vernon Glenn, KRON/4, San Francisco
You are the Poet Laureate of the USC Program.! Please keep writing.
- Tony Pattiz, USC class of 1980
(The chapter in One Night, Two Teams) on Martin Luther King - the description of the civil rights movement - your insights, the research - what an education I received from reading it. It should be required reading by every student in America! Every citizen. No wonder there were so many African Americans on the Mall a week ago! . . . I am sure there are many blacks who would say it is impossible for a white man to really understand the struggle. And, in one sense they are definitely right because you are not black. But, wow - I think you did an excellent job in bringing it together - telling the story and making me think!
- Dwight Chapin
Nixon White House appointments secretary
A's Essential: Everything You Need To Be a Real Fan offers a breezy history . . .
- Bruce Dancis/Sacramento Bee
What A's Essential does give us in heaps is the history specific players and other A's personnel . . . Travers manages to dig up plenty of interesting quotes and his knowledge of other writings about the A's is voluminous. He finds enough fascinating material . . . interesting and add(s) to the reader's experience with the book . . . A's Essential can be a useful source to those who are students of A's history
- Brian James Oak/www.atthehomeplate.com
As an Oakland fan, I was therefore interested to find A's Essential when browsing on Amazon recently
- Matt Smith, MLB.com
USC fans will surely use this as ammunition in an argument against an Irish fan . . .
- Tom Hoffarth, Los Angeles Daily News
Travers is a real baseball talent.
- Jaybird's Jotting's
Steve Travers . . . is an accomplished sportswriter who has written an interesting book.
- Bruce Macgowan,. KNBR sports personality
The windup: History, facts, pictures, stories, trivia on the history of the Dodgers. The pitch: Take the entry we did . . .
- Tom Hoffarth, L.A. Daily News
I got this new book about the Dodgers called Dodgers Past and Present. It is a cool book about the Dodgers. It even has a little piece about the Dodgers and the Dukes and the Dodgers Returning to Albuquerque as their Triple A affiliate. This is a must have for Dodger fans I recomend it to Dodger and Isotope fans.
- Ilove thisgame.com
Steve Travers is a highly accomplished man, a lecturer and author of many books, and these latest two are very high quality work.
- Marty Lurie, Right Off the Bat
I knew you loved USC, but you really love USC!
- Fred Wallin, CRN national sporstalk host
A's Essential: Everything You Need To Be a Real Fan offers a breezy history (with emphasis on the Oakland years), player biographies, Top 10 lists, trivia questions and more about the Athletics' franchise that has resided in Philadelphia, Kansas City and, since 1968, Oakland.
- Bruce Dancis/Sacramento Bee
The author . . . sends a clear message that what we need to understand to be a real fan is history. The book follows the A's from the Connie Mack era of the early 20th century up through the current incarnation of the team that made it to the American League Championship Series in 2006 . . . What A's Essential does give us in heaps is the history specific players and other A's personnel . . . Travers manages to dig up plenty of interesting quotes and his knowledge of other writings about the A's is voluminous. He finds enough fascinating material . . . He is ready to speculate on the use by a variety of players and Mark McGwire's chapter is particularly brutal as he views all of the slugger's achievements and troubles through the lens of steroids . . . A's Essential . . . interesting and add(s) to the reader's experience with the book . . . A's Essential can be a useful source to those who are students of A's history
- Brian James Oak/www.atthehomeplate.com
Fans of our Northern California big league teams will enjoy the latest entries in two series from Triumph Books. "Few and Chosen: Defining Giants Greatness Across the Eras" ($25.95, 256 pages), by former New York Giants hero Bobby Thomson and journalist Phil Pepe, chooses the all-time best players in the long history of the New York and San Francisco Giants, while "A's Essential: Everything You Need To Be a Real Fan" ($19.95, 240 pages) by Steven Travers, offers a breezy history (with emphasis on the Oakland years), player biographies, Top 10 lists, trivia questions and more about the Athletics' franchise that has resided in Philadelphia, Kansas City and, since 1968, Oakland.
- Bruce Dancis/Sacramento Bee
A's Essential unintentionally stirs a debate. While A's fans see their favorite players, Giambi, Tejada, Zito (and the list goes on), disappear for the greener pastures of free agency every year, the A's persevere. Look no further than the 2007 A's. Though virtually all of their best players have fallen and landed on the DL, the A's continue to perform successfully and are within shouting distance of the division lead. But if the team is not in fact the same team, what exactly are the fans cheering for? The great players on the DL? No. Their favorite players long gone to New York and San Francisco? Certainly not. The town of Oakland-hometown pride? Maybe, maybe not. When discussing this problem, Billy Beane has often referenced the old Jerry Seinfeld line, that A's fans are just 'rooting for laundry.' There is no easy answer to this question, but it is something we can try to determine by looking trough the pages of the aptly titled A's Essential: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Real Fan! by Steven Travers.
- Brian James Oak
This is a great book … I like the way this book is put together.
- WDEF Radio, Chattanooga
Steve is talented guy.
- Greg Papa, Comcast SportNet Bay Area Chronicle Live host
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism