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WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A TROJAN: SOUTHERN CAL'S GREATEST PLAYERS TALK/TROJANS FOOTBALL By STEVEN TRAVERS, Foreword by PETE CARROLL
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BOOK DETAILS

  • Hardcover
  • Jul.05.2009
  • 9781600782114
  • Triumph Books

Steven gives an overview of the book:

  CONTENTS   Foreword: What It Means to Be a Trojan by Pete Carroll Editor's Acknowledgements Introduction   The THIRTIES             Norman Bing, Ambrose Schindler   The FORTIES             Bill Gray, Jim Hardy, Gordon Gray   The FIFTIES Frank Gifford, Al "Hoagy" Carmichael, Tom Nickoloff, Sam "the Toe" Tsagalakis, Marv Goux, Jon Arnett, C.R. Roberts, Monte Clark, Ron Mix   The SIXTIES "Prince Hal" Bedsole, Willie Brown, Craig Fertig, Bill Fisk Jr., Tim Rossovich, Ron Yary, Adrian Young, Mike "Razor" Battle, Steve Sogge, John McKay   The SEVENTIES John Vella, Sam "Bam" Cunningham, Allan Graf, Rod McNeill, Manfred Moore, J.K. McKay, Richard "Batman" Wood, Clay Matthews, Frank Jordan, Paul McDonald   The EIGHTIES Keith Van Horne, Roy Foster, Jeff Brown, Michael Harper. Tim Green, Steve Jordan, Jeff "...
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CONTENTS

 

Foreword: What It Means to Be a Trojan by Pete Carroll

Editor's Acknowledgements

Introduction

 

The THIRTIES

            Norman Bing, Ambrose Schindler

 

The FORTIES

            Bill Gray, Jim Hardy, Gordon Gray

 

The FIFTIES

Frank Gifford, Al "Hoagy" Carmichael, Tom Nickoloff, Sam "the Toe" Tsagalakis, Marv Goux, Jon Arnett, C.R. Roberts, Monte Clark, Ron Mix

 

The SIXTIES

"Prince Hal" Bedsole, Willie Brown, Craig Fertig, Bill Fisk Jr., Tim Rossovich, Ron Yary, Adrian Young, Mike "Razor" Battle, Steve Sogge, John McKay

 

The SEVENTIES

John Vella, Sam "Bam" Cunningham, Allan Graf, Rod McNeill, Manfred Moore, J.K. McKay, Richard "Batman" Wood, Clay Matthews, Frank Jordan, Paul McDonald

 

The EIGHTIES

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

 

The NINETIES

Todd Marinovich, Scott Ross, Derrick Deese, Matt Gee, Taso Papadakis, John Robinson

 

The NEW MILLENIUM

            Kevin Arbet, Brandon Hancock. Tom Malone, Mario Danelo           

 

 

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE MEANS

 

TO BE A TROJAN

 

PETE CARROLL

AND SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA'S GREATEST PLAYERS

 

BY STEVEN TRAVERS

 

Triumph Books

www.triumphbooks.com

A division of Random House Publishing

 

STEVEN TRAVERS

Copyright, 2009

USCSTEVE1@aol.com

 

DUSTCOVER

 

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 of The 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."   

 

PETE CARROLL

(with photo)

 

After years as an assistant coach (including defensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers) and head jobs with the New York Jets and New England Patriots, Pete Carroll found his niche at USC, where he has compiled one of the greatest records in the history of collegiate grid annals. His Trojans won consecutive national championships (2003-04), two Orange Bowls, three Rose Bowls, and from 2003-06 were ranked number one a record 33 consecutive weeks while compiling the second-longest winning streak in the modern, major college era (34 games). A three-time Pacific-10 Conference Coach of the Year, Carroll was the National Coach of the Year in 2003 and 2004. Despite his busy schedule, Carroll has shown amazing dedication to the inner city community that surrounds the USC campus and has risen to a level of popularity and respect in Southern California matched by few figures in sports or any other field of endeavor. He and his wife Glena are the parents of a daughter, Jaime, an ex-Trojan volleyball player, and son Nate, a USC student. His older son Brennan is an assistant coach with the Trojans.

 

STEVEN TRAVERS

(with photo)

 

Steven Travers was born in the same city (San Francisco), grew up in the same county (Marin), attended the same high school (Redwood), was coached/mentored by the same men (Al Endriss, Bob Troppmann), and later graduated from the same college (USC) that Pete Carroll attended and/or established his coaching legend at. They are not the same age, but many of the younger brothers of Carroll's friends played with and were friends of Travers a few years later. An ex-professional baseball player, he is the author of the best-selling Barry Bonds: Baseball’s Superman, nominated for a Casey Award (best baseball book of 2002). He is also the author of The USC Trojans: College Football’s All-Time Greatest Dynasty (a National Book Network “top 100 seller”); One Night, Two Teams: Alabama vs. USC and the Game That Changed a Nation (subject of a documentary and major motion picture, a 2007 PNBA nominee); and five books in the Triumph/Random House Essential series (A’s, Dodgers, Angels, D’backs, Trojans). Other Triumph/Random House books include: 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, and What It Means to Be a Trojan. His other books include The 1969 Miracle Mets; Pigskin Warriors: 140 Years of College Football's Greatest Games, Players and Traditions; Dodgers Baseball Yesterday and Today; and A Tale of Three Cities: New York, L.A. and San Francisco in October of '62. Steve was a columnist for StreetZebra magazine in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Examiner. He also penned the screenplays The Lost Battalion and 21. Travers helped lead the Redwood High School baseball team to the national championship his senior year; attended college on an athletic scholarship; was an all-conference pitcher; and coached at USC, Cal-Berkeley and in Europe. He also attended law school, served in the Army, and is a guest lecturer at the University of Southern California. A fifth generation Californian, Steve has a daughter, Elizabeth Travers and still resides in the Golden State.

 

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

Dodgers Baseball Yesterday and Today

A Tale of Three Cities: New York, L.A. and San Francisco in October of '62

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

 

Praise for Steven Travers

 

Steve Travers is the next great USC historian, in the tradition of Jim Murray, John Hall, and Mal Florence! . . . The Trojan Nation needs your work!

- USC Head Football Coach Pete Carroll

 

I knew you loved USC, but you really love USC! 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, CRN national sportstalk host

 

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’s 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 sports media 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.

- StreetZebra magazine

 

Steve Travers is a Renaissance man.

-       Jim Rome Show

 

Travers' new book finally explains the phenomenon . . . the Bonds tale is spelled out in the most thorough, interesting, revealing, concise manner ever reached.

            - Maury Allen/www.TheColumnists.com, Gannett Newspapers

 

Travers appears to have the right credentials for the task: He is a former minor leaguer who also penned screenplays in addition to a column for the San Francisco Examiner. He calls on that background in crafting a straightforward, warts-and-all profile that remains truthful without becoming a mean-spirited hatchet job . . .

             - USA Today Baseball Weekly

 

This is a fascinating book written by a man who knows his subject matter inside and out.

           - Irv Kaze/KRLA Radio, Los Angeles

 

Get this book. You've brought Bonds to life.

          - Fred Wallin/Syndicated sportstalk host, Los Angeles

 

This promises to be the biggest sports book of 2002.

         - Greg Papa/KTCT Radio, San Francisco

 

This cat struck out Kevin Mitchell five times in one game. I'll read the book for that reason alone. Plus, he hangs out with Charlie Sheen. How do I get that gig?

         - Rod Brooks/Fitz & Brooks, KNBR Radio, San Francisco

 

. . . gossipy, easy-to-read tale . . . explores the sports culture that influences this distinguished slugger . . . entertaining.

        - Library Journal

 

Warts-and-all . . . Travers explores Bonds' mercurial temper and place in baseball history.

        - Novato Journal

 

… the first comprehensive biography of Barry Bonds.

        - Bud Geracie/San Jose Mercury News

 

Travers thought he hit the jackpot . . .

        - Furman Bischer, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Travers…hit the big time . . . Travers . . . established himself as a writer of many dimensions . . . a natural . . . You were ahead of your time with the Bonds book. I still think it is the best biography of him I've seen. It does more to capture his personality than all the steroid books and articles.

            - John Jackson/Ross Valley Reporter

 

Travers is a minor league pitcher-turned-sportswriter, and therefore qualified to evaluate [Larry] Dierker's thought process in ordering all those walks regardless of the score or the situation.

            - Stan Hochman/Philadelphia Daily News

 

. . . looks at all of Barry's warts, yet remains in the end favorable to him. Not an easy balancing act. This is not your average sports book. It is edgy and filled with laughs . . . and inside baseball. Good, solid reading.

            - www.Amazon.com

 

It's a great read.

            - Pete Wilson/KGO Radio, San Francisco       

 

This is a good book that really covers his whole life, and informs us where Bonds is coming from. His entire life is laid out. He is very qualified to continue to write books such as this one. Good job.

           - Marty Lurie/Right off the Bat Oakland A’s pre-game host

 

. . . a quality piece . . . (Travers) uses his experiences in baseball . . . providing a humorous glimpse into the life of a player. Would I recommend this book? Absolutely . . . laughed out loud several times at Travers' unique way of explaining his experiences. This book is definitely worth the time.

          - John Kenny/www.esportnews.com

 

Travers’ account mentions everything from cocaine to sex to car crashes to what Bonds said he would do to Roger Clemens . . . more than a “hit” piece.

          - Johnson City Press

 

Travers' book does do a more well-rounded job of solving the mystery of who Bonds is . . . appealing . . . is the more inside look at Bonds in Travers' book.

          - San Jose Mercury News

 

. . . Travers' work is every baseball aficionado's dream.

         - Fairfield Daily Republic

 

You've created quite a stir here at the station, with the Giants, and throughout baseball.

-       Rick Barry/Hall of Fame basketball star and sportstalk host, KNBR Radio, San Francisco

 

You've stirred a hornet's nest here, man.

           - J.T. “The Brick”/Syndicated national sportstalk host

 

This is a controversial subject and a controversial player, but you've educated us.

           - Ron Barr/Sportsline, Armed Forces Radio Network

 

A baseball player who can write . . . who knew? This one sure can!

            - Arny “The Stinkin’ Genius” Spanyer/Fox Sports Radio, Los Angeles

 

You know baseball like few people I've ever spoken to.

           - Andy Dorff/Sportstalk host, Phoenix, Philadelphia & New Jersey

 

Congratulations . . . a tour de force.

           - Kate DeLancey/WFAN Radio, New York City

 

I can't stand Bonds, but you've done a good job with a difficult subject.

            - Grant Napier/Sportstalk host, Sacramento

 

Steve's a literate ex-athlete, an ex-Trojan and a veteran of Hollywood, too.

            - Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton/XTRA Radio, San Diego

 

A great book about a great player.

            - KTHK Radio, Sacramento

 

A gem.

            - Roseville Press-Tribune

 

Here's the man to talk to regarding the subject of Barry Bonds.

            - John Lobertini/KPIX TV, San Francisco

 

He's enlightened us on the subject of Bonds, his father, and Godfather, Willie Mays.

            - Brian Sussman/KPIX TV. San Francisco

 

 I hate Bonds, but you're okay.

             - Scott Ferrall/Syndicated national and New York sportstalk host

 

One of the better baseball books I've read.

             - KOA Radio, Denver

 

. . . the "last word" on Barry Bonds . . .

             - Scott Reis/ESPN TV

 

. . . a hot new biography on Barry Bonds . . .

             - Darian Hagan/CNN

 

. . . one of the great sportswriters on the current American scene, Steve Travers . . .

           Joe Shea/Radio talk host; Bradenton, Florida and editor, www.American-Reporter.com

 

To a real pro.

            - Jeff Prugh, former Los Angeles Times Atlanta bureau chief

 

It was a good read.

            - Lance Williams/Co-author, Game of Shadows

 

You’ve done some good writin’, dude.

-  KFOG Radio, San Francisco

 

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

 

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

 

You’re a great writer and I always enjoy your musings . . . particularly on SC football - huge fan!

-     Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane

 

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

 

Steven Travers is one of the most accomplished sports journalists in our nation today . . .

- Strandbooks.com

 

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

 

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/4, San Francisco

 

Steve combines . . . social and historical knowledge in his writing.

- University of Southern California

 

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

 

Here this dynamic speaker tell how this famous game changed history.

- Friends of the Los Alamitos-Rossmoor Library

 

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

 

This is a fabulous book.

-       Michaela Pereira/KTLA 5, Los Angeles

You're a prolific talent.

-       Curtis Kim, KSRO Radio, Santa Rosa

 

Is there anything you've not written?

-       Vernon Glenn. KRON/4, San Francisco

 

To Tim Tessalone for all your help all these years

And to Seargant Gary Andrade,

Who rooted for the Trojans while fighting like one in Iraq

  Photo captions   CONTENTS

 

Always Compete By Pete Carroll

Foreword: What It Means to Be a Trojan by Pete Carroll

Editor's Acknowledgements

Introduction

The TWENTIES

            The Duke

 

The THIRTIES

            Norman Bing, Ambrose Schindler

 

            Glory Days

 

The FORTIES

            Bill Gray, Jim Hardy, Gordon Gray

 

The FIFTIES

Ed Demirjian, Frank Gifford, Al "Hoagy" Carmichael

 

He Was Flower of SF Sports Past

 

Tom Nickoloff, Sam "the Toe" Tsagalakis, Marv Goux, Jon Arnett, C.R. Roberts, Monte Clark, Ron Mix

 

A Tale of Two Pitchers

 

The SIXTIES

Bill Redell, "Prince Hal" Bedsole, Willie Brown, Craig Fertig, Bill Fisk Jr., Bob Svihus, Tim Rossovich

 

The Re-Incarnation of Christy Mathewson

 

 Ron Yary, Adrian Young, Mike "Razor" Battle, Steve Sogge

 

Spaceman Re-Visited

 

Tom Kelly, John McKay

 

An Unsung Hero

 

The SEVENTIES

Mike Walden, Clarence Davis, Sam Dickerson, Jeff Prugh, Bruce Rollinson, Bud "The Steamer" Furillo, Dave Levy, John Vella

 

Mr. Smith Goes to Bucharest

 

Dave Levy, Dave Brown, Cliff Culbreath, Sam "Bam" Cunningham, Allan Graf, Charles "Tree" Young, Rod McNeill, Manfred Moore, Anthony "A.D." Davis, Pat Haden, J.K. McKay

 

Rich McKay

 

Richard "Batman" Wood, Gene Lawryk, Rod Martin, Clay Matthews, Frank Jordan, Otis Page, Paul McDonald

 

The Houdini of Bovard

 

The EIGHTIES

Keith Van Horne, Jim Perry, Roy Foster, Mike Roth, Jeff Simmons, Scott Tinsley, Jeff Brown

 

Mickey Meister Was My Friend

 

Michael Harper

 

Sham or Slam?

 

Tim Green, Steve Jordan, Brent Moore

 

Big Unit Was Bay Area Boy of Summer

 

Jeff Bregel, Rex Moore, Martin Chesley, Mark "Aircraft" Carrier, John "J.J." Jackson

 

A Line Drive Hitter

 

The NINETIES

Gene Fruge, Todd Marinovich, Scott Ross, Derrick Deese, Matt Gee, Tim "Mad Dog" Lavin

 

Past and Future Play Winning Tennis at Mercedes

 

Taso Papadakis

 

It's Too Early to Hype Palmer for Heisman . . . Or Is It?

Barry Zito Is Key to Oakland's Re-Emergence

 

 John Robinson

 

"For Real!"

A Reliquary For Real Baseball Fans

 

The NEW MILLENIUM

            Kevin Arbet

           

            The Heir Apparent to Flo Jo

            This Vandy Dandy Is Now a Trojan

 

             Brandon Hancock

 

            Making His Own Legend

 

Tom Malone

 

The Forrest Gump of Baseball

            Mario Danelo           

****

Mark Spino

 

ALWAYS COMPETE

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Nobody embodies the magic, the charisma, the spirit and the excitement of What It Means to Be a Trojan more than head coach Pete Carroll. This is quite a statement, because the likes of John "Duke" Wayne, Rod Dedeaux, Frank Gifford, Bill Sharman, Jesse "Big Daddy" Unruh, Norman Topping, John McKay, Marv Goux, George Lucas, Tom Selleck, Tom Seaver, Bill Lee, Bob Seagren, C. Christopher Cox, Sam "Bam" Cunningham, Patricia Nixon, John Naber, Marcus Allen, Ronnie Lott, John Robinson, Randy Johnson, Cindy McCain, Dr. Steven Sample, and Mike Garrett are just a few of those who have also embodied What It Means to Be a Trojan. But Coach Carroll has taken it to a new level. He is the "Prince of the City" in Los Angeles, a man who could be Mayor, maybe even Governor as Paul "Bear" Bryant might have been in Alabama, had he chosen to try. This is a man who has attained the respect previously reserved for such luminaries as Jimmy Stewart, Vin Scully and John Wooden.

            So, for me personally, watching Pete Carroll rise to this level has been a particular thrill ride. You see, the first time I ever heard of Pete Carroll was my freshman year at Redwood High School in Marin County, a leafy suburb of San Francisco, located just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. The tradition at Redwood was to hang photos of baseball, football and basketball captains in the boys' locker room. One would look up and see the visage of young sports heroes of previous years. I noticed that Carroll graced not one but three photos on that wall. He was pictured as captain in his football, basketball and baseball uniforms. I immediately deduced that he must be a special athlete and leader. For young athletes like myself, guys like Pete Carroll were something to aspire to, to emulate.

            Bob Troppmann was still coaching football at Redwood when I arrived there. He had been there since the school opened for business in 1958 and had built it into a Bay Area power. Coach Troppmann, as it turned out, was an old family friend. My father, Donald Travers, had been a great track and cross country coach at Lowell and Balboa High Schools in San Francisco. Coach Troppmann had come out of the Marine Corps, gotten his teaching credential, and was a young teacher/coach at Lowell when he met and befriended my father.

            By the time I entered Redwood, my dad had become an attorney and Coach Troppmann had moved across the bay to Marin. He was a genuinely nice, approachable man and I often sought him out for knowledge of one kind or another. One of my first questions concerned Pete Carroll, who impressed me for having captained three varsity teams. Coach Troppmann just smiled when reminded of Carroll, who had since gone onto the University of Pacific on a football scholarship, made all-conference as a defensive back, and was a promising young coach, moving up the ranks. The affection and indeed admiration Coach Troppmann felt for Pete Carroll was obvious even then.

            Over the years, I asked many of the coaches at Redwood who had mentored Pete Carroll about him. Jess Payan, Phil Roark, Dick Hart, Al Endriss; all had positive words to describe Pete Carroll, but one story really stands out. Coach Endriss was a baseball legend, and in fact my junior year he was named National High School Coach of the Year. In my senior year we were the national champions of prep baseball.

            Today, Redwood has a new state of the art facility, but in my day our field was considered one of the better yards in the area. Our center field fence circled high over the adjacent track. Often track meets were held during baseball games, and a high home run might disrupt proceedings, but in Pete Carroll's day there was no fence. Extra-base hits slammed over the center fielder's head would land on the track and bound onto the football field, which served as the location for events such as the shot-put and the discuss throw. A bounding outfielder would traipse into the midst of this scene, grab the ball and throw it back to the infield, often amid much cursing and yelling.

            My favorite Pete Carroll story somehow seems to symbolize the serendipity that is his life. He was roaming the center field pastures when a long drive was hit over his head. Pete headed back for it, intent, concentrating on the ball. He ignored the cement cleft separating the track from the outfield grass, the running lanes a sort of "warning track" that he paid no attention to.

            A relay race was in motion and as Pete chased that ball down, a bevy of runners, maybe three or four tightly bound together, came sprinting around the turn, heading straight for Pete Carroll.

            Nobody - not the runners, Pete or the baseball - paid any attention to each other. A gasp went up, from the watching tracksters, from the baseball players shouting a warning, and the fans in the stands. Two locomotives were about to collide in a massive train wreck!

            As quickly as it developed, it ended. Pete caught the ball, whirled, and made a  Willie Mays-style throw back to the infield. The track runners continued to kick down the stretch. Everybody - the baseball outfielder, the runners and the ball - had missed each other by inches, all as if choreographed like a beautiful ballet.

            For some reason, this story is the story of Pete Carroll's charmed life. Good timing combined with skill. A little luck and a lot of focus. In the end, everything always seems to turn out just right with this man.

            I followed Coach Carroll's coaching career. He was mentored by such top-notch figures as Lou Holtz at Arkansas, Earle Bruce at Ohio State, Monte Kiffin at North Carolina State, Bud Grant and Jerry Burns in Minnesota, Bruce Coslet in New York, then George Seifert and Bill Walsh in San Francisco. At some point in the late 1980s or early '90s, Carroll's name began to surface on the short list of head coaching candidates in the National Football League. It was only a matter of time, and in 1994 he was elevated from defensive coordinator to head coach of the New York Jets. The guy from my high school was now on the spot in the fish bowl that is the Big Apple, coaching the same team that "Broadway Joe" Namath had once taken to the Super Bowl. When the Jets faltered and Pete was unfairly let go after only one season, it seemed that his hiring by his hometown team, the San Francisco 49ers, was the blessing disguised by his dismissal.

            The 49ers were coming off a world championship season and were still in the middle of a dynasty perhaps unmatched in NFL annals. One of their star players was Ken Norton Jr., an All-American linebacker from UCLA, and now an All-Pro. It appeared that Pete was the heir apparent to become the head coach of a franchise that had won five Super Bowls in the previous 14 years. Bill Walsh was still a mainstay in San Francisco's front office, and he tutored Pete to follow that very path.

            This plan, however, did not materialize. The New England Patriots needed a head coach, and they went after Pete Carroll, so it was back to the East Coast for the California kid. Boston is, and back then especially was, a baseball town. The "Green Monster" at Fenway Park seemed to loom menacingly over Pete. Coach Carroll was there for three seasons (1997-99). The Patriots were 10-6, 9-7 and 8-8. They made the play-offs twice, but did not attain the Brass Ring. Carroll had a plan, but it was always in conflict with the vision of the owner, the general manager, the scouting department, the mercenary players, the nature of free agency, even the fans and Boston media. They all began to harp that Pete's youthful exuberance, his sandy-blonde hair and 1960s Beach Boys demeanor was not compatible with hardscrabble, East Coast-style pro football. They wanted Bill Parcells, not Brian Wilson.

            But Pete's firing was the silver lining inside a dark cloud, because it led him to USC. His future was not with the 49ers, as previously suspected, nor was it in the National Football League. At USC, Carroll took over a foundering ship. The heritage of Trojan football was now yesterday, its trophies collecting dust, its legacy seemingly ancient history. It was the Millennium year and retrospectives were being written about the century that was. Southern California was declared to be the "Athletic Program of the Century." Rod Dedeaux, who guided Troy to 11 of their College World Series titles, was named "College Baseball Coach of the Century," and the USC baseball program was unquestionably the greatest historically, having added a 12th national title under Mike Gillespie in 1998. USC continued its amazing run of Gold medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. A Trojan had won Gold at each Games held since 1904.

            But the football program was in disarray. In 1982, USC had seemingly "caught up to" Notre Dame. That year they beat the Fighting Irish for the fifth straight season, and had only lost to them twice since 1966. The head-to-head record of the two schools was nearly even. Marcus Allen had won USC's fourth Heisman Trophy the previous season, and the 1978 national championship was Troy's ninth. John Robinson, Marv Goux and Rod Dedeaux were still coaching, but in truth it was the end of a golden era; an era in which John McKay and Robinson had led USC during a period in which it seemed that they, not Notre Dame, was the new, modern "champions" of college football history.

            But after that 17-13 Trojan win over the Irish in 1982, the roof fell in, big time. Robinson announced he was going to the Los Angeles Rams and bringing Goux with him. The NCAA levied penalties against USC. Ted Tollner was brought in, blasphemously changing the offensive culture of Trojan football from ground-oriented dominance to Brigham Young-style aerial finesse. The "air" was quickly let out of the tire. Lou Holtz was hired at Notre Dame and the Fighting Irish never lost to Southern California from 1983 to 1995.

            Everything seemed to go wrong. People started to call USC "Yesterday U." Symbolic power shifts and bad omens were everywhere. By the 1990s, USC was a successful program, but nobody's idea of a powerhouse as in their storied past. Notre Dame, Alabama, Oklahoma, Nebraska; new champions at Miami and Florida State; it seemed that these schools had achieved a level that was no longer a reasonable expectation for Trojan fans.

            Dr. Steven Sample was brought in as president of the University, and he oversaw a huge upgrade in academic standards. It seemed that a trade-off had been made in which USC had chosen to be a great university instead of a great football team. The two were incompatible, people said.

            Los Angeles and Southern California, once the center of the American political universe, the place that had produced Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, along with nearby Orange County - the epicenter of the conservative movement - now saw a shift to Northern California. The Rams and the Raiders both deserted Los Angeles, while the 49ers were a dynasty. Both USC and UCLA no longer dominated California and Stanford as they had for decades. In the 1990s, the only champion, pro or college, to emerge from L.A. was UCLA's basketball team in 1995.

            Attendance and enthusiasm was down everywhere. An earthquake shook the Southland. A drive-by bullet during practice grazed a Trojan football player. Riots surrounded the campus in 1992. Orange County declared bankruptcy.

            But Pete Carroll's hiring in 2000 came near the beginning of a major revitalization in Los Angeles. It started with Mayor Richard Riordan's gentrification campaign of the 1990s. Crime was reduced in the city. New buildings, businesses and improved neighborhoods replaced blight. The corridor between USC and downtown L.A. was improved drastically, first by the building of STAPLES Center in 1999, later followed by opening of the Galen Center at USC. The neighborhood surrounding the USC campus was improved by leaps and bounds. Crime was reduced. Air quality standards paid off, and smog in the L.A. basin was cleaned up.

            Carroll oversaw a heritage restored, leading USC to national championships in 2003 and 2004, three Heisman Trophies, two Orange Bowl and three Rose Bowl victories, 33 straight number one rankings, a 34-game winning streak, and after six straight wins over Notre Dame in 2007, clear proof that USC was now the greatest historical collegiate football dynasty of all time. Most important, Carroll had ascended to a place of legendary status on par with the likes of Knute Rockne, Pop Warner, Howard Jones, Frank Leahy, Bud Wilkinson, John McKay, Bear Bryant, and Tom Osborne, all the while maintaining the high academic standards set by Dr. Sample in the years before his hiring.

            But that was not all. Pete Carroll was the head coach of a university located in the middle of the inner city. Many of his players were from those mean streets. The school's fan base was in large part from those neighborhoods. Pete Carroll, the anointed one, the golden boy, the fortunate son and football deity of Southern California, was making millions, living the dream, in charge at a prestigious, moneyed private institution. But instead of concentrating only on gridiron glory, hob-nobbing with fat-cat alums and their trophy wives, Pete Carroll knew how lucky he was and wanted to pass that luck around.

            Many people perform various forms of "community service." Often that means attaching one's name to some foundation or another, or showing up at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. There is rarely any real "service," and what there is often is reserved for the TV cameras or sound bites, all in a concentrated public relations effort to polish an image.

            But Pete, who grew up in wealthy Marin and had never known want, decided to try and make a difference. He befriended a local community activist in south-central Los Angeles who drove those mean streets regularly, late at night, in an effort to get kids to quit drugs, quit the gang life, turn away from crime, to find meaning, to find God, to right themselves against all odds. The man invited Pete Carroll to ride along with him on his dangerous sojourns. Pete said sure, and the man thought, "Yeah, right." Then one night Pete called him up and said, "Let's go."

            So they did. Not once, not twice, but repeatedly. Instead of breaking down film, recruiting, schmoozing or looking for endorsement deals, Pete Carroll was showing up at liquor stores, street corners and crack houses where young black and Hispanic men were gathering directly in harm's way. The men would warily look at the car pulling to a stop, figuring it to be an undercover narc, a bust, a drug buy. Then Pete Carroll would get out and approach them, and they would not believe their eyes.

Pete has a real quality to him that cannot be manufactured. Either you have it or you do not. A white, middle-aged suburban man in a golf shirt and blow-dried hair lacks any street cred in south-central, but when Pete opened up with, "Hey guys, I'm Pete Carroll," he had immediate panache. Gravitas. Whatever he had, it cannot be bought. It is just natural.

            Pete would ask the young men about their lives, their troubles, the difficulties of survival. He would listen, try and help, and follow up instead of paying lip service. After the first night, he asked to do it again . . . and again . . . and again. It went on like that for a long time. Pete arranged for some of the young men he met to get jobs at the University. He made a concerted effort to help them. All of this happened under the radar. Pete told few people about it. The press never got wind of it. It was not a public relations gambit. It was real.

            One night in 2007, a writer from Los Angeles magazine arrived at Heritage Hall to do a Pete Carroll profile. As the interview wound down, the man who drove Pete Carroll around the inner city arrived for one of their sojourns. The magazine writer had no idea what was happening. Pete never talked about, never bragged about what a humanitarian, what a "liberal" he was. There was a brief period of confusion, in which Pete tried to hide what was going on from the writer, but after a few questions it became clear what the coach of the Trojans was up to. Pete relented. He reluctantly invited the writer to ride along, and so he did. When the article appeared late in the season, the cat was out of the bag. When Pete was questioned about it at alumni gatherings, he displayed great knowledge of inner city life; statistics, programs that work vs. those that do not, a true devotion to the cause. It was, like all other things in his life, real.

            This is why Coach Carroll succeeds. He has a rare, natural ability to get along with everybody, whether it be the inner city black kid, the suburban blue chipper, the country boy; old, young, rich, poor, male or female. To be recruited by Pete Carroll is to be mesmerized by his charm and truthful qualities, and it invariably means deciding to cast one's lot with this man. Parents instinctively want their children to be a part of the Trojan family.

            Pete Carroll is New Age. He is Marin County cool, talking the talk of a surf dude, yet he still has a deep, resonant respect for the traditions of the University of Southern California. He knows the John McKay story. He loves that Sam "Bam" Cunningham and the Trojans went into the Deep South and helped to end segregation. He is proud of the legacy of his school and carries it on. He got to know Marv Goux and took the time to find out the essence of this place, this hallowed shrine. But Pete treats everybody the same, whether you are Marv Goux or a student intern.

Another Pete Carroll story. In October of 2007 I was doing a series of book signings, guest lectures in classes, and speeches at USC for my book One Night, Two Teams: Alabama vs. USC and the Game That Changed a Nation. It was a Monday afternoon in the middle of the season.  I went to Pete's office at Heritage Hall to drop off a signed copy of my book, figuring he was busy and I would just leave it with his secretary. I identified myself and asked if he had just a minute to come out and say hello. His secretary entered his office, then came back out and said, "Pete wants to talk to you." I sat on the sofa in the main lounge for a minute or so, and then out bounded Pete Carroll, simultaneously recruiting a kid, planning practice and getting ready for Saturday's opponent. He shook my hand and spoke with me for a few minutes as if I was important. This is not an unusual Pete Carroll story. Everybody who meets him comes away with a similar experience. It is the biggest secret of his success. How he does it, I do not know.

****

This book is not a mercenary effort. I am proud to call myself a Trojan, and more to the point, I am very lucky to be a Trojan. Some years ago I was a professional baseball player with the St. Louis Cardinals and Oakland A's organization with a couple of lackluster years of college "education" under my belt. When the A's released me, I was little more than a college dropout. I had always wanted to go to USC, but my grades, my baseball talents; any way I looked at it, I was a cut below the standard. However, a great Trojan, Dr. Art Verge, helped me put together a package - transcripts, an essay, letters of recommendation, extra-curricular achievements - that I could present to the University in an effort to transfer in. I made an appointment with Delores Homisak, a counselor with the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She told me she would take a chance on me; that I could transfer into USC on a probationary status. I needed to make first-class grades in academic course work directed towards a degree in communications. I buckled down, made the grades, and was matriculated. Two years later I had a bachelor's degree. There has always been a part of me that cannot believe I made it, that I have to pinch myself, and that I still do not really belong, but I'm in and I'm not letting go. To me, the four books I have written about the University of Southern California are my way of proving that I am a Trojan!  

What It Means to Be a Trojan means being a member of the Trojan family. That family extends well beyond the borders of Los Angeles County and Southern California. For me, it not only extended to but also thrived in Marin County, California. This is Berkeley and Stanford country, but Golden Bears and Cardinal fans are forced to observe proud Trojans within their midst.

It starts, for me at least, with my father, Donald E. Travers. He was a kid in San Francisco when USC played Notre Dame in 1931. The game was broadcast on national radio, a huge event at the time. The Catholic family who lived downstairs had a radio, and my dad asked if he could listen in. The Irish fans cheered Notre Dame and put down the Trojans, liberally interspersed with rosaries and prayers based on the concept that they were, indeed, favored by the Lord. My father took exception to the notion, and when Troy rallied to win, 16-14, he cheered just to spite the Catholic family (who probably never let him listen to their radio again). A Trojan fan was born.

Fast-forward two decades. A star basketball player (Ken Flower) at the same school, Lowell High of San Francisco - where my father at the time was a teacher and track coach - went to USC and starred on the hardwood. His good friend, Bob Troppmann, who had played at Lowell a few years earlier, was a young teacher/coach and colleague of my father's. Coach Troppmann and Ken Flower have been family friends ever since. Coach T was later Pete Carroll's coach at Redwood High.

            Fast-forward another decade-plus. My dad was now an attorney and professor at City College of San Francisco. A young junior college superstar named Orenthal James Simpson was doing phenomenal things there, and when he moved on to the University of Southern California, I started following the Trojans with my father. Like crazy.

Another favorite Trojan was the New York Mets' Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver. He represented the ultimate role model in my mind: superstar, New York icon, handsome, intelligent, a well-educated Californian. I loved the fact that he went to USC almost every off-season from 1967 to 1976 in order to get his degree.

I got a full dose of Trojan football long before I ever matriculated as a student. When Anthony Davis went ballistic against Notre Dame in both 1972 and 1974, our neighbors almost called the police, my dad and I went so berserk. In 1978 he and I were in the stands when Frank Jordan's field goal beat Notre Dame, 27-25. I was planning eventually to go to school there, which I proudly informed the attractive young woman sitting next to me at the Coliseum. When Jordan's kick split those uprights I hugged her so hard they almost had to marry us.

A year later I was attending a Thanksgiving weekend party in Marin County when at midnight my pal Dino Lobertini and I decided to drive all night and attend the next day's USC-UCLA game. Every act of serendipity and Trojan good fortune was with us. We arrived in Los Angeles and found my friend Pete Cooper's apartment without directions; found my friend Brad Cole by pure luck; were in the right place at the right time when his brother Darren just happened to provide us with two free tickets like Manna from Heaven; trudged a huge container of "Tony the Tigers" (Vodka, Olde English 800, orange juice) into the Coliseum; and by the time USC stomped the Bruins, 49-14 under a 90-degree late fall sun, I was quite convinced that if God was not a Trojan, He at least had an apartment on West Adams Boulevard. Of course, operating on alcohol and sleeplessness for 24 hours caught up with me, but I still lucked out with a spare bed at Coop's apartment off the Row, where I crashed while a wild all-frat party raged outside the window. I swear that the original Steppenwolf played that concert. I can vaguely remember John Kay singing "Born to Be Wild," but I managed to sleep through most of it. 

            Redwood High School, where Coach Troppmann was still coaching by the time I got there, has a long tradition of Trojans. The Redwood/USC connection was started by Mike Woodson in 1959. Mike was one of the famed USC Republicans who worked for Richard Nixon, a group that included Donald Segretti, Dwight Chapin, Gordon Strachan and Bart Porter.

In my senior year at Redwood, we were the national champions of high school baseball. Our coach, Al Endriss, the National Coach of the Year one season earlier, had been Pete Carroll's baseball coach and an assistant on the football team that Pete played on.  Two prep All-American teammates of mine, outfielder Jim Connor and pitcher Mickey Meister, played for Rod Dedeaux at Southern California. We made a trip to San Diego and played Lincoln High School, whose third baseman was Marcus Allen. Our Joe DiMaggio League summer team played the Long Beach Jets in the state tournament. A former track star at USC coached the Jets, and the team featured both Tony and Chris Gwynn.

            Jim Connor led USC in hitting as a sophomore and is now a very successful real estate executive in Westlake Village. His son, Trevor, is a talented, aspiring sportscaster. Mickey Meister was a piece of work. One of the best pitchers in the Pac-10 as a sophomore, the first time I got a load of his act at USC was a happening Thursday night at the 32nd Street Bar and Grill in the University Village. He and All-American shortstop Dan Davidsmeir simply owned that place. Mick was 6-5, 220 pounds and looked like a member of The Beach Boys. He "let" me trail him like a sycophant while he worked the room in the manner of Frank Sinatra at The Sands, walking from table to table where a coterie of blondies who, in my memory at least, all looked like Christy Brinkley, fawned over him: "Hiii, Mickeee" . . . "Mickeee, why didn't you call me?" Meister finally just turned to me, shrugged his shoulders and announced, "I dominate!" Davidsmeir: "Gotta give it to you: you dominate." High-fives. Beyond that I cannot print.  

            Other high school classmates of mine who attended USC included Darrell Elder (the conference discus champion for the Trojans), Linda Sorgen (whose dad, a USC grad, became head of Pac-10 referees), Peter Cooper (now a corporate executive in San Francisco), Greg Farber (who started the famed "Women of USC" calendars of the 1980s), Jeffrey Cole (now a multi-millionaire real estate executive living in Corona Del Mar, California) and his brother Darren Lee Cole (a leading off-Broadway New York theatrical producer; Killer Joe starring Scott Glenn and Amanda Plummer). Jeff and Darren came from a great USC family. Their father, Jerry (a stockbroker) and mother, Dr. Joan Cole (an educator) were Trojans. Rob Monaco took over his family's video production business in San Francisco.

            I was "recruited" to USC by Tony Santino, who had played baseball for Coach Dedeaux (the best man at his wedding). His children, Cara and Tony (who worked for the Golden State Warriors) are great Trojans who went to Redwood. The lovely Jasmine Wittoff went to USC. Dan Andrade's dad, Leo, had gone to USC. Then there is Kevin McCormack, my best friend in the world. Kevin went to his dad's alma mater, Notre Dame, then transferred to USC. Nice.

            Later, Chad Kreuter starred on the baseball and football teams at Redwood. He is now USC's head baseball coach, meaning that the football (Carroll) and baseball coaches at the University of Southern California are both Redwood graduates. Jim Saia, who was the Trojans' head basketball coach in 2005, went to Marin County rival Sir Francis Drake. Drake's famed track coach, Bill Taylor, ran track for Jess Mortensen at USC. Then there was Bill "Spaceman" Lee, who was a Terra Linda Trojan before he was a USC Trojan and then a Boston Red Sock. Brent Moore was a football player from San Marin High who played at USC when I was there. He went to the Green Bay Packers.

Then there was Bill Bordley. Bill was from the Palos Verdes peninsula and had been a baseball superstar at Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance. In 1977 he was 14-0 as a freshman at USC, and in 1978 he pitched the Trojans, considered at the time to be the greatest college team in history, to the national championship. Roy Roth was a Pac-8 umpire who also worked many of my high school games, and when the big league umps went on strike he worked as a replacement. He was a St. Louis Cardinals' "bird dog" scout credited in part with signing me to a professional contract. Roy told me flat out that Bordley was the greatest pitcher he ever saw, at any level; "better than Sandy Koufax!"

Bill signed with the San Francisco Giants but was injured. He lived in Marin at the time and worked out under a strength coach at the local high school, where I met him during his rehabilitation.  I later knew Bill at USC, where he was the pitching coach under Rod Dedeaux after injuries forced his early retirement. Bill became a Secret Service agent and in 2000 I interviewed him at length about this transition. That article, "A Tale of Two Pitchers," detailed how USC All-American pitcher Bruce Gardner failed to handle his injury, and Bill Bordley did. I may write a book about it someday.  

Any description of Marin Trojans is not complete without mention of my good pal Gary Hendricks, a renowned developer in the county. Gary started at USC but transferred to UCLA, yet remains to this day a total, loyal, dedicated USC football fan. Go figure!  This is not that unusual. I do not mean to put down UCLA, but I know several UCLAns who do not have nearly the same enthusiasm for their school that USC folks have for ours.

When I was a minor league pitcher in the Oakland A's organization, we played a Spring Training exhibition game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Somebody hit a surefire home run over the right field fence. Bob Skube, a former Trojan star, made what may to this day be the greatest catch I have ever seen, to rob us of a home run.

            When I arrived on campus, I had to pinch myself to make sure I was not dreaming. I was, in fact, living my dream. All my senses were heightened, too. I paid attention to everything; everybody I met, all my classmates, famous names, great athletes. The very first person I met when I moved into the Regal Trojan Arms on West Adams Boulevard was Joe Kondash (today president of the Scriptwriter's Network), the roommate of Michael Harper. Harper was the running back who most likely fumbled (but it was not called) while scoring the winning touchdown against Notre Dame in 1982, 20-17. We are still friends. He is a successful businessman in Sacramento, California. Joe introduced me to the second person I met, Terry Marks. My favorite Terry Marks story concerns his first day at the school. An Irish Catholic lad from a large family of Notre Dame fans in Rochester, New York, Terry ventured west sight unseen to play baseball for Rod Dedeaux. His only visual of the campus had been a deceptive video that made it look like Vermont Avenue was the Pacific Ocean strand, complete with song girls. His $40 cab ride from the airport to the campus had him convinced he had been taken "for a ride" into bad neighborhoods, until he saw the Coliseum.

            With about $30 to last a month he needed groceries so he went to the 32nd Street Market, but exited the wrong door. Having lost his bearings he ventured several blocks before he realized he was lost on the mean streets of south-central L.A. Gangbangers, predators and homeless bums eyed him. The searing late summer heat, the smog, bus fumes, Copenhagen chew, lack of food and jet lag played tricks on his mind. His vision of song girls, bikinis, Traveler and Fred Lynn banging home runs seemed a cruel trick. Terry began to imagine that he had died and gone to hell, damned by God because he had chosen the glamour of USC over the pious Christianity of his own religion, Notre Dame. Right then and there he dropped his bags and said the Lord's Prayer, then began walking, trusting that God would see him through. 10 minutes later he was safe at his apartment. 

            Terry pitched for Coach Dedeaux and became my roommate. We put our empty Copenhagen cans on the windowsill, and it eventually blotted out the Sun. Terry was the best man at my wedding, the Godfather of my daughter, Elizabeth, and is today president of Coca-Cola/North America. He wrote the foreword of my book Trojans Essential: Everything You Need to Be a Real Fan! (2008). Not bad so far!

            Terry introduced me to another of my greatest lifelong friends, Anthony "Bruno" Caravalho, a baseball pitcher as well. Bruno had played with Jack Del Rio and Randy Johnson back home in Hayward, California. Later he owned the famed 502 Club (California Pizza & Past Company) at the corner of Jefferson and McLintock, next to the Bank of America in the University Village. The "Five-oh" closed in 1993. A Yoshinoya Beef Bowl unfortunately occupies the site today.

Most of my best pals were Trojan baseball players. This included pitcher Phil Smith (today highly-placed in the Los Angeles Police Department). His older brother, Dave took Jim Connor's job from him as the first baseman. Then there was Randy Robertson, who grew up with Mark McGwire in Claremont, California. Randy later pitched in the Padres' organization. Southpaw (it figures) pitcher Bob Gunnarsson would do an act called "the spider" at the "Five-oh." This entailed walking on the palms of his hands. He played minor league ball a few years. Sid Akins was an Olympian in the 1984 L.A. Games (coached by Rod Dedeaux). He was a great talent.

             Steve Heslop was a hard-throwing southpaw from the desert. He seemed to be a fish out of water; quiet and unassuming, yet he roomed with the ultimate "party animal," Mickey Meister. Mick, Hes and Kevin McCormack had a pad over at Ellendale, which was a dangerous neighborhood. Hes would just stay in while Mick and Mac would drag Randy Robertson, Alby Silvera, Tony Walczuk, a young Damon Oppenheimer, and Randy Gabrielson (whose dad, Len, was a Trojan great and big leaguer) to the "Nine-oh," the "Three-two" and the "Five-oh." Weekends meant "road trips" to the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach; the hot spots of Manhattan; or Chippendales in Westwood, where we would show up after the male strippers were done and Mick said the girls were "primed." Oh Lord have mercy.

Mark Schultz was a walk-on pitcher for the Spartans, the junior varsity team, but his nose was always in a book. He is a medical doctor now. Pitcher Spiro Psaltis's father had been a star basketball player on the 1952 Trojan Final Four team. I did not know Spiro very well (he finished before I got there), but he was a good friend with Jim Connor and I did drink beers with him one night at the 901 Club.

Third baseman Craig Stevenson was Mark McGwire's roommate about five doors down from mine at the Regal Trojan Arms. He played in the Houston organization and is now an air traffic controller. His dad had played for Dedeaux before a pro career, then becoming a fighter pilot. Outfielder Mark Stevens was another one of those guys from the Robertson-McGwire-Claremont connection. He is an attorney in Newport Beach now.

McGwire was the neatest, most-organized, disciplined college student I have ever known. His girlfriend, Kathy, was a Trojan batgirl. He was The Sporting News College Player of the Year and went on to great fame in Oakland and St. Louis. Randy Johnson was as wild as a March hare. I would love to say I predicted his Hall of Fame career, but I did not. Years later when I was a columnist with the San Francisco Examiner, "The Big Unit" granted me a long, exclusive interview in Phoenix that became a three-page spread in the newspaper. Brian Cohen was no great shakes in baseball, but he became a big-time sports agent working with Dennis Gilbert (Barry Bonds's representative) with the Beverly Hills Sports Council. Jeff Brown, the captain of the football team, was a catcher on the baseball team and a friend. He became the football coach at Porterville (California) High School. The other catcher, Jack Del Rio, could easily have been a Major Leaguer, but the All-American linebacker chose football, eventually leading him to the Minnesota Vikings and the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he is their head coach now.

Basketball player Purvis Miller was a good pal who wanted me to be his agent. I hung out with a lot of football players, too. We were all regulars at the "Five-oh." Quarterback Tim Green was a fun-loving guy. Later we were neighbors in Redondo Beach, California and he loved running into me at P.J. Brett's, because I told everybody who would listen that he was the 1985 Rose Bowl Player of the Game. Today he is architect in Los Angeles. Linebacker Rex Moore was so crazy I was half-afraid to say anything to him. Quarterback Scott Tinsley and defensive back Tim Shannon (son of St. Louis Cardinals' ex-player and current broadcaster Mike Shannon) roomed at the Moon Apartments. Let's just say they were popular with the ladies. Tim became an attorney. I once saw another quarterback, Sean Salisbury, a blue-chipper out of San Diego, arrive at a party dressed in a golf sweater like he was 45 years old. I was told, "He's Mormon," as if that explained it. He played for the Vikings and became an ESPN pro football analyst.

Don Mosebar starred for the 1983 world champion Los Angeles Raiders. Bruce Matthews became a Hall of Famer with the Houston Oilers. Tony Slaton, Duane Bickett and Jeff Bregel were all stars in the program when I was there. I never really knew place-kicker Steve Jordan, but I later became friends with his brother Frank, star of the 1978 27-25 win over Notre Dame. Frank is a historian who gives World War I and World War II battlefield tours in France every summer. He once proposed an idea for a World War I screenplay I wrote called The Lost Battalion. The story is a roundabout one, but that movie was eventually made, starring Rick Schroder.

Tom Hille was a good friend. He was a graduate assistant who worked for strength coach Jerry "attababy" Attaway. He went to work for the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. I had a literature class with a lineman named Mike Roth. Mike was a nice guy and very Christian. That class also changed my life. We read Rabbit Redux by John Updike; Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov; the works of Saul Bellow and Isaac Bashevis Singer; and other classics. I was blown away and it launched what eventually became a writing career. Most college kids return their used books at semester's end for a partial refund. I decided to hold onto my books. They now had value, and they are permanent fixtures in my library to this day, dog-eared from many a reading with my college phone number still written inside.

I took a fabulous communications class, and one of my assignments was to interview somebody who had the job I someday wanted. I chose Steve Brener, the media relations director of the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was a thrill to drive out to Dodger Stadium and spend an hour with him. In another class on debate and speech rhetoric, we studied John Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech in 1963; the 1980 Ronald Reagan-Jimmy Carter debate; and I did a presentation on the social impact of the 1960s. Legendary assistant football coach Marv Goux's daughter, Linda, was in that class. Dr. Bernard Pipken's oceanography course included a great cruise beyond Los Angeles harbor along the Palos Verdes coastline. 

I was at that time becoming spiritually awakened, and part of this maturation came when I took a wonderful class on religion. I learned about diverse faiths as well as a deeper understanding of my own Christianity. Professor Andrew Casper taught a class on film appreciation that was a barnburner. Even though I majored in communications, not film, I took enough classes in the School of Cinema-Television to plant the seeds of what eventually would be authorship of 15 screenplays. 

My counselor in the communications school was the estimable Dr. Ken Sereno, who is still at USC. He taught a great course on communications theory. I will never forget the day he mapped out the classes I needed to take in order to attain my Bachelor of Arts degree. For the very first time I could see the "light at the end of the tunnel" and realized I would graduate from college.

One had to quash cold beers at the "Five-oh" in order to combat academic stress and mid-90s heat, and many a former Trojan would appear in there. It was like going to a bar at the Hall of Fame. One night ex-football great Rich Dimler, recently of the Green Bay Packers, came in with his girlfriend, who was blonde and a 12 on a scale of one to 10. Naturally the Travs had a couple and made some moves, engendering much animosity from Dimler, who was about 7-5, 462 pounds complete with beard and scowl. I talked him down with Trojan football knowledge.

On another occasion, Anthony Davis ordered a pitcher of beer from the bartender, an irascible Cubs fan from Chicago named Bernie. Anthony just took the brew and departed.

"That'll be two bucks," demanded Bernie.

"I'm A.D.," said A.D., as if that meant a free lunch, or at least free beer.

"I don't care if your Jesus Christ Himself," said Bernie, "that'll be two bucks."

Clarence Culbreath was a little-known USC football player in the early 1970s, one of the greatest periods of glory in school history. C.C. was a social worker in L.A. and would come to the 502 Club after work, where he had more stories than Carter has pills. He said A.D. parked a shiny Cadillac convertible, apparently a booster's gift, in front of the steps at Heritage Hall, which is not a parking lot. Apparently nobody dared tow or ticket. It was C.C. who first told me how Paul "Bear" Bryant supposedly said Sam "Bam" Cunningham was "what a football player looks like" after USC beat Alabama, 42-21 in 1970. That story turned me into a Trojan sports historian and eventually became One Night, Two Teams: Alabama vs. USC and the Game That Changed a Nation, which is now in production to become a major motion picture. One of C.C.'s pals was an ex-football player from Muir High School in Pasadena, also named Cliff. Oddly enough, it what was in that environment where Cliff quoted scripture. Years later, I partially credit Cliff with inspiring me to read The Holy Bible at least five times.

Dave Lyttle was a good "Five-oh" pal. Dave, who lived in Palos Verdes Estates, was a probation officer with Los Angeles County whose wife was a Superior Court Judge. He was a leading Trojan booster and "coach" of the rugby team, who seemingly made visits to the 502 Club a mandatory conclusion of each practice and game.

The Los Angeles Express of the United States Football League played at the nearby Coliseum in those days. I recall one afternoon seeing Lee Majors, who had played The Six Million Dollar Man on television - I think he was an Express co-owner or shareholder - have a few too many cocktails and almost get into a fight.  

We often used the pay phone at the 502 Club to call hotels where visiting big league teams stayed in Los Angeles, inviting the likes of Tom Seaver or Carl Yastrzemski for "beer and pizza on us." We actually reached these guys but the invites were politely turned down.

 I enjoyed the friendship of female athletes at USC, as well. Two good friends were excellent players on the unbeaten, national championship women's tennis team (1983), Kathleen Lillie and Anna-Lucia Fernandez. Cheryl Miller was a basketball wunderkind when I was in school. I also had a very brief internship in the sports information office (a job the actor Will Ferrell later also had). Jim Perry, a terrific fellow, was the SID. Nancy Mazmanian, now the PR director for the Los Angeles Angels, was in charge of baseball media. Tim Tessalone, who succeeded Perry and is still the SID, worked in that office. So did my good friend Chris Wildermuth, a great guy. Once Chris cut off Vin Scully on Sunset Boulevard when we were driving to Dodger Stadium.

"Oh my God I just cut off Vin Scully," exclaimed Chris.

Terry Marks and I turned and waved apologetically to Vinnie, who waved back, absolving us of our sins like a friendly priest. Scully had a unique effect on me to this day. If I am in my car and even thinking of doing anything that might be, say, not morally upright, just the sound of his radio voice saying, "Hello everybody, pull up a chair" can make me think twice about it.

Another close friend was Bob Karl. Bob was a classic individual who always did the driving when we ventured for a Saturday night run to Barney's Beanery, the Rainbow or Sloan's. No matter how much traffic, he always managed to find a space right in front. We went to countless Dodgers and Angels games, as well. Bob's brother, Jon, has been a national reporter for different networks.

Tony Pitaro was an intellectual from Las Vegas via Boston. His friend, Joel Farbstein, arranged for us to make a few extra bucks working as "production assistants" for ABC. Once we were "runners" and "spotters" for an ironman triathlon competition. Frank Gifford, the event's TV announcer and a USC icon, found out we were all Trojans. We found ourselves sitting on lawn chairs at Santa Monica beach, drinking beer with the Giffer. A frazzled crewmember came running down yelling that she needed a "runner," somebody who relays information on the race, immediately. Terry, Pit and I just sat there drinking beer with Gifford. The crewmember demanded to know why we were not doing our job.

"We're spotters, not runners," explained Terry.

Oh.

I knew people from all four corners of the world at USC, but that could get dicey. I befriended a fellow who claimed to be a prince of Sudan's royal family (?), but he got into it hot and heavy one night with a guy from a rival clan. Israelis and Palestinians found themselves to be fellow Trojans at USC.

Offspring of the rich and famous, the kind-of famous, or the eventually famous, have always been a staple at USC. Chicago Cubs superstar Ernie Banks had a son there. The actress Allie Sheedy had recently been at the school. There was also a rumor that Tom Cruise was enrolling when Risky Business hit it big, causing him to change his plans and pursue screen stardom. Somebody told me his Top Gun co-star Kelly McGillis was a Trojan, but I never could confirm that. One of the hotties from Three's Company was a Trojan, as was male star John Ritter. Then there were the girls of Troy. Oh, my, that they were. Jeannie Buss, the daughter of Lakers owner Jerry Buss, was finishing up when I arrived. So was actor Jim Garner's daughter. Jack Nicholson's daughter, Jenny, was a student.

The beautiful Denise Moreno was a girl who caught my eye. She is now an advertising executive in Chicago. Football coach Ted Tollner had a daughter, Tammy, at USC. A "wild child" from Rolling Hills Estates, Rebecca Reeves looked like the actress Lynda Carter, who played Wonderwoman. Rebecca could have been a supermodel if she had wanted to. Joyce Lara and Ruth Juechter were friends. I met my ex-wife at USC, too.

Then there was Cecile Poppen and Tamara Rubinoff, two of the best-looking girls on campus. What a pair they were! Trouble, I called 'em, but I never got anywhere with either of them. One day I was at a film school party. Terry was getting a few bucks to work the door. Cecile was there, and she told me she would pay me whatever Terry was making if I would take his place, so she could spend time with him. I agreed but did not take her money. I take credit for introducing them, however.

A couple of years later, they were married and they now live in Atlanta, where Terry was the president of Coca-Cola/North America. They have three kids. I think Tamara works for the Securities and Exchange Commission.

I always said I was at USC at the end of what was still a golden age. John Robinson and Marv Goux were still there. Marcus Allen had just won the Heisman Trophy. The great thing about USC is that you continue to be a member of the Trojan family long after graduation. Rod Dedeaux, who called everybody Tiger, was still at USC. A couple of years after I got out, I was a volunteer baseball coach with the Spartans, the junior varsity team. Phil Smith and Terry Marks were also coaches. Don Buford, a former USC baseball and football hero who once hit a homer off fellow USC man Tom Seaver in the 1969 World series, shared the locker room with us. Years later, I got to know Rod better and wanted very much to write a book about him, which Bill "Spaceman" Lee said should be titled The Houdini of Bovard. I found a publisher and started researching, but in mid-stream the publisher threw me a curve: make it just a chapter on Rod, and separate chapters on Great College Baseball Coaches like Skip Bertman of Louisiana State, Cliff Gustafson of Texas, Ron Fraser of Miami, and the like. That was a substantially different project than the Dedeaux biography, and the book was never completed.

Speaking of Spaceman, he may be the most egalitarian big-time athlete ever. In 1987-88 he was running for "President" on the whimsical Canadian Rhinoceros Party ticket. A true Don Quixote, that one. I was a member of the buttoned-down, ever-so-serious Orange County Young Republicans, assigned to inviting guest speakers. I arranged for Spaceman to address our large group. People looked at this guy like he was crazy and wondered, "Why is he speaking to the OCYRs?" But Space held them in thrall, announcing, "I'm more conservative than you. I'm so conservative I eat road kill." Then: "I'm so far to the right I'm standing back-to-back with Chairman Mao." Take it from me, this may not sound funny, but when Spaceman says it, it is. People were literally rolling in the aisles. Afterward Bill worked the room, wooing some blonde USC debutante with stories about how he beat the Southern Illinois Salukis in the 1968 College World Series. She had this quizzical look on her face. Salukis?

Later, Bill introduced me to his Aunt Annabelle, the model for the women baseball players in A League of Their Own. I wrote a magazine column about her. Bill stayed at my home in Orange County but when I got up at six in the morning, he was gone. He was doing tai chi with my 90-year old Chinese neighbor. That day he hit the road with me. I stopped at an attorney's office but he stayed in the car while I conducted business. Suddenly the secretary rushed in saying, "Call 911, call 911, there's a man having a heart attack in the parking lot." I looked out the window and it was Bill doing his afternoon tai chi.

I invited Bill to the 502 Club and told Terry, Chris Wildermuth, Phil Smith and Bruno Caravalho to meet us. Terry, an enormous Red Sox fan, was convinced Spaceman would blow us off. Then he arrived and regaled us for several hours with Bosox stories. Bill remains a good friend to this day and should be in the Trojan Athletic Hall of Fame.

After we all graduated, many of us continued to live in the Los Angeles area. I was married in 1985, had a daughter, Elizabeth, and bought a home in Orange County. Later, after I was divorced, I moved to the south bay area of Redondo and then Hermosa Beach. Bruno bought the 502 Club and I frequented the place. For a brief time I even managed it. Sundays after Los Angeles Raiders games were always an adventure, what with Raiders players, Raiderettes, and USC players co-mingling.

I got to know a whole new group of Trojan athletes, among them baseball players Brett Boone, Jeff Cirillo, Mark Smith, Randy Powers, Danny Gil, Brett Jenkins, John Cummings, Mike Robertson and Jackie Nickell. Damon Buford was a friend whose dad was the aforementioned Don Buford. Several were crossover baseball-football stars, like Rodney Peete, John Jackson and Rob Johnson. I later saw several of these people, now big leaguers, in my professional duties as a sports columnist at Dodger Stadium, Edison Field (now Angels Stadium), San Francisco's Pac Bell Park (now AT&T) and Oakland's McAfee Coliseum.

Some of the football players I be-friended were Scott Mills, Gene Fruge, Scott Ross, Todd Marinovich, Martin Chesley, Cleveland Colter, Junior Seau, Mark Carrier, Matt Gee, Chris Hale and Mike Salmon. Fruge, Mills, Ross and Gee, I think, shared a home near the Coliseum. One night they had a party and I decided to crash on their couch. Fruge owned a pitbull who was friendly so long as he saw that I was Gene's friend. In the middle of the night I awoke and needed to go to the bathroom. I arose and heard a menacing growl from the dog. I held my own until one of the guys "rescued" me. I lived in the south bay and later Marinovich moved down there. I liked Todd, despite his troubles. He, Bruno and I spent some time in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well. Todd's cousin, Mark Fertig (the son of Craig Fertig) played on the baseball team.

Tim Ryan was an All-American who married a Raiderette. I almost got in a fight one night with Don Gibson and his brother, Craig. Bruno's brother, Doug - a diplomatic type - smoothed things over.

Yes, O.J. Simpson and his bombshell wife, Nicole, would come into the "Five-oh," often to hang out with Marcus Allen, and yes, my cop buddy Phil Smith once brought his cop buddy Mark Fuhrman into the place. In retrospect, it seems almost Shakespearean.

For a while, I pursued coaching. I was a colleague of Dave Lawn, who was Mike Gillespie's pitching coach at USC for a number of years. Mike and I became friends, in part because I had known his son-in-law, Chad Kreuter, since Chad was a kid.

After coaching I was, for a brief period of time, a sports agent. I call this my "wilderness year." I formed a company that represented Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Al Martin. Martin's story is telling of What It Means to Be a Trojan, or perhaps What It Means NOT to Be a Trojan! Before Al played pro baseball, he was recruited to play football for the Trojans out of West Covina. He arrived at training camp, which opens every year a month or so before school. Al was a "Trojan" about a week when he quit or was kicked off. He did not have what it took to be a Trojan.

Later, when my sports agency folded I thought it was a disaster. Al was gone from my life. It was a blessing. Al was a man-child. Details are not printable, but after we parted company his character was revealed in national stories that ran in the late 1990s. First, Al told the media he had played in the Rose Bowl, when as I mention he got booted from Trojan football after a week or so or practice. That was nothing compared to what he then did. Martin carried on a bigamous relationship with a mistress while still legally married and a father. When the "other woman" threatened to hold him to his "vows" in a drunken Vegas "wedding," Martin threatened to "O.J. you." By then I had, to quote a Robert Downey movie title, Less Than Zero to do with Al, who had no idea What It Means to Be a Trojan.

The break-up of the sports agency had a silver lining beyond separation from the "man"-child Martin. I met the baseball player Bo Belinsky and wrote a screenplay about his life. That got me into writing, my true passion. In researching Bo's life I met Bob Case, a true USC fan who grew up in Glendale with Rod Dedeaux's son, Justin.

As I matured and got into the writing game, I made valuable professional associations, many through my USC connections. One was the respected Los Angeles public relations man Carl Terzian, a great Trojan. When I wrote for the Los Angeles Times, the two main people I worked for were Trojans, Bob Rowher and Gary Klein. Bob once told us, "Give it to me straight. I don't want to hear about any 'Four Horsemen' or 'Thundering Herds.' "

Jim Watson, a USC man, once interviewed me in the Fox Sports studios for an hour about a long article I wrote on the greatest high school athletes in Los Angeles-Orange County history. A great guy, Jimmy. My editor with the sports magazine I worked for in Marina Del Rey was a fine Trojan named John Simerson, who is now at KTTV/11. Steve Randall, a USC grad and novelist, was an editor at Playboy magazine. He assigned the Playboy interview to me: Barry Bonds. I was going to co-write Bonds's authorized autobiography, but when Barry turned down the money offers from publishers, the Playboy interview fell through, too.

In recent years, I had the pleasure of meeting Lindsay Soto (USC '98) of Fox Sports at alumni gatherings. I also became friends with Chuck Hayes, who along with Harvey Hyde co-hosts "Trojan talk" on the radio. Both great guys. What It Means to Be a Trojan means rejoicing in the success of others, and none is more deserving than Garry Paskiewitz with www.wearesc.com. Radio reporter Marna Davis is a fine Trojan. I first met Mike Garrett at the 2000 Pac-10 media day, and spoke with him at length about his college baseball buddy, Tom Seaver.

A good friend for years was Bud "the Steamer" Furillo, a member of the media wing of the USC Athletic Hall of Fame. I first worked with Bud when I wrote a screenplay about the baseball player Bo Belinsky and enjoyed his company in the Coliseum press box. I may revive that screenplay, Once He Was an Angel, or turn it into a book. I am also a friend with his ex-wife, Cherie Kerr. I was saddened by his passing, which occurred right after Bud wrote the foreword to my book Dodgers Essential.

In conducting interviews and research I have been fortunate to get to know some terrific folks. Patty Goux, the widow of Marv Goux, was very helpful and gracious to me. I once heard from people who worked at USC's bookstore in the South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa that she was reading my book The USC Trojans: College Football's All-Time Greatest Dynasty in the store and began to cry, overcome at emotion over the words about her departed husband. Former player and coach Willie Brown I found to be a real gentleman. Former All-American lineman John Vella offered to have me do booksignings at his sporting goods store, Vella's Locker Room. I met Rod Sherman and John Lambert at alumni gatherings. Dwight Chapin, who once covered Trojan football for the Los Angeles Times, became a friend. His colleague, Jeff Prugh, both a sportswriter and bureau chief for the Times, is a very dear friend and great pro.

I interviewed Barry Zito when he was just coming out of USC and was not yet a Cy Young Award-winner, maintaining a friendship with he and his dad, Joe, and sister Sally, a musician. Bill Redell, who played football at USC before transferring to Occidental College (he is in the College Football Hall of Fame now) had discussed writing a book about football and faith with me. I may tackle that with Bill at some point.

I once wrote a magazine article about Petros Papadakis, and was later invited by his father, John, to dinner at Papadakis Taverna with the great Sam "Bam" Cunningham and Fox Sports producer Mark Houska.

Prior to this book, I have written three books about the University of Southern California: The USC Trojans: College Football's All-Time Greatest Dynasty (2006), Trojans Essential: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Real Fan! (2008), and One Night, Two Teams: Alabama vs. USC and the Game That Changed a Nation (2007). When the latter book was published, I got a phone call from my good friend and great Trojan, Lloyd Robinson of Suite A Management in Beverly Hills.

His client, a wonderful USC graduate named Jim Starr, was friends with Trojan legend Anthony Davis. A.D. wanted to help produce my book into a film. This led to meetings and an eventual production partnership with Kerry McCluggage, USC '75, a leading Hollywood player, whose team includes credits like Patch Adams, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Miami Vice, Catch Me If You Can, and the Indian Jones sequel. Kerry's assistant, Sebastian Twardosz, is a USC film school graduate who will eventually make a big name for himself in show biz. The film will be based on my book and another one written by John Papadakis and Sam "Bam" Cunningham.

A typical example of how thoroughly USC dominates Tinsel Town was demonstrated one day when Lloyd, Jim, A.D. and I took a meeting at the office of Magic Johnson's longtime agent, Lon Rosen, at the William Morris Agency in Beverly Hills. There were eight people in the room; all were Trojans.

In recent years, I have had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know Trojan football players of the Pete Carroll era. Some of these fine young men include Justin Fargas, Brandon Hancock and Tom Malone. Walking out of the Coliseum one fine afternoon I struck up a conversation with an interesting young fellow named Sunny Byrd. I also wrote a magazine column about Carson Palmer before Carroll was hired. In that column I was the first scribe I am aware of to predict Palmer would win the Heisman Trophy. It took Carroll and Norm Chow to make that prediction come true.

As an active member of the alumni association, I have had the pleasure of getting to know some wonderful Trojans, including Dr. Keith Matsuoka, Jamie McGinley, Mark Gonzalez, Jim Restrich, Walt Wellsfry, Robert "Red" Smith, Meribeth Farmer, Mark Wleklinski, Lindsey Lautz, Dale Komai, Gordon Pitts, Carl Holm, Kathy Yaffe, Bob Whitehill, Marni Lovrich, Nick Racic, Cynthia Christian, Shannon Abraham, Don Leisey, the Prince family, Chuck and Rene Lamb, and Bruce and Heath Seltzer. Our alumni dinners have allowed me to meet such great Trojans as Mike Garrett, Tim Floyd, Rudy Hackett, Paul McDonald, Justin Dedeaux, Michele Dedeaux Engemann and Dr. Art Bartner.

Through my writings and interviews with numerous USC football players, I have had the opportunity to meet members of the Trojan Football Alumni Club, an exclusive group that meets just north of the peristyle entrance to the L.A. Coliseum before games. Among the wonderful guys I have had the pleasure to meet, in addition to many of the players interviewed in this book, is the All-American Marvin McKeever, who passed away far too young. I have also thoroughly enjoyed Riki Ellison's tailgates held annually at either Cal or Stanford. That guy is unique!

Finally, my career as a professional writer has hinged in large part on my association with my alma mater, the University of Southern California. I have found opportunity in large measure because I am a proud Trojan. In writing what is now four books about Trojan sports history, I have earned the following words from Coach Pete Carroll himself: "Steve Travers is the next great USC historian. The Trojan Nation needs your work!"

Because of this, I have had the honor of addressing the freshman at parent's weekend, with thanks to Tina Orkin. I have become a yearly guest lecturer at the Annenberg School of Communications' class "Sports, Culture and Society," thanks to my good friend Professor Dan Durbin. I have done book signings at Annenberg, at USC Collections in Orange County, at the bookstore on campus, and in front of the peristyles at the Coliseum, thanks to the great work of Cecil Brown, Veronica Callehas and Rosemary DiSano. I have enjoyed meeting Danielle Harvey.

My books have led me to friendships with such legends as Craig Fertig, Tom Kelly, Allan Graf, and J.K. McKay. In the case of Manfred Moore, Charles "Tree" Young, Dave Brown, Rod McNeill and Sam Dickerson, this friendship has become true Christian fellowship. I also be-friended soldiers in Iraq, like Sergeant Gary Andrade, a Trojan fan from Anaheim who emailed to tell me that he was chasing terrorists every day and kept my USC book in a plastic wrap to keep dust out of it. It was the only thing he looked forward to every night. It was through emails from great Americans like Sergeant Andrade that I learned we were winning the Iraq War long before that fact became well known. When Gary finished his tour of duty and returned to his family, I helped arrange for him to meet the team. 

Finally, there is my daughter Elizabeth. As she has flowered into womanhood, I have had the great pleasure of sharing our mutual love for USC football. Many times I have enjoyed attending Trojan games at the Coliseum with Elizabeth, just as I was able to attend baseball and football games with my dad when I was growing up. It does not get any better than that.  

So there you have it. Had I, when I entered USC - a transfer, lucky just to be there, grateful to Delores Homisak for giving me a chance - could have had the picture painted I have just described, well, folks, I would have taken that! Beyond family, country and God, USC remains something I love with true passion.

            This book is really about the essence of USC, as told by the men who forged its greatness, its glory and its splendor. These men tell their stories, and all of them share my passion for the University of Southern California. USC is a modern Rome, a sports empire of conquerors, of football gladiators who have trod the green plains of stadiums east, west, north and south, bringing victory home for the Trojan Nation. USC is American excellence and exceptionalism, a shared experience of love, faith, pride and joy rarely found in this life. Herein are the stories, the tales, of this love, faith and pride, as told by some of the men most responsible for these truths. Herein is What It Means to Be a Trojan.

            Fight On!

 

-       Steven Travers

(415) 455-5971

USCSTEVE1@aol.com

 

The

TWENTIES

 

THE DUKE

From Trojans Essential: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Real Fan!, 2008

 

USC's Hollywood connection

 

Nate Barrager went to work for RKO Pictures and became a top production manager on such hits as The Greatest Story Ever Told and, of course, John Wayne films like Hondo, The Fighting Seabees and The Sands of Iwo Jima. He also worked closely with Bob Hope on television specials.

Barrager was part of a long tradition of ties between USC, their football team, and Hollywood. As big a reason as any for this, aside from the geographical proximity, is the fact that John Wayne played football for Howard Jones.

"He had all the football ability in the world," said Leo Calland. "He had savvy, a great build and the equipment."

"Duke was a good guard," said Normel C. Hayhurst, his coach at Glendale High School. "He played a big part in our winning the Central League and the Southern California championship. He was one of seven players selected for a football scholarship at USC. Our 1924 team was a good one."

Others, however, said that Wayne was not as dedicated to football as Howard Jones required them to be. Photos of Wayne at USC reveal a big, good-looking guy with black, curly hair and a great built who "had to fight the girls off."

The Wayne visage is one of a rough 'n' tough military man or cowboy, more ruggedly macho than handsome, but many film fans are only familiar with movies he made in his 40s and beyond. In his 20s, the man was nothing less than an Adonis.

Wayne's teammate at USC was Ward Bond, who would go on to a long film career. His typical roles were of Irish priests or sidekicks, fighting with and against Wayne, usually winding up sharing a shot of whisky as a conciliatory gesture. Bond had great desire but lacked Wayne's physical abilities. Observers of the two said that if Wayne's talent and Bond's desire could be morphed, the result would have been an All-American.

Gene Clarke, a lineman who played for Jones, claims to have had a hand in making Wayne a picture star. By accident. Wayne was looking forward to being the starting right tackle in his sophomore year.

"Duke and I used to go down to Balboa Beach and ride those big waves," said Clarke. Balboa Beach is in Newport, and those "big waves" are part of the notorious "Wedge," which has produced injured surfers for decades. It is not uncommon to observe wistful men in wheelchairs staring at the ocean wearing t-shirts that read, "Victim of the Wedge."

"One day we're all on the sand with pretty coeds all around. You know how everyone likes to show off, particularly Duke and me.

"These big waves started to come in. We called them, 'butt-busters.' I mean, they were BIG! They were washing the bottom of the pier. Duke says, 'Come on, let's go and ride them.' I said, 'You gotta be nuts, they'll kill us.' He said, 'Come on, you've got no guts!' And I said, 'Dammit, if you're crazy enough, I'll go.' "

15 minutes later, Clarke and Wayne were out past the breakers.

"I warned Duke that the breakers cup hard," said Clarke, but Duke was caught in one. The last he saw was Duke going down.

"He hit the sand," said Clarke, "and if he hadn't pulled his head to one side he probably would have busted his neck. As it was it dislocated his shoulder."

The body surfing adventure had occurred three weeks prior to the beginning of fall football practice.

"He was playing right tackle in the old Howard Jones power plays," said Clarke, "and in this system you used your right shoulder blocking all the time."

Wayne was injured and unable effectuate the blocking patterns

""The old man would give him hell for it," said Clarke. "With Jones you slept, ate, and drank football 365 days a year. He wouldn't understand anyone getting hurt in a foolish accident like that. Well, what happened was the old man thought Wayne didn't have any guts. He didn't know about the shoulder injury, of course. So he put him down on the fourth or fifth team. Took Wayne off the training table, and he had to scrounge for his own meals. He owed the fraternity house so much dough that they had to ask him to move out until he could pay. He dropped out of school and went to Fox Studios."

Born Marion Michael Morrison on May 26, 1907 in Winterset, Iowa, the son of a druggist and a mother of attractive Irish pioneer stock, young Marion moved to the California desert with his family when he was six. "Doc" Morrison had lung problems and improved in the warm climate.

In that environment, Morrison often fantasized that he was a cowboy on a dangerous mission. He rode a horse every day just to get groceries and run errands. He would scare himself into believing he was chasing or being chased by outlaws.

When Doc Morrison's health improved he moved the family to the Los Angeles area. Glendale in those days was still open country, and Marion lived a perfect boys life, fishing and swimming. Morrison got the nickname "Duke" from a local fireman because his dog's name was Duke and the fireman did not know Marion's real name. At first he was "Little Duke," but when he grew to 6-4 it was just Duke. At Glendale High, Duke did not only star in football, but he performed Shakespearean dramas. He was an honor student, president of the Letterman Society, senior class president, and a top debater. He loved to dance and girls went for him.

Despite his football scholarship at USC, he needed to earn extra money and became a top scalper. His scalping took him to the Hollywood Athletic Club, and he also did work for the phone company on movie lots. It was Howard Jones, however, who got him started in Hollywood, so to speak, when he arranged for Morrison and Don Williams to "train" actor Tom Mix for a cowboy movie called The Great K And A Train Robbery. They conditioned Mix and moved sets for $35 a week.

Morrison met famed director John Ford, who made him a prop man and liked his rugged film presence enough to cast him in 1928's Hangman's House.

Ford later made a football movie about the Naval Academy, Salute, and wanted USC players for it. He needed them full-time before the end of the semester, and made Morrison his go-between.  Morrison overcame major administrative hurdles in granting permission from school officials, which impressed Ford. He led a delegation that trained east in May, 1929, amid much fanfare. The players included Clark Galloway, Russ Saunders, Jack Butler, Tony Steponovich, Jess Shaw, Frank Anthony, Al Schaub, Marshall Duffield, and Nate Barrager. The trip did cause some concern that the work constituted professionalism, since the players benefited financially by virtue of the fact that they played football at USC.

Director Raoul Walsh gave Morrison the name John Wayne when he starred in a $2 million spectacular called Big Trail in 1929. In 1939 he broke through with John Ford's Stagecoach. He was nominated for an Oscar as Sergeant Stryker in The Sands of Iwo Jima, and by 1949 was the top box office attraction in the world. His visual appearance, however, was significantly different by then than it had been in the 1920s, when he was more pretty and handsome than rugged. Wayne liked to pull a cork in real life just as his screen characters did, which may explain this.

Other classic Wayne films include The Quiet Man and The Longest Day. In 1969 he finally earned a Best Actor Academy Award for his role as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit.

Even though he left school early without making a mark on Howard Jones's football team, and never graduated (although he was awarded an honorary doctorate), Wayne is inexplicably tied to the school and its football tradition. Through Wayne, Jones arranged for USC players to work as extras on movies. Aside from Salute, extravagant Hollywood productions of the era often featured Trojan players in the roles of Roman Legionnaires, Napoleon's Grand Armee, or Biblical flocks. This was prior to the NCAA, and while there was grousing about "professionalism," there never were repercussions.

The Hollywood connection was an enormous recruiting advantage that Jones made use of. Not only did the players make much-needed extra money, but they were introduced to the beautiful actresses. As any recruiting coordinator could tell you, no inducement is greater than pretty girls.

One story that made the rounds and was written about in a late 1990s issue of Los Angeles magazine concerned Clara Bow, the "it girl" of the silent film era. A gorgeous brunette, Bow apparently had an insatiable sexual appetite, and allegedly used Duke Wayne to arrange wild orgies at her Hollywood Hills mansion. This was the kind of extracurricular activity that schools such as Iowa or Duke, where Jones had toiled previously, could not offer.

Wayne maintained a strong association with USC until his death in 1979. When he visited his friend Gene Clarke at the Sigma Chi fraternity house, he noticed a derby that had been given Clarke as a member of Southern Cal's 1931 team.

"Don't you wear it?" asked Wayne.

Clarke thought it was silly, but Wayne was so taken with the memento from SC's stirring victory over the Irish that he "wore that derby for the longest time, hardly ever took it off."

Nick Pappas developed a very close relationship with Wayne, and used Duke many times in his role as director of Trojans' Athletic Support Groups.

"He's a fraternity brother of mine, and the night before a big game with Texas in 1966 we were having cocktails together," Pappas said in Ken Rappoport's book The Trojans: A Story of Southern California Football. The interview took place prior to Wayne's 1979 passing.

"This is in Austin, see, and he had come in just for the game," said Pappas. "We drank until about four in the morning - Wayne's drinking scotch and soda all this time. All the guys at the party had gone to dinner and come back and then gone to bed, and we're still in there drinking.

"In the course of our conversation, he says, 'Pap, I want to talk to the kids at breakfast tomorrow.'

"I told him, 'You're in, Duke,' without thinking. I hadn't asked anyone whether it would be all right for Wayne to talk to our football team on the morning of the game. It was a big one, a season opener with Texas ranked number one and us number two.

"But I remembered that Coach John McKay loved John Wayne movies. He used to talk about his big evening - sitting home with a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of chocolate milk and watching a John Wayne movie. And he never met him. I also remembered that McKay would awaken early on the day of games, he was always up by six o'clock, and read the papers. Have breakfast, and go over his diagrams. He was constantly working on football.

"So I call McKay and tell him I had a problem. 'Look, John,' I said. 'I was with John Wayne last night. He asked me if he could talk to the kids, and I said, yeah.' And before I could finish, McKay says, 'Geez, great…bring him down.'

"The kids are all assembled in the locker room at 10 in the morning, and in walks Wayne. Damn, he was fantastic. He walks in with this white 20,000-gallon cowboy hat and black suit - he looked just beautiful. The kids look up, and their eyeballs pop. Here's the REAL John Wayne. And Wayne walks over to the coach and gives him a big hello and squeezes him - you'd think he and McKay were long lost buddies. They had never met before.

"It was beautiful. A former player and all, Wayne gives one of the greatest fight talks you've ever heard - and the kids got all fired up. We win the ballgame 10-6, and back in the locker room after the game, McKay says, 'Hey, guys, how about it? Let's give the game ball to John Wayne.'

"For a moment Wayne stands there - nonplussed. It was probably the first time in his life that he couldn't think of anything to say. Then he looks at the ball for a minute and pumps it like a quarterback. Then he puts the ball under his arm, and the kids break into a cheer, 'Hooray, Hooray.' All the guys joined in. He's still a Trojan."

Mike Walden was the USC play-by-play announcer, and recalls that 1966 Texas game, and Wayne's unique role in the events of that weekend.

"My first game in 1966 was on the road vs. Texas," said Walden. "There'd be a press gathering in Austin, what they called 'smokers' down there, where everybody got together. Well, Wayne was down there making War Wagon in nearby Mexico, and he shows up with Bruce Cabot.

 " 'I'm gonna have some whisky,' Wayne says to the bartender, who pours it, and Wayne just looks at it, shoved it back, and said, 'I said WHISKEY!'

"Texas had a quarterback they called 'Super Bill' Bradley who was supposed to be outstanding, but SC just controlled the ball and won, 10-6. Afterwards, <assistant coach Marv> Goux came in and said wasn't it great, we 'didn't get anybody 'chipped off.' Well, Wayne and Cabot were somewhere, and someone got in an argument the next morning and their make-up artist was dead of a heart attack. It was confusing, I don't know for sure what all happened. Wayne and all of 'em were out drinking all night and came in at seven in the morning, maybe it was too much for this guy, but this make-up artist died.

" 'Well,' Cabot said, 'We got somebody 'chipped off,' after Goux said 'we didn't get anybody 'chipped off.' "

Wayne was an absolute Republican and a superpatriot, traits that were fairly common in Hollywood when he was in his prime, but towards the end of his career he found himself increasingly isolated from his fellow actors. In 1968, Alabama's segregationist Governor, George Wallace, ran for President as an independent. He asked Wayne to be his Vice-Presidential running mate. Wayne agreed with Wallace when it came to states' rights and fighting Communism, but could not stomach racism. He declined.

Tired of the liberal media spin of the Vietnam War, he made a highly jingoistic film, The Green Berets. It was propagandistic in nature and lacked gritty realism, but viewing it today, the film does emphasize military heroism that cannot be denied. It was a huge box office success. That and three 1970 war films, Patton, Tora! Tora! Tora!, and Midway, all succeeded artistically and financially, showing that the American public was not as widely anti-war as the popular misconceptions of the era.

Wayne's conservatism earned him plenty of critics, but even in 1969, when he won the Oscar for True Grit, Hollywood opened its hearts to him without reservation. Others found him to be a celluloid hero who had not served in wars while real war heroes like Ted Williams were thought to be "the real John Wayne."  

Jeff Prugh, the L.A. Times beat writer for USC football in the 1960s and '70s, recalls a story from that 1966 weekend in Austin.

"Well, there was this one L.A. sportswriter writer whose name shall remain anonymous," said Prugh. "Everyone is gathered at the bar, and John Wayne's holding court. This old writer is off in the corner getting drunker and drunker. He's liberal and Wayne's an outspoken conservative Republican. Finally, this old writer has had enough, and he approaches Wayne, interrupts him in mid-sentence with all Wayne's pals staring at him."

" So… …" the old drunk writer says, "they tell me, uh… … they call ya… The Duke!"

"'Yeah, what of it?" says Wayne.

"This writer just gathers himself," continued Prugh.

"Waaal…Duke… … You ain' s--t!"

"Well, it was almost a full brawl right then and there but his pals held Wayne back," said Prugh.

Craig Fertig was a star quarterback at USC and a graduate assistant in 1966.

"One time, the players wanted to go see Easy Rider," Fertig recalled, referring to a "hippie" movie of the 1960s. "Duke Wayne says, 'Don't let the kids see that crap!' So he arranged for 'em to see War Wagon instead.

"I'm low man on the totem pole in '66, so I gotta chaperone the team and do bed checks. Now McKay's hosting a party for Wayne."

(This contrasts with Nick Pappas' assertion that Wayne and McKay had not met prior to the morning of the next day's game, but considering that alcohol, old alums and memories were involved, the discrepancy is a minor one.)

"I finally put the kids to bed, so I make it up to this party, see," continued Fertig. "I see John Wayne and introduce myself to him, and he's like, 'Oh, I saw you beat Notre Dame,' and he's just like my best friend.

"Well, he has Bruce Cabot with him, and this make-up artist, too. This make-up artist's mixing drinks - vodka one time, Bourbon, scotch, right? He's gettin' hammered.

"The next day, I'm assigned to Duke Wayne, 'cause he's gonna speak to the team. Wayne's mad as hell, 'cause his make-up guys' not there.

" 'Son of a bitch's never around when you need 'im,' he says. It turns out the man's died during the night, maybe 'cause he mixed drinks and it was too much for his heart. Anyway, I gotta get Duke ready, the job this dead make-up guy usually does."

Apparently, Wayne had not yet learned of the make-up artist's demise.

" 'Whadda I wear?' asks Duke. I tell him, 'Everybody knows you as a cowboy, so dress like that.' 10-gallon hat, cowboy boots, brass belt buckle; I got him lookin' good.

"We're scared sh-----s, Texas is number one in the country. So at the stadium he fires up our team. Then he's introduced to the crowd. He comes out and he's in this cart with my dad."

Fertig's father, "Chief" Henry Fertig, was the longtime head of the Huntington Park, California police department in L.A. County, and a tremendous USC booster.

"He's being driven around the stadium in this cart, and the whole time my dad's pouring whisky into a cup and Duke's drinkin' out of it," continued Fertig. "Now, the Texas fans, they see The Duke, and he's wearin' this cowboy hat, and most of 'em don't know he's a USC football player. Duke's givin' 'em the hook 'em horns sign with his fingers, and the Longhorn fans are cheering.

" 'Duke's a Texas fan,' their sayin'.

"All the time, Duke's sayin' to my old man, 'F--k the 'horns.' "

All things considered, Duke Wayne cut a swath across the entertainment industry like very few others. In terms of longevity and impact, perhaps only Clint Eastwood has played a greater all-around role in show biz.

USC continues to be integral to the film industry to this day. The USC marching band actually bills itself "Hollywood's band." They have appeared in numerous movies and even helped cut a gold record, Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk". USC athletes have made a disproportionately large number of careers in the media.

"Going to school in L.A. is a big advantage," explained former USC football coach John Robinson. "It's a big difference being interviewed by major media there than it is to say, 'yes, sir,' or 'no, sir' to a local sportscaster in Alabama."

Many major movers and shakers in Tinseltown are part of the "Trojan Family." John Wayne would be proud.

 

 

GLORY DAYS

StreetZebra, 1999

 

They'll pass you by.

 

In the wink of a young girl's eye! Just ask Tom McGarvin, Bill Sharman, Alex

Hannum, or Tex Winter. It seems like it was only 50-plus years ago when these guys were basketball stars at the University of Southern California. That's right, USC. Before John Wooden turned Pauley Pavilion into Hoops Mecca, SC was a national power on the hardwood!

"The teams I played on," says Hall of Famer Bill Sharman (1947-50), "produced 19 NBA championship rings between myself, Hannum and Winter. Plus, we had Bob Kloppenberg, who coached in the pros."

The only other college that may have produced as many NBA titles would be the 1955 San Francisco Dons of Bill Russell and K.C. Jones. Considering Paul Westphal's success in Phoenix and Seattle, S.C. can lay claim to be the top spawning ground of coaches this side of Dean Smith.

In the 1930s, McGarvin starred along with Gail Goodrich's father at USC. The game was much different then, not the run'n'gun "showtime" spectacle

that it is today.

"They had nets around the court," says former East Coast basketball writer Jerry Cowle, "and players would bounce balls off them, playing the rebound."

That is why they were known as cagers, but out West, the "modern" game was being developed. Stanford's Hank Luisetti become basketball's first superstar, where legend has it that he invented the jump shot. Stanford won

the national championship in 1942.

"Hank Luisetti, as far as I'm concerned," opines McGarvin, who played with Jackie Robinson at Pasadena's Muir High "was the best player I ever saw during those years, but saying he invented the jump shot is a misnomer. Guys' were using jump shots already. He did use one-handed shots more than anybody.

"We played at the Olympic Auditorium, the Shrine, the Pan-Pacific, anywhere we could find. I was the captain of the Trojan team that went to the Final Four and lost to Phog Allen and Kansas by one point in Kansas City. Everybody fouled out because the refs' were Midwest homers, but we were as good as anybody."

Hamilton High's Hannum was a 6-7 enforcer who played with Sharman and Winter in 1946-47. Hannum's NBA career lasted until 1957. He went on to one of the most successful coaching careers of all time. Hannum led Wilt Chamberlain and the 1967 Philadelphia 76ers to the best record in NBA history (68-14, since broken by Sharman's '72 Lakers and the Phil Jackson/Winter Bulls of 1996). In 1969 he coached Rick Barry and the ABA's Oakland Oaks' to that league's best-ever record (60-18). He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1998.

 

The Triangle Offense

The evolution of the triangle offense has an almost Biblical quality to it. Doc Meanwell created it (in six days, resting on Sunday?). His version begat Sam Barry, who begat Winter, who begat Jackson. Many have been disciples. Winter probably has done more to refine it than any coach.

"Barry picked it up from Doc Meanwell when he was a graduate student at Wisconsin," recalls Winter, who came to SC from Huntington Park and Compton College, and has coached for 53 years (including all six of Michael Jordan's championship teams). "Initially it was called the `center opposite.' It was popularized on the West Coast by Jimmy Needles, and developed further by two Loyola players, Pete Newel and Phil Woolpert.

"It's based on `reverse action,' and you don't want players with great individual skills who don't utilize the team game. That's what we're trying to teach Kobe Bryant. It took Michael years to learn to play in the system. I try to teach them and let them know what's expected; ball control and player movement. Shaq O'Neal is so physically dominant that sometimes we get out of the system and just rely on him. Some better-skilled athletes are less effective in the triangle."

Winter recalls the pre-Wooden UCLA rivalry.

"They had a great player named Don Barksdale," he says. "I recognized right

off that Sharman was a great player. We had the `buddy system,' where a

younger player <Sharman> would be paired with a veteran  <Winter>. Hannum

was a leader and an enforcer."

"I was an All-American my last two years," says Sharman, who came to USC from Porterville after a year at Narbonne. "We finished second my last three years, but beat U.C.L.A. when John Wooden was the coach. I was very impressed by Wooden immediately. He taught a fast-break style that was a big influence on my coaching career. I won four titles as a player with Boston, six as a coach, g.m. and team president in the NBA.

"Jess Hill offered me the head coaching position at SC in the 1960s," Sharman recalls, "but the lack of an on-campus arena--a place where the students can get behind you, the team can practice--that plus I had pro offers, so I turned it down."

Forrest Twogood took over, and guided the Ken Flower teams' to 21-6 and 17-5 marks in the early 1950s. The Sports Arena was built in 1959, and while it was considered a great facility at the time, Pauley overshadowed it. The program has been mired in mediocrity for years. Now, a real possibility exists in which Henry Bibby's squad can create the environment in which their on-campus arena launches an era of greatness for Trojan basketball.

 

 

The

FIFTIES

 

ED DEMIRJIAN

Quarterback

1950

 

Let me tell a story about the kind of guy Pete Carroll is. I was hosting an Armenian shish kabob lunch at my home in Rancho Palos Verdes. It was a Friday afternoon. I went over to Pete's house. He's a neighbor of mine. I knocked on the door, but nobody was home. I thought, who knows, maybe he's cut out of work early today. I left him a note inviting him to the lunch. Well, on the following Monday I got a message from him thanking me for inviting him, but he couldn't make it. Then his secretary follows up to confirm I got the message.

            I played with Jim Sears. He was a defensive back. I lettered in 1950 and played in the program in 1951 and 1953. I got out of school in 1953. Frank Gifford was a senior in '51. I played for Jeff Cravath in 1950. Let me tell you, USC had the worst coaching when I was there. There were some of the Jim Hardy guys who knew football, but we had bad coaches. Jess Hill was not a good coach. We had a chance to get Tay Brown, who'd play for Howard Jones's Thundering Herd. He was over at Compton Junior College, which at that time was like the Notre Dame of junior colleges, but they didn't hire him.

We had a chance at Paul Brown of the Cleveland Browns. He had a son with asthma and wanted to come out here and live in the warm weather near the ocean. USC had a policy of only hiring alums, although Howard Jones was not an SC grad. We didn't get him. Hill didn't know football. He didn't relate to guys and they lacked respect for him. Maybe he was too much of a gentleman. He had an elitist view of things.

Gifford was smart. That was the first thing I saw about him. He was exactly what you wanted - 6-1, 195, matinee idol - to represent the University. He was a very good-looking guy and represented what an All-American boy next door would be. He really played a part in his reputation. People wanted to be around a guy like that. People who have good looks are worth $100 more in business. He hit hard but could not pass. He was a natural but no passer. He just threw the ball.

In 1951 at Berkeley, my memories are not good about individual games, but Cal was unbeaten and a real national juggernaut. Giffer riled up the team at the half and played great in the second half, and we won that game.

Jim Psaltis was a teammate of mine. He was a defensive halfback and normally on the other end of the field. We were on the same team and had a few laughs. Sam "the Toe" Tsagalakis was a kicker. We rather resented or thought it was unusual that a guy would just be a kicker. He was not a big guy but he beat Stanford with a field goal in the last couple minutes. I don't even think he was on scholarship. Sam Balter was a sports announcer. One day he came by training table to interview him, and Sam was not even on the training table then. He was later awarded a scholarship, probably when it was revealed he was not on one.

We beat Wisconsin in the 1953 Rose Bowl, 7-0. Jim Sears was the first string running back but he was injured and Rudy Bukich came in to play quarterback. He was not the most popular guy on the team. He played for the Bears later. He was an outspoken guy who voiced his opinion. I respected that. He threw the winning touchdown pass to Al Carmichael.

What's really more surprising to me than how good Rudy was in the Rose Bowl was how good Gifford was when we went back to beat Army at Yankee Stadium. He had a good game. The Mara family that owned the Giants was at that game, and it was the performance responsible for Giffer being selected high in the pro draft. To get back to the Rose Bowl, if Rudy had not thrown that TD pass to Carmichael, which made all the papers the next day, he might not have had a chance to play pro football either. Carmichael's in a book called 106 Yards. He's on the cover and it gives a lot of information.

I remember Marv Goux. We had a scrimmage and we insert this guy. He's not big and they stick him in unannounced. This guy starts to stick and plug holes. We all recognized immediately he was a heck of a tackler. I knew what he was doing right. After that they had plans for him.

What It Means to Be a Trojan? The school means everything to me; the people you meet, the friendships you have for the rest of your life. Once a Trojans, always a Trojan. I just dropped my granddaughter off at school yesterday, she's starting at USC. It's about loyalty. It’s a family. I go to 80 percent of the SC alumni functions.

I just got a letter from Tom Nickoloff. One of our groups, in addition to the Trojan club, Cardinal and Gold, this group and that group, is the 1950s guys. Some guys are in their 70s or 80s. We meet in Catalina, in San Diego. We have people in the valley. We get together for lunch twice a year. We meet at Phil Traini's and Papadakis Taverna. Phil Traini's a little guy but well built. I think he was a weight lifter and has a brother whose a trainer in San Pedro. They have good seafood at his place in Long Beach.

I'm a member of the Armenian community. It's a small, patriotic, family-oriented group that tends to religious. There's an Armenian presence at USC just like the Greek presence, but it's small, 15 or 18 guys. Pete Carroll's been to that group. We meet once a month at the Armenian institute. They're enthusiastic. We have these conspicuous names that end in ian. We're family people, entrepreneurs and successful. Adolf Hitler was once asked whether he would be held accountable for killing all the Jews, and he said the world said nothing when Turkey killed a million or more Armenians in World War I. France never protested. But over time America came to be the nation we came to, it was our Promised Land, and it was in America where the truth about the Armenian genocide became known to the world. 

Armenia became the first nation to accept Christianity in 304 A.D. It's a Christian nation surrounded throughout its history by Muslims, Communists, and Nazis, but its survived.

 

Ed Demirjian played for both Jeff Cravath and Jess Hill. He was a teammate of Frank Gifford and was in the program when USC beat Wisconsin in the 1953 Rose Bowl.

 

 

HE WAS FLOWER OF SF SPORTS PAST

San Francisco Examiner, 2001

 

Respect for ones' elders. This is an important quality to have, because those who came before us can teach us through experience and acquired knowledge.

San Francisco has plenty of athletic elder statesmen, and Ken Flower is one of them. Ken has punched a lot of tickets and has plenty of stories to tell. Recently named to Lowell High School's First Annual Hall of Fame, Flower is a part of City tradition.

He was the California State (basketball) Player of the Year in 1949 and an All-American at Southern Cal. Also a Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Flower worked in the San Francisco 49ers marketing department, and in local radio, for many years.

There is nobody of note in the NoCal he has not seen or known.

Take Hank Luisetti of Galileo, considered the greatest basketball player in the world when he was credited with "inventing" the one-hand set shot as a star at Stanford in the late 1930s.

"Jim Pollard was the first or one of the first jump shooters," says Flower, "but Luisetti perfected the shot. He was a big influence on me."

His next big influence was Ben Neff, a "father figure to me," who was Lowell's legendary basketball coach for many years before, during and after World War II.

"I grew up in the Haight-Ashbury District," recalls Flower. "I could have gone to Lowell or Poly, but Nehf recruited me in the seventh and eighth grades. He was a dynamic force in my life, and in others.

"Benny was very organized. He'd diagram plays using pennies. He also coached at St. Mary's. We'd practice in the seventh period, and at five he'd drive to Moraga for an evening practice, then we'd practice together on Saturdays. He was remarkable."

Flower thought he would go to Stanford.

"In 1949 we beat the Cal and Stanford frosh," he says. "I went to Menlo JC on my way to Stanford, but then SC started recruiting me. I planned a career in radio and figured L.A. was the place to be for that, so SC appealed to me.

"Sam Barry was the coach when I got there. He taught Tex Winter the triangle offense, and was a leading advocate in eliminating the center jump after each shot. I then played for Forest Twogood from 1951 to '53. We beat John Wooden's UCLA teams, Phog Allen's Kansas team, Hank Iba's Oklahoma A&I team, and Duke Groat's Duke squad.

"Wooden was not unbeatable. He's obviously a fine coach, and he took advantage of a very hot gym they played in, which we called the `B.O. Barn.' Her was a constant bench jockey, but his team's were not yet dominant.”

Flower also revealed a potential scandal that was averted. Gamblers approached him about throwing the UCLA game for $1500. This was around the time of the Long Island and NYU scandals back East. Flower played along, and then went to Twogood, who called in the LAPD. Eventually, the man was convicted.

"Luckily, he didn’t have Mob connections," says Flower, "but he did have a manslaughter conviction, and the guy spent a year in jail. 

Flower knew Phil Woolpert and Pete Newell when they were at USF, and got to know Newell quite well.

“He had a dynamic coaching style,” he says. “Newell's 1949 USF team won the NIT.

"After college I played AAU ball, and we faced the Harlem Globetrotters. After basketball I came to San Francisco and worked for CBS, then moved to New York and worked for ABC Sports and the NFL. This was during the time that Monday Night Football got started, so it was very exciting to be in that medium during this period. I knew Pete Rozelle very well."

Flower met Rozelle when Flower went to work for the NFL. They first met when Rozelle was the USF sports information director. He originally hired Pete, who had gone to USF, to run the sales and marketing division.

He came back to the 49ers in 1976, working on community affairs and negotiations regarding marketing and major media placement until 1986. Flower worked closely with some of the game’s all-time greats.

"Bill Walsh is just a remarkable, great coach, a dynamic leader and innovator in all aspects of the game,” says Flower. “He had a real hands-on approach to his job.

"Joe Montana possessed an indescribable genius for the game, despite his physical limitations. He had a quiet way about him, displayed zero fear to his teammates, and there was nobody better."

 

 

A TALE OF TWO PITCHERS

StreetZebra, 2000

 

The story of Bill Bordley and Bruce Gardner has all the key elements of Shakespearean tragedy. Gardner became a case study in melancholia, ending in suicide. In Bordley's case, all his negative energy was turned into something positive, and today he is with the Secret Service.

 

Both were left-handed All-American pitchers at the University of Southern California, separated by 17 years. Both played for legendary Trojan baseball coach Rod Dedeaux on national championship teams. Both men were considered "can't miss" professional prospects, and both had those careers destroyed almost before they started by awful arm injuries. Both men were damaged goods before their collegiate careers were over.

What they did with their lives after baseball defined the fundamental differences between the two.

Gardner was a phenomenal talent at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles. By his senior year, 1956, he was considered one of the top pitching prospects in the nation. He threw extremely hard, had great command of his stuff, and was a bulldog competitor. The pros came calling, and Gardner was all for signing. Those were the days, before the Major League draft, when teams would participate in bidding wars for top high school players. Although it does not seem like a lot of money by today's standards, players of Gardner's stature could demand and get $100,000 bonuses. That was more than big leaguers like Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle were paid in salary, because the "reserve clause" was still in force, thus depriving them of free agency.

Gardner, being an L.A. kid, was no less prone to the Trojan mystique than anybody else, but he faced a tug of war with his emotions, for reasons that most young athletes might not relate to. Gardner was Jewish. He had been raised by his single mother in modest surroundings. His mom was convinced that the path to success in America was through education, and she dreamt that her son would make a good lawyer or doctor. She was not enamored with the successes of Joe DiMaggio or Ted Williams, and with very, very few exceptions, Jews were virtually non-existent in sports. The idea that Bruce would be a successful professional athlete was not real to her; it held no promise. She knew little if anything about Bruce's athletic prowess. That her son could throw a 90-mile an hour fastball was an oblique concept. That people cheered for him and that men with stopwatches showed up to see him pitch was not something she could compare anything to. There was no value to such things. Being a doctor, now that was something of value!

Along with the pro scouts came Dedeaux, a gregarious, wisecracking guy who bleds cardinal and gold. USC was the one school that could entice a hot prospect away from bonus riches. They had won the national championship already, and if you were a great high school baseball player who wanted a college education, your three best choices were USC, Southern Cal, or Southern California!

Dedeaux was a master recruiter. He knew how to get into a player's mind. The best way to do that was to get into their home, and in this case he knew that Gardner was basically a mama's boy who yearned to please his mother. He knew that Gardner felt guilty about letting his mom down, and he knew how to manipulate that guilt. Dedeaux spent more time with Gardner's mother than he did with Gardner. He sold her on the value of a USC scholarship, which over four years, if one factored in tuition, books and housing, matched the six-figure enticements of Major League teams.

Bruce liked the idea of playing for Dedeaux, alright, but he had a shy side to him, and was a little self-conscious about the prospect of being Jewish at a rich, frat-society school like SC. This was still the Gentleman's Agreement 1950s. Mom would have not of it. Mr. Dedeaux is a nice man without an anti-Semitic bone in his body, she told him. He would watch out for him. The campus was only 15 minutes from their house, he would never have to be homesick. He would meet a nice girl there, he would make contacts with important people who could influence his life. USC was the American Dream.

Bruce wanted to sign, but he lost. He could never win that kind of battle with his mom, he was like the Anthony Harvey character in The Manchurian Candidate, and Dedeaux had proven to be her insurmountable ally. He entered the University in the fall of 1956. He never had a chance.

At USC, Gardner was everything he was supposed to be, a flame-throwing all-everything who garnered all the awards there were to win. He played with other stars like Ron Fairly, who would be a star with the Dodgers. He helped Troy to victory in the 1958 College World Series, and spearheaded the '59 team which went 24-4-1 but was denied another national title because they were on NCAA probation. In 1960, he won his 40th game, a record that stood at SC until Randy Flores won 42 (1994-97), and was named the top player in college baseball. He also hurt his arm.

 

Gardner's arm problems seemed minor at first, but the irritation caused him to lose speed on his fastball. Being a control artist with good breaking stuff, anyway, he continued to be successful. He knew how to pitch, and how to win. The scouts, however, saw something. Radar guns were not invented yet, but these guys had been watching him four or five years now. Gardner had thrown a ton of innings at Troy and now, in his early 20s, he was not the fresh new phenom that he had been at Fairfax High. His stock, which seemed high to the average fan, went down in the eyes of the real investors, the scouts.

The Chicago White Sox signed him to a paltry bonus and stuck him in the low minors. The agonizing personal descent of Bruce Gardner had begun.

On top of everything else, the draft was still in place, so Gardner found his dreams further interrupted by a stint in the Army. One day, riding on the back of a truck with other GIs at Fort Ord, California, Gardner was thrown to the ground when the truck hit a bump. He re-injured his arm, and when he returned to baseball his already-eroded skills were so far from big league quality that all hope of a glorious career faded away. Gardner's minor league career came to an end pretty much the way it happens for 90 percent of the kids who sign contracts.

After his release, Gardner tried to focus on other things, like everybody else who must re-direct their efforts. He tried his hand at the insurance business, hoping his SC contacts and notoriety as a one-time local sports star would elevate his business, but Bruce's heart was not in it. He resented his mother and Dedeaux for talking him out of signing a big contract out of high school, convincing himself that all those pitches he threw as a Trojan amateur could have been used in the bigs.

He saw another Jewish kid from Fairfax, Larry Sherry, attain heights of glory for the Dodgers in the 1959 World Series.

Gardner, on the other hand, sold insurance.

In 1974, Gardner had a few cocktails, gathered all his trophies, plaques, awards, and memorabilia, along with his USC degree, and went to the pitcher's mound at the brand new Dedeaux Field on SC's campus in the dead of night. He produced a gun, put it to his head and blew his brains out.

The next morning, a groundskeeper at first thought the body on the mound was a drunken student sleeping one off. Then he saw the blood, then the suicide note, which was addressed to his mother and Coach Dedeaux, and said, "This is what I think of your USC education."

Needless to say, Bruce's photo is not prominently displayed at Heritage Hall, his story is not re-told in Trojan press guides. Mention of his name was taboo around Dedeaux. 

 

Three years after Gardner's suicide, another southpaw graced the pitcher's mound at SC, and he was even better than Gardner was.

Bill Bordley was 16-1 pitching for a CIF-Southern Section championship team at Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance in 1975. He was a left-hander who reminded people of Sandy Koufax. After his senior year in 1976, he was selected in the first round by Milwaukee, but turned down their offer to attend SC. As a 1977 freshman, he was 14-0, a first team All-American, considered by some to be the best pitcher in baseball . . . period!                       

"He was the best pitcher I ever saw," former Pacific-10 Conference umpire Roy Roth, who also worked in the Major Leagues, once said. "Not the best college pitcher. The best pitcher."

"My freshman year was a big step," says Bordley. "Having Dedeaux was the best influence I ever had in amateur or pro ball. I still talk to him. He's successful and a leader at everything he does. I learned even when I was not pitching, and he did it in a fun type of manner. We were never stressed during big moments, he could make you relax, and gave you the feeling that you were King Kong. He's done that his whole life, like in his trucking business, where he's a multi-millionaire. You can go to a suit and tie event, but by the end of it Dedeaux will always have a crowd around him. He used to throw parties at his place in Seal Beach after we'd beat UCLA, and I went to Japan with him, too."

Dedeaux has a "Japan Room" at his beachside home, where he displays memorabilia from his goodwill trips to the Far East, stretching back to the days not long after World War II.

In 1978, Bordley was an All-American again, and the Trojan team that season is considered by many collegiate baseball enthusiasts to be the finest ever assembled.

"The '78 team was the best ever," agrees Bordley. 

Bordley defeated a powerful Arizona State team in the College World Series championship game.

"The second-best college team of all-time was probably Arizona State in '78," asserts Bordley, "yet we were vastly superior to them. I never played on a team that had that kind of talent, plus motivation. Rod never allowed diversions. We were just great, we made one error in five games at the College World Series. We played the game the right way."

Bordley recalled Dedeaux's influence.

"We had the same bus driver in Omaha for two weeks," he says. "The guy had hair down to his waist and a full beard. Rod kept working on him, and by the end of the Series he looked like a businessman."

Bordley skipped on the Alaskan Summer League, and told Dedeaux he was not returning to school. Bordley must have realized that the time to cash in on a pro bonus was sooner rather than later.

"I used to throw 95 miles an hour," he said, "but by the end of my college career I was down around 86-87. I still had enough to get college hitters out, but I felt pain from the wear and tear of pitching.

"The scouts were not as aware of my diminished velocity because I had not gone through a showcase junior year. We had financial hardships at the time, because my brother had been in a car accident, and my father had suffered a heart attack. I knew I'd be the number one pick in the country. Bob Horner had just signed for $250,000, so I dropped out of school and enrolled at El Camino J.C., making myself available for the January 1979 draft."

Bordley also may have realized that the cupboard was bare at Southern Cal. '79 was the beginning of a long dry spell for Trojan baseball.

"Bowie Kuhn was the Commissioner," Bordley continues. "It was a big scandal, and I was a big fish in a little pond with all these junior college kids."

The winter draft is almost exclusively J.C. players, receives little publicity, and bonus money is minimal.

"I wanted $250,000," says Bordley. "Buzzie Bavasi of the Angels said he would match that, and I said ahead of time that I would only sign with a West Coast team, so I could be near my father. Cincinnati drafted me after saying they wouldn't, so Kuhn got involved. He fined the Angels for tampering, then did the same thing they had done with Tom Seaver."

Borldley's name was put in a hat, and any West Coast team willing to put up a minimum of $150,000 entered the lottery.

"San Diego was owned by Joan Kroc and they did not agree to the minimum," says Bordley. "The Angels were barred, and Oakland had no money, so it was the Dodgers, San Francisco and Seattle."

Milwaukee, the team that had drafted him three years prior, was allowed to participate, but the Giants name came up.

"I went straight to Spring Training," recalls Bill. "They signed me to a Major League contract, which I'm grateful for because this allows me a pension, but immediately they could see that my speed from SC had dropped. I had had a swollen arm at the College World Series."

Bordley went through surgery after the 1980 season.

"It was pain and swelling," he recalls of the after-effects of the failed procedure. Doctors had attempted a "Tommy John" procedure, using muscles from his Achilles and implanting them in his elbow. He endured three surgeries.

"You know the old expression," he says. "I was throwing as hard as ever, it just wasn't getting there as fast. "

Bordley did pitch briefly in the big leagues, and lived in Marin County, where he worked with weights in a program devised by a specialist named Satch Hennessy. Nobody tried harder.

"SI did articles comparing me to Koufax," he recalls. "From my junior year in high school to age 22, I was very confident, I knew that I could win. I was striking out two guys an inning, I was on top of my game. I had the God-given ability to throw a baseball. Plus, being a southpaw helped, and I had a good breaking ball."

But his arm was shot. Joe Torre invited him to Atlanta's Spring Training in1983, but his career was over. 

"Baseball was a positive influence," Bordley says without a trace of regret. "It gave me financial independence, paid for college, and I saw the world. It taught me a great work ethic. I have no problems leaving the game behind, you have to move on. I went back to SC and earned a 3.8 GPA in finance."

Bill was the pitching coach under Dedeaux in 1984 and '85, when Mark McGwire and Randy Johnson were there. In return for coaching, the school paid for him to complete a Master's degree.

After graduation, he worked in finance in the San Francisco Bay Area. How did he end up in the Secret Service, an elite, ultra-secret organization normally reserved for former FBI agents and military officers?

"We played the Mets at Shea Stadium in 1980," Bordley recalls. "George Bush was the Vice President, and I got to know some of the guys on his detail, I left them some tickets. I was always interested in investigative work. I thought to myself, `Hey, I'd like to look into that.'

"It took two and a half years of tests. I work on polygraph investigations, threat cases, and deal with the CIA. If you know of a death threat, the Service administers a polygraph test to determine if the person is on the level. I've interviewed Charles Manson, who made threats from prison."

On can surmise that Bill determined that allowing Charlie out of prison would be a threat.

Things got very interesting for Bordley when he was assigned to Chelsea Clinton's detail at Stanford University. Naturally, he is unable to give specifics about the detail, or any of the things he has seen while working for the Clinton Administration.

"I was on the President's and First Lady's detail," he says. "I had to testify in the Starr Report, and I know Chelsea. She's a normal 20-year old kid. She goes to a lot of events, and we try to make her college experience as normal as possible.

"What people don't realize is all the other things we do in the Service, like counterfeiting. We're under the Treasury Department, so I travel the world - I've been to 75 countries - where our money is counterfeited."

Bordley was asked about whether he was ever required to sign a document that would not allow him to ever talk about inside Presidential stuff. If anybody has anything on Presidents, past and present, it would be the Secret Service. In recent years, some former Kennedy Secret Service agents disclosed details of White House shenanigans, but for the most part, nobody ever hears a peep out of the non-partisan Service.

"We have top secret clearances," he explains, "and it's pretty much taboo to talk about them. Before we get to the Presidential detail, there's so much screening that it's a virtual certainty that an agent will not disclose secrets. It's also a matter of courtesy. It's taken years for me to get in a position of trust with President and Mrs. Clinton, and with Chelsea. If politicians couldn't trust the Secret Service, it would be very harmful to future public figures. I look at it like a baseball clubhouse, where we went by the saying `What you say here, what you see here, what you do here, let it stay here.' "

Bordley knew the Bruce Gardner story, but found no satisfaction in comparing himself to his predecessor.

"It's an adjustment for anybody," he says, "whether you're Steve Compagno <this writer knew Bordley in the early '80s, and Compagno is a mutual friend of ours who once played in the Yankee organization, before embarking on a successful mortgage banking career> or anybody. You learn a good work ethic and take the same positives that go into being a Cy Young award winner or a 20-game winner, which are valuable."

Bordley still follows the Trojans, and remains loyal to Rod. He lives in San Jose, and plans to retire in the Bay Area.

"I studied finance," he says, "and did well in stocks."

 

The

SIXTIES

 

BILL REDELL

1960 (Freshman Team)

Quarterback

 

I was very fortunate to go to USC when I did go there. It's part of my college experience and I consider myself a Trojan. I'm not bitter or feel I was treated unfairly just because I left. I loved the experience I had there.

       I was at the USC extension school from 1959-60 and played freshman football 1960. There was Pete Beathard, Craig Fertig, Willie Brown and me. John McKay was in his first year as the head coach. Al Davis recruited me. That was a lot of years ago but he was a very enthusiastic guy and a great recruiter. I was very impressed with the guy. You could not help but be. He seemed interested in me and was an excellent recruiter. I was also recruited by Jim Sears and Russ Krudell. Various alumni guys came to all our games and told Marv Goux about me. I played at San Marino High School. San Marino is the hometown of the Patton family, as in General George Patton. There were some kids named Patton. I'm not sure if they were related but I think so. I remember some General Patton family stables. They owned land and it was horse country, and of course the Patton legacy was a big part of San Marino history.

       My high school coach became the head coach at Occidental College, and that's why I left. McKay was going to switch me from quarterback to running back. I'm not positive, but in those days if I remember right you played both offense and defense, and this effected my thinking. McKay had not recruit me, I was more one of Don Clark's guys. We all played about the same on the freshman team. Pete Beathard was the starter. I got and hurt missed some games but generally played equally. I could see that I was not going to play quarterback ahead of Beathard, so I followed my old coach to Occidental. If I'd stayed at USC I would have played another position.

         Occidental College had a real good small college football program, and a lot of outstanding players. A few guys went to NFL camps. Jack Kemp played at Occidental. It wasn't USC, but I made the College Football Foundation Hall of Fame, and I wouldn't have been elected had I not had a good career, and had Occidental not been an excellent program. It was one of the last of the great small college football powers. Occidental had once been a rival of Southern California. In California, St. Mary's, USF, Santa Clara, Loyola, Pomona and Occidental had all been great programs, teams that played USC and Cal, and went to major bowl games like the Sugar Bowl, but segregation prohibited the continuation of this. Eventually, pro football ate into the attendance of these programs so only big programs like USC and UCLA could survive.

       In addition to playing quarterback, I played defense, special teams, punted, kicked field goals, and was the captain. I played 60 minutes per game, so my election to the Hall of Fame was based on all-around performance. When they put me into the Hall of Fame, I went as much for what I did as a defensive back, but I was listed as a quarterback. I was good at everything.

       I played for the Los Angeles Rams. The Denver Broncos of the American Football League drafted me, too, but I went with the Rams and had a "cup of coffee" with them. Then I played seven years in the Canadian Football League. I coached at Crespi High in Encino, St. Francis in La Canada, and now at Oaks Christian in Thousand Oaks. Crespi and St. Francis are Catholic schools, Oaks Christian is mainstream Christian. My faith has driven me and I am interested in writing a book a book about my coaching experience with an emphasis on how Christianity has been my guiding light. 

       I also coached with Dick Coury at Cal State Fullerton. Coach Coury had been at Mater Dei and was hired by John McKay at USC after John Huarte and Jack Snow, a couple of Orange County players, starred at Notre Dame. McKay was tired of losing the best Catholic school players from Southern California to Notre Dame, so he took this step. Coach Coury earned his keep by placing tall Bill Hayhoe in the middle of the field so he could block Zenon Andrusyshyn's kicks in USC's 21-20 win over UCLA for the 1967 national championship. USC has done an excellent job competing with Notre Dame for great Catholic school players ever since.

       Several of Fullerton's coaches were killed in a plane crash, among them the uncle of the Alabama All-American offensive lineman John Hannah. I was obviously not one of them, but the tragedy effected me deeply and I was out of coaching for nine years. In 1980 I came back at Cal Lutheran. I went to the USFL with Coach Coury in Boston. Then I coached for New Orleans and Portland until the league disbanded. Then I was at Crespi when Russell White was the top prep running back in the nation.

       I coached John Sciarra's son at St. Francis. He was a gifted quarterback who appeared to have Division I tools but did not start at UCLA before transferring to Wagner. I've not had all that many players go to USC, but two of my best are there right now. Marc Tyler is a running back and Marshall Jones is a defensive back. 

       I don't know why, but UCLA didn't recruit Tyler, despite the fact that his father, Wendell Tyler, was an All-American there before playing for the 49ers. Wendell wanted him to play at USC and Coach Carroll does a great job recruiting. He's got six tailbacks competing and Marc was hurt with a bad broken leg, but eventually he'll be a fine player. He wanted to go to Notre Dame, but he's the kind of player Carroll wants, a winner willing to compete. He'll be a big-time player every bit as good as his dad. I describe him as "LenDale White with better speed," which is not bad!

       Allan Graf's son started out with me and he's going to USC. Clay Matthews is from Agoura and didn't play for me but I know the family and their big-time Trojans. Jimmy Clausen played quarterback for me. Now he's at Notre Dame and it's a challenge for him. I coached Joe McKnight in the Army All-Star Game. I think he's going to be a guy like Reggie Bush, but Marc's got a great chance to be just as good.

       As a high school coach over the years I've seen all the best recruiters, and Pete Carroll's as good as any of them because he is sincere. Others are not sincere. Players are looking for an individual who cares about his players, about their future. I'm impressed with Pete but most college coaches are not like that.

       As for what makes Pete Carroll so successful beyond recruiting - and there is a great deal beyond recruiting - I don't know about his practice plans, but I can see that his teams are enthusiastic and disciplined. From what I'm told his practices are fast-paced and always moving. He's always enthusiastic and I'm very impressed at how USC is high for all their games.

       Even though I went to USC, I've always kind of been a UCLA guy in terms of rooting, but now with players at USC and Brian Kennedy, a good friend whose very involved at SC; the great thing about SC is that is if you're an alumni you're a Trojan for life. They've been very good to me and I have a lot of friends there from the two years I spent.

 

Bill Redell played freshman football with Craig Fertig and Pete Beathard before transferring to Occidental College, where he was an All-American and later elected to the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame. After playing pro football he became one of the greatest high school coaches in American history. The former National Coach of the Year, his championship teams at California's Encino Crespi Carmelite, La Canada St. Francis and Thousand Oaks Christian, have produced numerous Trojans, including running back Marc Tyler.

 

 

BOB SVIHUS

Left Tackle

1962 - 1964

 

What It Means To Be a USC Trojan.

When I first enrolled at the University, my eventual coach, Marv Goux, said to me: "Bobby you may only be here for a few years of your education, but you'll be a Trojan for the rest of your life.  You will have a lot of opportunities here, both good and otherwise.  There are only three things you can't do at the University of Southern California; lie, cheat or steal.  There is nothing in the world you can't accomplish while you are here.  Just go out and do the best job whether it's in the classroom or on the football field."

He further said he was available 24 hours a day if I needed him for anything, but try not to call him at home on the weekends, unless I was in jail.  I loved the speech, I loved the place, I loved the people.

Naturally, I was close to Southern California in my heart since I was born at Wilshire Hospital, in downtown Los Angeles, during World War II.  I moved away to Northern California at a young age and was always happy to go on vacation to visit relatives in Southern California during holidays and summer vacations.  The growing up years in Northern California were not as easy for me, since I became a victim of a one-parent family.

In later years, when I became a student recruiter for the University, I always made sure that whoever I was recruiting was always given the "you'll be a Trojan for the rest of your life" speech. I wanted to make sure that if a prospective student-athlete did not view the surroundings at the campus with enough enthusiasm or did not particularly like the faces, types of people, even the color of their skin or perhaps their religious preferences; then the University was not going to be a successful place for them to learn. I was so ingrained with the Trojan spirit/attitude that I knew every visiting student-athlete may not feel like I did.  I freely admitted in my recruiting talks that if they didn't love or feel as partial as I did, then perhaps the University was not a place for them.  A lot of fine student-athletes came through during my recruiting years and I'm happy to say only a modest number did not choose the University to be their place of education. But, for all the student-athletes who did choose the University, wow! What a legacy. I received a small pillow last Christmas from one of my daughters and on one side of the pillow it said, "It's Hard To Be Humble When You're From USC."

While Marv Goux was one of the most popular and likeable people that ever walked this planet, he had his dark side and many people, it was said, not including myself, were able to see through his "veneer" of likeability. I never saw Marv that way, to me he was a friend almost like a big brother. I was as impressed with his dark side as I was with his spirit, loyalty, and enthusiasm. On the very few occasions when his darkside surfaced, I was able to embrace it and learn from it. In later years, I've come to know a great many people from all walks of life and what I learned from Marv, I still cherish to this day.

To me, it truly is great to be a Trojan!

 

Bob Svihus was an all-conference selection in 1964. Drafted by the Dallas Cowboys (NFL) and Oakland Raiders (AFL), he played for the silver-and-black from 1965 to 1970. He was a member of Oakland's 1967 Super Bowl team, and played with the New York Jets from 1971-72.

 

 

THE REINCARNATION OF CHRISTY MATHEWSON

From The 1969 Amazin' Mets, 2009

 

The Fresno City College Rams have one of the greatest J.C. baseball traditions in the country. Maloney, Ellsworth and Selma all pitched there before going to the big leagues. Scouts and college coaches paid attention to them. In September of 1963, a couple months shy of his 19th birthday, Seaver came out for what the coaches and players call “fall ball.” He was known for having made all-city pitcher at Fresno High, even if it had been “because there wasn’t anyone else to choose.”

But his new height, the 30 pounds of muscle, the newfound strength, gave Tom confidence that he could not help but be noticed by coaches and players alike. After the initial period of conditioning came the moment of truth: try-outs on the mound. After warming up, Seaver got set, went into his motion, and delivered a 90-mile per hour fast ball.

The ball sailed up and in, smacking into the catcher’s mitt with a loud thud. Suddenly, USC did not look like such a pipe dream. In the spring of 1964, freshman right-hander Tom Seaver was the ace of the Fresno City College team, compiling an 11-2 record against stiff competition, earning team MVP honors.

What was happening to Seaver was less a phenomenon and more common than many realize. The high school blue chipper is accorded great attention, but many times he has physically matured sooner than his peers have. Sometimes he peaks at the age of 17 or 18. Others, like Seaver, grow, gain strength, and mature in more ways than one. Few make the kind of transition that Tom Seaver would ultimately make, but many high school “suspects” in various sports go on to become “prospects” in college, in the minor leagues, and in their 20s. Some attain stardom. Scouting is a very tricky, unpredictable business. 

The impossible seemed to have occurred. Seaver’s 11-2 record at Fresno City College earned the recruiting attention of Rod Dedeaux. He was a legitimate fastball artist. Dedeaux called him the “phee-nom from San Joaquin.”

But Dedeaux needed to know for sure that he could compete for the Trojans. “I only have five scholarships to give out,” the coach told him. Before the ride would be offered, Seaver would have to prove himself with the Fairbanks, Alaska Goldpanners.

Today, collegiate summer baseball is a well-known commodity. Many scouts place more credence on a player’s performance in one of these leagues than they do on their college seasons. The Cape Cod League uses only wooden bats, which proves to be a great equalizer for pitchers and a shock for aluminum-bat sluggers who find themselves batting .250 on the Cape. Summer ball has a long tradition in Canada, where American collegians test themselves in such exotic locales as Red Deer, Alberta, Calgary and Edmonton. The Kamloops International Tournament in British Columbia has attracted some of the fastest baseball for decades. The Jayhawk League, consisting of teams from Boulder, Pueblo, Colorado Springs, plus Kansas and Iowa, was once a leading destination for college players. The California Collegiate Summer League, consisting of teams from the Humboldt Crabs in the north to the San Diego Aztecs in the south, has produced many stars in its various forms over the years.

But the Alaskan Summer Collegiate League is the most legendary. Over time, the league became the Alaska-Hawaii League, with teams flying in for extended road trips on the islands and the “land of the midnight sun.”

“The team was put together by a man named Red Boucher,” said former Met pitcher Danny Frisella, who was a teammate of Seaver’s in Fairbanks. Boucher was the Mayor of Fairbanks. “He got all the best young ball players up there.” Andy Messersmith of the University of California became a 20-game winner with the California Angels. Mike Paul pitched for Cleveland. Graig Nettles played for Minnesota. USC quarterback Steve Sogge, a baseball catcher, played on that team. Rick Monday was an All-American at Arizona State, where he was a teammate of Reggie Jackson and Sal Bando in a program that captured the 1965 National Championship (also producing Mets’ pitcher Gary Gentry). In the very first amateur draft ever held in 1965, Monday became the first player chosen, by the Kansas City A’s.

“Monday was there the year I was and he couldn’t even make our team,” said Frisella. “I think 13 guys were signed off that team. It was semi-pro ball, and we played eight games a week. We didn’t get paid. Not for playing ball. But I earned $650 a month for pulling a lever on a dump truck. And I didn’t have to pull the lever too often.”

The man most responsible for the growth of summer collegiate baseball was Dedeaux. In 1963, when his Trojans won their fourth national championship, the press dubbed his team the “New York Yankees of college baseball.” He eventually retired with 11, having produced such stalwarts as Ron Fairly, Don Buford, Bill “Spaceman” Lee, Jim Barr, Dave Kingman, Rich Dauer, Steve Kemp, Fred Lynn, Steve Busby, Roy Smalley, Mark McGwire and Randy Johnson. His successor, Mike Gillespie, won the school’s 12th College World Series in 1998 (Texas is second with five) while producing such talented stars as Bret Boone, Aaron Boone, Jeff Cirillo, Geoff Jenkins, Jacque Jones, Morgan Ensberg, Barry Zito and Mark Prior.

If a young player wanted to test himself amongst the best of the best, he could find no more competitive environment than the USC baseball program. For Tom Seaver, having tasted real success for the first time in his life at Fresno City College, it represented the ultimate challenge. He needed that scholarship; not just to save his father from paying the steep tuition, but also to give himself imprimatur as opposed to “walk on” status.

Dedeaux had come out of Hollywood High School to become the captain of the Trojan baseball team. He had the briefest of Major League “careers” with the Brooklyn Dodgers, but befriended his manager, Casey Stengel. Later, Stengel brought his Yankees to Los Angeles for exhibition games against USC, giving college players the chance to play against Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford. After retirement from managing the Mets, he became a banking executive in Glendale, the L.A. suburb where Dedeaux lived. For years Casey was a regular at Trojan baseball games.

Dedeaux was a key figure in organizing and growing the popularity of the College World Series. The first CWS was held in Kalamazoo, Michigan and featured the University of California Golden Bears beating Yale for the national title. Yale’s first baseman was a war veteran named George H.W. Bush. Bush and Yale came back the next year, only to be beaten this time by Dedeaux’s Trojans. Eventually, the CWS found a permanent home in Omaha, Nebraska.

“He never looked like a ball player, but he had eyes in the back of his head,” said Bill Lee, who played four years under him from 1965 to 1968, earning All-American pitcher honors and a National title in his senior year. “He knew in the first inning what would happen in the fifth; in the fifth what to expect in the eighth.” The greatest teams Lee ever saw were “the 1975 Cincinnati Reds, any Taiwanese little league team, and the 1968 USC Trojans!”

“Dedeaux was the sharpest tack in the box,” recalled Mike Gillespie, who played on his 1961 College World Series champions.

An extraordinary amount of athletic talent flowed to the professional sports leagues from USC and California in general. Huge crowds watching Trojan football games at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum played a large role in luring the Dodgers and Lakers out west. Dedeaux modernized the collegiate game from a “club sport” to a pipeline for the pros. Utilizing the perfect California weather, he turned his into a year-round program. There was “fall ball” from September to Thanksgiving; followed by a full slate of 50-60 games in the spring instead of a paltry 20 or 25. But it was summer ball that Dedeaux turned into breeding grounds for diamond success.

A college player generally returned to his hometown after school let out and played on a pick-up team, or a ragamuffin semi-pro outfit. The competition was not good and players benefited little, returning to school without having progressed. Dedeaux wanted his players to experience something akin to minor league life; playing nightly games, traveling, and handling a fast brand of ball that prepared them for the college season, then a pro career.

In the 1950s he sent his players to Canada, where in addition to good baseball experience they enjoyed the educational aspects of life in an “exotic” locale far from home. When Alaska became a state, Red Boucher raised money to build a first class facility and began recruiting the best collegians to Fairbanks. Dedeaux and USC were his number one source. A league was developed with teams in Fairbanks, Anchorage (the Glacier Pilots and later the North Pole Knicks), the Palmer Valley Green Giants, and the Kenai Peninsula Oilers. Teams from Canada and the contiguous lower 48 states traveled to Alaska. The sun almost never set in the summer. Lights were not needed. On June 21 a “midnight sun” game starting at 11 P.M. was played without any lighting. The Alaskan teams also traveled, playing in an end-of summer tournament called the National Baseball Congress in Wichita, Kansas. The NBC featured all the best teams from across America. The Canadian teams generally played in the Kamloops International Tournament.

Years later, when Tom Seaver became a broadcaster even before his playing career ended, he told partner Joe Garagiola of his Alaskan experience during a World Series telecast.

“They play baseball in Alaska?” asked Garagiola.

“Really good baseball, Joe,” replied Seaver.

“Tell me about it,” inquired Garagiola, and Seaver did just that.

In June, 1964 Seaver boarded a plane for Fairbanks to join a team consisting of future big leaguers Monday, Nettles, Curt Motton, Ken Holtzman and Gary Sutherland of USC. They were All-Americans with national reputations. Seaver was immediately intimidated, wondering whether he, a junior college pitcher still battling the insecurities of a nothing prep career, could compete at this level. He had little time for contemplation once he arrived, however. Boucher’s wife met him at the airport.

“We’re playing a game right now,” she told him. “I brought a uniform with me. You can put it on at the field. We may need you.”

The beautiful stadium and the large crowd struck Seaver. In a town of 20,000, some 50,000 people attended Goldpanners games.

“I dressed in a shack near the field,” Seaver recalled.

There was no time for introductions when he arrived in the dugout, beyond Boucher’s handshake and orders to get to the bullpen to warm up right now. The score was tied 2-2 with the Bellingham, Washington Bells in the fifth inning as Seaver hurriedly got loose, was waved into the game and “met my catcher on the way to the mound.”

He proceeded to retire the side, then met his teammates in the dugout. That night, Seaver pitched effectively in relief, earning a hard-fought victory and the respect of his all-star mates. He was used mainly in relief, later rating himself the “third- or fourth-line pitcher” on the ‘Panners. He lived with the Bouchers. Aside from being a community leader, Red was a sharp baseball man who taught young Seaver important lessons on the psychology of pitching. He was very much like Tom’s optimist mother. Seaver came to understand that half the battle was believing in himself. Through psychology and the experience of successfully testing himself against the best, he was gaining invaluable confidence. Boucher told him that each morning he needed to wake up and say to himself, “I am a Major Leaguer.”

Dedeaux coached a summer team of USC players in Los Angeles that traveled to Fairbanks. Seaver pitched and mowed them down with high heat. When Boucher yelled at Dedeaux from across the field how it was going, the USC coached cracked, “How the hell would I know? I haven’t seen the ball since the second inning.” Seaver’s scholarship offer was seemingly secured that night, but there were still bumps in the road.

In August the Goldpanners made their way to Wichita for the NBC, stopping in Grand Junction, Colorado for a tune-up against a fast semi-pro outfit. Seaver started but was hammered off the mound. NBC rules required the roster be reduced to 18 players. Boucher had to decide between Seaver and Holtzman, an All-American at the University of Illinois. He visited Seaver in his hotel room to inquire of his confidence, but the young Californian just told him to “try me.” Boucher kept Seaver.

Against the Wichita Glassmen, Seaver was called on in relief with the Goldpanners winning 2-0. The bases were loaded in the fifth inning with one out. Boucher tried to steady his reliever, but Seaver just growled that he had “listened to you all summer long. Now it’s up to me. Give me the ball and get out of here.” 

Confident or not, it took some doing for Seaver to steady himself. Two walks and an infield hit pushed across three runs and now the Goldpanners trailed, 3-2. A double-play kept the damage down. Over the next innings Seaver gained command. It was before the days of the designated hitter. In the eighth inning with the bases loaded Seaver came to the plate. Boucher saw something in the young man who had once batted .543 with 10 home runs in little league. He decided to let him hit. Seaver responded with a grand slam to win the game. He pitched and won a second game in the tournament, earning summer All-American honors from the National Baseball Congress. For the first time, professional scouts were evaluating him.

“We had a lot of players who could throw the ball harder than Tom,” Boucher recalled. “His fastball moved well, but he was no Sandy Koufax. His curve and slider were not much better than average by college standards. His greatest asset was his tremendous will to win. And he had this super concentration. He believed he could put the ball right through the bat if he wanted to.”

Dedeaux called Boucher and inquired of several USC players on the Fairbanks roster. Boucher interrupted him to say that Seaver would be “your best pitcher.” Boucher assured him that he would “bet on it,” to which Dedeaux replied that the Alaska manager was so high on the kid “I really don’t have any choice.”

Seaver had finally assured himself of the scholarship. He arrived at USC during a golden age on campus and in Los Angeles. That fall of 1964, quarterback Craig Fertig led the Trojans to a breathtaking comeback victory over Notre Dame, 20-17. USC’s running back, Mike Garrett, would go on to become the first of the school’s seven Heisman Trophy winners.

The actor Tom Selleck, a basketball, baseball and volleyball star out of Van Nuys High School, was on campus. A few years separated them, but Seaver and Bill Lee were in the program at the same time. It was a dominant age, under athletic director Jess Hill the greatest sustained sports run in college history. Aside from Dedeaux’s perennial champions, John McKay’s football team won two national titles and two Heismans in the decade. The track, swimming and tennis teams won NCAA titles with regularity.

Cross-town, John Wooden’s UCLA basketball dynasty was just heating up that year. Big league baseball was in full swing on the West Coast. The Los Angeles Angels were an expansion team. The Giants and Dodgers had continued their rivalry in California. Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers sold out the beautiful new Dodger Stadium and won the World Series twice in three years.

The famed USC film school also became world class at that time. Two of their most famous students were in school when Seaver was there. George Lucas would create the blockbuster Star Wars series. John Milius wrote the screenplays Dirty Harry and Magnum Force; then directed The Wind and the Lion and Red Dawn, among many others. He would become known as the most conservative filmmaker in notoriously liberal Hollywood. Another aspiring film student was turned down by USC. Steven Spielberg had to settle for Long Beach State, but as friends with Lucas and Milius, Spielberg was hanging around the campus so much he seemed to have matriculated there.

Those three became friends with Francis Ford Coppola, who was attending film school at UCLA along with future Doors’ rock legends Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek and John Densmore. Together, Lucas, Milius, Spielberg and Coppola hatched a hare-brained scheme to go to Vietnam with actors to film a “docu-drama” in the style of Medium Cool, which was half-movie, half-footage from the 1968 Democrat National Convention in Chicago. The Vietnam idea was nixed (for some odd reason) by the Pentagon, but eventually became Apocalypse Now, featuring the haunting music of Morrison singing “The End.” All of it was detailed in a fabulous 1998 Hollywood book by Peter Biskind called Easy Riders, Raging Bulls and in the documentary Hearts of Darkness.

The USC campus has always been conservative, fraternity-oriented and traditional, but even more so when Seaver arrived. That fall, Republican Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater energized a conservative movement based in nearby Orange County, embodied by Republican student politics at USC. Numerous USC (and UCLA) graduates made up the campaign and later administration staffs of Richard Nixon. Among them were Watergate figures H.R. Haldemann, John Erlichman, Dwight Chapin, and Donald Segretti. In the 1976 film All the President’s Men, the Segretti character tells Dustin Hoffman, playing Carl Bernstein, about the so-called “USC Mafia” of that era.

Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy was received like a conquering hero when he toured for his autobiography Will, on campus in 1983. When Democrat Presidential nominee Walter Mondale campaigned at USC in 1984, he was met by the resounding chant, “Reagan country” in favor of the incumbent President. According to student accounts, controversial filmmaker Michael Moore was booed off stage when he screen Fahrenheit 9/11 on campus, leading him to start wearing a UCLA cap.

Bill Lee got a taste of the stuck-up nature of social life on campus, which he described in his riotous 1984 autobiography, The Wrong Stuff. Lee was dating a beautiful sorority sister until movie star “Alan Ladd’s kid snaked her away from me,” presumably with a show of wealth.

Seaver enrolled as a pre-dental student, joined a fraternity, and quickly made friends with Dedeaux’s son, Justin. His Marine experience immediately separated him from the silly frat boys. He also befriended Garrett. This arrangement came to symbolize all that is righteous about college sports. Here was Seaver, the white middle class son of an affluent business executive, “prejudiced” while in high school, paired with Garrett, the black inner city son of a single mother. Had they not been teammates at USC, these two never would have found each other. Instead they became the best of friends.

Garrett was an introspective young man bound and determined to make the most of his opportunity. He had been an All-American at Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles and of course made his name on the football field, winning the Heisman Trophy in 1965 and helping the Kansas City Chiefs win the 1970 Super Bowl. Eventually, he graduated from law school and became USC’s athletic director, where he hired the great Pete Carroll in 2000. Garrett was serious about baseball, too. He even took some time off from his NFL career to pursue the game in the Dodgers’ organization before returning to the San Diego Chargers in 1971.

“Mike was serious about things,” said assistant USC football coach Dave Levy. “One time he and I got into a big discussion and he expressed frustration that he could not rent an apartment in Pasadena because he was black. I just told him he needed to understand there were white folks of good conscience and that you had to let people change. I had discussions with black kids at USC and I said they needed to take advantage of the educational opportunities that sports provided them. Mike came to agree with me."

“If you’d told me that a black kid from Boyle Heights would win the Heisman Trophy,” Garrett said on the History of USC Football DVD (2005), “I’d have just said, ‘You’re crazy.’ ”

Seaver and Garrett were both intensely dedicated. They worked out together. Justin Dedeaux was amazed that Seaver could keep up with Garrett stride-for-stride running wind sprints. The Garrett-Seaver relationship also directly marks the beginning of a revolution in sports training, with profound consequences. Baseball players were told not to lift weights; that to do so would “tie up” their muscles, making them unable to throw and swing the bat. But Seaver had seen how much better he had gotten when he got stronger lifting boxes and later doing push-ups, pull-ups and rifle exercises in the Marines.

Jerry Merz, a friend of Seaver’s who studied physical education, recommended that Seaver lift weights to increase his strength. Garrett lifted weights for football and Seaver asked him to help start a regimen, which he did. Seaver’s stocky body responded to weight training, with immediate good results on the field. He would take his weight training routine with him into professional baseball, influencing a change in the perception of weights in the 1970s. Over time, all baseball players would bulk up on weights, and eventually this led to the rampant use of steroids.

Seaver’s casual, open relationship with Garrett was an eye-opener for him. Despite idolizing Henry Aaron from a young age, he had met few blacks. He had adopted the country club racism accepted by whites of that era, probably without fully realizing it. Charles “Tree” Young was a black track, basketball and football star at Edison High School in Fresno a few years after Seaver came out of Fresno High. He became an All-American tight end on the 1972 USC football team generally considered the greatest in history; later a star with the 1981 World Champion San Francisco 49ers before entering the Christian ministry.

“I most certainly knew all about Tom Seaver,” Young said. “He was from Fresno, had starred at USC, and made good with the New York Mets. But the Fresno of the 1960s was a place where you needed to know your place.”

Young lived in the “black section” of Fresno. It was not a segregated society, certainly not like the South. Edison High was integrated and Young a popular student-athlete.

“If you are good in athletics, you can go places and do things unavailable to others,” Young said. “When I arrived at USC, my first question was, Where’s the blacks? I quickly discerned that there was double meaning in the term Southern California. But through sports, black brethren and white brethren became one. It took some doing, and on our football it did not happen overnight.”

Young was a member of the 1970 USC football team that traveled to Birmingham and, behind running back Sam “Bam” Cunningham defeated Alabama, thus effectuating great racial change in the South. The Trojan team he played on, ironically, was racially divided as a result of the playing of black quarterback Jimmy Jones over white hotshot Mike Rae.

Young, a strong Christian, helped organize fellowship meetings in order to bring the team together, against some resistance. After a “revival” meeting in 1971, the 2-4 Trojans traveled to South Bend and beat 6-0 Notre Dame. That team never lost again, going on to an unbeaten National Championship the next year.

The nature of USC - its conservatism and traditions – has been credited by those who were there at the time with allowing such a thing to freely occur. By contrast, social angst and war protests dominated life at rival campuses Cal-Berkeley and Stanford. According to John McKay, the supposedly “enlightened” Stanford student body directed “the most vile, foul racial epithets I ever heard” at his team, one in which McKay had “provided more and greater opportunities for black athletes than any in the nation,” when they made their way onto the Stanford Stadium field.

A few years prior to that, Tom Seaver brought a certain amount of white conservatism with him. After all, his father ran a large company and he had never been exposed to radical politics. But USC was a place where ideas could flow more easily than at a segregated Southern campus, yet be tempered by the kind respect for tradition that seemed to have been lost at Berkeley. The Cal campus was allowing itself to become the de facto staging grounds of American Communism in the 1960s.

In the hierarchy of Trojan sports, Mike Garrett towered above a junior college baseball transfer like Seaver. But as teammates they gravitated to each other, finding their similarities more compelling than their differences. Garrett was considered undersized, and Seaver – at least until his recent growth spurt – had always identified himself as “the runt of our crowd,” as Dick Selma put it. He felt only admiration for Mike, who forged success for himself without the kinds of physical gifts of a later Trojan superstar, O.J. Simpson.

In 1965, Seaver worked hard to make it onto USC’s starting rotation. Oddly, it was a down year for the Trojans, who finished 9-11, in fourth place behind conference co-champions Stanford and California, and one game back of cross-town rival UCLA. But Seaver was excellent, winning 10 games against only two defeats with a 2.47 earned run average, establishing himself as the undisputed staff ace. He was named to the all-conference team along with Garrett and Justin Dedeaux. A major boost in his confidence came in an alumni game when Seaver got Dodgers first baseman Ron Fairly, a former Trojan, to pop up on a slider. As Fairly ran past Seaver on the mound he said, “Pretty good pitch, kid.” Seaver had retired a big league hitter, and allowed himself to dream big league dreams (three years later in the Major Leagues, Fairly connected on a Seaver slider for a home run).

In June 1965, the very first Major League draft was held. Rick Monday, an All-American outfielder for National Champion Arizona State, was the number one pick. Because he had not gone into the Marines his first year after high school, the sophomore Seaver’s college class was in its third year, making him eligible for the draft. Already, the strategy behind obtaining maximum signing bonuses meant that college juniors would get more, since they had the bargaining leverage of returning for their senior year. A graduated senior had to take whatever was offered him or go home, his eligibility gone.

His favorite team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, drafted Seaver. He and his USC pals regularly went to nearby Dodger Stadium on his uncle’s tickets to watch the great Sandy Koufax pitch. Scout Tom Lasorda came around to negotiate. If Seaver had lacked any confidence before, making All-American at the National Baseball Congress, retiring Fairly, and compiling a 10-2 mark for Troy took care of that. Lasorda offered $2,000. Seaver came back with $50,000, arguing that Selma had received $20,000 from the Mets out of junior college and he was a seasoned Trojan star. Lasorda came up to $3,000, but that was that. The tantalizing possibility of Tom Seaver forging a career on the great Dodgers teams of the 1970s would be only that, tantalizing.

“Good luck in your dental career,” Lasorda told him.

It was a real-world business lesson Seaver was not going to learn in any economics class. It also meant a return to Fairbanks in the summer of 1965. This time Seaver did not arrive in Alaska as an unknown, dressing in a shack and introducing himself to his catcher on the mound. There was sense of hierarchy on the Goldpanners, and the ace pitcher at the University of Southern California was tops on that hierarchy. It was as talented a team as any in the country, the “all-star” concept of picking the best collegians from around the nation making the Goldpanners better than most college teams and probably better than a lot of minor league clubs.

The “pitching staff was so deep and talented – Andy Messersmith, Al Schmelz, Danny Frisella and I were the starters . . .” recalled Seaver. As can happen when a young athlete achieves success, a sense of overconfidence – some call it “senioritis” – can effect his performance and often requires some “negative feedback” in order to right the tilting ship. The Goldpanners again made it to the NBC in Wichita, but the plethora of talented pitchers, all vying for mound time to gain experience, strengthen their college resumes, and of course get visibility for the scouts, meant that Seaver’s toughest competition came on his own team. In Wichita, “I had a chance to win only one game before we reached the semi-finals” against the Wichita Dreamliners.

A big crowd and lots of scouts came out for a ballyhooed match-up between the hotshot Trojan hurler and a semi-pro outfit consisting of four recent big league performers; Bobby Boyd, Jim Pendleton, Charlie Neal and Rod Kanehl. Neal and Kanehl had played for the New York Mets. Neal led off the game with a triple, Boyd added three hits, and Kanehl stole home as the Dreamliners defeated Seaver, 6-3. Seaver probably could have pitched around some of the ex-big leaguers but challenged them instead, paying the price. He hated walking hitters even if it meant giving them a pitch they could hit. After getting knocked from the mound, Boyd approached him.

“Kid, you got a great future ahead of you,” he told him. “You’re going to be a big league pitcher.”

Seaver felt the veteran was mocking him. That night, Tom and some teammates went out for beers. Kanehl joined them, repeating what Boyd had said. Fairly had expressed admiration for his ability, too.

Maybe they’re right.

Schmelz and Frisella both signed with the Mets instead of returning to school. Seaver came back to Southern Cal and immediately noticed a bevy of scouts at the “fall ball” games. He attended a number of Dodger games that September, focusing on Koufax as he pitched his team to the World Championship. The consensus among the scouts was that Seaver was one of the top young prospects in amateur baseball, and that the Dodgers had blown it by not signing him in the summer.

While Seaver’s baseball future was developing, so too was his personal future. In 1964 he sat in a class at Fresno City College a few seats away from a pretty blond named Nancy Lynn McIntyre. His smooth repartee and way with the girls deserted him, and he never said “two words to her the entire semester.”

At the end of the spring semester before heading north to Alaska, Seaver and some pals blew off steam drinking beers and playing softball when he spotted her. Impulsively he ran towards her and, in what had to be one of the most awkward “first dates” in history, was unable to stop himself, ran into her, knocking her flat. He then picked her up and asked if she wanted to go to a softball game.

“No,” she replied.

Seaver then, for all practical purposes, kidnapped her. She endured the softball game and agreed to a second “date” if it would be less violent. Over the next year and a half, the relationship faced challenges with Nancy in Fresno, Tom in Alaska for two summers and in Los Angeles going to school. She occasionally came to visit. He saw her on vacations back to Fresno. Their casual agreement was that they would see other people. In Los Angeles, Tom knew that a pretty girl like Nancy would have no trouble finding a guy. He had always been popular with girls. Dick Selma expressed amazement at how, despite being a JV pitcher, he dated all the best-looking girls in high school.

Now he was a “big man on campus,” best friends of the Heisman Trophy winner, star of the baseball team, rumored to be a bonus baby when the draft came around. Girls at USC were plentiful and he dated his share of them. Perhaps his Marine experience, or the up-and-down nature of baseball, had matured him beyond his years, but for whatever reason he did not want to “play the field” anymore. He and Nancy agreed to be exclusive, and after some initial difficulties both realized that they wanted marriage, a family and stability.

“Nancy and I,” he wrote in The Perfect Game, “seemed . . . to realize at the same time that life wasn’t about all parties, that we could be serious about ourselves and about other things without being pretentious or somber.” They both wanted to “live in a real world.”

They decided to marry, and more importantly, never to hurt each other; easier said than done. Tom’s prospects were certainly excellent. If baseball did not pan out, he would have a USC degree, followed by dental school and a nice practice back in Fresno. The only friendly glitch in the relationship was the fact that Nancy’s father argued the merits of Notre Dame football while Tom supported his Trojans. The Tom-Nancy partnership would prove to be a remarkable love story.

In January, 1966 a winter draft was held. Because of what eventually happened to Tom Seaver, the rules of the winter draft were later changed, but despite being in school he was selected number one by the Milwaukee Braves, who were that year in the process of moving to Atlanta. Braves’ scout Johnny Moore, who had seen ‘em all in Fresno, arrived at the Seaver household in a Cadillac. When he left Tom was $51,500 richer. He was a hot young prospect ticketed for the big leagues, where his teammate would be the great Henry Aaron!

No sooner did he sign with the Braves than he discovered the contract was invalid. USC had played a few early season games. A player could only sign prior to the playing of games on the spring schedule, and the Trojans always got off to an early start. Seaver would have to wait until the June draft, but he was not disappointed. He would pitch for Southern Cal. Then the NCAA declared he was ineligible since he had signed a pro contract. He was like Ko-Ko in The Mikado, caught in the middle of a “pretty state of things,” wrote his biographer, John Devaney.

Finally, the Commissioner’s office got involved. It was decided that a “lottery” would be held. Any team willing to match the Braves’ offer could enter it. Three teams – Philadelphia, Cleveland and the New York Mets – did just that. The Dodgers wanted in, too, but general manager Buzzie Bavasi was so consumed in contract talks with Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, both holdouts that spring, that he forgot to get the team’s name in. For the second time, the Dodgers passed up a chance to get Tom Seaver.

The Mets were selected and Seaver reported to Homestead, Florida, where their minor leaguers were well underway for Spring Training. The experience was extraordinary for him. Four years earlier, he had been less than a “suspect”; a warehouse “sweat box” lifter and a lowly Marine recruit with drill instructors screaming in his face. Year by year things had gotten better for him: junior college ace, proving himself with the Alaska Goldpanners, “big man on campus” at USC; now a bonus baby; and a few months later, married to the beautiful Nancy Lynn McIntrye.

The guy who could not make the Fresno High varsity until his senior year found himself trailed by curious glances and murmurs at Homestead. “That’s the guy from USC.” “That’s Seaver, they paid him over 50 grand.” Bud Harrelson, Jerry Koosman and Nolan Ryan were all in camp, but Seaver was singled out for the special treatment accorded to the most important prospects. It was dizzying, but Seaver had “class” according to Harrelson, who said that despite his place at the top of the totem pole, the bonus baby did not put on airs or try to show anybody up.

Most players start out at class A ball and have to fight for years to move up the ladder. The combination of Seaver’s college record, bonus money and the team’s lack of success meant that he started at triple-A Jacksonville, Florida. Manager Solly Hemus, who had seen a few in his long baseball career, declared him, “the best pitching prospect the Mets have ever signed,” and then paid him the ultimate compliment: “Seaver has a 35-year-old head on top of a 21-year-old body. Usually, we get a 35-year-old arm attached to a 21-year-old head.”

Seaver was teammates with Dick Selma at Jacksonville. Immediately he had success and was ticketed as a “can’t miss” prospect who would be in the Major Leagues soon, maybe even in September. He led the team in victories and strikeouts. He was given the nickname “Super Rookie,” or “Supe” for short. His future was secure when Hemus said he reminded him of Bob Gibson. When most minor league pitching prospects get hit, they are removed so as to protect their gentle psyches. Hemus realized Seaver had the mental toughness of . . . a 35-year old. When his rough patches came, as they always do, he kept him in to gain from the experience.

The roughest patch came off the field, when the “wizened” wives and girlfriends of the Jacksonville players set the naïve California girl Nancy “straight” on the notorious sexual habits of ballplayers. Tom assured her of his commitment to her, but her mind was filled with dreadful thoughts. 

After a heavy workload at Jacksonville, the Mets decided not to call him up in September. Seaver and his new bride returned to Los Angeles, where he was now just another student at USC. Suddenly Seaver saw a new future in baseball, and began to think about broadcasting on the side. He transferred his major from pre-dentistry to public relations. Instead of living near campus, notorious for being near a high crime zone and at that time only a year removed from the nearby Watts riots, they lived in upscale Manhattan Beach.

In 1967, Seaver entered Spring Training amid speculation that he would be a starting pitcher. Had Seaver not been with the lowly Mets, he probably would not have made it to “The Show,” as the Majors are referred to, as quickly. He would have started out at singe-A or double-A, then worked his way up. Instead, he did start as a rookie in 1967. In truth, he was as ready as can be. Manager Wes Westrum not only put him in the starting rotation at the beginning of the season, he was talked out of starting him on Opening Day only out of caution.

The Mets were as bad as ever in 1967, only now they were just terrible, not funny. The old Casey Stengel stories, the wacky “Marvelous Marv” Throneberry antics, were gone. Now they just lost. Seaver was appalled.

“I was not raised on the Met legend,” he said. He had no affinity for any of that stuff. Despite being a rookie, he quickly ascended to a position of leadership on the club. When teammates laughed at their ineptitude, he refused to let them get away with it. Once, when Mets players were fooling around in the dugout during a game, Seaver found some spiders nesting in a corner. He scooped them all up and threw them at the offenders, telling them to wake up and pay attention. His attitude would have been taken exception to, except that he was so shockingly good. It earned him immediate respect.

Seaver’s work ethic was legendary, his concentration and seriousness unprecedented in Met history. He was immediately successful. When his brother, Charles Jr., a New York City social worker, visited a client he saw a poster of his brother hanging in his tenement apartment. It was an era before ESPN and the lowly Mets were not on national TV very much. Cincinnati’s Pete Rose openly wondered who “the kid” was at Gallagher’s, a New York steak house, when he saw an out-of-place Seaver sitting at a table by himself. Told whom he was, Rose then made the connection. This was the guy who beat his Reds, 7-3, on June 13.

He sure looks young but the kid’s got a helluva fast ball.

Against his hero Henry Aaron, Seaver induced the slugger into a double-play, but was almost in admiration of his opponent when Aaron adjusted later and hit the same pitch over the fence. Henry told him he was “throwing hard, kid.” He “stalked” Sandy Koufax at the batting cage when the now-retired legend was in town as a broadcaster. When Koufax recognized who he was, Seaver was taken aback but pleased.

Seaver earned a spot on the National League roster for the All-Star Game, played near his college stomping grounds, at Anaheim Stadium. This meant more embarrassed mistaken identity. Cardinal superstar Lou Brock thought he was the clubhouse boy and asked him to fetch a Coke. Seaver dutifully did that, but Brock had to apologize when he was informed who he was.

 

SPACEMAN REVISITED

StreetZebra, 2000

 

Bill "Spaceman" Lee and I have been friends for over 10 years, ever since I invited him to speak to a political organization about his 1988 Rhinoceros Party "Presidential candidacy." Spaceman had a roomful of stuffed-shirt Republicans rolling in the aisles when he said, "I'm so conservative I eat road kill," and "I'm so far to the right I'm standing back-to-back with Chairman Mao."

Bill is Everyman, the kind of guy who loves to get together with the guys and drink cold beer. When I invited him to a watering hole, my buds doubted he would show, but when he did he regaled all with his hail fellow well met humor. He is just a little off-center. Spaceman stayed at my house, but at 6:30 A.M. I found him not in bed but doing morning tai-chai with my neighbor, a Chinese fellow who appeared to be about 115 years old. Later he accompanied me to work, and at a law office the secretary was ready to call 911 about a heart attack victim in the parking lot. I had to explain that it was just "Spaceman" doing his afternoon tai chi.   

The Spaceman is a sixth-generation Californian whose grandfather, Rockwell Dennis Hunt, was dean of the University of Southern California graduate school from 1900 to 1937. He grew up in the San Fernando Valley, playing little league with future Montreal Expo Tim Foli. Lee's father was a strict disciplinarian.

" 'Get a haircut and get a job,' that's what Dad always said," says Bill. "I was more George Thorogood - `Bad to the Bone, I drink alone.' " Lee Sr. was transferred by the phone company to Marin County just in time for Bill to enter Terra Linda High School.

"It was like Stephen King's The Stand," Spaceman recalls of the SoCal/NoCal culture shock. "You know, how the biker's square off against the hippies? The older students were '50s greasers. My class was the beginning of the '60s Free Speech Movement. There was a lot of prejudice against Southern California 'cause we wore shorts."

Spaceman (who was given that moniker by a Baltimore writer in 1972) was a free spirit who starred in baseball, earning a scholarship to USC. He actually thought about going to Humboldt State to major in forestry, but being a USCion meant that his only real choices were to attend SC, USC or Southern Cal!

His impression of legendary coach Rod Dedeaux was one of "amazement. He didn't look like a ballplayer, he was always making wisecracks. But he had eyes in the back of his head, and as the game progressed he knew everything about every player. He was the most astute baseball man I ever met."

Spaceman says that the greatest team he ever saw was "either the 1975 Cincinnati Reds, the 1968 USC Trojans, or any Taiwan little league team." He put to rest a rumor that he "held out" his senior year by telling Dedeaux he would not pitch conference games unless he could start at first base in non-conference contests. Once the team went to Santa Barbara, but Lee was late warming up because he had forgotten his sanitary socks. Instead of asking the equipment manager for a replacement, he sought out a sporting goods store instead. He retrned and was told by the equipment manager that he had a bag full of replacement socks. During a trip to Hawaii, he emerged from the luggage chute. On one occasion during a rain delay he took a dare and did push-ups on the field . . . wearing only jock strap and socks!

            Lee was at SC during the golden years of Trojan sports. O.J. Simpson was his classmate, as was Tom Selleck (a pretty good athlete who dabbled in baseball, basketball and volleyball), and his teammates included Mike Garrett and Tom Seaver. Of Selleck, Lee remembers that "he was a big frat guy. They were Greek geeks. I was a Left wing jock at conservative university."

One his grandfather helped to found, by the way.

"Selleck was making Myra Breckenridge," Lee recalls. "That was his first movie. Tom Seaver was a funny, happy-go-lucky guy, not the corporate type he is now. He seemed pretty easy to hit, then he got on the weights, his legs got big, he filled out and got taller and started bringing serious heat. He's got a natural hop on his fastball that can't be taught. That's the difference between him in a limo and me in a beer truck. He's the best fastball pitcher of our time, a better pitcher than Nolan Ryan or Jim Palmer."

Spaceman felt Seaver was about equal with Bob Gibson ("a sinker/slider pitcher"). He also admires a more "Democratic" modern day twirler, Greg Maddux, who is more in his style.

"Maddux is a finesse pitcher who paints the edges of the canvas," is Spaceman's assesment. "He's the Catfish Hunter of this generation. Seaver had control, but he was such a hard thrower he didn't have to be so fine."

So, Lee was a young, single man going to SC and living in L.A. in the '60s.  Memories?

"My friend Greg Freeman owned a '63 Chevy Impala," Lee recalls. "He parked it in the neighborhood near school, and when we got back the seats were stolen. We cruised Sunset Strip that night sitting on orange crates. I went to all the bars, but Barney's Beanery was more my kind of place . . . like the way I pitched, it was not in the center but rather on the outskirts. <Lee's dialogue is strewn with metaphors that describe life like pitching> My brother was stabbed <but not killed> at a Doors concert. I saw Janis Joplin. My Uncle Grover made keys for movie stars. Lee Marvin used to go drinking with us. I always thought of myself as a William Holden-type of guy."

Lee has movie-star good looks, and at one-time a reputation for being a ladies' man. After college he played for the Boston Red Sox, where he and a teammate, fellow Southern Californian Bernie Carbo, were notorious bar hoppers and skirt hounds. In his riotously funny 1984 autobiography, The Wrong Stuff (which came out on the heels of Tom Wolfe's tale of astronaut bravery), Lee recalls minor league groupies who would "do the whole bullpen."

Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey was "like a grandfather to me." In The Wrong Stuff, Lee posits the metaphysical notion that after Yawkey passed away, he returned to Fenway Park to say hello to Spaceman in the form of a pigeon.

Carl Yastrzemski  "dressed like Columbo. He had an old raincoat. Guys would trample it, throw it in the garbage," but Yaz would resurrect the Lazarus-like garment and wear it again and again. "He was a Long Island potato farmer," and Trojan Bill made a less-than-fond remark when reminded that Yaz was a Notre Dame guy.

"Carlton Fisk was an ornery Yankee farmer who spent his whole life pulling stumps out of granite," Spaceman said of the Cooperstown-bound former catcher. "He loved to fight. He hated <Yankee catcher Thurman> Munson. Pudge was tenacious, always getting in brawls. The only friends he had were pitchers, but he was a leader, much more than Yaz."

Fisk no doubt fueled the 1976 brawl in which the Yankees' Graig Nettles broke Lee's shoulder, changing him from "a soft thrower to a real soft thrower." That was one year after the classic 1975 World Series in which Lee left games two and seven with leads that the Boston bullpen could not hold against Cincinnati.

"I left game two leading 2-1 with a blister on my hand," he recalled. "No way I walk Cesar Geronimo otherwise. We were underdogs, but Luis Tiant pitched great."

Lee is well remembered for giving up a gargantuan home run to Tony Perez on an oh-so-hanging curve ball in the final game, but Boston still was ahead when he departed. How good was the Big Red Machine?

"They were one run better than us," says the Spaceman. "If we turn the double play, Perez leads off the next inning and it's not a two-run homer. Same thing this year with Offerman."

Still a Red Sox fan, Lee is responsible for putting forth the "Curse of the Bambino" as being responsible for the franchise's history of near-misses. Ask him about Ted Williams.

"Most cantankerous, nastiest guy I ever saw. Kind of like the West Coast version of Fisk. He tried to hit on my wife in 1991. I can't say I blame him. That probably caused his stroke."  

In 1979, Spaceman landed in hot water with Commissioner Bowie Kuhn when he told a writer he "likes to sprinkle marijuana on my pancakes" for breakfast. He thought Jim Bouton's Ball Four was clever, even though Mickey Mantle would not talk to Bouton for years after it came out.

"Ballplayers have big opinions of themselves and don't like to be criticized," he offers.

Spaceman says that he faced a lot of sentiment against California athletes, perhaps not realizing he is partly the reason that southpaws from the Golden State are considered oddballs.

"I'm much more cerebral than people realize," he says. This is true. Bill is highly intelligent, very well educated, and possesses a mind that inquires of a large number of subjects ranging from politics to religion to philosophy. He graduated from SC and picked up a degree from Mississippi State just for kicks.

He helped found the senior league, a professional association of ex-big leaguers, but the league folded and most of the players are now "in the Betty Ford Clinic," Lee deadpans. Lee is also fond of telling people that he once ventured across some border into Communist China without anybody knowing about it. The State Department would have had a nice time explaining that one. Spaceman also played a baseball exhibition in the old Soviet Union. 

Lee lives in Vermont and still plays over-50 hardball, leading his team to the national championship in Arizona last October. Spaceman hangs out with George Thorogood and Woody Harrelson, who is the executive producer of a Paramount film project based on Lee's caree . . . -if they can ever get the screenplay to read like real baseball-speak. He has four children (he was divorced from his first wife years ago). Michael, 29 is a graphic designer in Washington state. Andy, 24 is a Red Sox minor leaguer. Katie, 23 is a veterinarian's technician in Mississippi. Anna is five.

Bernie Carbo today? "He's sellin' religion some place," say Spaceman.

 

TOM KELLY

Radio Play-by-Play Announcer

1961 - 1988

 

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.

AN UNSUNG HERO

San Francisco Examiner, 2001

 

"Unsung." Not celebrated in song or story, not acclaimed.

Bob Troppmann may have been unsung, but Bear Bryant used to endorse his football clinics and said when he wanted to know what new techniques there were, he asked Bopb Troppmann..

The problem with people is that they do not do what they say they are going to do. If Troppmann, an ex-Marine with a heart of gold, told you he would do something, you could take it to the bank.

He was one of the best prep football coaches in California, building Redwood High of Marin County into a dynasty, but he lost his beloved job over generational differences.

There is a theory that says America always wins its wars because of prep football. The pageantry. The marching bands. The organized mayhem. Crowds, like countries, taking sides. 

Tropp was the master of this structured world. In 1970, when Robin Williams was a senior at Redwood and Vietnam was raging, a bunch of athletes got together and said they did not have to cut their hair.

You would have thought Sacco and Vanzetti were advocating anarchy in Larkspur!

Hair was not just a Broadway play at the time, but a Great Divide between old and young that cannot be comprehended by today’s generation. To make a sad story short, the school, which still enforced a uniform dress code, won a court case that said they had the right to ask players to cut their hair.

It was a Pyrhhic victory for Tropp. That means the cost of winning was greater than winning itself. He resigned on principle.

Instead of coaching for many more years during his prime, he faded into relative obscurity.

Today, his legacy lives on in the person of Pete Carroll. Carroll played for Troppmann at Redwood, and was inspired by him to enter coaching. As defensive coordinator for the 49ers in 1994, he helped theteam in their dynasty years. Head coaching stints with the Jets and Patriots followed. Now, he is in charge of what Yamamoto might call the "sleeping giant," the USC Trojans.

"He was born to coach," says Tropp. "Everybody loved him. Now, he’s had 15 years professional coaching experience, he’s been with Lou Holtz, and on the staff at Ohio State. He’s just a solid individual with enthusiasm, whose mastered mostly defensive skills. He’s always had his followers."

Tropp was asked about the Generation Gap of the 1960s and ‘70s.

“The world was changing,” he recalls. “I took on the hair issue and ultimately lost. In retrospect, a lot of people said I was right, but at the time there was high pressure over the issue. Marin was sports-crazy in those days. Housing was affordable and young families moved in.”

On Saturday, April 28, Lowell High School honored their first Hall of Fame class. Tropp graduated from Lowell, but was not included. He should have been. This seems to be the story of his life. The unsung hero. Unrecognized for the years of toil and good influence he provided young men, not just Pete Carroll, but kids, some troubled, who benefited from Tropp’s wise counsel.

Despite the Marine background and the shorthair drill instructor reputation “Coach T” was known for on the football field, he was a kindly soul in his dealings with students, many of them non-athletes, who attended his classes.

“I remember Robin Williams,” says Tropp. “He ran track. There was never a semblance of the comic we see today. I see kids 30 years later, I don’t recognize ‘em, but they all know and remember me. They’re doctors, lawyers, professionals. I see ‘em on the golf course. Kids were just great 30 years ago, but kids are the same every generation, basically.”

Tropp did coach the Redwood freshmen for a few seasons, and was head coach at College of Marin in the 1980s.

Tropp, who joined the Marines on the “day of infamy, December 7, 1941,” spent time in occupied Japan after the war, and then attended San Francisco State on the GI Bill. He recalls watching the San Francisco Clippers and the Oakland Giants of the old Pacific Coast Football League.

Guys like Bob Troppmann have a terrific influence on young lives, but they are too often unrecognized. Not on my watch they aren’t.

 

The

SEVENTIES

 

MIKE WALDEN

Radio Announcer

1966 - 1973

 

My first year announcing USC football was 1966. The opener was at Texas. There'd be press gatherings down there, what they called "smokers," where everybody got together. Well, John Wayne was down there making War Wagon with Bruce Cabot.

            "I'm gonna have some whisky," Wayne says to the bartender, who pours it, and Wayne just looks at it, shoves it back, and says, "I said WHISKEY!"

            Texas had a quarterback named "Super Bill" Bradley, who was supposed to be outstanding, but USC just controlled the ball and won, 10-6. Afterward, Marv Goux came in and said wasn't it great, "We didn't get anybody 'chipped off.' " Well, Wayne and Cabot were somewhere, and someone got in an argument the next morning and their make-up artist was dead of a heart attack. It was confusing. I don't know for sure what happened. Wayne and all of 'em were out drinking all night and came in at seven in the morning; maybe it was too much for this guy, but this make-up artist died.

            "Well," Cabot said, "We got somebody 'chipped off,' " after Goux said, "We didn't get anybody 'chipped off.' "

McKay was a real Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality, but I always respected him after the 1966 Notre Dame game. He lost 51-0. Notre Dame had an All-American name George Goedecke. He played only one or two games that year; he'd been injured but had earned All-American the previous year. On the last play of the game, Notre Dame sent him in and McKay told players not to block him, to see to it he didn't reinjure himself. After the game, and remember this was the first year of the Cultural Revolution, McKay told the writers that "a billion Chinese don't give a damn whether we won this game or not" to put it into perspective.

Still, USC played hard in the Rose Bowl. Unlike Ara Parseghian, who had laid down and gone for a tie to preserve his ranking in the 1966 "Game of the Century" tie with Michigan State, when USC scored at the end to make it 14-13 in favor of Purdue, he chose to go for two instead of a tie. USC failed, but that's What It Means to Be a Trojan.  

I announced the 1970 game at Birmingham's, when Sam "Bam" Cunningham and the integrated Trojans went down there, beat the segregated Alabama Crimson Tide, and pushed integration of the Southeastern Conference. Well, that game opened the floodgates to get blacks recruited in Southern schools. It was the first game of the 1970 season and there were about 80,000 people in the stands to watch Bear Bryant's Crimson Tide vs. John McKay's USC Trojans.

Now Corky McKay was good friends with Mary Harmon Bryant, and of course Bryant and McKay were very close, so the extent to which this game involved some kind of plan as it relates to integration seems very plausible to my way of thinking.

We did not realize it at the time, but we could look back and realize it was a big tipping point. It just wasn't a big thing at that time, about Alabama having no blacks. As the season ended, then on reflection, I realized the game was special, and maybe it focused on the fact that yes, there were problems down South and they needed to be addressed.

But regarding the Southern people, well football is so big there, they realized they can't get it done with white players only. Now, I don't make it out to be a big moral thing with them. In my view, I would just say it was football, they wanted to win, and they realized if they want to be at that level, "we can't let 'em <blacks> go."

 

Mike Walden is one of those guys who, when you hear him, you immediately recall his work. He has the perfect sportscaster's voice; deep and melodramatic. Mike was USC's radioman, describing the no-TV game from Birmingham to Southern California football fans on the evening of September 12, 1970. Prior to that, he had worked with Ray Scott on Green Bay Packers' broadcasts during the Vince Lombardi-Bart Starr era that was the 1960s, thus immortalizing his style in endless NFL highlight tapes. Aside from USC football, he also announced for cross-town rival UCLA, making him the only local announcer to broadcast for both schools. In 1979 he returned to USC, this time describing televised games.

 

CLARENCE DAVIS

Tailback

1969 - 70

 

I was born in Birmingham, Alabama, but my parents divorced. I moved to the Bronx, New York, with my mother, but then she moved out to Los Angeles when I was about thirteen. I had two sisters, Beverly and Marie. My mother basically moved around because she had a job waiting for her, and we were just with her.

After I got out to California, I saw that life in L.A. was different than in New York. It was just different, but I think people were friendlier in L.A. At Washington High, I was a shot-putter on the track team and a pulling guard on the football team. I was not a running back in high school, so nobody recruited me. After graduating in 1967, I went to East L.A. Junior College, and it was there that I became a running back. I was there two years and was recruited by Kansas and Arizona, and I took a trip to Washington; but I chose USC. O.J. Simpson recruited me. I'd broken his junior college records, but I was not really familiar with USC's great tradition or their record of great running backs.

I never thought about the pressure of replacing O.J. One guy asked me if I wanted to be called "Lemonade" instead of "the Juice." I just said, "I'm here to play ball, not replace a legend."

I still had family back in Birmingham when we played there in 1970. I really did not see all that much of the troubles down there. My father had a car, and I rode the bus; but you know, I did not see that.

I think Willie Brown was from Alabama, or had family there. When we played Alabama and walked on the field, all we heard was, “Bear meat.” . . . I looked at the guys and just kept going. We were there for the game. I was one of those players who take it seriously.

I remember Tody Smith. I called him Toto. . . . I was not aware he brought a gun. I wasn’t worried; I was just concentrating, not knowing about all this stuff about Tody and the gun. This is the first time I heard anything; I was unaware of this meeting that people have spoken of, in which the black players planned to bring guns to Legion Field and at the last minute didn't.

My uncle back then was Uncle Claude. He was married and had two daughters. I was close to them. My mother and my grandmother went back from L.A. to see that game, and Claude was very happy that I had a good game. Claude was a minister. As for the role of Christianity in that game, I’m not sure; I think it had a lot to do with it. Folks in the South did have a lot on their minds. As for me, I'm definitely a Christian and believe in the redemptive power of Christ. It's allowed me to be forgiving to those who've "trespassed" against me and allows me to believe they can be redeemed through forgiveness.

 I’m not familiar with Bear Bryant’s “this here’s a football player” story. I was blocking for Cunningham. I was on my face most of the time, blocking for Sam. I’d look up, and Sam would be running over two people. Sam and I were good friends. Sam had a good game. He was a young player . . . I looked at him as another talented player.

 

Clarence Davis had the daunting task of replacing the great Heisman Trophy tailback, O. J. Simpson, at USC in 1969. Clarence made All-American in his first season (1969); was All-Pacific-8 Conference in 1969 and '70; was a member of USC's unbeaten 1969 "Wild Bunch" (also known as the "Cardiac Kids") team that defeated Michigan in the Rose Bowl; and played in the famed 1970 win at Alabama credited with Tackling Segregation (the title of a CBS/College Sports TV documentary, 2006). After playing in the 1971 Senior Bowl, Davis was drafted by the Oakland Raiders and caught Kenny Stabler’s desperate, last-second toss into the end zone, despite having a "sea of hands" of the Miami Dolphins draped around him, to win a key 1974 AFC play-off game. He is one of seven Trojans who played for the 1976 world champion Raiders that defeated Minnesota (with Trojans Ron Yary and Steve Riley) in the Super Bowl at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Clarence is a legend in both the Trojan Nation and the Raider Nation.

 

SAM DICKERSON

Split End

1968 - 1970

 

I was born in Texas but grew up in Stockton, California, where I attended Franklin High. I was an end and defensive back at Franklin. John McKay recruited athletes, then found a position for us. I ended up being a receiver. He brought Bobby Chandler in and didn't know where to play him. He was a quarterback and a defensive back when they brought him in, and he ended up being a star wide receiver in the Rose Bowl and the NFL.

            Jimmy Jones and I were all right off the field. We played a lot of basketball, and as I say McKay recruited athletes, so we had a lot of two-sport players. This increased camaraderie and kept us together. As for Jones being a "breakthrough" black quarterback, I know Willie Wood was a quarterback and team captain at USC a decade or more earlier. Maybe Jones was the first "modern" black quarterback who was a drop-back passer, but if flushed out of the pocket he could run and show all-around athleticism.

            Jones had leadership qualities but the coaches had him wrapped up, so everything that came through him was from the coaches. He had confidence, and he possessed leadership ability. He had displayed leadership in high school and brought it on to USC, so if you mix that with all the others, who were winners the majority of their lives, it was cohesive, and we all executed what we were supposed to do.

            Jimmy did have on-field charisma, and you could see his leadership in basketball, the way he ran the offense. Jones kept his composure and had all the confidence in the world, and that carried over. 

Regarding that game in Birmingham, they, the other black athletes, had something to worry about but I didn't understand it. It wasn't that way in California, you grow and heard about segregation but you don't live it. After I grew up and became friends with people who lived in the South, you come to learn more. I learned about if I'd stayed in Texas, where I was born, I would have known that situation.

If I'd stayed in Texas, I would have been bused to the school my mom went to. I go to my mom's reunions and find out all the things that would have happened had I stayed in Texas.

As for the question of how much of a role Christianity played in the South changing, I look first to Reverend King. He had a great impact on the civil rights movement. At that time, you know, there were the Black Panthers, who wanted to fight fire with fire. Others saw the dividing line, now what King saw was "no violence."

As for the meeting in that room, when the black players threatened to bring guns to the Alabama game, I don't remember if it happened. I may have been there, but if so did I say "What do you think is gonna happen?" It doesn't stick out in my mind. I didn't think anybody would come and blow us up. I don't know, a lot of stuff may have happened, but I had no clue. The strangest thing was when we got on the bus to travel to the stadium, and on the way to the bus a rope was set up between spectators and us, a path to walk, and people on the other side were talking, "There's the Bear meat."

I don't remember Bear Bryant coming in to our locker room. I would do my best and try not to miss the bus. We'd have our prayer, now go back and party. I never heard about "this here's a football player" until I saw a video.

I played with Alabama quarterback Scott Hunter at Green Bay. He just said, "Hey, you guys came down here and cleaned our clocks." We talked about how that game went and we kicked their butts. We weren't really expecting a blowout 'cause we'd had a lot of comebacks in '69. That was the year I made a catch in the dark corner of the end zone to beat UCLA, 14-12.

 

Sam Dickerson is a USC legend, but don't mention his name in Westwood. In 1969, after a controversial pass interference call went against the Bruins, he caught a long pass in the very back corner of the end zone from Jimmy Jones to give the Trojans a 14-12 victory over UCLA. The game characterized SC's "Cardiac Kids" reputation. Dickerson played in the Senior Bowl and was drafted by the 49ers in 1971.

 

JEFF PRUGH

Sportswriter

 

I co-authored (with Dwight Chapin) The Wizard of Westwood, a book about John Wooden and UCLA basketball that addressed social questions revolving around college students in L.A. I also wrote The Herschel Walker Story, which deals at length with the civil rights aspect of sports in the South.

I was the L.A. Times’s beat writer for Trojan football and wrote the game story that appeared under Jim Murray’s column, “Hatred Shut Out as Alabama Finally Joins the Union,” on September 13, 1970. It was very clear in talking to Bryant that he understood the social implications of this game. He volunteered that he was bemoaning the fact that USC had Clarence Davis at tailback, that he was born in Birmingham, and he was one who got away. Davis was the symbolism that Bryant was trying to convey. If Davis had stayed in Alabama all those years, he’d’ve been at [the University of] Alabama.

The 1970 USC–Alabama game is a story that few people saw as significant at the time. Murray did, but neither of us really knew how significant it would be over the future years. It was easier for Jim, but both he and I sensed, without saying it, that Bryant was “crazy like a fox.” To play this game at Legion Field, as you know, with the history of racism in the South still very fresh and very much alive at that time. The only sport that had integrated was basketball, and that was very limited.

A little anecdote is, I reported this on the Monday follow-up, I was at the Holiday Inn in Birmingham, and men were sitting around the table, obviously football fans. I overhead both men say, “I bet Bear wishes he had some of them nigra boys on their team.” That was the new sentiment, the post-mortem, and it was revolutionary. It was obvious that things were going to change from that day forward, but I could not anticipate the pace and speed of change.

Later, I went to Atlanta to become our bureau chief there. I covered politics in the South, in Alabama and Atlanta. I interviewed George Wallace in his "comeback" and he pointed out that in California we had race riots yet were quite judgmental. I also revealed the fact that when Wallace made his famed "stand in the schoolhouse door" to block integration of the University of Alabama in 1963, he was posturing. He had made a deal with the Kennedy Administration ahead of time to allow the students to enroll, but was playing to the sentiments of his political base.

I also believe that Wayne Williams was railroaded as the serial child murderer in Atlanta, and wrote a book about it called The List. I discovered that racial politics had changed exponentially since the 1960s, and now blacks were in positions of power. Suddenly, they too could be corrupted, and like all human beings they were just as subject to the seductions of power.

 

Jeff Prugh was the L.A. Times’s beat writer for Trojan football and wrote the game story that appeared under Jim Murray’s column, “Hatred Shut Out as Alabama Finally Joins the Union,” on September 13, 1970. He is the author of The Wizard of Westwood, The Herschel Walker Story, and The List.

 

BRUCE ROLLINSON

Flanker

1971

 

I grew up in Garden Grove and came out of Mater Dei in 1967. I graduated from the University of Southern California in 1972.

Jim Fassel was a fellow Orange County player and teammate of mine at USC. He was from Anaheim High School. Jimmy and I were pretty close. We don't speak as frequently as I'd like. As you get older you get into a routine. Jimmy and I drove back and forth from Orange County to USC during the short period he was at SC. I knew his dad. He was the equipment man at Anaheim High School. We had a lot of time to talk to each other, then he moved on to Hawaii or Cal State Long Beach. He was talented but the system at that time was not suited to him or guys like us. Myself, I played in a system that was still freshman football. Jim transferred in from Fullerton J.C. Back then, USC had unlimited scholarships. There were nine million of us out there. The Hawaii phone number was posted on every phone at Marks Tower, almost like it was calling us out of there. For me personally, just like every guy in there, I had high hopes of being a starter, but I also realized education was important.

Jimmy could throw it in a system that was intact for him. I'm a big John McKay advocate. He was fair by me. It was tough at those times when you have limited opportunity. If you didn't take advantage of it you may never see the field again. That's the way it was. I quickly realize that fighting past the Bob Chandler's was an uphill battle. In my last year I thought, now I'll get a chance to play, and Lynn Swann's ahead of me. Are you kidding? I thought I'd get playing time but my name was erased from the depth chart. He was a tremendous player, but you asked about Jim. He could throw to certain guys. Each guy had to make his own decision. I'm not sure why he transferred, but obviously he made good moves, just like another teammate, Mike Holmgren. Holmgren coached Green Bay to a Super Bowl victory. Fassel coached the New York Giants to a Super Bowl.

There's been speculation that after John Huarte of Mater Dei and Jack Snow of St. Anthony's starred at Notre Dame, McKay - who was Catholic and grew up rooting for the Irish - decided to pre-empt defections and go after the Catholic schools in Southern California. Certainly players from Mater Dei, Bishop Amat, Loyola, Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, Crespi, and from the Bay Area; Serra, St. Francis, Riordan and later De La Salle, started coming to USC. Toby Page, Adrian Young, Pat Haden, J.K. McKay, Paul McDonald, Tim Rossovich, John Vella, Lynn Swann, and the Jordan kicking brothers, are just a few of these guys.

            That said, I don't know. Dick Coury was my coach at Mater Dei. I look at it this way; Coury goes to USC and Toby Page, I think seven of us from Mater Dei, all went with him. I was at Mater Dei and he coached me in 1965. From that team at Mater Dei the senior group had Ron Brown, Joe Obbema, Bill Smith, a center. We go to USC after our senior year in high school. Coury's at USC and now here comes Mike Morgan, Bruce Rollinson, Steve Pultorak; six guys and over the next two years maybe a few other guys. It seems that if what McKay intended, which was to get the best players from Mater Dei, which was loaded . . . he gets three more, he gets John Vella from Notre Dame High, he had an advantage at Bishop Amat with his kid there, so he certainly seemed to have locked up the "Catholic vote."

I don't choose to believe that McKay hired Coach Coury simply to get those players. The reason I say that is because it fascinates me to reflect back at all the things that went on, to look at his football staffs with Joe Gibbs, Hudson Houck, Wayne Fontes; he looked for the best football coaches available. Clair Van Horvath and Coury were the cutting edge high school coaches of that era. These coaches were motioning out of a single back to what is now an empty flat, running motion and play-action blasts, delays, stuff you didn't see in high school before. Prep football was primitive. Coaches were these big meaty tough guys, they didn't let you drink water, injuries were to be gutted out, but the guys I'm talking about were innovators.

 McKay just looked at Dick and said, "This guy knows football," and plus he was a heck of good person. If there was a plus, of players coming in with him, then that was just a win-win situation. Back then obviously a high school guy, they'd look at a high school guy, but he's not moving straight into the University and play because freshmen were ineligible. SC's rolling by then. I was heavily recruited by other Pacific-8 schools. Oregon came at me with a full effort, but my SC trip was simple. They'd show you the national championship ring from 1962 or 1967, and they'd say:

Do you want one of these?

Do you want to play in the Rose Bowl?

Do you want to play against UCLA and at Notre Dame every two years?

Do you want to play in front of 90,000 fans?

Who didn't? When Pete Carroll got there things were changed and he had to build it back to where it was. He did it in large measure with two of my all-time best players, Matt Leinart and Matt Grootegoed. Leinart's best performance was the 2000 game against De La Salle of Concord in front of some 30 or 40,000 fans at Edison International Field of Anaheim, the "Big A."

There are people who say it was the best high school football game ever played. De La Salle had the longest winning streak of all time, but critics claimed they did not play the best schedule. To their credit they started playing us, Long Beach Poly, all the best teams from around the nation. A lot of these games are still shown on Fox Sports cable. De La Salle had a huge lead but Matt "went passing league" and drove us back, but we missed at the end and De La Salle went on to extend their winning streak three or four more years, but that game helped separate Matt from the rest of the pack and propelled him to the next level.

 

After John Huarte of Santa Ana Mater Dei High School, and Jack Snow of Long Beach St. Anthony's became stars at Notre Dame, USC started to stem the tide of great Catholic players from the Los Angeles area going to Notre Dame. John McKay hired Mater Dei Coach Dick Coury, and players like Mater Dei's Bruce Rollinson followed. Rollinson never starred at Troy, but as Mater Dei's longtime football coach, he built a national power and must be considered one of the five greatest prep coaches who ever lived. Numerous Monarchs have starred at Troy, amongst them Matt Leinart and Matt Grootegoed.

 

BUD 'THE STEAMER" FURILLO

Sportswriter/broadcaster

 

I'll tell you a story about USC. I once took a bus and two streetcars to see a Howard Jones practice in 1940. I lived in Monterey Park. A bus and two streetcars.

            I was with Sam Cunningham last year when they introduced me in the USC Hall of Fame. I was so sick with allergies. I saw Sam at the peristyle end of the Coliseum.

            John Papadakis had his best game against Joe Theismann in that rainy Notre Dame game. His grandfather, Tom, and I were great buddies. He's got a great Greek restaurant down there in Pedro.

            The last time I saw John McKay in the desert, he said, "You're a part of Trojan history." Wow!

            Bill "Spaceman" Lee was so funny and "Tom Terrific" Seaver was "the noblest baseball Trojan of them all." I said that about him when I interviewed him on KABC years ago.

I came out to the game at Birmingham in 1970. The reason for this game was Bryant wanted those people to know it was time to integrate. I believe he knew he'd lose and wanted that game to pave the way to change.

That Alabama game was a tipping point; that was it, no question, after that game it was no longer acceptable to prevent integration, and this game did it.

Martin Luther King may be the greatest American, but that football game sure as hell turned Alabama around. Regarding the political fallout since then, well, there's not many "blue states." California and the Northeast. I like to think those liberal bastions are also homes of a lot of intelligence. I can't speak for the "red states." As you know, I'm the damnedest liberal you've ever known. But W is the President, and he's my President.

The thing I hated is Democrats hating Bush. The day after the election I stopped hating Bush, he's my President. It’s that simple, to think otherwise is almost to be a traitor. I hate the war, I'm ashamed of our being there, I cry for our kids coming back in bags.

I believe the South wanted to do the right thing, but there sure were a lot of holdouts for a long time, but Jeez. I'm so anti-religion, maybe I better pass on this, I don't think religion had a damn thing to do with it. I think Martin Luther King was the best American we ever had, but not because of religion.

The key, and you are right on, was that the Alabama faithful looked at McKay and knew that he had Bear's respect, it had to carry a lot of weight. They just said, "If it's good enough for the Bear, well it's good enough for us."

Let's get to what I said, I heard different takes on what Alabama assistant coach Jerry Claiborne said, but it was something like, "Sam did more in an hour than has been done in the last hundred years." He said it, and I said it, but I'm foggy on it.

Still, Bryant was not the kind of guy to put players on a stool, but the reason for that game was to show those f-----s down there what was going on in football and that it was time to change. I wanna emphasize, McKay eased up.

The greatest football game ever played was USC 55, Notre Dame 24 in 1974. I announced that game for a delayed broadcast on Sunday afternoons with Ray Scott, who was the longtime voice of the Packers. That game is available on the Internet and is a real legend.

I said it then and I still say it now: "If America wants to clean up the drug problem, just have them watch this game. They'll get so high they'll never wanna do drugs again!"

Listen to what Ray and I are saying at the end of the game; the look of amazement on the faces of fans, the cheerleaders going from downcast to ecstatic. It was like a religious experience. Ray said, and this guy saw Lombardi's Packers, that he'd never seen another game like it.

           

Bud Furillo is truly one of the all-time greats. A native of the Midwest, he came to Los Angeles prior to World War II, and his enthusiastic writings helped put USC, and L.A. sports in general, on the map. Bud was the sports editor at the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and later was a radio personality on KABC's Dodger Talk. Furillo is a throwback to a time when writers were friends with the players and coaches, not rivals or nuisances. He is singularly responsible for making Bo Belinsky of the Angels a cause celebre. He was also an unabashed fan of the University of Southern California and never cared who knew it. Bud was elected to the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005 and conducted this interview prior to his 2006 passing.

MR. SMITH GOES TO BUCHAREST

StreetZebra, 1999

 

In 1972, a mild-mannered young man from Pasadena High and USC faced a Cold War Dracula on his Rumanian turf. Good vs. evil ensued. Good won.

 

The American gentleman

The U.S. was mired in Southeast Asia in 1972, and the Communist's were feeling pretty good about themselves.

Stan Smith was a typical Southern Californian. Tall, handsome and blonde, he was a good basketball player at Pasadena High School before spearheading USC's tennis team to national championships in 1966, '67 and '68.

"Stan was the kind of guy who'd play hurt," recalled legendary USC tennis coach George Toley. "That's the kind of guy he was. I never had a problem with him."

Smith did some Army duty, went on to win Wimbledon, and attain a world number one ranking.

 

…"thieving linesmen…from…the local eye bank…"

The Americans were used to playing it straight, fair and square, on the up and up, because . . . because that is the way Americans do things. For the most part. The East Bloc, on the other hand, had learned that lying, cheating and propaganda was good business. The Rumanians, however, were led by two of the best players in the world at that time: Transylvania's Ion "Dracula" Tiriac, and the recent winner of the U.S. Open, Ilie "Nasty" Nastase.

Some Left wing apologists have tried to say that there was Communism, and then there was real Communism. Western journalists were duped into calling Bucharest a "Balkanized Paris" featuring the works of Oscar Wilde and Ernest Hemingway. The horrors of the Ceausescu regime were not yet fully revealed.

Unsmiling secret police "translators" accompanied the Americans everywhere, toting heavy weapons.  The atmosphere at the Progresul Sports Club was less than congenial.

             In the October 23, 1972 edition of Sports Illustrated, Curry Kirkpatrick wrote "the Rumanians, lying in wait on their home grounds with a bunch of thieving linesmen they must have recruited from the donor list at the local eye bank," were waiting for the Americans. Like the Soviet paratrooper unit that kidnaps Larry Harvey and Frank Sinatra in The Manchurian Candidate. What ensued was a lion's den, a snake pit, mob mentality.

John Frankenheimer should have directed it.

"The red clay surface was not to our advantage," said Smith. "We were hard court guys. What really made it tough was the Rumanians watered down the clay to slow us down. The balls got heavy."

"We should be 10-1 favorite," Nastase said.

"The U.S. players not like the soft stuff," said Tiriac. "Wait till they see ours. Godzilla <Smith>, he feel like he serving on the beach."

"The Davis Cup Committee forfeited the site of the finals to Romania for money," recalls Toley. "Stan would throw the ball up and the crowd would yell `fault.' Nastase and Tiriac would egg the people on like crazy, and if the ball hit anywhere close to the line the call went against Stan. The line judges were all for the Rumanians. Stan felt that Nastase and Tiriac did all they could to cheat."

SoCal Stan was more comfortable at the "beach" than Tiriac may have thought. After Smith crushed Nastase in the opening singles, Nasty fell apart in the crucial doubles against former Trojan Eric Van Dillen and Smith (captain Dennis Ralston had also played at SC). Smith dispatched Tiriac on the final day.

Tiriac stalled, glared at umpires, sat down, refused to play, laughed, rested, fumed, delayed, and even played some marvelous tennis. He was a master of guile and deceit, playing the crowd like Hitler at Nuremberg while they chanted "TIR-I-AC," "TIR-I-AC," all the while hurling epithets at the referee. Tiriac tossed four-letter bombs at him, too. At one point he grabbed and pushed him. He was, as he loved to say of himself, "Dracula . . . ready to bite."

Bud Collins wrote that what was needed to defeat him was "a cross, not a racket." Only the phalanx of "translators" prevented the "fans" from attacking the Americans when they taunted Tiriac for his antics.

Smith and Van Dillen refused to be rattled. At one point, Nasty walked to the stands to confront an American who loudly applauded Rumanian errors.

"Bitch," Nastase called him. "I pay you five dollars. You get out." By the end of the Americans' three-set victory, Nastase refused to wait for Tiriac as the teams changed courts.

Smith defeated Tiriac (4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 2-6, 6-0), despite being stripped clean of four different points by the line judges.

"Tiriac was the issue," said Smith. "I beat Nastase pretty easily in the first match. Against Tiriac, the referee said he wouldn't change calls. It was an alarming atmosphere, the referee was totally intimidated, not so much by the crowd but by Tiriac stoking them on, and by the soldiers' lining the court.

"I don't know how I persevered. I knew I just had to gut it out, and as the match went on the crowd made me mad, and then I was determined to win. It was a great challenge."

Good vs. evil always is.

 

DAVE LEVY

Assistant Coach

1960 - 1975

 

I really can't say I have a definitive answer from John McKay's perspective, but it seems to me one day he said we'd scheduled a game with Bear Bryant to open the 1970 season. He was associated with Bryant, beginning early in 1963 at a football clinic.

What I remember was Bryant coming in to our locker room. He spoke to our team. Now maybe I'm in the coach's dressing room, but after he congratulated us and so on, he asked Coach for permission to take Sam Cunningham. I know it happened, because I know I just looked at it and said, "I'll be damned." Add to that the euphoria of winning the game, but after that you just are concentrating on getting dressed and getting out of there.

I do remember a mostly black crowd around our team bus, but I didn't personally think it so unusual. Our black players had relatives and friends in the area, and obviously they'd not be congregated around the Alabama bus, so it's not really surprising that they'd be in the parking lot, but I don't recall people holding Bibles.

I got dressed and got on the bus. The big thing before the game in the papers was that "blacks are going down to Alabama" and so on, but I don't remember being concerned. There were conversations about what hotel we'd be in, and their security, but Bear would make sure there were no riots, so I had no concerns.

That said, I don't doubt the gun story. Maybe somebody said it or we got somebody with guns, or something, but not everybody was "packing heat."

Society in 1965, as campuses went, SC was in the top one percentile of least problems. It's a private, small university, I think we had less than 10,000 undergrads. Over time, guys would grow their hair, they'd wear those medallions, campus dress was changing. In 1960 we still had a dress code. The dean would see a student in a tank top and send him back to the dorm to get a shirt. It was nothing like Berkeley.

SC was a conservative campus. The only story I can think of concerned Marv Goux. Some students arranged for a speaker named "Brother Lenny," a peripatetic type guy, a beatnik I suppose, to speak at a sociology class. The class got canceled, I don’t know if the professor heard about this guy and didn’t want him in the class. So he goes to Tommy Trojan. Well, there's some kind of construction going on in the area, so there's a mound of dirt. Brother Lenny got up to the top of this mound and gathered a crowd, a few hundred maybe. He goes on for about 15 minutes. Marv and I were in McKay's office looking out at this.

Goux said, "Look at that son of a b---h." He was a real patriot, his father had died in the Battle of the Bulge. McKay says, "Let’s forget that, I'll see you after lunch." So that was the last I thought about it until John McKay called me in and said, apparently Marv went up and pushed his way through the crowd to Lenny, and said, "Why don't you get you’re a-s out of here." Some are cheering Marv and others are calling him a Fascist.

The school president told McKay, "You gotta call Marv in."

"Now Marv, you know me and I feel like you do, but you've got two choices: apologize or refuse." Marv says, "Let me think about it."

The next day he says, "I can't apologize." McKay told the president, I can't swear on it but I think it was Dr. Norman Topping, and he just said, "Good."

That whole week, this whole thing is getting into the papers, first the Daily Trojan and then the L.A. Times, with people writing in, some supporting him, some not, all various opinions.

In the last 35 years, I recall in my career two specific conversations with athletes about race. One was at Long Beach Poly, I remember talking to Willie Brown, who came to USC, and another halfback at Poly. I said, you gotta use these athletics to get yourself out and make something for yourselves. We talked prejudice and what they told me caught me by surprise, but as I talked they agreed to some degree that what I was telling them was true.

The next was Mike Garrett. I was the backfield coach. He's an intelligent guy, very intense. He was trying to get an apartment in Pasadena, which at that time I think had no blacks <it was the hometown of Jackie Robinson>. We talked about prejudice, me saying to him if we can't allow people to change, nothing's going to change, that each generation's raised with certain social mores, but if they're wrong they have to be able to change. It was not an argument, just a good discussion.

We have to allow people to change. I saw alumni attitudes change. You could see it when you got exposure to different kinds of personalities, as you saw people's performance, it helped mores.

We hired Willie Brown as our first black coach. John McKay liked to get a guy we've had, so he says, "How 'bout Willie Brown?" I think he said, "I'll do these things before we're forced to." But he never, ever said, or asked, how many black guys are we starting?

            He was attuned to anything coming out of Stanford. He loved to beat Stanford by 2,000 points, it was just a thing he had for them because he thought they were hypocrites. That was just one way he found to get ready for Stanford. McKay could get that game face on in a hurry now, especially if the Stanford hecklers were calling him John. Stanford was the perfect venue for these hecklers as we were making the gauntlet into the stadium.

 

Dave Levy had played at UCLA, but was an assistant on John McKay's staff at Southern California every year McKay was at USC (1960-75). He was long expected to succeed McKay, but many were surprised that John Robinson was chosen instead, ostensibly because he was "telegenic."

 

DAVE BROWN

Center

1970 - 1972

 

That 1970 Alabama game was my first game - not as a team leader, but God was good to me. . . . I was wide-eyed, a rookie getting off the plane. I’d never, ever even been to the South; this was the first time I ever traveled. But I was up on current events, I knew about the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King. They greet us with the Million-Dollar Band, and I’d never seen anything like that in my life. People were surrounding us, and it was a real big deal that Southern Cal had come to play Alabama. My eyes were wide, and I was thinking, This is amazing. I just didn’t realize that people felt that highly of football in the South. In Southern California, it’s different.

Bill Holland, an African-American from Los Angeles High School and a super guy, he was hanging with me most of this time. I remember distinctly seeing this one place, it looked like an old factory or warehouse, with dilapidated buildings. I looked out there, and I said, “That’s amazing.” All these black high school students were doing band drills in the yard. This school looks horrible, and Holland just says, “This is the way it is here.”

Segregation du jour, that’s the way it was. Integration was not really happening yet. As the bus rolled down the road, . . . [I] saw the marked difference in socioeconomics of each neighborhood, and all the while I’m thinking, This is amazing. It was shocking.

Later, standing in the hotel with Bill, he takes me to a wing of the lobby, and this little kid comes by asking for autographs. We’ve all got USC blazers on; this is the Holiday Inn, Birmingham. This little kid mixed into the group. He’s maybe five or six, and he turns to his mother and says, “Gee, Mommy, they sure have a lot of n—s on that team.”

I turned to Bill, and I asked him, “Hey, how are you holding up?”

He says, “Yeah, you know, I face that in L.A. That’s typical.”

That opened my eyes. I come from a white community in L.A. and I’d not realized that before. I’m twenty years old, and this is my education.

My Christian influence on that [‘70] team was, I’m not a leader at that point. People knew it about me, and I tried to act like it. Guys were older and did not hold those values, so I was not mainstream; but God was faithful to me, because by 1972 we had a really good core of men on that team, guys with good values, a lot of Christians. Sam Cunningham was a Christian. We Christians started fellowships when we were seniors. We said, “

I went over to Coach McKay, who was often unapproachable. Sometimes we feared him. I said to him that we always pray before games, so I asked if he will let us pray after the game. So that night we prayed and were thankful. The team took off and went 12–0; it was the most fantastic team ever. I coached 26 years in high school and junior college, and I’ve never seen a team like that. I’ve never seen such camaraderie and unity.

That year was from God. Others would just say it was a great team, but as a coach I know you’ve gotta have more than just great talent, you need to overachieve; and that’s what God’s granted you. That team had it.

I got involved in Athletes in Action and the FCA. I lifted weights with a guy who was with Athletes in Action in the late ‘60s, so I invited him to come to our team in ‘72. McKay said he wouldn’t mind if the guy puts on a demonstration, as long as it’s voluntary. . . . We had a good time up there; a lot of guys prayed and accepted Christ that day—a lot of guys, maybe 80 percent.

Sam Cunningham is a super guy, a really humble, very friendly man, sensitive to others. He was really team oriented. He could have gone to another program with great statistics instead of being a blocking fullback, not carry much more than seven, eight times games a game. In another program he’d have carried twenty times a game, but he just wanted to win. He started coming to AIA and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He’s very moral. I rarely heard him swear.

I never thought that much about it, to be honest with you. At USC we had whites, blacks, a few Jews, Latinos; I never thought about it. Here we played an all white team, which was strange in college. I’m thinking as I looked at Alabama, How do these guys think they can compete like that? This game’s gonna pass ‘em by. The next year they had an outside linebacker named John Mitchell, who was black, and a defensive end who was black; and they won that game. They realized integrating was their way out.

As far as our program getting back to where we had been, our tipping point was the Notre Dame game in 1971. We started our fellowship around that time, and we got serious. We were a big underdog back there and we beat ‘em 28–14. We never lost to them at USC after that.

 

Dave Brown was a lineman at USC on the 1970 team that played at Birmingham, and the 1972 national champions, generally thought to be the best college team in history.  He won the Howard Jones/Football Alumni Club award for playing the most minutes, was selected to the College All-Star Game and the Coaches All-America Game his senior year. He played in the World Football League. Brown teaches history and coaches football at San Clemente (California) High School.

 

CLIFF CULBREATH

Offensive Guard

1972

 

I'm from San Bernardino and was recruited by quite a few schools: UCLA, Stanford, Notre Dame, Minnesota, both Arizona schools (ASU and U. of A.), Colorado and Colorado State. I took recruiting trips to most of them. I didn't go to Notre Dame.

I was part of the program from 1968, my freshman year which was O.J.'s senior year, to 1973. We had one guy from Texas who was spotted picking daisies at practice, and even though he was a big recruit he got sent home on the spot. Tody Smith was also from Texas. He was crazy and tough. I was terrified of Greg Slough.

We had a linebacker or defensive end who was a freshman or sophomore, a guy named Scott Weber from Fresno or Modesto, which we'd call the "Grapevine" back then because that was the road you took to get to the San Joaquin Valley.

I remember Slough was this linebacker and he had been in the service. He was the oldest guy on the team and had been a paratrooper or a Green Beret, and Slough made a mistake and Marv Goux came unglued. He was pissed, and he starts yelling at Slough. Slough looked at him like, "If you hit me, old man, I’ll kill you." Goux looks at Slough. This might be the only guy who ever intimidated Marv Goux. Slough's killed V.C., he's not scared of Marv Goux. Slough's had all this special training and combat or something, and he gives the impression that if you mess with him you're dead. Goux recognizes the situation, so he turned and punched Weber in the head and broke his finger. He was intimidated by Slough, a Green Beret who'd been to Vietnam and was hard to intimidate.

After I got out of school, I loved the old 502 Club. Tony Caravalho and I would sit around and tell war stories. I got my master's in social work and graduated from USC with a master's degree in 1975. I worked in Watts when I was hired as a social worker in a substance abuse program. I went to so many events at the L.A. registration center for disability, which was funded by the state, and I'd come in and hang with the guys, but mainly the '80s are a blur, but we had a lot of fun.

Everybody always asks me about O.J. In 1968 I had some experiences with O.J. I guess the statute of limitations applies, so it's okay to talk about O.J. O.J. was a senior when I was a freshman. He was a pretty funny guy and would come out to SC after playing the season in Buffalo, to talk with the guys and play basketball. He'd come out to the practice field. One time, he came to my apartment. I was coming out of Heritage Hall. He'd signed a contract with Chevrolet. His then-wife Marguerite had a new car, a Chevrolet. His mother has one of his cars, too. He pulls up and asks me do I want a ride home, so he took me back to my apartment. This is maybe 1970 or '71 and I'm living with this girl who became my first wife. (I look at marriage like a game of baseball. You don’t want a third strike, so I've avoided a third marriage. I've had two divorces.)

Claudette lived with me at the time. O.J. came upstairs. Claudette's making chocolate chip cookies. Before every home game the coaches would take us to MGM for a special screening of movies. A lot of guys would have their girlfriends bake cookies with "green stuff" in it. Claudette makes these cookies, she makes some but she stayed in the kitchen. She couldn't stand O.J. The first time she met him he was dancing with his shadow on the wall. As he leaves the kitchen, O.J.'s there, she gives him half a dozen cookies.

Now Marguerite is driving O.J.'s Corvette. It's a month later. Tody Smith gives this party at his place off of Ellendale. I go to Tody's party and O.J., who had a job as an ABC commentator, had flown from San Francisco for the East-West Shrine Game. He was the commentator, and came to the party with Marguerite at this time.

When O.J. came down to the party, the place was packed and women would come up to him all the time. This chick's asking him for a New Year's Eve kiss. Marguerite is in the living room and he's standing there with Marguerite. He says, "I want you to meet Cliff Culbreath from San Berdoo," and she says, "Oh you’re the one who gave him that dope." I felt like a dog and crawled out of there with my tail between my legs. I just said, "Very nice to meet you," and walked away. O.J. had come back so stoned from those cookies with the "green stuff" in 'em that he left the cookies behind the seat in his car. Marguerite had found 'em and he just said, "Cliff Culbreath gave 'em to me." She was very possessive and he was very possessive of her, too. Most guys on the team would not even talk to her, they didn't want to anger O.J.

O.J. tells me this story, at the time he was there, about he and Bubba Smith and this guy named Bill Copeland, a tight end at UCLA. He later died of a heart attack at a young age. He'd tried for the NFL and not made it, and he helped at some college and worked at the racetrack. He was a member of this group but dropped dead of a heart attack. He was a good friend of O.J.'s. O.J. says he and Bubba and Copeland are going to the Hollywood hills to see these two Playboy bunnies. He told me the month they were in Playboy. O.J. said, "I didn’t do anything," but Bubba and Copeland were with these two chicks and . . . well, use your imagination.

Charlie Weaver was probably the craziest guy I ever met at USC. I looked him but immediately did not like him. At one point he tried to hit on my girl. Charlie came from Arizona Western J.C. and in the fall we would do registration in the old gym, where the "dungeon" was. Upstairs they had all these stations. I had taken Spanish in high school for two years and wanted to sign up for Spanish. They told me I'd have to take a test the next day at seven A.M. to know whether I was qualified for the class. I didn't wanna do that. I had football and double-days.

 Charlie was there. He says, "Cliff, it says if you take a language you never had before, you just go to the first level." Charlie says he never took Portuguese, so we both sign up for this class, twice a week at night, six to nine or seven to nine or something. There's five people in the class; Charlie, me and three people from Buenos Aires. Neither he nor I could speak Portuguese. He couldn't sign his name. He'd put an "X" on the dotted line. I took Portuguese two years because of him.

Charlie and Tody Smith, I'm not sure they hung out that much. Tody roomed with this freshman named Dan McGinley. He became a Hells Angel. He dropped out of SC. They lived at Marks Tower. McGinley threw something out of the window and it landed by some guy. This guy came up and Tody went berserk. He hung this cat out the window by his feet. His parents were gonna sue SC but it was McGinley who instigated the whole problem. There was a lot of weird stiff, a lot of craziness.

When we played on the road we'd go to a movie theatre on Friday night. In 1969 Easy Rider kicked out, and always there's this kind of racial thing going on, and it came to a head when the coaches took us to see Easy Rider. There's a lot of racial stuff in that movie, and afterwards the blacks and the whites split up, and McKay was just pissed. It was like, "Don't let 'em see that crap anymore," so another time we see a cowboys 'n' Indians movie, maybe John Wayne, which seemed safe to McKay and Goux, but afterwards there's a big argument. The whites thought the cowboys were heroes for killing the Indians, but the blacks sympathized with the Indians. Sam Dickerson tells this story. Pete Carroll is the kind of guy you can talk to as a player. Not that McKay was not a great coach, but you couldn't talk to him about this kind of stuff.

My son's at Princeton. He's the starting running back. It's a real low-key, family atmosphere there, not all this hype and glory. I miss Dave Brown. I always respected him and his Christian faith, which helped bring that team together after we had these race issues. I wanna work it out so we see each other at re-unions. I’ll be the best-looking Trojan there.

 

Cliff Culbreath was involved in the USC football program beginning in 1968, graduating in 1973, a period spanning the careers of O.J. Simpson and Anthony Davis. He was a member of the 1972 national champions, widely considered to be the best team in college football history. He works for the National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences in the Washington, D.C. area, as their director of communications.

 

 

CHARLES "TREE" YOUNG

Tight End

1970 - 1972

 

Sam Cunningham’s ability to communicate with blacks, whites, Hispanics on our team was invaluable. He was more than a guy who had ability. Rod McNeill grew up in an all-white environment. I grew up in an all-black one in Fresno. Because my high school coach was Greek, I perceive this about them: . . . they think they’re that much more civilized.

My high school coach would talk about Greek history, and how he was an educator; he mapped out everything, in being an educator, through the superiority of the Greeks. Now John Papadakis is Greek. John had a flair of arrogance.

So all these people are together, and Sam Cunningham is from Santa Barbara, and he knew everybody from growing up; white, black, Hispanic. He brought that team together.

Let me put this Biblically: “Pride goes before the fall.” The history of antiquity, from the standpoint of any great team or nation, falls from within, not from without. They fall from within.

This is how we failed. We were great individuals, but we didn’t come together as a unit until we set aside our personal differences. You mention [offensive lineman] Allan Graf; on each team, there are seven guys who are leaders, and those seven have at least three who follow or associate with them. If [those seven] don’t come together, those 28 don’t come together. Then the 62 don’t come together. That was our problem: we were a divided team.

We only came together on the field, that’s where Sam came in. Sam was much more than a football player or an ambassador. He was more than “Bam.” He was a diplomat extraordinaire. I learned a great deal from Sam. There was a group of us called the “Big Five.” . . . They came together, all of the extreme talent, and brought it to the University of Southern California. All these different backgrounds.

An example: during that time, if the police stopped me, I’d question the cops and they’d always gave me a ticket. So Sam gets stopped by an officer. He gave this officer only graciousness seasoned with wisdom. When it was through, this officer let him go. The lesson: . . . you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

I believe the best [quarterbacks] have confidence and a touch of arrogance. Jimmy Jones and [Mike] Rae had that. The white guys would console Mike and say he should be playing. The blacks would go with Jimmy. Some blacks raised in a white environment didn’t know what to think. All that season <1970> was peppered with all that. Jimmy and Mike, then Sam and Charlie Evans at the running back position, as you found out. Evans still holds some of that after 35 years. Then there were other positions: Marv Montgomery, a black lineman; tight end Gerry Mullins, and myself.

But on the bus from the airport to the hotel in Birmingham. . . people who grew up in the South had different perspectives. Fresno tends to be conservative, but I’m an athlete so I’m not treated like other blacks. I was tolerated, like I was gray, because I had economic value. But driving in that bus, I’m looking at blacks in shanty homes, we call “shotgun” homes. It’s like looking back in time. Tody Smith had a briefcase, and in it, I don’t know if it was a .38 or what, but it was a gun. I asked, “Why do you carry a gun?” He said he grew up in the South and said, “Anything can happen down here.”

There was an agreement between Bear Bryant and John McKay. Bear gave his word we’d have protection. Bear was the man down there, and in most cases they’d listen to him. He could get things done.

The KKK was still prevalent. A lot of those guys were part of that, if Bryant had been in ‘Bama all that time it’s reasonable to think he had an association with that. They’d had every prominent person involved in that organization. But he was trying to get something done. He used McKay. They used each other.

There was no security in the stands. Most of the time, when assassinations are orchestrated; the thing is the security is usually involved in it. If you truly look at history, when Presidents are assassinated, people in the cabinet or in the government had something to do with it. Even John Wilkes Booth had government co-conspirators. Caesar was killed by people in his own party. The whole time I saw Hank Aaron chasing Babe Ruth’s record in Atlanta in the early ‘70s, this was probably on his mind.

My overall philosophy is that God rules in the affairs of man. Even in the time of John Papadakis’s Greek history, the Romans, the Babylonians, the Egyptians; God rules the affairs of men. Look at this country, our Founders came to this country, which was started by King George of England and the King of Spain, Magellan’s voyage. During that time they needed workers to work on things. We came over as indentured servants, some of us as slaves. There were opportunities to bring more slaves; and in order to justify it, they had to dehumanize us. A lot of people came over for religious freedom; others, to make money; some were outlaws. Kings would send undesirables out here to populate the new land and bring back a fortune. It was a business deal, and because of this they enslaved us. But during that process, some people believed it was wrong. They became abolitionists. Most of them were God-fearing people, and they set out to change all of this.

Going back now to its effect on this 1970 game between USC and Alabama, which we’re talking about. The question is, so, is there a divine order in which God intervenes? Yes. If you’re asking am I religious, do I believe in God? Yes. I do understand that God rules in the affairs of man. No matter how strong or brilliant you are, or how much money there is in your bank, you are nothing without God!

This contest was not a football game. It was staged as a football game in order so that change could be made. It was a paradigm shift, not a revolution. Bear was a part of that; he instigated that. I’m not foolish enough to believe that all whites hated blacks or all blacks hated all whites. It was a system. Bryant was in this system. What did I say about empires? Change comes from within. If the devil created the system, then God infiltrated Bear Bryant into that system to do His good work! God used Bear Bryant, whether he was a willing [participant] or knew what was going on, it does not matter. God used Sam; he got his chance and did what Sam’s going to do.

       In the history of time, God always raises a person, an individual whose work needs to be done. Now we’re back to Birmingham, where all that philosophy was being unfolded on the playing field of time. Understanding culture at that time, the way education was being disseminated; all of that to be disproven was a shock to people in that stadium, listening on the airwaves or who saw it on TV. On the other side, it was a source of great jubilation for the lowly janitor or maid or guy selling programs, this team from out West coming out with huge, fast African-American vessels of God.

 

The term legend gets thrown around a lot, but at USC many players are worthy of the title. Thus was Charles Young, a sophomore in 1970 and a unanimous 1972 All-American on the “greatest ever” national champions. Selected to the 1972 Playboy Pre-Season All-American team, he was first team All-Pac-8 and was selected for the Hula Bowl  and Coaches All-America Game. Tree is a member of both the USC and National Football Foundation College Halls of Fame. The sixth pick of the 1973 draft by Philadelphia, he played for the Eagles (1973-76), the Los Angeles Rams (1977-79), the San Francisco 49ers (1980-82) and the Seattle Seahawks (1983-85). He played for the Rams (against Trojan Lynn Swann and Pittsburgh) in the 1980 Super Bowl (at the Rose Bowl) and was with the world champion 49ers when they beat Cincinnati (and Trojan Anthony Munoz) in the 1982 Super Bowl. His daughters Candace, Cerenity and Chanel ("Charle's Angels") all ran track for the Trojans.

 

 

ANTHONY "A.D." DAVIS

Tailback

1972 - 1974

 

For me, the Trojan football tradition experience was very interesting. Coming from the San Fernando Valley, as a young, brash student athlete, I found USC to be a new frontier.  A frontier of social causes and political causes; it was just a flat out crossroads of what was going on in the United States during that time period. Being recruited to USC in 1970-1971, I had to make a decision of which university to attend where I could hone my athletic skills as well as further my education. I could have easily opted to take the money and sidestep my education when straight out of high school the Baltimore Orioles drafted me professionally. However, I decided staying on the West Coast would be more beneficial.  I chose to go to USC, where I would be able to play both football and baseball. 

I was a very fortunate athlete at that time. Now, this might sound overconfident of me to say, but I believe I played during the greatest era of the school’s history. I only say this because the school was winning titles in all sorts of sports: swimming, golf, baseball, football, we even had a great basketball program. And I got to play for two legendary coaches, John McKay and Rod Dedeaux. Of course, John McKay won four national titles during his tenure, and I was lucky enough to be on two of those teams. The 1972 national football title team has been called the greatest team of the century. I was also very fortunate to play for Rod, who won 11 national titles. In the 1970s he had a five-year run going, and I was blessed enough to be on two of those winning teams. 

My fondest memories as a football athlete are, of course, the 1972 game against Notre Dame, in which I scored six touchdowns, as well as the 1974 game, which is called the greatest comeback in collegiate history. We came back from 24-0, to win it 55-24. In baseball, I played with some pretty awesome guys like, Fred Lynn, Rich Dauer, Roy Smalley, Ed Putnam, Marvin Cobb, and Pete Redfern. My fondest baseball memory is a division playoff game we played against California State Los Angeles. I hit two home runs that game, switch-hitting, and since we were battling to go to the NCAA tournament, if I didn’t hit those runs, well, then we weren’t going. I can say, that was my most important contribution to USC baseball, amongst all those great athletes with whom I played. Years later, I saw George Milke, and he was telling the story of that game to Darrell Evans, of Detroit Tiger fame. George spoke of how my home runs not only kept us alive for the NCAA tournament, but also preserving his victory as winning pitcher against Cal State LA. I was like, a kid listening to his father tell a story, because I never thought George Milke would elaborate like that in my presence; and I was content, I was a proud Trojan that day. 

I think back to 1972 and my start as a University of Southern California football player.  We were playing against the Oregon Ducks, in Eugene, Oregon on a rain-soaked field. I was not a starter; I was a third-stringer. The 1972 Trojans were battling Oregon, 0-0 and both our first and second-string tailbacks could no longer play due to injuries they received. John Robinson, the assistant coach at the time, walked up to me as I sat on the edge of the bench. He looked me square in the eye, and with some serious concern he said, “A.D., you have to go.”  And that was a terrible thing for me to hear. It was cold, and raining, and my entire body was tight. But, with that demand, the adrenaline ran through my body, like a NASCAR racecar.

Entering that football game, I thought they would let me adjust to the game, and figure out the flow; but they didn’t. They called my play right away: “HAW 48-pitch left.” I heard those words and all I could think was, this is a terrible call, and cold rain.   But all the stars and planets must have been aligned, because when that ball was snapped, I got a couple of blocks to the end zone and I was on my way for a 48-yard touchdown. I could finally breathe a sigh of relief when I sat back down on that bench.  All my teammates were proud. Although I had entered cold and tight, I went in there and scored a touchdown. It was the first time I had touched the ball. My rest would not last as long as I would have hoped, for less than 60 seconds later I was back on the field. The Oregon Ducks had fumbled on the 45-yard line, and we were back on the field with the ball in our possession. Again, I figured they would let me settle into the rhythm of the game, and they would call the play for someone else.

In the huddle, Mike Rae, Sam Cunningham, Edesel Garrison, Lynn Sawn, Charles Young, and Pete Adams were all looking at me, and I figured they knew something I didn’t. Mike Rae barked out the play: “HAW 28-pitch.” To myself, I thought, that’s a terrible call, why me, are they testing me? They pitched the ball left, I caught a block off-tackle, picked up a block from Edesel, who happened to be our fastest guy on the team, and he kindly escorted me to the end zone, for a 55-yard touchdown. Through that performance, we preserved our undefeated status. I rushed for 206 yards on 25 carries.  We beat Oregon, 18-0. And that would be the start of my Trojan football tradition experience.

Many people thought I was brash and cocky, but that is what made me the football player I was. And my teammates knew this. All my years at USC, that was my attitude along with my teammates: team first, individual accomplishments second. Out of the three teams I played on, two of them national champs, there is one player that stands out in my mind. Richard “Batman” Wood was a defensive player, and he fit his name. He was built like a bat. The amazing thing about Richard’s accomplishments at USC is that he was the only three-time All-American in the school’s history until Matt Leinart. No one else had accomplished that. To this day, I admire that in him.

Fight On!

 

Known as the "Notre Dame Killer" and the "Notre Dame Nemesis," A.D.'s two games against the Fighting Irish in 1972 and 1974 may well be two of the best games - if not simply the two best, period - in college football history. He scored 11 touchdowns against Notre Dame (six, 1972; one, 1973; four, 1974). A.D. was selected to some All-American teams all three of his varsity years, and was a consensus first team All-American in 1974. He was "robbed" of the '74 Heisman Trophy when most votes were cast prior to his out-of-this-world performance in Troy's 55-24 win over Notre Dame. Davis played in three Rose Bowls, two of them victories, and was a member of two national champions in football (the "all-time best" 1972 team, and the "most exciting ever" 1974 Trojans). He was the Voit award-winner for best player on the Pacific Coast (1972, 1974) and the Pop Warner award-winner for most valuable senior on the Coast (1974). Davis was first team All-Pacific-8 Conference in 1973-74 and a Playboy Pre-Season All-American (1974). He played in the 1975 Hula Bowl, and was a star outfielder on the 1973-74 College World Series champion Trojan baseball team. The '73 Trojans were at the time considered the best baseball squad in collegiate annals. A.D. is a member of the USC Athletic Hall of Fame and National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame. Drafted by the New York Jets, Davis played for the Oilers, Buccaneers and Rams, became an actor, model, USC personality, and is one of the associate producers of the film based on the book One Night, Two Teams: Alabama vs. USC and the Game That Changed a Nation.     

 

PAT HADEN

Quarterback

1972 - 1974

 

Well, you know the story. I was the quarterback at Bishop Amat high School. My best friend was the wide receiver, John K. McKay - son of Coach John McKay - whom we knew as J.K. My dad was transferred for his job to Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area, but I wanted to stay at Bishop Amat and play my senior year. The dilemma was solved when Coach McKay offered to let me live in his house that year. I roomed with Rich McKay, now general manager of the Atlanta Falcons. So, I was living with Coach McKay's family in the fall of 1970.

            I broke all the California state passing records and was highly recruited. Being Catholic, I was enamored by Notre Dame. Ara Parseghian was their coach. He was charismatic and the Irish were very strong at that time. My mother leaned towards my going there.

            I was very strong academically and therefore attracted to Stanford, as they were good in football then and had an emphasis on the passing game. All these programs and more sent their recruiters to see me, and since I lived in Coach McKay's house, they met with me in his living room. He would stand off to the side, smoking his cigar with a Cheshire cat grin on his face. He was asked if he ever worried that he would not land J.K., who was also highly recruited, or myself. 

            "No," he said. "One sleeps in the upstairs bedroom and I'm sleeping with the other one's mother."

            I lived in the house when USC traveled to Alabama for that historic game credited with integrating Southern sports. I have been asked about that; the relationship between Coach McKay and Bear Bryant, the plans for that game and what they were hoping to accomplish. Regarding this game, I do not recall much about Coach McKay speaking to me with great significance about it. I've read about it, and 35 years later it seems more important than it did then. It was not on TV. Perhaps he saw Alabama was predominantly or entirely white, but their ethnicity was not apparent from my vantagepoint. I didn't hear much about it then, but since then it's grown in importance. I didn't know much about it at the time, the social context of it was not discussed particularly.

It may have been the big thing that people say it was, but I have mixed emotions about it. I consider whether the revisionist history is that Bear Bryant had on his mind that he would bring an integrated team with African-Americans down to play, just to integrate his program. I could be wrong, but that's not my perception. I just think he had a drink in the off-season with McKay and they decided to play that game.

I'm thinking that Martin Luther King was the "tipping point." It was his leadership. I see this game more for integrating of athletic teams than the overall Civil Rights Movement. Alabama assistant coach Jerry Claiborne may have said Sam Cunningham, did more for civil rights than King, but coaches saying that, they don't always have the broadest cultural context. Books have been written and Hollywood will have its say as to what happened, and what it's meaning is.

When it was all said and done there was never any real consideration of another school. J.K. and I were sophomores on the 1972 national champions. I have been around college football all my life and have to agree it was the finest team ever assembled. Mike Rae was our starting quarterback and he had a magnificent season. Because of the many blowouts I got a fair amount of playing time, as did J.K. playing behind Lynn Swann. We were never really "pushed" the whole season. The closest was an 18-0 shutout up at Oregon in the rain.

The story revolving around J.K. and I was that I spent my time studying while J.K. enjoyed partying. Ha! Maybe. I guess there's something to that.

We won the national championship again in 1974. John Robinson had implemented a more pass-friendly offense in the pre-season, but in the opener with Arkansas I didn't think I passed one to our guys until the third quarter. I was awful and we lost, but we ran the table pretty much after that to take a second national title in three years. We stayed on the ground but went to the air when we had to do. I hit J.K. for the winning touchdown in the Rose Bowl over Ohio State. Then we went for two and I was going to run it in, but there was a wall of Buckeyes so I pulled up and saw a "flash." It was Shelton Diggs in the end zone, and he made a great catch to win it, 18-17.

I was convinced that the scholarship limitations on a private school, combined with increased academic emphasis, had created an environment whereby USC would never return to that kind of glory, but I was pleasantly surprised that Pete Carroll was able to do what he's done.  

 

Pat Haden played for the 1972 Trojans, college football's all-time greatest squad. He was a member of three Rose Bowl teams, winning two of them, and two national champions (1972, 1974). He orchestrated the "55 points in 17 minutes" win over Notre Dame in 1974 and the 18-17 comeback-and-two-point-conversion victory over Ohio State in the 1975 Rose Bowl, earning Player of the Game and Rose Bowl Hall of Fame honors as well. Haden was team captain and MVP in 1974, an Academic All-American (1973-74), an NCAA Today's Top Eight academic honoree (1974), and a USC National Foundation Scholar Athlete (1974). He was selected for the Hula Bowl in his senior year and is in the USC Athletic Hall of Fame. Pat earned a Rhode's Scholarship to study politics at Oxford College in England. Drafted by the Los Angeles Rams, after completing his post-graduate studies he quarterbacked them to the 1976 National Football Conference championship game (1976) and was, along with Charles Young, a member of the 1979 team that lost the Super Bowl to Lynn Swann and Pittsburgh at the Rose Bowl. After retirement he became a corporate attorney in downtown Los Angeles whose name has often been mentioned as a political candidate. He also has been a longtime college football TV analyst, in recent years covering Notre Dame for NBC.

 

RICH MCKAY

StreetZebra, 2000

 

If the last name sounds familiar, it is because it is. The McKay name evokes tradition and success like few in Southern California. John McKay was the greatest coach in the history of USC's storied football program. His son, John (known as J.K.), was a star receiver for the Trojans' national championship team in 1974. There was another McKay, however, and his path - Bishop Amat High to USC and success in Los Angeles based on name and talent - was interrupted.

Rich McKay was indeed a top quarterback at Bishop Amat High School in La Puente. He was good enough to compete for the starting job with Paul McDonald, who would go on to an All-American career leading SC's 1978 national champions, before taking over as the Cleveland Browns' starter. But when McKay's senior season rolled around, something happened to disrupt what appeared to be his destiny. His father retired from USC to take over the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976. Rich followed his dad to Tampa and enrolled at Jesuit High School.

J.K.'s path was already laid out--a stint in the pros followed by law school and a career working for Ed Roski (the real estate mogul trying to bring the NFL back to the Coliseum).

Rich would not attend SC as planned, choosing instead the Ivy League and law school, followed by employment as the Buccaneers' attorney. However, the fact that his father had been Tampa Bay's coach, combined with the knowledge and skills acquired over years of learning from the master, made him the logical choice to take over as the team's general manager. Today, he is considered one of the keenest minds in the National Football League. The Guru caught up with him in between the draft and training camp, and the conversation went from USC to Tampa Bay's recent transactions, the trends in college football, and the glory days of Bishop Amat.

The Buccaneers' recently picked up Keyshawn Johnson, USC's former All-American wide receiver, from the New York Jets. McKay was asked if Keyshawn's Trojan history was a factor in his getting picked by Tampa Bay.

"He was a great player at SC, and of course we scouted him," said McKay. "I like to see Trojans in the professional ranks, and it was easy to evaluate him at SC, where he was very productive, one of their all-time leading receivers. Mainly, though, we need his aggressive personality. Keyshawn brings to us what we thought we were missing. We have an expectation level for him on offense, where we have not been productive because we lack the kind of aggressive mindset that we do have on the defensive side of the ball. When he became available, it became a fit."

McKay was then asked about the current down state of Trojan football.

"I've known coach <Paul> Hackett for a long time," says McKay, "and I've seen his ability wherever he's been. I've seen the program struggle ever since the teams in the Pacific Northwest started taking players who traditionally go to SC. It still gets down to who gets the players, and Don James changed things when he built a powerhouse at Washington. When they got on a roll, they became dominant and it's been hard to get back to where they were before that."

What about the state he lives in now, Florida? California kids are going to Florida and SEC schools, and many say that it is because of the increased enthusiasm for football in that region.

"Florida is unique," is McKay's take. "The key is they keep players within the state. Florida State seems to have won that battle the last few years. It used to be that many good players would go out of state. In assessing the enthusiasm level of Florida football fans vs. California, there's no doubt that football comes number one in Florida. That's not true in California, but in terms of creating atmosphere, I remember the USC atmosphere to be the best around."

This comes from a guy who has seen his share of football at every level.

"If the Pac-10 can get back to the success they've had," he continues, "then the enthusiasm will be just as tremendous as ever."

McKay is then asked to a take trip down Memory Lane. Bishop Amat was a great power in the 1960s and '70s. SC's All-American linebacker Adrian Young came out of the Lancers' program. Gary Marinovich, the brother of Marv and uncle of Todd, was their coach. Pat Haden was the nation's top high school quarterback in 1970, and his favorite receiver was his best friend, J.K. McKay. Haden's father was transferred by his company to Walnut Creek, but Haden did not want to go to Acalanes, Northgate or De La Salle, the school's of choice in that area. He wanted to stay at Bishop Amat. A solution was found. He would become 11-year old Rich's roommate at the McKay home.

That year, while Haden lit up the prep football world, the recruiters from Stanford, Notre Dame and Nebraska found that in order to get a sit-down with Pat, they had to trek to SC coach McKay's house, sit in his living room, and drink his coffee.

"Pat lived at the house," recalls Rich. "He was my roommate, and he and my brother were inseparable buddies who had experienced tremendous success together. I think they lost the <CIF> finals to Blair at the Coliseum, and there must have been 40 or 50,000 people in the stands. It was natural that Pat wouldn't move, and natural that he lived with us. The NCAA may have questioned it, I think Stanford made an issue of it, but Pat was a smart guy who made the decision on his own and nobody could dispute that. I think he did visit Notre Dame, and in fact his mom wanted him to go there, because of the Catholic connection. Ara Parseghian was their coach, and it was an attractive option. Tom Osborne was Nebraska's top recruiter back then, Bob Devaney was still their coach. He came to the house.

"As for J.K., he caught 96 balls one year, then 108 the next at Bishop Amat. He was a fullback, but Gary Marinovich put in a passing scheme and made J.K. a receiver. I remember a game at Mt. SAC, in the first round of the play-offs, where opponents would triple-team J.K. They'd line up two guys at the line to try to stop him, and another in the backfield. He didn't catch any passes in the first half, but made 11 receptions in the second. It was a lot of fun, seeing my brother have that kind of success.

"I saw Adrian Young at SC, but not at Amat, because we lived near South Hills High and were not aware of Amat until the decision came to go there after moving a mile from the school."

The program was so competitive that John Sciarra had to sit and wait his turn to play.

"John's a nice guy and a good friend," says McKay. "He transferred in his junior year, and played behind Haden. He also played defensive back and returned kicks and punts, he was a great athlete. I also remember him playing for the Eagles against my Dad."

This was after Sciarra finally got to play his senior year at Amat, after Haden's graduation. Naturally, John McKay came a-callin.g to try and get the kid to play at USC. Sciarra was a terrific baseball shortstop, and McKay tried to lure him with the promise of also playing for a national championship team under Rod Dedeaux. Sciarra would have none of it, because he had had enough of playing behind Haden. He went to UCLA, where unseating the starter, Mark Harmon, was a lot easier. He capped his All-American career there with a 1976 Rose Bowl victory over Archie Griffin and Ohio State.

"I had a good career at Amat myself," Rich recalls. "McDonald was a year ahead of me, but my sophomore year he hurt his leg against St. Paul, and my junior year I alternated with him. We went to the play-offs. McDonald and Haden were better athletes than they were given credit for. They were both very good basketball players with similar work ethics, who were very intelligent. In the summer, Paul and I would throw three, four, five times a week, and that work ethic carried over to beyond those years."

Rich was asked about growing up around football, and how much of an advantage this was in grooming for his present position.

"It's a natural advantage," he says, "but my dad was actually discouraging us, he didn’t want us to pursue careers in coaching because you have to move your family a lot. He wanted us to pursue another profession. Both J.K. and I went to law school, and I did in fact become a lawyer, working for the Buccaneers on player contracts. I've been around football as long as I can remember, and I just gravitated toward the job I hold now.

"I was aware of my Dad's presence when I was a kid, you were always John McKay's son, and since we almost never lost at SC, it was a good thing. But certainly when you lose 26 straight games in a row at Tampa, that was a big turnaround. The toughest thing of all was how much time my Dad spent on the road, he was always gone."

Rich has managed to establish stability for himself in Tampa Bay, where his father also lives, and considering his success so far, one can imagine that he may be there a long time.

 

 

GENE LAWRYK

Center

1976

 

I played in four Rose Bowls. I was in on the kickoffs and the returns in all of them. In 1973 we beat Ohio State, 42-17. In 1974 they returned the favor, 42-21. In 1975 we edged them, 18-17, and in 1977 we beat Michigan, 14-6. Mike Cordell played in three. As best I can tell, I'm the only player in the 20th Century to play in four.

            Because of the BCS it probably won't happen again. Now the BCS title game, even if it's at the Rose Bowl, is not officially the Rose Bowl game. You can win the Pac-10 or the Big 10 but not play in the Rose Bowl if you play in the BCS championship. I think John David Booty almost got there. He was on the team that beat Michigan in the 2004 game, red-shirted when we beat OU in the BCS title, sat the bench in the '06 BCS Rose Bowl (which was still the Rose Bowl game), then played in two (2007-08), but he didn't play against Texas and I don't think he played against Michigan in the first one.   

I red-shirted my regular senior year. By the time of my regular junior year, Rod Martin, Clay Matthews, and Mario Celloto had been there so long, and I had not played much. I'd been an off-guard and tackle in high school. I came in to USC at 210 pounds, but I lifted weights and got up to 235 pounds. I benched 400 pounds and figured if I switched to the line there was an opening at center in spring ball. I thought I'd won the starting position to go with Gary Bethel. It was a weird year. John McKay decided to leave. I was having a difficult time graduating so I decided to red-shirt and graduate in my fifth year. The one year I didn't play we lost four games in 1975. I always felt Coach McKay as a college coach; he was second to none. It didn't work out for him in the pros.

We moved to the city of Bell, which is seven miles from USC, when I was three years old. I rooted for the Trojans, following McKay and such. When they offered me a scholarship I was "doomed" to go there out of Bell High School. I only played one complete year of high school ball but didn't have any full rides anywhere else.

Maybe because of the fact that I never started but worked hard and lifted weights, and tried hard, they traveled me. We had championship teams but it had not dawned on me how lucky I was lucky to be a part of it. It was later the idea I played in four Rose Bowls, it was kind of like Rudy. I had a great spring ball every year and always thought I'd be a starter, but I was always a back up when they'd bring in guys ahead of me. I also busted my leg in high school. I couldn't run faster than 4.9 while Martin was at 4.5 or 4.6. Before that James Sims was about as fast. They all went pro. Batman Woods, Charles Anthony, Dale Mitchell, Ray Rodriguez; all of them played ahead of me. McKay would let me in for four or five plays. I see this with Coach Carroll. He'll play guys, but they have so much speed now they're incredible.

I looked at it this way, the weirdest thing I felt was, there were 100 players on the roster. Then they increased to 125, which was five classes of 25 apiece, but only 50 guys traveled! By my third year, halfway through the season . . . I traveled as a freshman and the next year they increased to 75 teammates who never get on the bus. I was not a starter but the coaches were sensitive to that. They'd spend most of their time with the starters, developing personal relations with starters. The special teams guys were there because we were good, but leaving others behind is odd, those are your friends, and nobody's just there for a scholarship. They'd resign themselves to the fact that "I won't play." You enjoy it but I always worked hard and studied the playbook, so McKay or Robinson put me on the bus because I served a vital function.

One year we were national champions in baseball, football, track, maybe swimming and tennis, and if we'd been a country we'd have been among the medals leaders at the Montreal Olympics. We had the best college athletes from everywhere. More often than not, I'd have gone someplace else where I'd play, but would I have played with Clay Matthews, who played 13 years in pro football? Our biggest guy was Pete Adams at 250 in 1972. Bill Bain was 300. Marvin Powell was close 300. They all went from normal humans to giants, and now the players are humongous.

On my first day of practice, Charles "Tree" Young handed me a bag. He was 6-5, 250 and revolutionized the tight end position with his speed and skills. He was the first guy who started me lifting.

In 1976 the team lost to Missouri big in the season opener. We were just as good as the 1972 team or any of the three other national title teams McKay coached. Under McKay, they'd always send us away for a week to get settled with our apartments, registration and the like. John Robinson kept us all together and there was a lot of talk. It got out of control. We said we'd this, and we'd do that, and we believed our hype and lost.

After graduation, my life took some really hard turns. My left leg was amputated and I had two heart attacks. Between 1999 and 2004 I had 22 surgeries that cost millions of dollars. In the first place, I was religious and my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ guided me. In the second place was USC. I thought about how they say, "Fight On!" No matter the circumstances and odds, I "fought on!"

I have a stainless steel rod in me. I have blood clots, but all of it was number three on my of list experiences. It wasn't just my football ability, but through USC I learned the ability to think that things will get better. I had 15 surgeries on top of each other, but somehow USC helps you through it. I can't explain it except it's real.

It's kind of strange, when I was child I had a fever that went away but I always had shortness of breath. I couldn't run long distances but never told anybody about it. I attributed it to the to air pollution in L.A. We moved to Colorado when I was 39 to be in the high altitude, but the blood clot started in my heart. They determined I had Kawasaki syndrome, which is when the arteries and rheumatic fever are a danger, the arteries clog, and I had 15 surgeries and spent six months in the hospital. We had to leave Colorado because the altitude was too high, so we moved to Oklahoma. The reason was my heart disease. I had seven surgeries and at one time I was dead three minutes during open-heart surgery. They shocked me 25 times. I had died but I did what we say: Fight On! It took a year to recover from all these surgeries. I had time to reflect on the time I spent at USC and it seemed important, but I'm not sure why.

I believe in Christ. He's number one. I also think back to what happened when they asked my wife to come in the room, and she looks at me kind of strange, and she says, "Don't forget you’re a Trojan!"

 

Winner of the 1976 Howard Jones/Football Alumni Club award for the senior with the highest grape point average, Gene Lawryk may well hold the unique distinction of being the only man to ever play in four Rose Bowl games. Never a starter, he more often than not did not play enough minutes to letter, but as a member of the special teams performed in the 1973 (beat Ohio State), 1974 (lost to Ohio State), 1975 (beat Ohio State) and 1977 (beat Michigan) Rose Bowl games. He red-shirted as a fourth-year senior in 1975.

 

ROD MARTIN

Outside Linebacker

1975 - 1976

 

I got to meet John McKay through Willie Brown. I went to L.A. City College, where I was an All-American and the Defensive Player of the Year. Vince Evans was our quarterback, and he was the Offensive Player of the Year. We tied in the Potato Bowl. Evans went with me to USC, and like me he later played for the Raiders.

            So, I was highly recruited and wanted to stay on the West Coast. San Diego State, UCLA, and USC went after me. Brown came by to recruit me quite a few times, but I'd told Dick Vermeil I'd go to UCLA. I loved Bruin basketball, so I was leaning there. Through basketball, Vermeil, who was in his first year taking over, had me nearly committed to UCLA.

            That is, until McKay came to the house where I lived in L.A. He was on his way out of town, and Coach Brown set it up. He was humble and nice to my mom, and he had the gift of gab that could hypnotize me. He was honest and down to Earth. He told me what USC had to offer. What stuck in my mind and changed my decision, I don't know if he knew about my basketball, but he said, "If you're a great basketball player, you should go to UCLA, but you are a great football player, so then you should go where the great players are, and that's USC."

            Vermeil tried to change my mind. Vermeil gets emotional, and the man starts crying in my mom's living room. I had to ask my mom to ask Vermeil to please leave.

            At USC I was in awe about all the talent, but I loved my decision. I came in with another linebacker, David Lewis, and the position was opening up. When I came in, I got hurt against Arkansas. I bruised my knee and didn't get well fast enough. This is the 1974 national title year. Once I got healthy, I determined the USC way, the way they played. It was an honor to even be red-shirted, because I was working with the guys, making 'em better. Guys on the scout squad could start on any team. That's a testament to their recruiters. It was such a great family atmosphere; guys stuck together. This came from McKay and Marv Goux. He was in charge of the scout squad and kept us fired up.

            Despite red-shirting, I felt like I was an intricate part of that national championship run. McKay would ride around on a golf cart, beeping his horn. When you heard that beep you knew it was McKay, and you'd perk right up. Every now and then McKay and his assistants would get together, and the coaches would relay this message to the players. McKay stayed away and let his assistants do the coaching.

The Manfred Moore story about Coach not rescinding his scholarship when he got his girlfriend pregnant, that's the human side of McKay. I'm originally from West Virginia, too. People there are honest, blunt and to the point. Truthful, that was Coach McKay. If he wanted you, you knew it. If you weren't good enough, he'd tell you. He didn't try to feed you a story, and he earned your respect.

I remember talking about that 1970 game at Alabama growing up. I wasn't into football, I was mostly into basketball, but we all knew about Sam Cunningham and what he did. He had a great game, but I emphasize not to take away from the great success of Martin Luther King. The civil rights leaders opened Bear Bryant's eyes, he wants to win, he has to bring in the best talent, and he needed blacks. Bryant stood up and was a man about it. He loved Alabama football, and didn't care who didn't like it. Was he in a position to do that, two or three years before? I don't think it was the right time to do it yet.

 

Rod Martin was an all-conference linebacker on the 1976 team that beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl. After starring for both John McKay and John Robinson, Martin went on to a great career with the Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders from 1977-88. He was the star of Oakland's 1981 Super Bowl victory over Philadelphia, and a key member (along with Trojan Marcus Allen) of the 1983 world champion Raiders. Martin was selected to two Pro Bowls and was All-Pro in 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1984.

He now works at USC.

 

 

OTIS PAGE

Offensive Tackle

1976 - 1978

 

I am from Saratoga, near San Jose, so I normally would have gone to Stanford or Cal. I was the Parade magazine Offensive Lineman of Year. The reason I chose USC, when it came down to it, was three things:

 

1.     The facilities were state of the art. Heritage Hall had been built, and it was indicative of the commitment to sports at that point.

2.     The weather was incredible.

3.     The girls were gorgeous.

 

       I was planning to go to Stanford, but their facilities were horrific. The place where they put me up for the night was slummy. I said this is not the place I want to be. I saw the USC campus, and an ex-player named Booker Brown was there with a big new Mercedes. I said, "That's fantastic." Weather, girls and facilities. I had no clue about USC. A kid at my high school talked about them but I never paid attention, but Marv Goux recruited me and I was so impressed.

       John Robinson was a charismatic visionary similar to Pete Carroll. He understood that the name of the game was fun. John McKay was all business, it was like a pro camp. He was a brilliant man, but Robinson had that Pete Carroll persona; they both bring enthusiasm and excitement to the game.

       Frank Jordan was our place-kicker in 1978. There was a picture of us hugging each other in the L.A. Times after his famous field goal to beat Notre Dame, 27-25. He'd missed a couple. I shouldn't have done it but I looked at him and said, "If you miss this your dead, Frank." He was a great guy. If he was a jerk you'd not be friends with him. You don't want to hang out with kickers, but he'd be playing cards, he was very sociable, he had a good personality and was a good friend.

       Of all the games I played in, I never came away like it sucked except the Notre Dame game. You felt like it was a heavyweight fight, you'd get the snot kicked out of you. So Frank's lining up, and it's like, after all this effort, if the kicker misses this kick it's been for nothing? I'm getting pounded, but after he made it all was forgiven.

       Joe Montana led Notre Dame back against us that day. He'd engineered the "green jersey" victory over us a year earlier at South Bend, but I never paid attention to him. I played against him in an all-star game in Japan and he did the same thing in that game, but on offense you don't spend time paying attention to the other team's offense. You pay attention to the next time you have to go out there, so I can't tell you who was on the other side. I didn't care. You're focused on your job and have no time to watch the other team.

       It was a thrill winning the 1978 national championship. We were very excited to play Michigan in the Rose Bowl. They were the type of team that had extreme discipline. They'd all step the same way, they'd wear their socks the same way, they were liked a cloned team. They were not as physical as us but they consistently came back at you. In that game, Charles White had the infamous "fumble." I was sitting there on the line, and the call was for the ball to go over the guard/center, not over me. I had to make sure of my guy I had responsibility to cover, the linebacker, and I figured I'd run to where Charles was and the rest of my life I'd be on TV for replays of his winning Rose Bowl touchdown. That selfish motivation caused me to block the referee's vision and not see the fumble. It's like Paul Harvey and "the rest of the story." I saw the ball drop like a rock and a Michigan guy fell on it, and I thought, "That's terrible." But they called it a touchdown. I thought it was a terrible call. Today it would be reversed. I blocked the view of the referee and I think that picture is in the Michigan Hall of Fame. It was in the L.A. Times. I'm coming across the back, ready to block, but instead I stopped in front of the referee out of selfish motivation and kept him from seeing the fumble. I call that a great block.

       I remember Anthony Davis. He had that game in 1974 when I was a freshman. I played in that game at the end. We were getting killed and I was thinking that I'd made a mistake coming to USC. I actually was thinking that. But McKay comes into the locker room at the half and says, "There's no rules against blocking." Then he says, "A.D., they're gonna kick the ball to you, and you're gonna run it back for a touchdown and we're gonna win this game."

       So that's what happened, that's what he did, and holy smoke, the crowd stood the whole second half and we put on a show like none before or since: 55 points in 17 minutes. A.D. was a special, special athlete. I look at a Reggie Bush and A.D. was 100 times better than Bush. He had a great passing team but A.D. was a horse, Secretariat. In practice you would watch the seniors run. Today you lose so many guys to the NFL, sophomores are team leaders telling the freshmen how to run today, but that was a senior team. I've never seen anybody do it like Anthony. If I had to have A.D. or Bush I'd pick A.D. all day long. Bush can't go up the middle. A.D. could go to the middle. He was so exciting to watch. You always felt safe when he was in the game, so in the 1975 Rose Bowl against Ohio State, he got knocked out and we thought, "We're in trouble now."

       In didn't play in the '75 Rose Bowl and I was happy not. I'd watched films of Ohio State and they were very physical, very big, really physical. The Rose Bowl far and away does not have the same impact as the Coliseum, where the fans are on top of you, but it was extremely exciting. I prayed not to get into that game. They had a guy who was an animal and he would have torn me apart.

       So who was better, the 1974 or '78 national champions? The '78 team had so much talent, and a better offensive line so I have to go with them. They were both doggone good. I don’t know, they were both good, both very impressive, but with different players and different strengths. It would be a great game to watch both teams play.

       I made the trip to Birmingham, Alabama in 1978, for that famous game against Paul "Bear" Bryant and the Crimson Tide at Legion Field. We won 24-14 and that propelled us to the national title. When you are watching film before you sit there and I can say I was not nervous about Alabama. I didn't start because I had a knee injury. It was bad, but Anthony Munoz, who had gotten hurt and had only played a little, he played in that game and dominated. What struck me was there was a lot of hostility in the environment going back there. What struck me was that the South felt like it was 20 years behind culturally, but from a football standpoint, when you're an offensive lineman, you're not thinking about their offense, but you're thinking about their huge, big athletes. But my opposite was 6-3, 220 and I was 6-6, 275. I wasn't scared, but against Notre Dame or Ohio State, Michigan; they have the big boys.

       My sophomore year was against Greg Morton, one of the best defensive players in the nation. You're never nervous about getting hurt, but against Notre Dame you're nervous about being hurt. Normally you'd hurt more in practice than in the games. Gary Jeter, who was the number one pick of the Giants, the second or third overall draft choice; he was a nightmare. USC had those type of athletes. Guys who would have been Pro Hall of Famers had everything all worked out in their careers.

       I saw Anthony Munoz in The Right Stuff. They had to dub his voice to make it deep, he had a squeaky voice. I was happy for him. He's one of the greatest athletes I've ever seen. Offensive linemen are not supposed to be limber, but he was as limber as a ballerina. Offensive linemen are not limber individuals, but I've never anybody as limber as Munoz and he's 6-7, 280, 290 pounds. As a freshman he went against the first string. They pitted Jeter vs. Munoz and he just buried Jeter, and the whole team was watching. He just grabbed him and put him on his back. I thought, "Oh my God, this guy is really special," he's handling a guy whose going to be drafted number five in the whole NFL Draft, and he killed him. His pro career was great. He got over his injuries, and after that he was like watching art; that athletic a guy playing that spot was beautiful.

       Charles White or Anthony Davis? Charlie learned from A.D. They both came out of San Fernando High, but I know what A.D. would have done had he had a great line to run behind. He didn't have Munoz, Keith Van Horne, Brad Budde to run behind. Charlie had a superior offensive line. Van Horne played 10 years and was with a Super Bowl championship team in Chicago. Brad Budde played eight years for the Chiefs. Pat Howell played six years for the Falcons. Chris Foote was with the Vikings.

       Munoz came into the 1980 Rose Bowl game against Ohio State. We're losing and he comes in to win the game. He'd not played all season and, hey, they just ran the ball over him to win. He was one of the greatest athletic offensive linemen ever to play at USC and the NFL, and if you're Charles White you were gonna be great. Charles was great and he had a great work ethic, but wow, you've got those gigantic legs that run like a horse to run behind . . .

       Anthony Davis was fun to watch. He'd drive a blue convertible Cadillac on campus and had a lot of fun.

 

Otis Page was in the program when USC won the 1974 national championship, and was a starting lineman and member of the 1978 national champions. During his career, the Trojans won the Rose Bowl twice, the Liberty Bowl and the Bluebonnet Bowl. Page won the Davis-Teschke award for most inspirational Trojan in 1978 and was selected for the Japan Bowl. He is now a successful businessman in Newport Beach, California.

 

PAUL MCDONALD

Quarterback

1977 - 1979

 

I was an untested first-year starter at Alabama in 1978, my third year in the program coming out of Bishop Amat High School, which had previously produced Adrian Young, Pat Haden and J.K. McKay. We opened against Texas Tech and struggled, trailing 9-0 at the half, and we got booed off the field. In the second half we played well and won, 17-9. We ran all over Oregon. I only threw about eight times, so there's no question my first real test came at Legion Field in front of a hostile crowd against the number one team in the country.

We utilized a lot of stuff with me, the idea being for me to get the best play called as best we could. Every play or every other play, they did a lot of disguising on defense, trying to confuse me, but most times we got the right call off. Charles White had a great game. He dominated them, and we surprised them with our speed and physicalness. I was able to get some key throws off. Kevin Williams made a spectacular play for a touchdown. It might have been tipped, but somehow he came up with it for the touchdown. I felt comfortable and poised in the pocket. If you look at my record you'll see I didn't do a lot of scrambling. It was a really humid day. I remember after warm-ups just being tired and walking in the locker room, and all the players were sprawled out on the concrete floor with ice packs on their necks. I thought. "We haven't even played a game yet and everybody's bushed." It was 90 degrees with 90 percent humidity, so it was a testament of our endurance, how we practice and conditioned. For some reason I was very calm and comfortable. Some times you get in a state where you see everything clearly.

I called a lot of audibles, and apparently that is not the norm in the SEC. The stadiums are loud and discourage that. Bear Bryant later said it was the best quarterbacking job he'd ever seen.

In the last game of that season we played Notre Dame at the Los Angeles Coliseum. It was for all the marbles. The national championship was on the line. We took it to the Fighting Irish from the start, and it's a natural human emotion to start feeling good about yourself when you play well. I got off good passes and it looked like we got this thing figured out. I knew something about Joe Montana, but I didn't know he was that good. He'd beaten us in the "green jersey" game the previous year and led them to the national championship, but there was no indication he was the player he would become. At least not until the second of the '78 USC-Notre Dame game.

In the first half he was really lousy, missing guys by a wide margin. Most people don't know this, but on the second series of the game I made a poor read and should have thrown the ball. I got sacked by Bob Golic on a blitz. The inside linebacker rolled up on my ankle, and I tweaked my ankle. I hobbled off to the sideline trainer. He couldn’t figure out what was wrong, so we decided to tape it up

I went out for the next series after they punted. I hit Kevin Williams for 35 or 40 yards. We did a good job on offense and I left the field feeling fine, no problem, but later in the first half I threw a touchdown pass to Danny Garcia. Charlie had his usual great game and we got things going on offense, but then my ankle started to swell and I could not move well. By the end of the first half I could hardly walk. They take me by cart into the locker, but I just decided hey, wrap it up, and I run out of the tunnel for the second half. That's when Montana got hot. We thought we were okay but we couldn't put points up and by the end of the game, Montana led them down to score a touchdown. They didn't convert the two-point conversion, thank goodness, so they led, 25-24.

So there's 45 seconds left and I grab the offense and said, "Hey guys. I'm really not happy at all. We should be winning." We dominated most of the game but let a big lead get away. My ankle's killing me but I say, "We don’t need to go that far, Jordan's gonna kick a field goal to win it. Just keep them off me so there's no pressure."

I hit Vic Rakhshani in the flat but he didn't get out of bounds. On the next play we had the ball on the short half of the field. I roll to the short side but everybody's covered, so I retreated and threw the ball away to avoid having to use the time-out, which we'll need for the field goal. I'd thrown the football, of course, but most Notre Dame fans think I fumbled. Jeff Weston grabbed me and spun me around. The ball hit a Notre Dame player in the side hip pad and ricocheted back, so they all thought it was a fumble. They think the game's over and start spilling on the field, but the referee, thank God, ruled - correctly - that it was an incomplete pass. Most of my friends and players still think it was a fumble.

It happened so fast, and I had so many guys around me, that most people with the naked eye thought that, but they made the right call. You can see it on The History of USC Football DVD. You can slow it down, go frame by frame, and freeze frame the play, and it proves it was a forward pass.

I called for Williams and Calvin Sweeney on the same side. Williams went short motion off the snap, and before he gets tackled short, crosses to the right to keep the linebacker shallow. Sweeney goes on a deep cross past the linebacker. The other guy runs a post to keep the safety deep. The safety was Joe Restic, he was the free safety. The last thing he wants is a post pattern where he gets beat deep, so he was very deep. Calvin did a great job and makes the catch on the side and runs the ball up-field before we call a time-out. We ran White on the field for an off-tackle. He powers seven yards to put the ball at the 25, thank goodness, and that put us in great position.

Frank Jordan kicked winning the winning field goal. It was the best game I ever played as a Trojan. The emotional roller coast between two great teams and traditions; we thought we had the game won and they thought they had it won . . .

We come back and Frank kicks the ball through. Frank had nerves of steel. John Robinson also had a calm quality, he really did. He'd crack jokes on the sideline, he's laughing and makes it easy for you to have fun. I say to him, "It's easy for you to laugh, I gotta go out there." He surrounded himself with good people and was not uptight.

At LSU in 1970 we were number one in the country going in. Louisiana State had 78,000 people and they had a good team. The most vivid memories I have were flying in on Thursday night, checking into the hotel, and taking the walk-through on Friday night at the stadium. We needed an escort to get into the doggone stadium the day before the game. People were hootin' and hollerin', yelling and screaming, and this is just the walk-through. I'm thinking, "These people are really serious about football." That night I told Jack Ward, our head trainer, to give me something so I could sleep. He gives me half a sleeping pill and a muscle relaxer. In the morning I was wiped out and I didn't wake up until the second quarter.

I remember the Tiger outside the locker room was roaring. A lot of people were nervous. It was the loudest crowd I ever played in, ever. I've played in the NFL, in domed stadiums; the Metrodome, the Kingdome, the Astrodome, the Superdome. It was louder than any of them. All those people come out early and party all day, and they're out of control by the nighttime. We got off to a sluggish start and they had an early lead. They had the lead until the end of the game.

We kicked a field goal early in the game. It was one of those things where what we did was audibilize quite a bit. It was "check with me." I didn't decide until I was at the line of scrimmage, based on the defense they showed. I remember it was so loud that Keith Van Horne, he had to turn and read my lips. It was hard to fire out on the defensive end when you're looking at the sidelines and then at the quarterback. That was difficult. I could kind of hear myself in the middle of the field, but inside the 20s you could not hear anything and we got called for penalties; offsides, illegal procedures. It was hard to get a rhythm. They were pretty good at plugging up our running game up and stopping our passing game

We finally scored a touchdown when Charles White went "22-blast" over the top in classic White fashion, just as we've seen so many times. We came back in the fourth quarter. We're driving at the end of the game and needed only a field goal. We're down 12-10, but we want a touchdown if we could. On third down we had got a face mask penalty in our favor when a defensive lineman for LSU grabbed my mask, and that was amazing to me. An SEC crew threw a flag!

Speaking of the referees, on the first play of the game I knew it would be a long game. There was a new NCAA rule where if the crowd's too loud and you could not call cadence, you could look back at the official and he could tell you to go back and huddle up. They'd warn the crowd and there'd be a five-yard penalty on the defense.

On the first play the crowd was unbelievably loud so I turn back and look at the ref. He put his hands in the air and he points at me adamantly; run the play, so I forget that rule. In the SEC that rule doesn’t exist. But in the end I got a favorable call and I was shocked. I threw a pass to Kevin Williams in the flat to win the game, 17-12.

I don’t recall any racial animosity from the LSU fans, but it would not shock me at all given the nature of the game itself, the scope of the game and the fact you have all these 80,000 crazies. I'd not be surprised if a lot of that went on, but I didn’t hear it. I don't recall.

In 1979 we went unbeaten and defeated Ohio State, 17-16 in the Rose Bowl.  I didn't realize at the time that Pete Carroll was their secondary coach, but I can say this: it was the best defense I ever played against in college. They were very well coached and showed a variety of different coverages; nickel fives, the defensive backs were only in the flow, it was the best one I had to face in college. I thought frankly, let's don't screw around, let's stay on the ground, and White had a classic game. I played well. I made some good throws and some good decisions. I had one pick and one touchdown off an audible to Kevin Williams, but there were no easy throws. At the end of the first series we were not doing great throwing the football for a variety of reasons. There was miscommunications between quarterback-receiver, so we said, "Hey, let's go to classic USC football," dominate and wear 'em down, stop screwing around. We had the best offensive line in college football, and we just ran plays on every play. We decided which guy to go to, and that was White running behind Anthony Munoz. He was dominant, unbelievable. All the linemen were on their guy, but "Munz" destroyed his guy.

Our team has always been poised. Those six seniors on that team said there was no need for surprises. We weren't new to each other. It was, just go out and execute. The huddle was calm, matter of fact. We had big time players.

Carroll's tutelage of Ohio State, we thought, "Those guys are good." Go back and look at that tape, at the throws that have to be made, and there's no wide-open guy down field. No one gets in front or behind you with his defenses. There were no gimmes.             He and I shared a funny story. When we played in the Rose Bowl against Michigan in 2004, we talked about it once on the radio and he gets sensitive. In Carson Palmer's senior year USC averaged 6.5 yards a play. That trend continued and would be a record for USC football. The last team that averaged that many yards was the 1979 Trojans at 6.3. We're in the Rose Bowl and he says, "Yeah, yeah, how'd you like to play us now?" He's talking about our offense vs. their defense.

An amazing story was when the team gets to the Rose Bowl in Matt Leinart's sophomore year, he walks out early and I'm on the field cruising around. I say, "Hey Pete." He's on the field, he's kind of running pass patterns, and what he says was, "Paul, it was like this." He says, "I never should have called that blitz." He was talking about a play from our game against Ohio State, and he's talking about a play that happened 25 years before. That's how loose he is. He has this great memory. We talked about that, my audibles against his maximum protection.

Then there's Marv Goux. Marv was amazing. He was Trojan football and was the real keeper of the flame, especially when we'd go to South Bend.

 

One of the great legends and fan favorites of Troy, Paul McDonald was a 1979 All-American, Academic All-American, recipient of an NCAA post-graduate scholarship, and was a National Football Foundation scholar athlete. Paul led USC on some of the most memorable late game-winning drives in school history, including victories over Notre Dame (1978), at Louisiana State (1979) and Ohio State (1980 Rose Bowl). He engineered the victory at Alabama's Legion Field (1978), en route to the national championship. McDonald quarterbacked two Rose Bowl champions, was sixth in the 1979 Heisman balloting, was all-conference, team MVP, and played in the Hula Bowl. He was the Cleveland Browns' starting quarterback before playing for Dallas, and was in the NFL from 1980-87. His son, Michael, played quarterback for the Trojans. An investment banker, he is also USC's radio analyst alongside Pete Arbogast on football broadcasts.

 

THE HOUDINI OF BOVARD

Excerpt from Great College Baseball Coaches, 2000

 

" . . . But the greatest farm club in the history of the Major Leagues . . . and the most consistent supplier of Major League talent the past 10 years is a franchise maintained at no cost to baseball.  It finds and signs its own prospects, suits them up, develops them, refines them, weeds them out - and then turns them over to the big leagues fully polished and ready for the World Series.

"The University of Southern California baseball team is to the Majors what the Mesabi range is to steel or the forest is to Weyerhaeuser - a seemingly limitless supply of basic ore or timber.

" . . . Rod Dedeaux went to bat only four times in the big leagues.  Nevertheless he probably should go to the Hall of Fame as a man who has done as much for the great game in his own way as Babe Ruth."

 

- Jim Murray, legendary syndicated columnist

Los Angeles Times, 1976

 

The Hall of Fame!

 

Jim Murray said it 24 years ago, but now, 14 years after retiring as USC's coach, Rod Dedeaux should be nominated for his rightful place in Cooperstown.

He is to amateur baseball what John Wooden is to basketball, or Bill Gates to computers. 

An institution. An icon. Larger than life!

To those who have never met him, he is a towering figure worthy of the greatest respect that can be accorded a baseball man.

To those lucky enough to have known him, especially to have played for him, Rod Dedeaux evokes just as much respect, but it comes along with laughter. He smiles. He jokes.  He is a gregarious prankster who still likes to have a good time.

He is still, as current USC baseball coach Mike Gillespie says, "The sharpest tack in the box."

Big-time college baseball has changed over the years, and now it is a high-stakes endeavor, filled with alumni pressure to win-it-all-now. Top players use their collegiate experiences as introductions to agents like Scott Boras, who get the best of the best of them multi-million dollar bonuses . . . at the expense of their innocence.

Rod Dedeaux coached some of the greatest baseball stars of the 20th Century, yet his program always felt more like a family than a baseball factory. 

Towards the end, critics said that, like his contemporary, Ronald Reagan, age was working against him, he no longer had the edge to swim in shark infested waters.

Today, like Reagan, time has smoothed the rough edges of criticism, and he remains a highly beloved figure, an elder statesmen of the college game.

Age notwithstanding, he still remains the sharpest tack in the box.

"He has to be one of the smartest guys I know," says former Trojan lefty Bill "Spaceman" Lee.  "He never looked like a ballplayer, but he seemed to have eyes in the back of his head. As the game wore on, he knew everything about every player out there.  He anticipated situations better than any manager I ever played for. On top of that, this is a guy who, in his spare time, built a trucking empire and became one of the most successful businessmen in this country. How can you not admire somebody like that?"

In his spare time. It is true. Dedeaux built Dart Transportation into the top transportation company in the United States.  He did it all working part-time, giving of himself to his alma maters' baseball program in the afternoons. 

Hard-worker, to be sure. He must have enjoyed having two incomes, right?

Not so fast. Dedeaux became a multi-millionaire in the trucking industry, but his salary coaching at USC?

$1 a year.

Talk about "for the love of the game." For 45 years, he devoted himself to Trojan baseball for free. Anybody who has ever been involved in college sports can testify what sort of a commitment this is: recruiting, planning, organization, practicing, strategizing, the late nights, early mornings, long days, the travel, often with frustration and disappointment dogging at your heels.

While Dedeaux is the man most responsible for turning Southern Cal into the top college powerhouse in the nation, his legacy extends far beyond the ivy-covered University Park campus in south-central Los Angeles.

****

Dedeaux is virtually the "father of international baseball." After World War II, he promoted goodwill trips to Japan, where the game had been popular in the 1930s, and exported America's National Pastime all over the Orient and into Latin America.

He is the man behind the Olympic baseball movement, a natural progression of his foreign adventures. He pushed and pushed until baseball was accepted in conjunction with the 1964 Tokyo Olympics; coached a team led by Mark McGwire and Will Clark that competed as a "demonstration sport" at the 1984 Los Angeles Games; and kept it up until it became the full-fledged event that it is today.

He contributed to the popularity of baseball in such places as Italy, Sweden and The Netherlands.

Dedeaux was a driving force in the collegiate summer leagues'.  First, he worked with Fairbanks, Alaska Mayor Red Boucher to create the Alaska Goldpanners and the formation of the prestigious Alaskan Collegiate Summer League, then the Jayhawk, Cape Cod, and many other leagues in the United States and Canada.

He helped build enthusiasm for the game in Hawaii when he brought his vaunted Trojans to play in the islands.

It is said that Southern California, and Los Angeles in particular, is the Baseball Capitol of the World.  This is in no small way the work of coach Rod Dedeaux.

It is not mere coincidence that great dynasties in college sports happen in some places and not others. The difference is in the coaches.

Knute Rockne turned a tiny Midwestern Catholic school into the Vatican of college football.

With all due respect to Adolph Rupp and Kentucky, the Roman Empire of college basketball was built upon the work of Wooden at UCLA.

Like his cross-town hoops colleague, Dedeaux was the right man in the right place, building upon the post-war suburban growth of sunny California which has produced so many talented players. However, other schools have enjoyed similar advantages.

It was USC under Dedeaux, not UCLA (which in theory had the same built-in attributes of weather and population) that emerged as the dominant power.

Schools in Texas and Florida had weather and plenty of good athletes to choose from, but languished in Dedeaux's vapor trail.

The Coach of the Century is not unlike the region of the country his school represents. He was born of French Cajun ancestry in New Orleans, but moved with his family (like so much of America) to California. He was an All-City infielder at fabled Hollywood High when Betty Gable went there, a few years before Marilyn Monroe. Dedeaux started three years at shortstop for USC, and was captain of the team his senior year, before his short-lived career playing for Casey Stengel and the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Still, Casey became his mentor and friend, advising Rod and forging a relationship that led to regular spring exhibition games between the Mickey Mantle Yankees that Stengel managed in the 1950s, and Dedeaux's USC teams. Stengel, a resident of the L.A. suburb of Glendale, was also Rod's neighbor and frequent visitor to Trojan games after his retirement.

Rod returned to Los Angeles when his professional career failed to materialize much beyond his four-game stint with the Daffy Dodgers, but the game was in his blood.

Sam Barry coached baseball and basketball at USC. He was a legendary disciplinarian, and an innovator in basketball who is credited by none other than 1948 USC graduate Tex Winter with teaching him the "triangle offense" (which Winter installed as the cornerstone of multiple Bull and Laker World Championships). Dedeaux came on board to assist his old coach, and in 1942 took over after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, when Barry entered the Navy.

Dedeaux coached the Trojans' for five years, his best team going 27-7-3 in 1943, but when the war ended Barry returned. From 1946 to 1950, Barry and Dedeaux formed a unique relationship: co-head coaches.

In this capacity, they elevated the Trojans' above the post-war pack in college baseball at a time when the game was taking some important steps.

"The men who returned from war to college campuses were very special," says Dedeaux.  "You hardly needed to coach or motivate them.  They were tough and had guts, and are the best generation this country has ever produced." 

The first College World Series was held in Kalamazoo, Michigan and the University of California, under coach Clint Evans, won it with an 8-7 win over a Yale team that featured a war hero-turned-first baseman named George Herbert Walker Bush.

In 1948, USC went to Kalamazoo, and squared off against Yale and the future President, whose Skull and Bones affiliation served him no better than it had against Cal in '47. The Trojans' 9-2 victory gave them the first of their 12 national championships.

Barry passed away in the fall of 1950, leaving the program in Rod's capable hands. A number of top college programs also emerged in the '50s. Bib Falk led Texas to two National Championships, Dick Siebert's Minnesota Golden Gophers would capture the CWS four times between 1956 and '64, and another title was won in Berkeley when George Wolfman and Cal captured it in 1957.

Dedeaux won his first national championship on his own in 1958 in Omaha, which by this time had become the CWS' permanent home. His 1959 squad, which went 59-6, was considered the best team not to win a National Championship. Recruiting scandals dogged Pacific Coast Conference schools during this era, and NCAA sanctions against the football program came down, unfairly, on other sports. Despite being banned from post-season play, the Trojans' still finished number one according to Collegiate Baseball magazine.

It was during this period that a tragic figure emerged.  Bruce Gardner was a star left-handed pitcher at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, and upon graduation professional teams came calling with big bonus money.

Gardner was Jewish, and his single mother was a stickler for education. She could not see where baseball would take her son.  She wanted him to pursue the law or medicine. 

Dedeax recruited Gardner hard, but the young man was not socially sure of himself, fearing that in this age of the "gentleman's ggreement," a rich fraternity school like SC would not be friendly to a Jew.

His mother was convinced that Dedeaux would watch out for her son, that the campus, only a few miles from their home, would be the stepping stone to a better life.

Gardner wanted to sign and play baseball, but he was a "mama's boy," like the Laurence Harvey character in The Manchurian Candidate.  In the end he had no chance, and Deeaux had himself a southpaw starter.

Gardner was everything he had been billed as, earning All-American honors, being named College Player of the Year, and winning 40 games, a record that has stood at SC until now (although Rik Currier is in range of it in 2001).

Four years of steady college work took its toll by his senior year, however. Gardner's velocity began to tail off, and when the scouts came around in the spring of 1960, the big bonus offers were not forthcoming.  Gardner signed for a modest bonus with the Chicago White Sox and was shuffled off to the minor leagues', no longer a hot prospect.

Pitching in bush league towns that were not friendly to a Jewish kid, he became lonely and homesick.  His arm, which had started to pain him at SC, began to throb, and he pitched ineffectively.

On top of that, this was the middle of the Cold War and the draft was in place.  No longer protected by a college exemption, Gardner found himself in the Army.  One day at Ft. Ord, near Monterey, California, he sustained further arm injury when he was thrown from a truck during a minor traffic accident.  His diminished skills receded further, and soon he was released, his baseball career over.

For some years, Gardner tried unsuccessfully to make use of his hometown hero status, selling insurance and failing in other business ventures.  Eventually, he started to drink.

In 1974, he got drunk, drove out to the brand new Dedeaux Field on the SC campus, made his way to the pitcher's mound and surrounded it with his All-American plaques, trophies, awards, and college degree.  He produced a gun and shot himself in the head.

A groundskeeper discovered him, thinking him a student sleeping off a hangover, until he saw the blood and a suicide note, addressed to his mother and Rod Dedeaux.

It read, "This is what I think of your college degree."

In the years following that incident, Bruce Gardner became a taboo subject around Dedeaux.

One of Gardner's teammates fared better, however.  Ron Fairly came to USC from Long Beach, California and, after making All-America, went on to an All-Star career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, among other teams in a long, distinguished career.

In 1963, Dedeaux' Trojans' won their third National Championship.  A journeyman outfielder on that team was a young man who had gone to Hawthorne High School with the Beach Boys.  Mike Gillespie has been Troys' coach since 1987, and led the team to victory in Omaha in 1998.

The mid-1960s were years in which some interesting players came under Dedeaux' tutelage, but success was elusive.  Siebert led Minnesota to the National Championship in 1964, followed by Bobby Winkles at Arizona State (1965, 1967) and Ohio State (1966).

The '65 Arizona State Sun Devils are regarded as one of the best teams in college history.  They featured outfielders Rick Monday and Reggie Jackson, third baseman Sal Bando and pitcher Gary Gentry.

Monday had somehow eluded Dedeaux' grasp coming out of Santa Monica High School.

"`Tiger, tiger,'" says Mo, imitating Dedeaux' favorite expression.  Dedeaux came to be known for calling virtually everybody "Tiger", like Babe Ruth referring to all in his path as "Kid." 

"He could turn on the charm," continues Monday, now a popular part of the Dodgers' broadcasting team, along with Vin Scully and Ross Porter.  "But my mother was really taken with Winkles.  She was a single mom, and she saw Winkles as a father figure to me."

Monday became the first player ever selected in the first Major League draft, when the then-Kansas City A's chose him number one in '65.

The Devils were almost a farm club of what would later be the Oakland A's dynasty of the early 1970s.  Monday, Jackson and Bando would play together at Modesto of the Class A California League, move up through the minor leagues', and then star in Oakland.

Jackson was a proud, talented, sensitive black athlete who played football for Frank Kush, as well as baseball, in Tempe.  In 1966, the New York Mets' made Steve Chilcott the first pick in the draft, so Oakland selected Jackson, who would star for the A's AA farm club in Birmingham, Alabama.  It was at Birmingham where Jackson met legendary Alabama football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant.

Bryant was friends with Oakland owner and Birmingham native Charles O. Finley, who introduced Jackson to him in the Barons' clubhouse.  Bryant sized up the ex-football star and said, "Now here's just the kinda nigger we could use in our football program."

Reggie took it as a compliment, which in a roundabout way it was meant to be.  It was also a harbinger of future events, which would be pushed along by the currents of history.  In 1970, two years after Martin Luther King's assassination, USC strolled into Birmingham led by a black fullback from Santa Barbara, California named Sam "Bam" Cunningham. Cunningham ran for four touchdowns against the all-white Crimson Tide, and after the game Bryant asked Coach John McKay if he could "borrow" Cunningham.

Cunningham was brought into the silent Alabama locker room, but this time Bryant did not drop any "N-bombs."  Instead, he announced to his team that "This here's a football player."

Shortly thereafter, Southern football became an integrated affair.

Dedeaux had grown up alongside blacks in multi-cultural Los Angeles, and a number have played for him over the years.  One of the first was Don Buford, who like Jackson was a football/baseball star for the Trojans' in the 1950s.  Later, Buford would be on Dedeaux' coaching staff, and his son, Damon, would play at SC before embarking on a big league career.

In the mid-1960s, Dedeaux' teams included the likes of Tom Seaver, Mike Garrett, Tom Selleck and Bill "Spaceman" Lee.

Seaver, who Dedeaux referred to as my "Phee-nom from San Joaquin," was an unrecruited pitcher at Fresno High School who grew into his body in the Marine Corp.  After a stint at Fresno City College and the Alaska Goldpanners, Seaver had matured into a prospect, so Dedeaux gave him a scholarship.  He was 10-2 with a 2.51 ERA in 1965, but inexplicably the Trojans' were last in the conference!

"Seaver was happy-go-lucky back then," recalls Bill Lee, "not the corporate asshole he is now.  He seemed hittable at first, but then got on the weights and developed that fastball with a hop on it.  Eventually, he had the best fastball in baseball.  That's the difference between us, him smoking a big cigar in a limo and me in the back of beer truck."

Seaver was drafted that June by the team he had grown up rooting for, the Dodgers.  His family had season tickets to Dodger Stadium, and whenever Sandy Koufax pitched he was there.  Dodger scout Tom Lasorda drove out to Seaver's house in Fresno to sign the young Trojan, and offered the future Hall of Famer all of $2,000.

"I didn't negotiate with him," Lasorda says now, but the record shows differently.  Seaver was begging to be a Dodger, but he knew he was worth more than two grand.  Lasorda thought the kid should be kissing his ring instead of holding out for some money, so the talks ended and Seaver returned to school.

Six months later, in January of 1966, the Milwaukee Braves chose him in the Winter phase of the draft, signing him for $50,000. SC had played a game against the Camp Pendleton Marines, however, officially starting their season, so the signing violated baseball's rules.  The NCAA viewed Seaver as a pro, so the Commissioner created a lottery, and the Mets' name appeared.  The rest is history.

Seaver's roommate at SC was still another black football/baseball star.  Mike Garrett of LA's Roosevelt High School would win the 1965 Heisman Trophy, play in two Super Bowl's for the Kansas City Chiefs (along with a brief minor league baseball stint), and now he is trying to restore Troy to greatness as its athletic director.

 

"Tom was just so strong," recalls Garrett of Seaver, "and he worked hard on the weights, improving all the time."

Another athlete who played a little baseball, a little basketball and a little volleyball at the University of Southern California during this time was a handsome, 6-5 frat boy from Grant High School in Van Nuys, named Tom Selleck.

"He was a Greek geek," was Lee's assessment of Selleck, who would go on to become a noted Republican in left-leaning Hollywood. "I was a Communist liberal in a conservative university," one Lee's grandfather, Norman Rockwell Hunt, had helped found, by the way.  Lee had wry commentary for USC's Hollywood connections, which are many.

"Selleck was making `Myra Breckenridge'," Lee went on.  "I hated all the elitism at the school.  Alan Ladd, Jr. snaked my girlfriend away from me, because he drove a Ferrari."

Lee, who had grown up in the San Fernando Valley before attending Terra Linda High School, in the San Francisco suburb of Marin County, originally came to SC on an athletic scholarship, but after his freshman year his "ERA of 1.93 was higher than my grade point average."

He righted the academic ship, however, but always found time for a little fun.  He also was rudely introduced to the less-than-plush neighborhood surrounding the SC campus.

"My friend, Orrin Freeman, had a Corvette convertible," remembers Lee.  "He parked it near campus, but when we got back all the seats were stolen.  That night, we cruised Sunset Strip sitting on orange crates."

Lee once emerged before his teammates from an airport baggage chute.  In Hawaii, he did push-ups during a rain delay wearing only socks and a jock strap.  In Santa Barbara, he forgot his sanitary socks, so he disappeared looking for a sporting goods store, not realizing the equipment manager had a ready supply of reserves.  He re-appeared minutes before the game, and with virtually no warm-up went out and beat the Gauchos' anyway.

His senior year, 1968, Lee decided to "hold out," telling Rod he would only pitch weekend conference games if he could pitch and play first base in the mid-week non-conference games.  Dedeaux placated him by letting him take batting practice, and in that All-American season Lee was 12-3 with a 1.82 earned run average.  The Trojans' won the College World Series, and in later years Lee would tell Curry Kirkpatrick of Sports Illustrated that "the best baseball team I've ever seen was either the 1975 Reds, the 1968 USC Trojans, or any Taiwan little league team."

They do not call him Spaceman for nothing.

From 1970-74, Troy had the greatest run in college baseball history, winning five consecutive National Championships. In 1970,Dave Kingman was the Mark McGwire of his era--a former pitcher who realized his offensive skills in leading the Trojans' to victory in Omaha.

Fred Lynn was an All-American on the 1973 team. He came to SC on a football scholarship "but after trying to tackle Sam `Bam' Cunningham a few times," John McKay mercifully turned his scholarship over to Dedeaux.  A mere two years after leading USC to a National Championship, Lynn was the American League Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player for the 1975 AL Champion Boston Red Sox.

 

Steve Kemp hit .435 for the '74 National Champs, but in 1975 Augie Garrido and the upstart Cal State Fullerton Titans upset USC in the NCAA West Regional.

USC returned to Omaha in 1978, and their 54-9 team, led by Bill Bordley, is considered by many to be the greatest team in college history.

Aftet that, the NCAA imposed scholarship limits which Dedeaux has steadfastly blamed for the decline in his programs, but others observed that age began to take its toll on Rod in the early 1980s.

Still, he landed some recruiting prizes. Randy Johnson was a 6-10 left-hander who threw gas, but was wild as a March hare.  He pitched with limited success at USC from 1983-85, and after a Sandy Koufax-like journey through the minors and his early years in The Show, has emerged as baseball's dominant southpaw.

Mark McGwire came to SC as a pitcher, but after leading the Alaskan Summer League with a .403 batting average in 1982, Dedeaux turned him into a full-time first baseman.  He was a two-time All-American and set the NCAA single-season home run record, and was the College Player of the Year and a 1984 Olympian before Oakland signed him, and he is now the top home run hitter of all-time.

Dedeaux coached the 1984 U.S. Olympic baseball team, which included McGwire, Will Clark, Rafael Palmeiro, and a host of other stars who would go on to Major League success.

Dedeaux retired at the end of the 1986 season, and his successor, Mike Gillespie, has experienced tough sledding replacing the legend. Finally, by winning the 1998 CWS, Gillespie established himself as his own man at Troy.

 

Dedeaux laid the foundation for college baseball's popularity.  Today, many teams play in state-of-the-art facilities, drawing large crowds and turning healthy profits. ESPN televises the popular College World Series, with the championship game played on network TV. College games are a weekend staple on many cable stations.

Dedeaux could have enjoyed the fame and notoriety of managing in the Major Leagues, but instead has labored--for free--strictly for the love of his game and his school.  He deserves to honored in Cooperstown, and perhaps a book detailing his accomplishments will open some people's eyes towards elevating him to that level of prominence.

 

The

EIGHTIES

 

 

 

JIM PERRY

Sports Information Director

1974 - 1984

 

I co-wrote McKay: A Coach's Story. John McKay wanted to call it 1st and 25. McKay was a unique personality. McKay was Catholic, but I'm not sure how religious he was. His favorites were old John Wayne movies, but he was also highly influenced by Patton, starring George C. Scott. He used to lecture me. I'm over at UCLA and he' lecturing me, why am I writing about that crap? He said, "You should see Patton." I'm 21 and anti-war and just snorted, but he just said, "I know how you feel, but you should see it. It's revealing." When his assistants saw that movie, they felt that McKay was Patton, an absolute dictator who cared about his men but was tougher than hell. You knew who the boss was. That was McKay. McKay felt he was Patton.

            Craig Fertig was like a second son to McKay. Dave Levy was more cynical. Levy respected him but had not played for him and had a differing view. McKay was very demanding, decisive. Coaches are afraid to make the call on the goal line, but he made those decisions. He'd not walk away. He was stubborn in his beliefs and knew how to coach the running game. You know the old line about how O.J. Simpson was carrying the ball too much: "It's not heavy, and he's not in a union." McKay was very bright and he respected people who were tough; if you came back at him he respected that. You could change his mind. He was in charge, he was old-fashioned, but on occasion his mind could be changed. He and Bear Bryant were alike in that way.

            McKay didn't like coaching from a tower, he wanted to be in touch with his players and moved around in a golf cart. He had an incredible sense of humor, but he could be a terror. His one-liners were incredible and not always for the writers. I've been around him one-on-one and heard him say the most comical things. In 1975 when the team struggled he said, "Our offense can't move the ball against a strong wind."

            Other times he'd say, "I hate the first game of the season. I'd rather open with the second game." McKay could be so funny, and he was at his best in front of booster clubs with large crowds. He'd entertain them. He could have been a stand-up comic. He had a dry wit, was laconic and moody. You never really knew what you were getting. He could be short and temperamental and his icy stare could be chilling.

            When I worked on his book his voice got in my head. I told my wife how tough he was and then she met him and he charmed her socks off. My wife just said, "He's not like what you said at all."

            When I finished taping the book I went to the College All-Star Game to finish the editing with him, and I started barking orders to my wife, Cathy. Corky McKay just told her, "You don't have to put up with that." I had started to sound like McKay!

            The two biggest games that made an impression on McKay were the 51-0 loss to Notre Dame in 1966 and the 20-16 loss to UCLA in 1965. Against the Bruins USC blew a 10-point lead when Gary Beban threw two late touchdown passes, and the papers said McKay had been out-coached by Tommy Prothro, which galled him. He didn't like Prothro.

            McKay watched those '65 and '66 games a couple times a week. They "stuck in my throat," he said. After the loss to Notre Dame he went back to South Bend with O.J. and won, 24-7 and of all the things he did; the national championships and Heismans, nothing was more impressive than that series. From 1966 to 1974 all those games effected the national title picture and the ratings were fabulous. USC and Notre Dame represented the pinnacle of college football.

I was in Birmingham in '78. SC won twice there and they won twice in L.A. against Alabama. SC won 24-14 in that 1978 game. I advanced that game and had no feeling of black-white problems. It was just another game in that regard, although it determined a shared national championship. It was a huge game, but not seen as anything remarkable off the field.

The story that says Bear Bryant did not have Sam Cunningham on a stool in front of his players in 1970, but rather in the crowded hallway between the visiting and home lockers at Legion Field, and that he said, "This here's what a football player looks like" more for the benefit of old-line alumni and administration, makes a lot of sense. He already had black players, but he had a bigger problem with the administration, the fans, and to some extent the media.

McKay was a unique personality. USC had very few black athletes before McKay. There was C.R. Roberts, Don Buford, Brice Taylor, and not many others. But it didn't take McKay long to recruit blacks, and he had a lot of them. Jimmy Jones became our first black starting quarterback in 1969 as a sophomore.

More blacks than whites started. McKay was conservative in some ways politically, but his football line was "win the damn game."

"Shut up and play."

"Do your job."

McKay's ambition from the beginning was to win, but to win successfully. If the best players were black, that was not an issue. He didn't talk about USC's black-white relations. They were pretty good in tumultuous times. He'd just play the best player in the game no matter who he was.

 

Jim Perry was the longtime sports information director at the University of Southern California. In 1974, he co-authored McKay: A Coach's Story, the autobiography of John McKay.

 

MIKE ROTH

Center

1982

 

My experience there, I didn’t get until after I was out, maybe 20 years or so. My world has been a work in progress so to speak. Maybe I'm confused or I hope maybe I'm not understanding it at the moment. When I was at USC I had a girl I dated who had a lot of issues. I came from a real dysfunctional family. She had a bad attitude and I came away from that with an experience that made me a better person.

Football was good. I enjoyed it, but I came away with more from the struggles I faced there with football, with school relationships really. I was able to get through it and graduated.

Afterwards got I married, and it's 21 years, a great marriage. I have a son whose eight, and I've had to be strong because he has some issues that we're dealing with, but life's been really good to me. But USC was almost a boundary. It's like you come out first, like a foundry that burns off the crack. It was like climbing Mt. Everest. Bruce Matthews's dad was All-Pro with the Chiefs, and his brother was an All-American, and it was like normal to him, like he was raised play football. He was tremendous. There were these great athletes who were inculcated in it from when they were a kid, but I had not been.

My dad was a hairdresser who never played sports. Ours was a very dysfunctional family. I did it on my own. I did it on my own did, I did it from scratch, but I give a lot thanks to Coach Robinson.

I started at Hawaii, then went to junior college. I got kicked off the Hawaii team because I got in a fight with the coach. I talked to Robinson and he said go to J.C. and if I did well he'd bring me there, and he was true to word. He really gave me an opportunity. Part of me felt like I left a lot on the table, that I didn't fulfill my end of the bargain. I got into the wrong relationships and was not being totally focused. I graduated but today if I took those classes I'd get more out of it. Classes were really hard. I faced failure but had to battle through it.

I learn from struggle, from failure, but I love the school. I have respect for the football team and have no ill will, but my own experience was tough. It made me tough-minded. It was a tremendous juggernaut.

What saw me through was my Christian faith. In life you have choices, crossroads of life. You have choice one, which is a road that will lead you to a certain area, and other roads are different. If I'd taken steroids and trained differently, things might have been different, but my choice was to do it right, but it was tough. It took everything I had. I had a brother who played at Nebraska. Those guys all juiced to play. At Penn State they're all on steroids. It was a different era. Drugs make a world of difference. I'm not a tremendously big guy. I competed with guys who were close to 300 pounds. I'm 250. I'm still strong but it's so hard in that environment, training eight hours a days plus school. A tremendous amount is required of an athlete and to be at a high level is very difficult.

I made a promise to God I would never do that. My faith is what got me through. Without faith it would have been disastrous. Today I'm really involved in my church and my family is involved. My son, Garrett has autism and I'm dealing with that, but like everything else faith is the answer.

The path we travel on, the relationships with USC teammates, helped my development. Don Mosebar was a teammate and good friend who has a company here in the south bay. He values the progress of developers for lenders. I see him a lot.

Jeff Bregel was a real character. I knew him when I was a senior and he was a freshman. I played against him every day in practice. He was so good. He was a top football player. He had a good relationship with his family. He and his dad were really close. I think he was from the San Fernando Valley. He did very well. Kelly Thomas was a friend. I saw him a couple years ago. He works for the Department of Water and Power.

 

Mike Roth prepped at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach. After a year at the University of Hawaii, he transferred to West Los Angeles J.C., and from there to USC where he was a back-up center. He runs his own real estate firm in the South Bay.

 

JEFF SIMMONS

Wide Receiver

1980 - 1982

 

I'm an old school guy, and USC was always my school. I grew up rooting for the Trojans all the way. Charlie Moses was a junior or senior when I was a freshman. He just wreaked havoc, but he got dismissed from the team.

I grew up in Stockton, and Sam Dickerson was one of the reasons I loved, and went to USC, other than an infatuation with O.J. Simpson. Sam's cousins and my mom were best of friends. I'd go to his aunt's house. She would invite any homeless drunk or derelict and we would have family members and wayward people at her home on Saturdays. I was watching Southern California play, and I'm watching on television, on a black-and-white TV, and the players would run out with their helmets in their arms and give their names and position. He'd say, "Number 18, Sam Dickerson. Stockton, California. Wide receiver." We'd lose our collective minds. To know somebody from Stockton was on TV playing for USC was unreal, and man that was my first early introduction to Southern Cal. He was always making catches.

In 1969 Sam caught the winning touchdown in the shadows of the end zone to beat UCLA, a legendary moment, and I later heard Pete Carroll was a high school student in the stands that night, rooting for the Trojans. This guy goes to UOP, in my hometown of Stockton, and becomes the coach at USC and coaches my son Kevin Arbet. The world is so small. Sam Dickerson was my guy, a big inspiration.

Jimmy Jones at that time was starting at quarterback, and he caught flack, but he was a heck of a passer and held a lot of records. Sam was incredible. Another guy I admired from the late 1960s and early '70s was Bobby Chandler. I'm as much a fan of Southern Cal football as I am an alumnus. I lived and died it since I was five or six. My dad would tell me about this little guy called "the Duck." It was Mike Garrett. I watch him against Cal and eight guys grabbed him, and he just slipped through all of them and scored. I lived and died with SC. If they lost my week didn't work. When they came on TV I could not get anything else done. I once did a speech for our debate team, in Modesto, and that was the day Notre Dame had the green jerseys, and I heard 49-something they lost, and I was crushed. I was involved in a speech and a debate tournament, that was the Dan Devine team, and I was ruined for the debate.

John Robinson was a good motivator. We'd rise to the occasion and recognize the importance of what we were doing. In 1978 at Alabama, the year before they'd lost to 'Bama at the Coliseum, J.R. put together a collection of film collage and says. "Look at the guys who are gonna win," and he shows that the team that pushes the line of scrimmage is the team that's winning. In big games, money games, with everybody in the country watching, their all looking to see how you will do. We went down there and it was all this, "Roll Tide!" We refused to be intimidated. It was "big man on big man," a Marv Goux saying. He'd say, "If they hit you in the mouth spit it back . . . we'll play 'em in the parking lot . . . we'll play 'em in an empty lot." I had the sense of the moment. This is your opportunity to shine.

One of the teammates I admired was Randy Simmrin. He left the year I came in. He could catch the ball and run routes. He had the ability to make plays, the ability to catch the football. He'd average 20 yards a catch, and that was in the days when SC didn't throw the ball quite a bit. He had like 41 catches his senior year, so I idolized him and the numbers he put up. That was unheard of.

Vic Rakhshani was another receiver and a great guy. He's very humble. Vic's a very handsome man. He had done some movies, some camera work, but his demeanor was humble and meek. He's a very strong Christian. He was an intelligent football player.

Vic had a sixth sense and we'd do all kinds of things, real "zoom" stuff; hybrids, movement. Vic about this time was the forerunner to all that stuff that came in, that Paul Hackett and Norv Turner did. He was a guy doing things that are now all the rage. We'd go to the H-back or hybrid receivers, like Norman Chow liked to do.

Marcus Allen, you know, it was interesting. He first came there, he was 19 maybe, a freshman, and Marcus; it was almost like he fit in with all the older guys. He started as a defensive back so I as a receiver didn’t like him. At the first practice he and I got in a fight. What I admired so much about him, he was one of those guys who don't understood how good they really are. It was no big deal.

The only guy I was in awe of was Charlie White. In the huddle I'd be next to him and my eyes would go out of my head. Charlie turns to John Jackson, an assistant coach, and says, "Get him out of here, he's star trippin'."

I didn't see what was so special about Marcus at first, but as time went on and I watched him play, I could understand the athleticism of this man. He is one of the most athletic people I ever played with. He's not a 4.5 sprinter, but he could do it all: throw, catch, run. As I got older White was a great runner but Marcus was a great athlete who could play any position.

When I watched Kevin Arbet, there's few things for me that are really special. I passed a lot of that on to him, like my experience being recruited. I was being recruited by USC and was there when they lost to Cal at Berkeley. I think it was 1977, Cal won 17-14. Joe Roth had led them to a win a couple years earlier.

You'd have thought Cal had won the Rose Bowl, they were so happy, and I'm thinking if SC wins it's just another win. Paul Hackett let me in the Trojans' locker room, and I'll never forget what I saw in there. Anthony Munoz and Charlie White almost came to blows. They were just livid, and you kept hearing comments like, "You're messing with my money," and "We're not gonna go to the Rose Bowl now." You'd have thought somebody had died. Munoz is punching lockers, somebody is screaming, and I thought to myself, "These guys are serious about winning."

So the next week I'm on a recruiting trip to Berkeley, and they play Washington. Washington beat Cal on the last play and those guys said, "Aw, don't worry guys, we beat SC."

I wanted to play for a winner, a champion. At USC, they cared. That's What It Means to Be a Trojan. That sealed it for me. They 'd show a guy from UCLA on TV, and he'd be a pretty boy with a trim Afro. The SC guys looked rugged, they looked like football players. The UCLA guys looked like a central casting player. SC looked like, "I'm hear to play."

For me going to USC and leaving as the all-time leading receiver in school history, I can't tell you how much that meant to me. I wanted my name etched in the annals of USC history. I finished with four school records as the greatest receiver in the history of the University. That was special. For six years or so I'd open the program and see my name there. The fact is a lot of those records have been broken, but my final game was against Notre Dame. We won and I got to direct the band afterwards.

You can't close the script better than that. Coach Robinson introduced me as the "greatest receiver in the history of Southern Cal." We formed a column from the track to the field and the seniors walked off, and you walk, you don’t run. You take the time to shake hands. It's a beautiful thing and remains as one of my all-time great moments.

The only thing that tops that is seeing your son play at the same place you played your last game. Against Louisiana Tech Kevin intercepted a pass and ran 75 yards for a TD. That gives me chills to think of it now, this young man who enters as a walk-on. Hackett was gracious to let him go there with nothing and make something of himself, to become a scholarship player and have Heisman teammates, win national titles and bowl games. We both have national title rings. I was at USC in 1978, his are from 2003 and 2004. I can't tell you the pride I have in being a Trojan. This is not Miami or Florida State, a few sprinklings here and there. Southern California has enjoyed consistent domination since 1920. I'm part of that, and it's awesome.

 

Jeff left school the all-time USC career record-holder at the wide receiver position, which had been occupied by the likes of Lynn Swann just a few years earlier. He earned the Brice Taylor award (1982) in honor of the first Trojan All-American, and the Theodore Gabrielson award as the outstanding player in the Notre Dame game. Simmons was selected for the East-West Shrine Game and the Japan Bowl. He played for John Robinson and Marv Goux with the Los Angeles Rams (1983). His stepson, Kevin Arbet, was a standout on the 2003-04 Trojan national champions.

 

SCOTT TINSLEY

Quarterback

1980 - 1982

 

I was in the Southern California football program for the last five years that John Robinson was the head coach (1978-82). Marv Goux was still with the program and it was still the "glory days" of Trojan football.

I red-shirted in 1978. We won the national title. It was a fun year. We should have won in 1979, too, but a tie with Stanford cost us a second straight number one ranking. My teammates included Charles White, Anthony Munoz, Paul McDonald and Ronnie Lott. From 1979-82, during those four years I was the holder for extra points and field goals. 1980 was my sophomore year. I started the last two games, vs. UCLA and Notre Dame, both big games. We had UCLA beat. Marcus Allen scored late in the fourth quarter and we were ahead, 17-13. A couple of possessions were exchanged, and on their last drive Jay Schroeder scrambled on a fourth down from his own 30. My roommate Jeff Fisher went for the interception, but the ball bounced off his shoulder. Ronnie Lott put on the brakes. Dennis Smith was faced the other way. Freeman McNeil caught it on the dead run. It was like the "immaculate reception." He ran for the winning score. I threw it in the end zone a couple of times, but time ran out on us and that win slipped through our fingers.

We came back the next game against number one Notre Dame at the Coliseum. Michael Harper had to replace Marcus Allen, who was hurt, and he had a fine game and we drilled the Fighting Irish, 20-3, which was a great, great day. In 1980 we had a lot of talent and it could have been one of the all-time great USC teams, but the season is not remembered that way for different reasons, but we had an incredible collection of great athletes that included Lott, Roy Foster, Keith Van Horne, Dennis Smith, Marcus Allen . . .

In 1981 spring camp I thought I'd be the starter, since I'd started the last two games of the 1980 season, which should have been a win over the Bruins and of course was a victory over the Irish. Sean Salisbury was a blue chip freshman quarterback. John Mazur was a sophomore. I thought I'd won the job but they put Mazur in. I thought I was done. I held for field goals in 1981. We had the talent and expectations to go all the way. It was a good season but not a great one. We finished 9-3. We beat Oklahoma, Notre Dame and UCLA. George Achica blocked a field goal in the last second to give us the victory over the Bruins, but we lost the Fiesta Bowl and we lost to Washington.

The 1981 Oklahoma game is one of the greatest in Trojan history. It was the biggest game in the country. We were ranked number one and the Sooners were number two. The game was played early in the year at the Coliseum. It was great but there were mixed feelings for me. I grew up a huge OU fan, but they ran the wishbone or the option. I heard from Barry Switzer but I couldn't do that. I'd been at Putnam City West High School in Oklahoma. Our coach didn't do that. All the others went to the option but we didn't. I ran up good numbers and went through the recruiting process. I knew Switzer. I'd been to the Barry Switzer camp and he said, "We recruit athletes." I'm not gonna go to Oklahoma State or Kansas State. OU recruited me out of respect but I chose not to play for them because their offense was not tailored to my throwing style. So, when they came out to play us, I wanted to play and I didn't wanna lose to them. I didn't wanna lose to anyone but I really wanted to beat Oklahoma.

It was a huge game but extremely disappointing not to play. I thought I'd be the starter but it didn't work out that way. One thing I never forgot was they led us 24-21 with two minutes left, and OU had the ball on our 48, fourth and one, and if he goes for it and gets the first down, they win. They ran the ball good all day but fumbled a bunch of exchanges. They'd fumble 10 and lose six of 'em, a lot on quarterback-center exchanges. Because of that Switzer punted, and Mazur drove 'em down the field.

We had maybe two seconds to go and we're down on their two. We could kick and settle for a tie, but that's not the USC style, so we go for the win. The TV cameras picked up on Coach Robinson talking to Mazur, whose a sophomore in his third game, but Robinson's got his arm around him, he's smiling and saying, "Hey, this is why you come to USC."

It was typical of Coach Robinson, who stayed calm and imparted that to his players. Other coaches would be frantic, waving their hands, yelling into their headsets, but not Robinson and not the Trojans. He sends Mazur back out there and he hits Fred Cornwell for a touchdown pass and glory, 28-24. Robinson was great with that.

We beat people up at the line of scrimmage. The quarterback's in a good situation. We always ran the ball well, and when you did throw it the second safety was up on the line, they were always forced into a man-to-man defense, and it was easier to throw it.

Coach Robinson was very much like that, calm and reassuring. Before the 1980 UCLA game when I got the start, we were stretching and he just takes this personal moment to walk over to me and says, "Take a look around." The Coliseum's ringed with cardinal and gold, and blue and gold, and he says, "Just like Putnam City West." There's 90,000-plus at the Coliseum. When you'd play certain games, you'd come out of the tunnel, and usually a couple times a year you'd look and the peristyle end was full, and that's when you knew it was a big game.

In the Fiesta Bowl loss to Joe Paterno, Curt Warner and Penn State, 26-10, it was the only game in my five years at USC where I felt we had no chance to win. We had a great team. Marcus Allen set all the rushing record and won the Heisman Trophy, but we lost 26-10. It might as well have been 50-10. Curt Warner out-played Marcus.

I was friends with Mazur and Sean, but they were ahead of me. Mazur got hit late in the Fiesta Bowl. I said, "He better get up," but he stayed down long enough he had to be taken out of the game. Sean went in the second half, but we never cranked it up and lost.

In 1982, Salisbury was installed as the number one quarterback. I'm told that Randall Cunningham, the younger brother of Sam "Bam" Cunningham, wanted to come to USC, but was told that they were pinning all their hopes on Sean. Cunningham went to UNLV and became an All-Pro at Philadelphia, and the USC program went on a period of down years. 

We had another good team in 1982 but fell just short enough to prevent us from reaching our usual goals. Mazur got mad that he lost his starting job to Sean and he transferred to Texas A&M, which put me right back in the mix in the second half when Sean blew out his knee. I started the last four games in my senior year. It was ironic that in my career, I started twice against UCLA and twice against Notre Dame. In 1982 we played the Bruins and the Fighting Irish back-to-back again, just like 1980. ESPN had just started SportsCenter and they highlighted these games. They were the ABC games of the week. I got four of those and more airtime than if I'd stayed in my home state of Oklahoma.

We lost the opener at Florida. It was super-hot hot and humid. Wilbur Marshall was all over Sean all afternoon. We played a re-match in Norman and they used these chop blocks on the corners. I remember we practiced for it hard, and we beat Oklahoma, 12-0. That ended a string of consecutive games the Sooners had scored at least two points, an NCAA record, and then after that USC broke that record until SC was shut out some years later. I didn't start but Robinson let me play in front of my hometown friends and family. He was classy.

Sean got hurt. At number seven Arizona State, I came in late in the fourth quarter. I did okay but we got beat 17-10. We had the ball on their goal ready to go in but we sent a guy in motion too early and got hit with a penalty. We couldn't stick it in. I got the California start and we killed them, 42-0. We went to Arizona and had a shootout on the road, winning 48-41.

The UCLA game was a classic. It was the first Trojan-Bruin game played in the Rose Bowl after UCLA left the Coliseum. Their fans got tired of walking past all our shrines every game. We trailed 20-6 well into the second half, but we scored twice. We called time-out on their one-yard line. I called a misdirection pass to Mark Boyer, our tight end. Then there was confusion, with a lot on the line as to who would go to the Rose Bowl if UCLA wins or ties, and we went for two. I thought they'd play man, try for Jeff Simmons, but I got blindsided by Karl Morgan and we lost, 20-19.

We had a chance to redeem our season the last game against Notre Dame. We came back to win, 17-13. Mike Harper had another good game against the Fighting Irish. He had good games against them in 1980 and '82. It was another game where we're gonna go for the win, not the tie. Let the other teams go for ties, Trojans go for wins, and Michael went over the goal without the ball. The referee didn’t call it and glory was ours.

In 1979 Tim Shannon was a freshman. Jeff Fisher wen to the Chicago Bears after the 1980 season and Tim moved in with me to the Moon apartment behind sorority row. He was my roommate and close friend for two years, from 1981-82. His father is Mike Shannon, the great St. Louis Cardinals' third baseman and longtime announcer. I met with him all the time. Mr. Shannon was a classic Cardinal. He'd come into town for the cardinal and gold game and we always had a great time. Whenever I've been on the road for many years on business, I'd always take clients up to Mike's private box at Busch Stadium and introduce them to Mr. Shannon.

I never heard the story that Tom Cruise was going to enroll at USC until Risky Business became a blockbuster, but I did meet Kelly McGillis from Top Gun. Someone said she graduated from USC. I don't know. I knew Jennifer Nicholson, Jack Nicholson's daughter, really well. I think she's a clothing designer and does well. Lou Brock's son played football at USC and was great athlete.

Marv Goux was like a second dad to me, and a great man. I speak for a lot of people when I say that about him. Chris Smith was the best baseball hitter I ever saw. Tim played baseball as well as football, so I watched a lot of ballgames. Rod Dedeaux's team won the 1978 national title, and I remember being amazed at the varsity alumni games when Tom Seaver, Dave Kingman and all these superstars would come out. Smith just comes over to the fence and says, "I’ll hit two out today," and he did. He'd come back and knock on the door when he was done with winter ball, usually just in time for the Notre Dame game. I don't know about his defense, but he just wanted to hit. Bill Bordley was finishing up at USC when I got there, and he was a flame-thrower who would have been a Major League star had he not hurt himself.

I've followed the Trojans and really like how Pete Carroll handles the situation at quarterback. He's the very best coach in the nation. I'm good friends with Colt Brennan. I live in Orange County and he came out of the Mater Dei program that produced Matt Leinart. His coach, Bruce Rollinson, is a great Trojan.

 

Scott Tinsley's first year in the program was 1978, when Troy captured the national title. He was the starting quarterback in his senior year (1982), earning the Marv Goux award for contributing the most in the UCLA game, when he led the Trojans on a furious fourth quarter comeback until a courageous two-point attempt was thwarted by the Bruins' Karl Morgan. Scott played in the 1983 Japan Bowl.

 

 

MICKEY MEISTER WAS MY FRIEND

www.American-Reporter.com, 2006

 

Marin County, California is one of the most affluent, prosperous places in the world. Not only does it contain some of the richest zip codes and home prices, but its leafy environs symbolize westernized Ivy League reverence for education and scholarship. Consequently, graduates of Marin's high schools regularly matriculate at the top colleges this nation has to offer, using their advantages and contacts to vault into great success in life.

            Out of all the graduating seniors who made up Marin County's Class of 1979, it can be argued that the one most likely to succeed was Mickey Meister, 18 years of age, wearing the cap 'n' gown of the counties' most prestigious school of the era, Redwood High. Among the laundry list of traits that make up "advantages" in the modern world, Mick ran the table.

            Mick stood six-feet, five inches tall and weighed 220 pounds. Look up "handsome" in the dictionary, and a picture of Mick in 1979 appears. He had a lion's mien of brown hair and a smile that lit up a room. Girls drooled over him and guys wanted to warm themselves in his sunshine. Everybody loved him. Or envied him.

            Mick either had a photographic memory or was just gifted when it came to numbers. Either way, he was a math genius who could compute figures in his mind like Dustin Hoffman in "Rainman".

            Mick was an only child. He lived in a mansion in Ross, one of the most exclusive enclaves in one of the most exclusive of locations. Everything he wanted was handed to him. His daily allowance matched the meal money provided to top professional athletes.

            Speaking of sports, Mick was named National High School Athlete of the Year in 1979. His competition included John Elway from Granada Hills and Jay Schroeder from Palisades. It was on the baseball field where I knew Mick, and where our friendship developed.

            When I got to Redwood, I began to hear stories about Meister's legend from the Central Marin Babe Ruth League and junior high hoops. He was said to be a man among boys. I spotted Mick for the first time playing tennis on the College of Marin courts. He wore a perfectly matched white outfit, had a state-of-the art racquet, and the strokes to go with it. He also could talk "trash" with the best of them.

            In those days, Redwood under taskmaster coach Al Endriss was one of the two or three top prep baseball programs in America. Endriss was nothing if not hard-nosed.

            "This isn't a Democracy," he told us. "It's a dictatorship."

            Every once in a while a skilled sophomore would make the varsity. Mick made the "big club" as a freshman. The tradition was for "rookies" to carry equipment and handle menial tasks. Mick would have none of it. He knew he was destined to be the best pitcher Redwood ever had, and demanded the number 19 jersey that was always worn by the staff ace. Meister never paid Endriss the respect he demanded through fear and intimidation. He was kicked off the team, and his teammates voted to keep him off. Endriss knew he needed him, though, and brought him back. Mick nonchalantly sauntered back, never uttering a whiff of apology or remorse. Mick went through Redwood's female population like Patton's Army in the Low Countries. He drank and did drugs. He seemed impervious to any ill effects. In 1977, despite the fact that our staff included four pitchers who would play professionally (five would earn athletic scholarships) Mick was the main man. The honor of starting the league opener was going to go either to Mick or myself. I learned that it was Mick when I walked in the library and Mick stood up and announced, loudly, that "Super sophomore Mickey Meister will be starting for the Giants today." He was 11-1, earned all-league honors, and led us not only to a 33-4 record and the North Coast Section title, but the "mythical" National Championship of high school baseball. In his junior year, Mick was 14-0, made consensus prep All-America, and Redwood again won the NCS (finishing number two in the nation). As a senior, Mick capped the greatest pitching career in Marin history with another All-American season.

            The world was at his feet. In my life I have never known a more self-confident egotist than the teenage Mick. Despite his braggadocio, Mick was impossible not to like. He had the copyright on charisma, and as Dizzy Dean once said, "If you can do it, it ain't braggin'."

            The Boston Red Sox drafted him, but Mick decided to accept a full-ride to the University of Southern California. I attended USC, too. It was there where I cemented my friendship with him. Mick's ride at this private school was worth about $70,000. It was also at this time that small fissures began to appear in Mick's life.

            His father, Jack, had been a minor league pitcher who had built his own insurance business, but he was starting to run into financial problems. His mother, June, had been an aspiring actress who claimed to have dated Marlon Brando before marrying Jack. When Mick pitched in high school, June would sit in her car with a bottle of booze. Her alcoholism was a known "secret." June was a talker. When you called Mick, you had to give yourself 15 minutes because she could talk your head off if she answered the phone. As soon as Mick graduated from Redwood, his folks broke up. June moved into a small apartment in Greenbrae, and Jack moved to Atlanta, where he married a black woman. She was not Tyra Banks. Mick's USC teammates called her "Aunt Jemima". For the first time in his heretofore charmed life, Mick had to hold his tongue.

            Still, USC was a blast. In his sophomore year, Mick led the Trojans with a 9-3 record and was incredibly popular with all the beautiful USC coeds. But he partied too hard. He rarely attended class, unless it was something like Film Appreciation and was held at night. Mick was a film buff and an authority on all things rock 'n' roll, especially Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones. Jagger was his not just his namesake but his role model, which explains much too much.

            Mick spent hours playing video games instead of studying. He would find a smart, pretty girl and cheat off of her. He drank every night. He had no work ethic, and it affected his pitching. By his senior year he was out of favor with legendary coach Rod Dedeaux. The L.A. Times, noting that four years earlier he was considered the nation's best high school recruit, called him the "enigma." Instead of putting his math skills to use as an aspiring accountant or engineer, Mick became a card shark. He outsmarted his teammates in poker games, and on trips to Vegas learned how to count cards out of a three-deck shoe. Mick had chutzpa in a big way. If he did not sleep with a girl, he claimed to sleep with them. One of his "conquests" approached Mick when he came to a campus restaurant with his teammates.

            "Hi, I'm Leslie," she said. "I thought I should introduce myself, since we've been sleeping with each other." It did not faze Mick in any way. The things that would buckle a normal guy had no affect on him. He was brazen. 

            Mick never graduated. His standing as a prospect fell precipitously, and Seattle drafted him in the low rounds. In the minor leagues, he drank heavily and took advantage of the small town groupies. After two inauspicious seasons, his once-bright baseball career was over.

            Mick ended up in the south bay area of Northern California, living in San Jose and eventually Fremont. He always had the touch with women. His girlfriends were always attractive. He always cheated on them. They always deserted him. He always found a replacement. Mick actually found gainful employment, counseling students at Silicon Valley College on their career prospects. It amazed me that he could hold a job like that. It seemed utterly incongruous that somebody like Mick "counseled" students. He was never in his office when you called him, bragging that he played golf and expensed everything on the company dime. He was always juggling women; the divorcee did not know about the secretary who did not know about the college chick. His friends felt sorry for the girls but kept their mouths shut, even when they would ask them, "How could he lie to me like that?"

            Eventually, things started going south in the South Bay. "Mick sightings" described a haggard guy who no longer resembled the sports stud of his youth. His mother passed away, and for all practical purposes Mick lost touch with his old man. He drank at work and was the subject of sexual harassment complaints. He was suspected of everything from absenteeism to embezzlement. Mick became addicted to gambling and owed markers to bookies all over the country. He was fired.

            Mick had friends with money. He went to all of them, but over time each of them cut him off. After being evicted, he would stay with friends, but always outstayed his welcome. A constant tobacco chewer, he would leave his dip cups around the house for the wives and kids of his friends to find, and eventually he just spat on the carpet, blaming the children. Mick's friend, Mac, was the last to help him. He tried to direct his credit card number only to motels and restaurants, but when he discovered that the money he lent Mick went to wine, not food and shelter, he had to cut him off and change his phone number.

            Mick then lived in a car - or worse - in Texas. I thought about Mick on Thanksgiving in 2003. On the one hand, I know he had nobody to blame but himself, and that if I had been blessed with his gifts I would have used them to the limit. Mick never had any spiritual guidance. He laughed at the idea of religious faith, and seemed to admire people who got away with bad deeds. He loved the way O.J. Simpson had gotten away with murder, and thought Bill Clinton's ability to walk through the raindrops was a textbook for life.  On the other hand, I could not help but feel thankful that I have what I have. My problems were minuscule compared to Mickey Meister's, and while he may not have acknowledge God, I prayed that he would find peace.

            The last of Mick's friends to see him before he left for Texqas in 2003 reported that as he was being driven to the bus station, he was still bragging about his latest sexual conquest. Then he thought about his situation, and finally it seemed to hit him. Still, the film buff in him was yearning to get out.

            "I don't know how this happened to me, but this could be a movie," he said. "What would we call it? An 'American Tragedy'?"

            Three years later, Mickey Meister passed away.. To those who knew what had become of him, this was news we expected since 2003. He was 44 years old. His life is a Shakespearean cautionary tale of wasted talent and excess. He was a man of extraordinary flaw, yet also one of great charisma. It is the fervent hope of this old friend of Mick’s that somehow that charisma, combined with Mick’s spiritual knowledge of death’s impending harvest - and hopeful repentance - impressed God enough to grant salvation to his soul.

 

I was his friend, so I wanted to know what happene. When Mickey became homeless in Texas, I wrote an article that ran nationally for The American Reporter, trying not just to understand his cautionary tale but maybe to help him, if I could.

            The article found its way to Texas, where residents of Earl Campbell’s old hometown of Tyler were trying to make sense of the strange, oddly entertaining drifter named Mickey. The article detailed Mick’s success, his failures and his faults. The desired effect was that he would grasp the realities of his life, causing him to right his ship; take stock in himself; stop drinking; find peace through Christ.

            I heard through friends that Mick was peeved at the article, especially since it shed light that made it harder to flimflam local Texas women. But he had a strange pride in his faults, causing him to show the article around town, cherry-picking the parts about his sports heroics and, oddly, bragging that “it’s all true.” Even the parts about his childhood affluence were used to create the image that a trust fund was waiting, that he just needed enough to get by, a loan, an investment in an Internet stock that was a sure thing until his ship came in.

            The article hit a nerve. Numerous old Redwood and USC people came across it and contacted me with “Meister stories.” Mick’s circle of friends started getting emails from Tyler, Texas. The typical query went like this: “I have a female friend who has befriended a man named Mickey Meister. She is not very attractive and quite flattered to receive male attention. Each day she meets Mickey at ‘TGIF Friday’s,’ where he spends the day drinking on my friend’s tab until she arrives after work. They drink and eat, she pays the tab, and they go. Mickey has access to her bank account, ATM and 401K. He promises he will pay her back, as he is investing in a big deal. He claims a doctorate from USC, to be a former big league All-Star, and other fantastic fables.”

            Mick’s friends, myself included, tried to warn off these “lonely hearts club women,” apparently with some success, but there was always another one. Finally, some months ago, he talked one of them into coming to California with him. She weighed close to 300 pounds and had given Mick access to her savings. Looking back, Mick was coming home to die. He knew his liver could not take the alcohol abuse he put it through. The handsome pitching ace was unrecognizable the last few years.

            But, again. . . why? As his friend, Alex Jacobs once said, “Mick’s a complex human being.” To figure out the roots of his demise, one must look to a youth in which his physical, mental and economic gifts were so great that he took them for granted. To those of us who knew him, this was plainly obvious.

            As an athlete, he showed up and dominated. Females? Same thing. Money? It seemingly grew on the trees of his Ross surroundings. Academics? His photographic memory meant he did not need to study. His parents doted on him; his friends were more like apostles. Door after door. . . welcome, Mick.

            But Mick cheated on girlfriends and stole from his male friends. One good pal had a computer heisted by Mick. He was dishonest. Employment never lasted. He took money from a Marin County bank that employed him as a teller, telling a friend who inquired how he could do such a thing, “It’s really pretty easy once you get past the morality of it.”

When caught red-handed stealing, cheating and lying, he just smiled. He was proud of his ability to get away with stuff. He loved Bill Clinton because he was a slickster who never got caught. He used his math skills to cheat at cards. 

            My personal, humble analysis is that he lacked spiritual guidance. As it says in the Gospel According to Matthew, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, only to lose his soul?” It was in this verse that I found strange hope for Mick, because in the end he lost the whole world. This was why I wrote about him in 2003, hoping he would realize this, repent and save his soul, for in God’s mystery our Earthly stumbles can be the pathway to Heaven. This remains my hope.

       Mick’s friends will gather for memories of him at Marin Joe’s on April 29.

 

 

SHAM OR SLAM?

StreetZebra, 2000

 

A crowd of 500 fans and camera crews from Parade magazine, NBC and ESPN showed up at Riverside's Poly High School on the evening of January 28, 1982 to see if Cheryl Miller would score 100 points against Norte Vista High. Norte Vista was one of the worst high school girls' hoop teams of all time, coming in at 0-13. They had already lost to North Riverside, 117-8. Norte Vista had lost to North Riverside, 126-11, the previous year. Miller had scored 77 in a 137-11 win over them in 1981, and they had gone through three coaches in three seasons.

Was it just coincidence that Miller and her teammates broke eight national and C.I.F. records when the TV cameras were rolling, or was it a setup? Should Miller have played the entire game?

"I guess I picked a nice night to do something," Miller said. "I didn't set out to score 100 points."

Or did she? When it was all over, she had scored 105. Her brother, Reggie, a 6-5 junior forward on Poly's boys' team, scored 32 that night in a 74-69 overtime loss to Norte Vista.

The 137 points scored by the Millers may be a world record for a sister-brother combination.

Cheryl became the fifteenth schoolgirl to pass the 100-point mark. Linda Paige of Dobbins Tech had scored 103 the previous year, and Marion Boyd of Lonaconing Central High in Maryland had scored 156 in 1924.

She was different, however. Flashier. A new kind of female showstopper.

"I guess I have to take responsibility for it," said Poly coach Floyd Evans after the century-mark game. "We didn't pull back. But what else should I tell my kids? Should I tell them to pull up when they get a good shot?"

The fact that a 30-second clock existed eliminated Norte Vista from the option of stalling. T.J. Bienas, Norte Vista's coach, had told the team beforehand that if they failed to "show up" or fouled on purpose, they would not get a letter.

When you are 0-13, getting a letter is not such great motivation, so one has to ask themselves if the cameras and the situation all boiled to a conspiratorial head that night.

The question comes down to coach's responsibility. Do you let a player break a record while showing up another team in the process? Do you allow your team to be humiliated at the expense of somebody else's glory?

Nevertheless, the 6-3 Miller has gone down in history as one of the greatest women's basketball players ever. Her high school teams were 132-4, winning four Southern Section championships, while she garnered consensus All-American honors. At USC she led the Trojans to two national championships, was everybody's All-American, and was the top player in the nation. In 1984 she led the United States to victory in the L.A. Olympic Games, and she is one of the few women who could dunk.

Miller transcended gender roles by working as a courtside reporter for TNT during NBA games, and had a stint as Troy's coach. She is now the volatile coach of the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury. Emotion is a Miller trait. Reggie played at UCLA before blossoming into a star forward with the Indiana Pacers. He is well known for his taunting and antics during Play-Off games.

Cheryl, like Reggie, is respected as a player, but is not loved by everyone. Once after Southern Cal beat Cal State Long Beach, she sat on the rim blowing kisses. Another time, after beating Tennessee, she did a cartwheel in front of the Lady Vols.' bench.

"I don't consider myself a hot dog," said Miller. "But I'm not a subtle player."

There is not enough mustard in America to cover this hot dog! She was the female version of Reggie Jackson.

"I know I wouldn't allow some of the things Cheryl does," Cal State Long Beach coach Joan Bonvicini once said.

Cheryl toned her act down considerably when the media spotlight of the 1984 Games was on her.

SC coach Chris Gobrecht thinks that the Women of Troy can return to the days of glory, having landed Harbor City Narbonne's Ebony Hoffman.

Hoffman may be a great like Miller, but she is a reserved personality who will not create the kind of controversy Cheryl did.

Cheryl's CIF record was almost broken when Lisa Leslie of Morningside High School in Inglewood scored 101 points in the first half of a 1990 game vs. South Torrance, but the South Torrance coach refused to allow the team to come out for the second half.

Love her or hate her, one thing is for sure: Cheryl Miller helped put women's basketball on the map. The WNBA and players like Leslie can thank Cheryl, one of the pioneers who created opportunities now available to women in basketball.

 

 

BRENT MOORE

Defensive Tackle

1983 - 1985

 

Most guys at USC were prep All-Americans. Cal told me I could play, they needed me, but they didn't offer a scholarship. They needed help right away on the line, but go figure, they want me to come and play but I have to pay my way? John Berry from Walnut Creek; we were two guys from Northern California who made the same circuit of recruiting trips. Nebraska, here. So the Cal coach said, "Yeah, we'll let you know. We'll talk turkey." In this case he offers me a "chance" to walk on. I said, "I'll go to USC." USC had in the mean time offered me a ride. San Diego State called, but those trips weren't that great, so I just figured, I'm going to SC.

            I came from Marin County and USC was a real shock for me. Some guy named Ron Blum was supposed to be the best athlete ever to come out of Marin County. Tom Zechlin was my coach at San Marin. Marin is where Pete Carroll came from. Now I'm at a place where guys played at these powerhouses like Mater Dei, Long Beach Poly and Edison. "Blue chip" superstars who'd played in the most high-profile situations.

It was what drove me. I was not a high school All-American. I was undersized at 210 pounds. I graduated around 230 or 235. It was an uphill battle all the way. I had a chip on my shoulder, but I broke my foot working out in the summer and had to sit two weeks and watch practice. Finally I get out there and pump myself up, "Hey, I'm on scholarship. I think I can go with these guys." So what did they do? They put me with the walk-ons. I spent three years on the scout team. John Robinson was the coach and one day Kennedy Pola dives a blast at me. I was at linebacker and I'm bringing it to Pola. Robinson says, "Take it easy on him." I'm up against Don Mosebar, Roy Foster, Bruce Matthews, Ken Ruettgers. I played with him in Green Bay. I practiced against those guys. We played Ohio State in the 1985 Rose Bowl. Ruettgers got really good in three months. His technique was perfect. I just thought, "If he doesn't kill me in practice, I'm gonna be okay." He played in Green Bay forever.

            When it came to academics I was fortunate. John Berry was pre-med. He was a nose guard. Tony Colorito was pre-med. Matt Koart took classes with me. He was gonna be a lawyer, so we studied a lot. My group had help, but now they have a real set-up for student athletes. But we were coming off academic probation so they really pushed academics. I got a business degree.

USC was great. I recall my freshman year, the Oklahoma game. We were one, they were two. I grew up an OU fan, so I'm not sure who I was rooting for awhile. I didn't know SC history, but I was lucky that through Marv Marinovich, when I was a freshman he hooked me up with Marv Goux. It was his recommendation that got me in. Gil Haskell recruited me but it was on Marv's recommendation that the offer was made.

I attended Craig Fertig's football camp at Oregon State, where he was the coach at that time. I would hang out with Marv Marinovich's son, Todd Marinovich. Marv was married to Craig's sister so that's how the connection was made. I was there in the summer and Marv Marinovich would have Todd there, and he worked him hard. I spent several weeks there every summer and got to know Todd very well as he was growing up, and he was being recruited to SC as I was leaving. I'm pulling for Todd.

The "Five-oh" was our spot. The "Nine-oh" was for the frat guys; we were stuck at the "Five-oh." Sometimes it was hard to be a student-athlete. I remember the week of the Notre Dame game some of the coaches, most notably Artie Gigantino said, "I don't want to see any of those damn textbooks." The focus was on football.

Pete Carroll and I met up here at the Marin County Hall of Fame dinner. I also met him at "Salute to Troy," where teams from 25 and 50 years before come and are introduced to the current squad. I just said, "Hi Pete, I'm from San Marin," and he said, "Ooooh, San Marin, huh!" I'm told he played Pop Warner football in Marin against Dan Fouts. Pete was with the Redwood Junior Giants, Fouts was with the Drake Junior Pirates, so maybe Marin's not all that light in football after all.

I'm involved in the Pop Warner program and we play the teams from central Marin and there's always three or four guys with SC hats, which is the Carroll influence. You know, I was a spoiled kid from Marin, but I had my eyes open. I was dropped off in Green Bay, Wisconsin, plus I'm coming from USC, where you pick your cleats off a shelf, but at Green Bay you have to buy them. USC was a step up from Green Bay, especially back then. We started 1-9 and that makes everybody freak out. There's a lot of pressure that goes with that.

In the meanwhile, Colorito goes to Denver and they play in the Super Bowl. When you win everybody loves everybody. It was culture shock socially, and all the females seemingly were married at 15 or 18. Basically I did time there. Ruettgers got a house there, but most just pack it up and are ready to leave at the end of the season, after four or five months straight of cold.

They had me switch positions five times at Green Bay and then I blew my ACL. I asked for a release, that's how bad I was willing to go anywhere else, to try again, but they had a roster limit at camp and I sat the year out. I thought I could go into rec sports and get through it. Players have a hard time leaving the game. So I retired and discovered everybody was working. In life I was behind everybody.

What It Means to Be a Trojan means that I've grown to love USC. I'm very proud to have gone to SC, it was the best thing I've ever done. I played football for the Trojans, played in the Rose Bowl. I'm not from a Trojan family. I'm from an Oregon State family, but I didn't follow the Pac-10 or SC history.

I got "stuck" there, and what a great place to get stuck. As I became more interested, I can appreciate this, all the USC people in so-called "Cal country," and the band plays Conquest, which is the most Politically Incorrect song in sports, depicting the Spanish Conquistadors conquering some Aztec village. But the song gets my blood going no matter how many times I hear it. By the time you're a senior you get a little jaded, but it still gets you, and walking through the narrow Coliseum tunnel, which is always too short for me, and those lights almost hit my head, and there's the Coliseum; the crowd, the horse, the band, the colors, the Hollywood sign, the downtown skyline, the Miracle Mile, the mountains and the Hollywood hills on one side, the ocean in the distance to the west. Count me in.

 

Brent Moore was in the program from 1981 to 1985 before playing for the Green Bay Packers.

 

BIG UNIT WAS BAY AREA BOY OF SUMMER

San Francisco Examiner, 2001

 

PHOENIX – He is the Paul Bunyan of baseball. In the modern day version of David vs. Goliath, he is Goliath. This guy is not Everyman. He is to pitching what Rommel was to desert combat, Chuck Yeager to aviation, Einstein to quantum theory.

            Randy Johnson’s natural skills make him stand out above and beyond the normal, the average, and the humdrum.

            Still, this Frankenstein of baseball, this 6-10 millionaire <I>wunderkind</I> who is so different, so skilled, so gifted, is in fact very much like the rest of us.

           

The chair

It had been a few years since I last saw Randy Johnson, but I attended USC with him, and when I approached him in the locker room and asked if he had a few minutes, he said, “Of course I do.”

            Now, Johnson has a comfortable recliner next to his locker at Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix, but he was not sitting in it.

            “Do you mind if I sit here?” I inquired.

            He nodded “sure,” and so I did.

            Apparently, the recliner is not available to just anybody. Pitcher Mike Morgan dropped by, opened a nearby refrigerator, and offered me a beer.

            “No thanks,” I said. Gee, what a nice guy.

            “Can I get you a sandwich?” asks Matt Williams.

            Wait a minute! I am getting goofed on by the Diamondbacks.

            “I’m not supposed to be sitting in your chair, am I?” I ask the Big Unit.

            He smiles.

            “You know what?” he says. “Us Trojans stick together. You can sit anywhere you like.”

            You gotta love the Good Ol’ Boy Network. I conduct the interview, which lasts the better part of 45 minutes, sitting in the recliner.

            It eventually got so comfortable I almost told Morgan that I had reconsidered that offer of a cold brew.  

            The conversation centers not on Johnson’s great career statistics, or “what is it like to be Randy Johnson?”, which seems to be the semi-boring focus of 99 percent of modern-day sports interviews. At least not the Randy Johnson we see on TV. No, it is time to take a trip down Memory Lane, to The Big Unit’s roots.

 

Bercovich Furniture

            When the punditocracy of baseball talks about a guy’s background, they often refer to the high school he played at. High school baseball is very much a rite of passage, as American as apple pie. However, it may not be the place where a baseball player best hones his budding skills. The prep season usually starts when the weather is colder, wetter. The season goes about 30 games, give or take, and outside interests like school, girls, friends, and cliques can encroach on ones’ concentration.

            Summer ball is where progress is made. It can be American Legion, Connie Mack, Joe DiMaggio or Senior Babe Ruth League. Kids play more games than during the high school season. They travel, they face great competition, and the team itself often draws from a larger population base than the school, making for an “area all-star” concept.

            The weather is warm. The players have fewer distractions in the summer. They are more skilled by August than they were in May.

            Years ago, there was a team in Baltimore called Mama Leone’s. The sponsor was, as you can guess, an Italian restaurant. Reggie Jackson played for Leone’s. Sports Illustrated wrote an article about them. Today, if you are a top prospect in Southern California, you might travel 30 miles or so to play for Long Beach’s Connie Mack team at Blair Field, or the Orange County Dogs.

            In the 1970s and ‘80s, such a team played hard, fast baseball at Laney College in Oakland, and on dusty ball fields from one end of the Bay Area to the other – and beyond.

            They were called Bercovich Furniture. If that name sounds familiar, it is because Mr. Bercovich, who ran a furniture store (and maybe a few other things) was a close, personal friend of Raiders’ owner Al Davis. Whenever talk would break out about new stadium financing, or a re-shuffling of the ownership group, this guy Berkovich’s name would pop up. You never saw his picture. He was not a media dude, but he was a mover and a shaker.

            Maybe he owned some land, or had some parking lots that could be converted into the Raiders new football palace. Whatever. He had money, he loved sports, and he was connected to the powers-that-be.

            He also liked to see young athletes prosper.

            Berkovich had the dough. Ray Luce knew the game. Luce had passion for it. Luce ran Berkovich Furniture for years. Often, they played double-headers – in different cities. Maybe an afternoon game at Laney, then a nightcap in Walnut Creek. Heck, they played triple-headers. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Luce’s team might play 120 games!

            Luce loved baseball and kids. He liked to be around them. The guys who played for him swear by him. One of those guys was a very tall, thin southpaw who had been born in Walnut Creek, and was pitching at Livermore High School.

            “Yeah, we’d play three games a day,” recalled Johnson. “We’d play in Hayward, we’d play in Oakland. We’d play wherever there was a game and a team to play against. It was a Bay Area All-Star team. Jack Del Rio played for us. Don Wakematsu, Doug Henry, Kevin Maas. We had guys from Berkeley. Guys would travel to play, or move in from outside the area.”

            Wakematsu and Henry were stars at Tennyson High in Hayward who went on star at Arizona State. Henry, of course, has been a top relief pitcher for years, including productive seasons with the Giants. Del Rio starred in baseball, basketball and football at Hayward High, and led Southern Cal to the 1985 Rose Bowl victory before playing linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings.

            Mass, from Oakland’s Bishop O’Dowd High School, played at the University of California and, for a couple of seasons at Yankee Stadium in the early 1990s, looked like the next Babe Ruth.

            “It was the best team I’ve ever been on,” says Johnson, obviously making this reference within context. “The caliber of ball was excellent, and it was a lot of fun.”

            Another Bay Area left-hander, Bill “Spaceman” Lee, once made a similar statement when he said the best team he ever saw was “either the 1968 USC Trojans, or any Taiwan little league team.” Space did concede that the 1975 Cincinnati Reds could compete in this league, as well.

            Speaking of USC, that is where Mr. Johnson went next. You hear about these players who turn down millions of George Steinbrenner’s or Ted Turner’s dollars to play college ball at USC or Stanford. This must have been the case for Randy, right?

            Not quite.

            “Johnson was not the best pitcher on the team,” says former Berkovich teammate Bruno Caravalho, who also played with him at USC.

“Luce would have us travel all over the Bay Area,” says Johnson, “and beyond the Bay Area. We’d go to the Wine Country, the Central Valley, anywhere. My Dad would often drive me. It was a bit of a haul, but Dad would take me to the games. I really appreciate my Dad. He played mostly rec league softball, but he saw that I had potential ability.

            “Luce was mostly a good organizer. He wasn’t the greatest manager I ever played for, but there’s no doubt he knew how to put a good team together.”

 

Livermore: Cy Young award capitol

            Livermore, California is a place known mostly for its laboratory, where nuclear weapons are worked on by government scientists. Other than that, it is just down the road from Altamont, where The Rolling Stones’ held their infamous free concert in 1970, which resulted in a Hell’s Angel stabbing a fan.

            Today, it has become a bedroom community, and BART makes it easier for its residents to commute to San Francisco or Oakland.

            “It was a small town,” recalls Johnson. “At least, it seemed like a small town. It’s 40 or 50,000, but it’s a place where you are removed from city life. It was pretty rural.”

The Big Unit was more of farm boy type, not a sophisticate from the San Francisco Bay Area. He reflected what Livermore was all about. Still, little old Livermore has produced more Cy Young awards than any town of comparable size in America. Sure, Johnson has three, but Mark Davis, a left-hander out of Granada High, won one in 1989 at San Diego.

“I never thought about that,” says Johnson. “I remember when Davis was at Granada, that was a few years before me, and I’d go to see him pitch.”  

Johnson went 4-4 at Livermore High in 1982, but the Cowboys did not give him much support. His 1.65 ERA and 121 strikeouts in 66 1/3 innings pitched in 1982 landed him All-East Bay Athletic League and All-County honors. Atlanta (yes, Turner’s team) made him their fourth round draft choice. USC came around with a scholarship offer.              

                       

"I thought he was a little wacky."

            Johnson discussed his future with his dad. They both knew that he was a work in progress, a project.

            Heck, this guy was the Hoover Damn. The Tennessee Valley Authority. The Pyramids.

            Minor league baseball might have eaten him alive, so it was decided that the University of Southern California, a national powerhouse led by the greatest collegiate coach of all times, Raoul “Rod” Dedeaux, would be the best place for him to hone not just his diamond skills, but his life skills, too.

            Dedeaux, winner of 10 National Championships, is to his sport what John Wooden is to his. This guy is a genius, right? He must be a coach who combined the discipline of Vince Lombardi, the tact of Mike Krzyzewski, and the strategic thinking of…Napoleon.

            “I thought he was kind of wacky,” says Randy.

            Some guys just hang on too long, and that seems to have been Rod’s case.

            “He was the best baseball man I ever played for,” said Lee, who starred at USC 15 years before Johnson arrived. “He didn’t look like a ballplayer, but he had eyes in the back of his head. He knew every play that would happen before it happened. He was in the seventh inning when the game was in the third.”

            “Rod never really was on hand,” says Johnson of the Dedeaux he played for. (Assistant coach) “Keith Brown ran the program. I mean, he surrounded himself with good baseball people, and he was a fun guy who I enjoyed playing for. I still run into Rod in LA and it’s always nice to see him.”

            After playing a couple years of minor league ball, I was finishing up my degree at USC during this period. While Dedeaux was at the top of his game during Spaceman’s era, he was pushing retirement during the Unit’s time. Dedeaux, a millionaire trucking executive who “moonlighted” as SC’s coach for a dollar a year out of love, had never been a full-time collegiate coach. By the 1980s, I recall him showing up for games late, sometimes after attending a cocktail party.

            Still, the Trojans had one of the most talented college baseball teams ever assembled. Aside from Johnson, the Trojans had a first baseman named Mark McGwire.

            In the entire history of this great game, it can be argued that the most intimidating offensive player ever is McGwire, and the most intimidating pitcher is Johnson.

            So, naturally, facing mere college opponents wearing uniforms that read “UCLA,” “Arizona State” and “Fresno State,” these two larger-than-life diamond gods led Troy to unheard of heights of glory!?

            Actually, they lost in the NCAA Regionals – when they even made the play-offs.

            “I wished I’d learned more,” Johnson says of his college career (1983-85). “I was still a project when I left.”

            The project was also a lefty. A California lefty. The connotations of what this means go back a long way. Rodeo’s Lefty Gomez, aside from being a Hall of Famer with the Yankees, was known as “El Goofy”.

Spaceman was, well, Spaceman…the King of Flaky Lefties.

It is hard to pin Johnson down, but Dedeaux recalls him this way: “Randy was one of the most colorful personalities in college baseball,” says the man who, now retired, is still a familiar figure at SC and Dodger games. “But he also had the ability to go along with it. He was an excellent competitor, and had a Major League fastball. He always provided an exciting performance.”

            Johnson may not have been Mark Fydrych, or even Turk Wendell, but he was a team cheerleader who attracted attention on the hill. He would talk to himself, frequently ran around the infield shouting encouragement to teammates, and congratulated himself for good pitches.           

            Big Mac was all he was cracked up to be, a two-time All-American, College Player of the Year in 1984, and an Olympian. It was not just Mac and the Unit, either. Del Rio was a catcher on those teams, and a good ballplayer, too. Pitcher Sid Akins was an Olympian. Brad Brink would pitch in the big leagues. Randy Robertson and Mickey Meister were talented, hard-throwing right-handers. Phil Smith and lefty Bob Gunnarsson were tough pitchers. Even the pitching coach, Bill Bordley, had pitched in the Majors and had once been considered the best college pitcher ever (today, Bordley is a Secret Service agent who was assigned the Chelsea Clinton detail at Stanford).

Aside from McGwire, SC had offense, in the form of third baseman Craig Stevenson, spray-hitting outfielder Alby Silvera, and power threats Reggie Montgomery and John Wallace.

            With all this talent at his disposal, Dedeaux could not get his club into the NCAAs in 1983, and they were blown out in the Regionals the next two seasons. After going 5-0 as a freshman, Johnson was statistically mediocre in 1984 and ‘85, and this reflected his team’s enigmatic performance.

            “I never gave that much thought to the fact that Mac and I were teammates,” says Johnson, “and now we’re so-called `dominant’ players. He’s a home run threat now, and he was then. He has size, and ability.

            “The fact we didn’t get into the College World Series was disappointing. You need pitching. We had talented pitchers – Akins, Brinks, Meister, Gunnarsson – but we didn’t pitch well in the Regionals. We were not as outstanding as you have to be to win at that level. Pitching wins games. I had height and ability, but I was a long way from where I am now.”

 

A rapport with other power pitchers

Johnson’s professional career is well documented. He pitched for Montreal, and came into his own in Seattle. He has dominated the game in a way few pitchers ever have, and he also had a connection with power pitchers of previous eras.

             “I talk to Tom Seaver when the Mets come to town,” says Johnson. Seaver starred at USC before becoming a superstar with the Mets, and now is a TV broadcaster in New York.

            “I talked to Nolan Ryan a few times. I have rapport with guys like that. They have the same make-up that I do. As a pitcher, if you have the ability to talk to guys who’ve been there before you, that’s just great. I’ve seen Sandy Koufax a few times, too, and admire him because his career has some parallels to mine.”

            Today, another Trojan lefty, Barry Zito, has hit the scene with the sudden impact not of the “project” Johnson, but more reminiscent of the 21-year old Vida Blue. The young pitcher who interests Johnson more, because of the parallel, is St. Louis’ hard-throwing Rick Ankiel.

            “He’s proven that he’s a fine pitcher,” says Johnson, “he pitched great until the post-season. It’s nothing that can’t be worked on.”

            The Cardinals must be patient with Ankiel. Not everybody was so patient with Johnson when he was pitching at Jamestown, West Palm Beach, and Jacksonville. After going 0-4 at Montreal in 1989, the Expos decided he was expendable.

            If they had been more patient, like the Dodgers were with Koufax, they could have reaped the benefits of having one of the game’s greatest pitchers starring for them.

            Still, hindsight is always 20/20. Johnson is in his zone now. He is happily married and raising his family in Paradise Valley, not far from the BOB. He is low-key and thoughtful.

            He might even let you sit in his chair. If he does, make sure you tell his teammates that you only drink imported beer.

 

JEFF BREGEL

Offensive Guard

1983 - 1986

 

I was a two-time consensus All-American, but I shot up and played with a lot of pain. I hurt my back at Stanford Stadium before the East-West Shrine game. I let my abdominals get out of shape and have a congenital condition. I had this thing that cracked all the way to level grade-two. I complained about it but they dropped my rating in the combine and I was drafted in the second round after I was listed as hurt. I earned two Super Bowl rings in San Francisco, but the whole time my spine was fused. After I complained about it I had surgery. Dr. Arthur White performed the procedure. Later he got in trouble with some patient, but he was the 49ers' doctor. I could write a great book on my own! I have a friend, Bob Case, who owns one of the best sports memorabilia collections in the world. Between his collection and my memories I'd have a lot.

I was an Academic All-American and maintained a very high grade point average at USC. I was pretty disciplined, more so through football. The schedule became a routine and it was a well-run program. Ted Tollner took it seriously. I excelled in the business school. Some classes, like anthropology, I didn't care for, but the finance classes I had interested me. I'd put things off but I made sure I had enough time to study or cram for a big test.

I liked the business side and knew I was gonna be in something like business securities analysis, and also real estate investments and like securities. I know how to value a company and have been doing all that the past six years. I've been in mortgage consulting. I do splits-and-referrals. It's been a growth period for me.

At age 44 I should have been more successful, but once football was over I was depressed. It didn't work out the way I thought it would. I had a real vision of where my career would go, but my back injury caused problems. I'm over all that now, and I'm getting rolling financially. I got a lot out of business school and have knowledge that probably can allow me to work for several different companies.

I saw Coach Carroll in May 2008 at the Rod Sherman fantasy camp, and I see that program of Trojan Rewind and Carroll really does it like a reality show. It's just like the season.

Ted Tollner, I loved him. He was a big Jeff Bregel fan. I started four years and was always improving as a player. Ted's son, Bruce is a big sports attorney and sports agent now, I think he's with Leigh Steinberg and handles top prospects. His daughter Tammy was in school then, too. I'm not sure what she did. She was in a sorority and was pretty good-looking. I think she got married after college.

Pete Carroll was with the 49ers after I left. I left the Niners on bad terms from my back surgery. They rushed me out when I was in pain and was not in good shape. I said I wanted to just end it. Maybe I jumped the gun. Later, without all my football routines, it was a difficult transition.

I heard a lot about Coach Carroll when I was in the NFL. They all talked a lot about him and you knew he would go on to bigger and better things. Mike Holmgren was our offensive coordinator. He loved SC guys; he'd been a quarterback there in the '60s. We had a lot of Trojans; Riki Ellison, Ronnie Lott, and we had great camaraderie. Things changed as we switched head coaches from Bill Walsh to George Seifert. He was less personable. I knew Jim Plunkett when I was in the Bay Area. Mike found his path in coaching, he won the Super Bowl with Green Bay and now he's with the Seahawks, but I'm told that when Mike was a high school quarterback in San Francisco he was considered the far greater prospect than Plunkett, who was at another Bay Area school at the same time. Joe Montana was my teammate. He recently moved his kid to Oaks Christian High and there was a competition for quarterback there between Montana's kid and Wayne Gretzky's kid. There's something "only in L.A." about that. He was a great teammate.

I met a lot of great folks at USC. We'd hang out at the old 502 Club. Jerry Buss's daughter was there, I think. I think she went with some SAE guy. I was there with Jack Nicholson's daughter, Jennifer. That place was incredible. It was across from Webb Tower. The girls would find us there. We'd go to the 901 for the hotties, the sorority girls.

 The football tradition at USC is such that when something goes wrong, they correct it. After Tollner and Larry Smith, they turned it around and put on a show. Carroll has created a great advantage, a great program, and with recruiting he's gotten back to the traditions, the Heismans, the linemen; the days of Ron Yary winning the Outland Trophy, Brad Budde won the Lombardi. The list of All-Americans on that campus was unreal. We joked if SC was in the same neighborhood as UCLA, it would turn the screws on recruiting. Now the campus has improved, it's cleaner, the smog's been cleared, and the whole neighborhood from STAPLES Center to Galen Center is safer, and they have safe housing down by the Coliseum where in my day you didn't think of going. This has happened just as recruiting's become the best in the country, and that's because the campus is so much better and Carroll created an atmosphere that's just great for that team. I give Carroll credit for going into the inner city to try and make things better, but honestly that's gotten worse, but he tries.

Usually the USC-Notre Dame thing is the rivalry that evokes the most passions among the guys in pro football, because there's more players from those two schools than anybody else. Ronnie would get on Joe, Joe would razz me, but I was a part-time starter so I was not as much in the mix. With Joe around, and others, we'd have the same effect on each other talking about the rivalry. It was really neat at team meetings, or we'd watch games on TV in the hotel on Saturday before games the next day. There wasn't any serious betting but there was good-natured ribbing. It was fun; "We're gonna do it . . . we're gonna beat you guys."

The difference between pro and college; between USC and Notre Dame, or with UCLA; we all had great athletes back then. Oregon was not a powerhouse. Oregon State was at the bottom of the Pac-10. You play against some inferior guys in college, but in the NFL everybody has burners. The pass rushers move around well. The big difference is in the quality of opponents week in week out. Practice was a stepping stone for those types of games.

I was on the sidelines when we beat Cincinnati in the 1989 Super Bowl. I had a bum knee, my ACL needed to be repaired. We beat the Redskins to get there. I'd gotten hurt against San Diego blocking against Keith Browner, a Trojan teammate of mine with the Chargers. It was a trap play. I blocked out the other guard but he rolled into me and we got jumbled. In my third year I had started but then had back problems.

I've been trying to help this doctor who has a fantasy camp for the living heart foundation. He does these screenings so it helps out guys. I've helped him set up several conventions. We do screenings for ex-NFLplayers. I'm told the average age of death for NFL guys is 56 or something. Lots of guys have good medical care but not all. The glamour of pro football gives way to this life after the game and the burdens of ill health are the price we pay. 

San Francisco was great but it was nothing like USC. I go to re-unions once in while, but pro football is nothing like "Salute to Troy." I see all these guys I played with or were alums. It's funny, the girls go from the "glory girls" at SC, the song girls, to basically groupies in pro football, girls hanging out in hotel lobbies. I've heard it said and I don’t disagree, that life as an elite athlete at SC, not just football but baseball, track, you know . . . that it's a better life, better-looking women, more adoration, than it is not just in the minor leagues, but in some "big league" towns, say Milwaukee or someplace. You can see why Matt Leinart would rather be a fifth-year senior at USC and live in an apartment called "the bean" when he could have a million bucks in some pro city.

Baseball players at USC had a blast, too. I knew a lot, many of 'em were friends, and guys like Rodney Peete also played baseball. USC's been to the College World Series many times. Rod Dedeaux was there when I was there and I know his son Justin, who I think was helping out.  

 

Jeff Bregel was a two-time consensus All-American offensive guard (1985-86). A member of the 1984 team that won the Rose Bowl, he was also an Academic All-American, twice a member of the Playboy Pre-Season All-American team, and played in the 1986 East-West Shrine Game. Bregel played for the San Francisco 49ers and earned two Super Bowl rings as a member of the 1988 and '89 world champions.

 

REX MOORE

Inside Linebacker

1984 - 1987

 

USC was good times and good friends. It was the 502 Club. It was teammates.

Brent Moore, a defensive end, was a real good friend. I've stayed in touch with him. He played for the Packers. Brent was a real free spirit, an intellectual who made good grades. We had a few guys with a real academic focus, but it was not a priority for a lot of us. Football was my top priority. Brent and some other guys from Northern California; John Berry was a lot like that.

Brent is from Marin County, and that's where Pete Carroll is from. There are similarities I see in their personalities, and you can argue that maybe their approach works best in football. Some of us from the Southland were from the old school, tough-as-nails school.

Tim Green was the old school, a quarterback with a linebacker's mentality. He was an entrepreneur who had a moving company in Pasadena, then he went back to school to become an architect, and now he has an architectural firm in Los Angeles. He was the co-Most Valuable Player in the 1985 Rose Bowl. 

Kennedy Pola was a heck of a warrior and a real Trojan. He got into coaching

I live in the Newport Beach area, Corona Del Mar. I'm a nursing home administrator and run football camps. I had some injuries and maybe I could have had a pro career, but I'm okay with it and USC was the best experience of my life.

In 1984 I was a back up. I started two games because the guy in front of me was injured. But I had played some during my "red-shirt" year in 1983. Keith Biggers was in front of me. His strengths were my weaknesses my weaknesses were his strengths. I filled the middle. He was more a sideline-to-sideline player. He was sometimes too fast and would get beyond the point of attack.

Jack Del Rio was more than a great player. He was a great teammate and champion. He definitely was a leader on our team and the defense. When he spoke everybody listened. It was like Dean Witter. I looked to Jack like we’d look to guys like Riki Ellison. Those guys he played with, he connected us through Jack. I root for the Jaguars because of Jack and Kennedy Pola, whose with him in Jacksonville. If I saw him it's like old war vets, we just pick up where we left off. I have a lot of respect and admiration for him. He was a fierce player who had real desire. That is the standard.

Green was like a linebacker in the quarterback position, a guy you wanted in the foxhole next to you, in a dark alley, when the bombs go off. I was attracted to him as a teammate because of those qualities.

Sean Salisbury was a drop-back quarterback. Green could run a bit better. He was more of a ball control-type quarterback. Our style was, the defense would shut 'em down. Fred Crutcher would get four yards. Fred was a durable back. Tim would play within the system. In 1984 he played that way in our big win that year, which was at the Coliseum against number one Washington.

The Huskies were awesome, the best team in the nation, a major college powerhouse, but we rose up and earned one of the great upsets in USC history to beat them, 16-7, and that gave us the conference title and a trip to Pasadena.

Ted Tollner was full of integrity and loyalty. He was a tough man and I can't say enough good things about Coach Tollner. I'm thankful and appreciative to him personally, for myself and as a team.

I'm from the school of "if you have nothing nice to say about somebody don't say anything." Let me just say that Dr. Mike McGee was the athletic director, and he lacked respect for Coach Tollner. I did respect him. It's tough to be the head coach of any USC team, and the quarterback, too. As loyal as I am to USC it bothers me how quickly alumni can turn on guys. Ted did not get a fair shake. There were key people who lacked patience

1986 was a difficult experience. UCLA beat us badly and we blew a huge lead in the fourth quarter against Notre Dame at home. Every time you lose part of you dies. Adversity is; it's what champions do in adversity that differentiates you from non-champions. Champions come together and Fight On!

Losers are quick, non-champions start to blame each other and the wheels come off the wagon. We'd hunker down, this was tradition through the ages, it's how we'd deal with losses and adversity. It's what I tell my team in the youth leagues. Kids today seek out alibis.

The toughest opponent for me was UCLA's Gaston Green. In the five years I was in the program, UCLA beat us three times (1983, 1984, 1986). We beat them in 1985 and 1987. It seems like he always had 200 yards rushing. As a middle linebacker I found him pretty tough. USC respects them. That's What It Means to Be a Trojan. When a running back is moving on you, that deflates you and I had to respect his toughness.

When you're 18 it's different than now, at 43. Football was my fate, USC my country. Football was my priority. Now I have family priorities. It's different now, I have faith in a higher power now. I think about the men and women fighting for our country. This is the greatest country in the world and I love it. I have my own family so some things are down the list for what is important, but I'll never show disloyalty for my alma mater. I look at these World War II guys and I see people who made it possible for me to raise my family in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Without them there is no USC, no football.

1987 was my senior year. We opened with Michigan State on Monday Night Football. We got beat and I blew out my ankle, broke my fibula and missed the whole year. We had a good year as a team but lost to Spartans again in the Rose Bowl.

We beat Troy Aikman and UCLA to win the conference when Eric Affholter caught a touchdown in the end zone. At the half we trailed like 10-0 or 13-0 and we were at the Bruins' goal line with one play left. Rodney Peete gets intercepted and the guy runs the field, looking like it's gonna be a touchdown. If they score they're up 20 at the half and it's over. Rodney chased him 100 yards and tackled him a few yards from our goal, the gun sounded and they had no chance at a TD or a field goal. Rodney showed his heart and what he's all about. That turned it around and we won, 17-13. 

The difference between the Notre Dane and UCLA rivalry; when I think of Notre Dame I think of a longer history. There's history on the other side. UCLA's more territorial, it's between Southern California guys. Even at El Modena, it was a local battle for our neighborhood against Villa Park; the west side of town was a better neighborhood and the other side was tougher. I was interested in the tough part of town. That was our history. It's a fight for respect and territory. The same was true at USC. For me, there was never a question that I'd go out of the area. I had a brother at Stanford but I was a Southern Cal guy.

Orange County is considered "Trojan country." It produces the best prep athletes in the nation. People ask why this is so. It's a combination of things. We have good weather and it's a middle class community of parents who support their kids and schools. Competition is not frowned on, winning is not a dirty word. It's a patriotic place where tough coaches are admired, not fired.  

Sports competition makes everybody better. It raises the bar. At USC we practiced hard. A lot of times on Saturday it was easy compared to the guys I went up against all week. It's self-fulfilling. More people get attracted to it. Competition raises you to a higher level.

USC is so special. I've known my wife since the sixth grade. We did not particularly get along very well, but we had a class near each other at USC. We'd see each other at the VKC steps and talk. We found out we were not that bad. After class, after a couple of weeks we'd look forward to seeing each other. We became friends, we'd have lunch after class, and the next thing we know we fell in love with each other. That along with having kids has been the biggest paradigm shift in my life.

Sam Anno, Tim Green. These are good friends. There are some guys I'm not in touch with, but we went to Hawaii with Tim and his family. Tim McDonald was a great defensive back. We shared a day on a boat and discovered we liked each other and didn't want to leave each other's side. I heard that the line, "Show me the money!" from Jerry Maguire came from Leigh Steinberg asking Tim what motivated him to play, but that guy would play for nothing. He had a huge heart and was one of the best players I ever played with. McDonald was a quiet leader.

The Trojan family comes together. There are many different demographics, but when you pay the price together it bonds you together. It's a little like going to battle. It's different from basketball or baseball. There's a fear you go through, and that makes the bonds maybe just a little closer than other sports. The physical and mental demands, the adversity brings you together. Me, I remember we had this new juke box in the locker room and somebody would play "Little Red Corvette." Somebody else would push a button for Willie Nelson. There was this big fight over what is played, but after that fight there was cohesion. After the confrontation we worked it out amongst ourselves. You don't have to listen one or the other. We could listen to both.

 

Rex Moore was a "blue chip" recruit whose high expectations were cut short by injuries, but his reputation for audacity and football toughness are legend among his teammates. In 1986 Moore won the Davis-Teschke award for most inspirational player, as well as the Marv Goux award (offense) for greatest contribution in the UCLA game.

 

MARTIN CHESLEY

Tight End

1985, 1988

 

How did a kid from a family of 10 kids in Washington, D.C. become a Trojan? I came out of Anacostia Senior High School in Washington. All 10 kids in my family earned scholarships to college, and all of them have degrees. I have four siblings who played NFL ball. It starts with a solid foundation at home. My mom and dad raised us in a proper manner. My brother Delmar and I were the last to attend college. I had siblings at North Carolina and Boston University on scholarship. Everybody wanted to do better than one another. My mother said it would be a crisis, an embarrassment if you didn't get a degree. Others got master's degrees, so we were out to outdo one or another, to achieve all the accolades and whatever.

Rodney Peete was another big prep athletic talent who came into USC at that time. I still stay in touch with him, along with some of the coaches like Dave Wannstedt. I put a lot of trust and faith in those guys who recruited me. I had over 200 scholarship offers and I looked at lots of schools, each from good conferences; good programs like Illinois in the Big 10; the ACC; Nebraska, USC. UCLA recruited me but I'd already been to USC and I didn't feel like traveling 3,000 miles a second time for their recruiting trip. Lonnie White was my host. He showed me around. I saw the academic programs. I wanted to get into radio-TV broadcasting. L.A. was the number one media capitol and if you wish to pursue that field, USC's second to none. It was a great opportunity and I had a comfort level with the coaches.

Marcus Allen stayed at the Hyatt Wilshire when I visited. He was on the Los Angeles Raiders and was with Howie Long. I wasn't so sure who Long was, but they're "talking smack" with me. They were getting ready to play Seattle the next day to go to the Super Bowl in January 1984. Their opponents looked to be my pro team, the Washington Redskins. I told him they'd get their butts kicked by the Redskins, and we still laugh and talk about certain things, like how Marcus broke that long run and the Raiders dominated Washington. There's a lot of camaraderie and we go on and on and on.

I was a tight end and linebacker in high school, and a tight end in college. Keith Jackson, who went to Oklahoma and played for the Eagles; and Anthony Williams of Illinois, were a couple of other top tight ends of that era. In 1984 I red-shirted, but I was on a team that won the Rose Bowl. I played a few minutes and was asked if I wanted to "red-shirt." Mark Boyer and Joe Cormier were ahead of me, so I didn't see that I'd get much playing time, I don't think. Tim Green was the quarterback. He'd been an All-American at El Camino J.C., but sat behind Sean Salisbury. Sean was injured and Tim got his opportunity and shined in the Rose Bowl win over Ohio State. I think he owned All-American Moving Company in Pasadena at one time.

It was an odd season, however. We lost to UCLA and Notre Dame. It's hard to say what happened in the UCLA game. We had good practices, it was a good week. Coach Ted Tollner prepared us well. Now he's with the 49ers. He said we were ready.

Tim Green was a winner, but that week was coming off the Washington game. There was so much up for that Washington game, that were we exhausted. All the energy and hype had been directed to that game, and when we won it, now that we knew we were in the Rose Bowl . . . But it was a case of a rival, we were up for it but it just wasn't our day that day. They had something to prove. UCLA was good every year in the 1980s under Terry Donahue, they were at least even with us. I think they went to the Cotton Bowl and had good teams year after year, and they beat us, 29-10.

1984 was also the year of the Notre Dame rain game at the Coliseum. My girlfriend flew out for that game and sat in the rain. It was the worst weather I've ever been a part of; just nasty weather, a black, dark day in the stadium. The stadium emptied out. We were stuck in the mud and we never got untracked in a 19-7 loss.

Washington would have won the national championship had we not beaten them and gone to the Rose Bowl. They beat Miami in the Orange Bowl. Ken Ruettgers and Duane Bickett went up against me every day. They prepared me. There was so much camaraderie at practice. I still see Ruettgers's dad from time to time in Bakersfield. Ken brought me under his wing, he would teach me how to block in the collegiate style as opposed to the high school style. He'd call me "Ches." "Give me a good look, Ches, get me ready, I wanna get better," he'd say. I passed this on to Marcus Cotton and Junior Seau. Ken would say, "You make me all-conference, I'll make you all-conference." That's What It Means to Be a Trojan.

Jack Del Rio was an All-American linebacker that year. I learned a lot in that year from guys like that. Ohio State was a great opponent in the Rose Bowl. Coming in they had Keith Byars, Chris Spielman at linebacker, receiver Cris Carter. I believe I cried during that game, it was emotional. We good practices although we had wet weather, it was one of those years. We practiced at East Los Angeles Junior College and it was quite family oriented.

We came together. Tollner was a player's coach. Throughout that game we never had a doubt despite all their hype. We were underdogs but had quality players, as well. We had young up-and-coming stars like Ryan Knight at tailback who were considered very promising underclassmen. Our line was one of the best in college football with Jeff Bregel and Ken Ruettgers. We got after them defensively, we out-played them. Our coaches out-coached them, as they do today. The Pac-10 out-coaches other conferences, and we were faster, hungry. We had seniors who knew it was their last year. Timmie Ware, Mark Boyer who played in Indianapolis. We had a good, solid foundation. It was the closest team I've ever been with throughout my career, and we beat the sixth-ranked Buckeyes, 20-17 to finish ninth in the UPI poll.

1985 was a very tough year. We were down, there were sanctions against us, there was no TV, it was lingering from previous years. We lost to Baylor. We had an opportunity to win the Pac-10 but the luster was not there. We lost to Hardy Nickerson and Cal that year or we would have gone to the Rose Bowl. Salisbury was back but he never lived up to his "blue chip" promise and we went to Rodney Peete, who was a freshman.

So it all came down to UCLA at the Coliseum. It was one of those games they talk about, where no matter how bad the season if you beat UCLA it saves the season. They had a strong team as they always did.

It came down to the last play. I was in on that play when Rodney scored. I hurt my shoulder. We were down at the east end of the Coliseum. He kept the ball. Sean was originally the starter but was not doing as well as either Rodney or Kevin McLean. Rodney was full of determination and eagerness. UCLA did not expect the plays called for him, and people thought they were busted plays until they found out later. UCLA had quality players. They always had speed at linebacker and their inside guys played aggressively. A play was called for Rodney to drop back, but it was a quarterback keeper. They think it's a pass situation, but once the receiver runs out his route we go to the "72-option weakside." Rodney read it, then he'd run and we ran that several times for first downs. They couldn't pick up on it. We won, 17-13 but they still went to the Rose Bowl. We lost to Alabama in the Aloha Bowl and they were trying to get Ted out of there.

It was tough. Ted was always on the hot seat. He was a player's coach but some of the alums didn't think he was head coach material. He had great assistants. Many of them went to the NFL; Wannstedt and others. He was a leader and a good, sound offensive coordinator. We had a great quarterbacks coach. Ted was a great recruiter, a great family man. I'd send my son off to play for him. We definitely came off a good year in 1984, but in '85 the probation had dwindled from 1982 or '83. Wannstedt thought we'd win the conference. 

In 1988 under Coach Larry Smith we were unbeaten and looking to win the national championship. Rodney Peete and Troy Aikman of UCLA were the frontrunners for the Heisman Trophy, and it all came down to the UCLA game at the Rose Bowl. That was the "measles week."

I came back from the hospital. I had been operated on, injured vs. Cal a couple weeks earlier when I caught a ball running straight down the field. It was a Billy Kilmer-type pass, a "dying quail," and I chased it but came down and got hit and tore my ACL. So I get back from the hospital. I'd been visited from my boy Rodney, and brother he was not feeling that well. I was in pain. I'm on medication, I'm in space.

So now my roommie's not feeling good and I'm giving him a hard time. We lived in a downtown apartment at 3rd and Lafayette Park Place. The "crap hit the fence," so to speak. He felt weak. My girlfriend (now my wife) came over to assist, and he came over to my room and he looked really bad. He was diagnosed with measles.

He tried to practice and watch film but lost his voice that week. He couldn't call signals, so we heard them from Aaron Emmanuel or Leroy Holt, the running backs, and we'd snap the ball on their call. Every day I was feeling pain and there were questions about whether Rodney would play. They'd all call the apartment. Mal Florence would call, and I was not sharing information to give the opponent's any idea. Everybody knew where he lived, and it was a tabloid-type situation with the press outside the apartment.

One night the medication I was on gave me adverse effects, and Erica told Rodney I needed help, and I was threatening Rodney. I didn't know what I was saying. I was in pain and he looked so bad. Rodney called the doctor to "do something about Martin." He said, "hydrate him." I was swollen and he looked bad. We hugged and I departed. The ambulance escorts me out and the press thinks it's Rodney. It was a zoo.

They finally had him leave the apartment. There's all these cameras, media getting stories. They locked him up in a hotel. They transported him to the hotel so nobody could disturb him. I would whip his tail when I'd communicate with him. I kept getting calls on Thursday and Friday from Florence, but he put his own words into the story.

I told him that in my opinion, Rodney would play. I said that with his heart, his courage, and his motivation, if I were to put my money on it, he'd play. With his demeanor, I thought he'd stick it out and play. The story came out that Martin says Rodney will play. I got some angry remarks from trainers. They said, "Why'd you give away our resources?" Florence changed things up. He was a big USC guy and might have been trying to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Rodney, it turned out, played well. He scored behind John Guerrero, our big offensive lineman. He got behind him and Paul Green, a colleague of mine, and he gave me the Philippians sign after he scored.

You're a Bruin for four years, but a Trojan for life. Ken Norton Jr. will vouch for that. Maybe he's not willing to come out and say why Karl Dorrell didn't hire him, but in that game Ken, in my opinion, didn't make much noise against us. We shut him down and kept him from making tackles. I didn't really know of him all that much, but he obviously went on to greatness.

My good friend Daryl Gross, who was an associate athletic director who went to Syracuse; we talk every month or so. He's truly the one responsible for getting Pete Carroll to USC. Gross and Carroll were with the New York Jets together. Tim McDonald, whose now coaching at Edison High in Fresno; he and Pete had 49er connections. Pete's a great man. I'd have loved to have played for him. He calls me "Baby Shaq" and I call him "Pistol Pete."

USC's a family affair, and the 502 Club was like our home. There was nothing else like it back then. Injuries and surgeries hampered me. I'm not supposed to play sports anymore, to take chances because of potential paralysis. I never went pro, but I knew I didn't want to be in sports information like Tim Tessalone. Dr. Mike McGee wanted me to work for him, but I wanted to play and if I couldn't do that I didn't want to be on the office side of athletics.

The 502 Club, the school; in college sports everybody has a connection with each other whether you are an athlete or just a student. We share the experiences that pro players and their fans don't share . . . professors, fraternities, experiences. This may be so at most colleges, but there is something at USC that is not at other universities, that's at USC. I have a friend of mine who went to the University of North Carolina, and he said, "We don’t have that connection." It's amazing, we still talk. 40 or 50 different guys. We hug each other. Sam Anno, my old teammate whose now a coach, grabs and kisses me. It's like that.

Maybe it's because USC is in a large city where a lot of the athletes come from and often tend to stay after graduation. Most Southern or rural college campuses are separated by distance from big populations like New York or even Houston - Texas is in Austin, A&M's in College Station - so the alumni and athletes are less likely to live near each other and congregate at games and events.

I'm proud of my D.C. connection. Bob Schmidt is a former Trojan who is a lawyer in D.C. I think Schmidt played some NFL ball, quarterback, and I think he sponsors a scholarship. I understood he took over as Willie Wood's guardian when Willie, whose also from Washington, was hospitalized and he raises money for him. Jack Del Rio and Kennedy Pola called me when my mom passed away, and that made me feel so warm. I thought Jack would go into baseball, as he was a great player. Duane Bickett was a monster in practice.

Memories, man . . .

 

Martin Chesley was a tight end whose career was broken up by injuries. His brother Delmar was a four-year inside linebacker at USC.

 

MARK "AIRCRAFT" CARRIER

Safety

1987 - 1989

 

I played at Long Beach Poly High. It was a power then, it had a lot of history in athletics, especially football, but it didn't have the notoriety then that it has now with the Internet and print media. They get more public relations. It's amazing how many good people who have been there. You know Poly has produced tennis players, baseball players, golfers . . .

Billie Jean King and Tony Gwynn played there. Chase Utley was a Jackrabbit. So many people come out of there over the years. I forget everybody. I'm pretty proud of that history, of the people who come out of there, and the diversity of the school.

I was a pretty highly recruited high school Parade All-American and all that stuff. I considered Notre Dame. I even made a verbal commitment to Notre Dame, then changed my mind. I woke up the next day and thought I would be best served at USC.

I came in the fall of 1986 and "red-shirted." Larry Smith came in 1987. I started at defensive back that year. We bottled up Troy Aikman and UCLA to win the Pacific-10 title and advance to the Rose Bowl. It was one of those storybook games you hear about, made for TV. They were number five in the country and we were just coming into our own. We'd won three in a row but we were getting beaten by Aikman and all those All-Americans. They had a 13-0 third quarter lead but we came back. One thing after another happened, but the key thing was we kept them out of the end zone and got some turnovers. We kept pressure on Troy and won the game.

One of the things I'm asked about many times is, do I have any regrets? I don't but I was 0-for-three against Notre Dame. The toughest was in 1988 when we were two and they were number one. That was to play for the title. We were favored but lost at home. They soundly beat us. It was very disappointing to me and the whole team.

It's hard to say we let down against Michigan in the 1989 Rose Bowl a month or so later. I don’t think so. Michigan had a good team in their own right. We had the lead and were going in for the winning score, but we fumbled the ball away. Don’t get me wrong, though. We couldn't stop Leroy Hoard, so it's too easy to say we let down.

I won the Jim Thorpe award in 1989. I beat out Nathan LaDuke of Arizona State and Todd Lyght of Notre Dame, and made the All-American team in 1988 and 1989.

Tim Ryan was like a brother to me. We came together and hit it off. He was like our leader of our group. He was outspoken and very confident. He never lacked for enthusiasm. Behind the scenes he was our leader. He set the tone and had that desire.

Tim, Curtis Conway and I were all teammates with the Bears a few years later. Keith Van Horne was there with us his last couple years. With me in Chicago, the Notre Dame part, they know who you were, the school you're from. I got that everywhere I went. They let me know what the record was.

I played seven years for the Bears and made All-Pro three times. I've heard maybe I'll be selected to the College Hall of Fame. I see people going in and wonder what the criteria is. I just got in to the USC Hall of Fame two years ago, and in some ways it's bigger than some other Halls of Fame. It's an elite group and I was taken aback to be selected, because you're in contention not just with fellow football players but Olympians, Major League stars, basketball players, track stars, women athletes, coaches. You look at the list and it's perhaps the greatest list of all-around athletic greats assembled anywhere!

I had the privilege of knowing Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times. He was a very smart and knowledgeable man, easy to deal with. Reporters come in all different kinds, but he was just a guy. He and Mal Florence were nice guys who made you feel comfortable. Tom Kelly has the best voice I ever heard. I can listen to him all day and all night long.

I was involved in sportscasting after retirement but got into coaching. I'm in my third year coaching. I was at ASU. I'm not sure if coaching is what I'll do for 20 years. I'm not sure I want to. I need to master what I'm doing and let it go from there. I enjoy what I'm doing and don't think about it that much. The hours during the season are what they are. In the off-season it's more like an eight-to-five job, but in-season it's at least 12 hours a day. You lose a great deal of sleep. You can work from six in the morning until after midnight and come back early the next day. If you can’t deal with it, stay out of the coaching profession.

 

Mark Carrier was a two-time All-American and winner of the Jim Thorpe award for best defensive back in the nation (1989). Twice named All-Pacific 10, Carrier was a 1989 Playboy Pre-Season All-American selection, and was elected to the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007. He was selected in the first round by the Chicago Bears, playing in Chicago (1990-96,) Detroit (1997-99), and Washington (2000). Carrier was selected to the All-Pro team three times. After pro football Mark became a radio sports commentator, then went into coaching as an assistant with Arizona State and the Baltimore Ravens.

 

JOHN "J.J." JACKSON

Flanker-Split End

1986 - 1989

 

I'm from Diamond Bar in eastern Los Angeles County. Jim Edmonds, who played for the Angels and Cardinals, is from there. I attended Bishop Amat High School, which was still a big-time power when I was there. Mazio Royster, Eric Bieniemy of Colorado, Ron Brown, all played there. Bishop Amat produced Adrian Young, Pat Haden, J.K. McKay and Paul McDonald of USC. J.K.'s brother Rich, now a GM in the pros, went there. John Sciarra of UCLA was a Lancer. Phil Cantwell and Gary Marinovich coached at Amat. It was a great era, but in recent years they've not been particularly good.

       I came to USC for football mainly and hopefully to play baseball. I was always the kid who loved whatever sport I played in whatever season it was. It was never clear-cut.

I liked 'em both. They're two different sports. There's pros and cons and hard to choose one over the other.

       I played for Ted Tollner as a freshman in 1986 and for Larry Smith from 1987-89. We had great quarterbacks, Rodney Peete my first three years and Todd Marinovich my senior year. They were polar opposites in many aspects. Rodney was obviously more mobile. He had the intangibles a quarterback needs as a winner. You can't teach lot of it. Quarterbacks who are good but do not have that intangible don’t become great. The lack of it is a factor with comparing the two. Rodney was a more mobile quarterback and a more vocal type leader than Todd. Todd led by example. I knew Todd at a younger age. Todd was extremely accurate. He could knock a soda can off a trashcan from 40 yards away. Todd was as accurate a passer as I ever played with. I was a senior when he was a "red-shirt" freshman and ironically I caught the most balls in my career from him, more than Rodney. I never took a "kill shot," he could keep his receiver's out of harm's way, which was a testament to his accuracy and field vision. Both quarterbacks loved pressure and played better under pressure. When the heat is on they were at their best.

         When there was media criticism, both played better the next week. Rodney Peete when he had the measles, and did not practice the whole week, played one of the most inspired games in the USC-UCLA history, beating them in the Rose Bowl. They were loaded. In the first game Todd played after a poor performance in a tie with UCLA in 1989, Todd played great in the Rose Bowl, beating Michigan, 17-10.

       I played on some great baseball teams and we were loaded with talent. My teammates included Damon Buford, Murph Proctor, Jim Campanis, Bret Boone, Jeff Cirillo, Mark Smith, Brett Jenkins, Mike Robertson, Randy Powers, Phil Kendall, John Cummings, and Bret Barberie. Barberie married Jillian Barberie. He met her in Chicago when she was an aspiring TV personality and he hooked her up, helped advance her career. Rodney Peete was my teammate and a great ballplayer.

       Mike Gillespie is the best coach I ever played for in any sport, for several different reasons. He managed personalities and attracted talent. Second, he knew how to deal with and manage disparate personalities; talented players personalities. Boone and Cirillo did not have a great friendship, but through Gillespie players that did not mesh also did not hate each other. Different personalities do different things. With Gillespie we had football players on the team; guys whose fathers had played in the bigs or at USC or were wealthy alums; families who were well off and those who were not well off. He handled it all and coordinated it extremely well.

         So Gillespie was the best football or baseball coach I played for. We had unbelievable talent offensively. We could hit with anybody, we could do a lot of things and scored a lot of runs. We had some good pitching but not enough to advance deep in tournaments. Stanford did. Powers was phenomenal but once you got past him, Kendall was good, Reid Mizuguchi and Tim Quintanilla were pretty good, but in the post-season you played three or four games in a weekend and we'd run out of pitchers. You're getting down to your fourth starter. The first guy can't come back and there's not enough depth. The format was different then and you needed more pitching.

       After USC I played in the NFL, for the Cardinals for three years and the Chicago Bears for one. I was drafted in baseball by the San Francisco Giants, and played two years in their organization, then three years in the Angels' chain. I wish I'd had a chance at playing in the Major Leagues, as I would have been one of only three or four guys to play in the NFL and the big leagues.

       I have great memories that I can't compare to anything, and it helped me becoming a broadcaster. I'm truly blessed. I got an opportunity with Fox Sports and have been fortunate to be with them during a period of tremendous growth. Multiple-channel cable TV and the growth of collegiate football, and the incredible growth of televised high school football, all occurred during a time when USC's been the dominant program in the nation. It has given me opportunity and exposure beyond just the local market. For me, I started my broadcast career with Fox Sports after my NFL career, and I give Tom Kelly credit for bringing me in. What It Means to Be a Trojan is that Trojans help each other, we extend a hand for each other, and that's what Tom did for me. I saw him and joked with him, I told him that he had a good gig, that it would be nice to look good and get paid for it.

       He sent me to the guys at Fox; Jerry Garcia, Gary Garcia and Jeff Proctor, and it was like, "What do you want to do?" and I said I wanted to be on camera. I started with USC baseball as Tom Kelly's partner. He carried me. Fox then launched a high school sports package and it grew from there: Pac-10, arena football, college baseball and football, Major League baseball. Each was a building block along the way and my timing was great. Kelly got me started, one Trojan helping another. Tom is 100 percent class, a great guy. That mantra repeats itself over and over at USC.  Every other school you're there four years, but you’re a Trojan for life! To have somebody reach out and mentor me was great. I'm so thankful to Tom for the opportunity. He made me what I am today, which is more than just an ex-football player. It's been great.

       Pete Carroll, in my case I can attest, you are part of the Trojan family. He gets that. I've never held a "regular" job. Every job I've ever held, I never truly interviewed for the job and gone through a process of hiring. It's always been a Trojan who said, "Hey, come work for me." I never sat down for formal interviews. People would get to know me personally and say, "Let me see what you can do." I'd never been in front of a camera in my life when I got the job at Fox. How do we get you trained? Those opportunities are at USC and set it apart from so many schools. We have organizations, alumni clubs; it's a big reason why anybody should go there. It's a great school but part of huge fraternity.

       As an athlete, we have a huge advantage when it comes to working in the media. It's a big media market and we get interviewed a lot, much of it nationally. Our network is huge, and kids at USC get used to it, they're comfortable in that environment.

 

John "J.J." Jackson was a first team All-Pacific-10 Conference wide receiver in 1989, won the Theodore Gabrielson award as the outstanding player in that season's Notre Game game, and was selected for the Shrine East-West Game his senior year. J.J. was an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winner, an NCAA Top Eight recipient, a National Foundation Scholar-Athlete, and two-time Academic All-American (1988-89). Jackson played for Phoenix (1990-92) and Chicago (1996) in the NFL. One of the best all--around athletes in Trojan history, he also was a center fielder on the USC baseball team who went on to the San Francisco and California organizations. He is now a popular, well-regarded sportscaster for Fox Sports, where he specializes in USC, sideline reportage and major high school games with Jim Watson. His father, also named John Jackson, was an assistant USC football coach.

 

A LINE DRIVE HITTER

StreetZebra, 2000

 

Former USC Trojan Jeff Cirillo was a hidden nugget in Milwaukee who now puts up big numbers at Coors Field

Robin Yount played 20 years in the anonymity of Milwaukee. When fans read of his accomplishments at his 1999 Hall of Fame induction, it was like breaking open old Soviet archives: a revelation.

Yount was part of a different era, a period of in which there were a few fellows who played on the same club their entire careers.

Like Yount another L.A. product, Cirillo, was putting up great numbers year in and year out in Milwaukee, but nobody knew about him, either. He received little respect in All-Star voting, despite a .307 career average dating to 1994. The eleventh round pick from the 1991 draft hit .321 with 15 home runs, 88 RBIs and 194 hits in 1999. He is a stellar third baseman who possesses a gun for an arm. Cirillo hit .325 in 1996 and .321 in 1998.

Two off-seasons ago, Cirillo was traded to the high-profile Colorado Rockies, where he now hits in the ball-carrying high air of Coors Field. Wow, Jeff, does this excite you?

"It’s a challenge," said Cirillo, who had just moved into a new home in Redmond, Washington after a vacation trip to Sun Valley when I caught up with him. "Then I started to think about Milwaukee, and I had some regrets, but I'm old enough to understand that I have a great opportunity. I had some strong relationships there. Geoff Jenkins and I are like brothers, he was in my wedding. I hope I helped him, he has a world of talent."

Jenkins is part of the SC connection that dominated the Brewers' roster the past few seasons. The other ex-Trojan was Bobby Hughes. Cirillo played with Jenkins older brother, Brett at SC  from 1988-91.

"The offensive style at Coors makes for some long games," says Cirillo. "The third base coach there before I came over once told me they don't see their family much at home, but I'm old enough to understand the positives associated with playing there."

That was the second time in a minute the 31-year old mentioned his age. Who does he think he is, Methuselah?

"I've gotten bigger with weight training over the years," he says in reference to his increased power numbers, although this guy always has been a line drive hitter. He could have actually been hurt by the move to Coors if he had fallen for the long ball syndrome, but he was also jelped hitting in the same line-up with Todd helton. Cirillo is a right-handed George Brett, a guy who pounds tweeners for doubles and hard ground balls for singles.

He does have a handle on why offense has dominated baseball in recent years.

"It's because of weights," he says. "Hitters get bigger and stronger, but if pitchers lose flexibility it doesn't do them any good. I never used to work on my upper body when I was a pitcher."

Cirillo refers to his stellar college career, where he was a power pitcher who would take on the role of closer, coming in from third base while warming up in between pitches. It was actually quite a spectacle! He hit for average, not power, and provided steady leadership.

Pasadena-born Jeff prepped at tiny Providence High in Burbank, where he was drafted in the 37th round in 1987. He is also a handsome devil who is married and has children now, but there are stories of girls calling his listed number at all hours. He never lacked for dates at USC, a school known for its beautiful coeds.

"I owe Mike Gillespie a lot," says Cirillo of SC's coach. "He took a chance on me coming out of a small school with supposedly inflated stats."

The Trojan teams Cirillo played on from 1988-91 were some of the most talented in the history of collegiate baseball, and included the likes of future big leaguers Bret Boone, Damon Buford, John Cummings, and Mark Smith. Still, they never made it to the College World Series, losing to Hawaii in the '91 Regionals at home. Some have placed the blame on Gillespie, stating that he was too tight in his prosecution of game strategy, but Cirillo had a different take.

"We had guys who weren't team players," he says. "When some of those guys left we went further without them."

Jeff made a few comments "off the record," but he did say "it's no secret Bret Boone and I don't get along. He's overrated. He's just unbelievable. I don't know what it is, if he's just got that big league mentality because his dad played there."

Where Boone is cocky and probably sacrifices some batting average for the sake of home runs that are all too infrequent, Cirillo disdains "big flies" for a steady stream of team-helping base hits.

"I got the most out of my college experience," Cirillo says, paying homage to Gillespie. "I learned a lot from him. One thing about Gillespie is that he teaches the intangibles; base running, the mental game.

"The mental transformation, the steps that go from being a cusp player to being an entrenched pro, are in some ways about fear and paranoia. The fear of failure. Never being satisfied. Never really being comfortable. A lot of guys have success at the A or Double-A level, but they can't make it over the hump. Every step you ask yourself, `Can I do it.'"

The 6-2, 195-pound Cirillo, a great all-around athlete, has always had to look at his career realistically.

"When I was drafted," he recalls, "I thought, I'll just give it a shot. So many guys were drafted ahead of me, I didn't have a lot of people in my corner, not a lot of money was invested in me, so I just had a burning desire to show people I had what it took."

Cirillo's attitude has hardened a bit over the years, probably because he has had to work his way past players rated ahead of him. Now he looks at a lot of people who he knows did not believe in him at one point, and while he is still a gentleman, one senses a definite pro mentality that is different from the more relaxed demeanor of his college days.

He makes a lot of money (Cirillo is represented by Dennis Gilbert's old firm, the high-profile Beverly Hills Sports Council), and he gets more more Baseball Tonight air time now that he bounces frozen ropes all over Coors Field.

What does Gillespie have to say about his protégé?

"He's an amazing story."

 

The

NINETIES

 

GENE FRUGE

Nose Guard-Defensive Guard

1987 - 1990

Tim Ryan was a classic Trojan with a classic Trojan persona: movie star good looks, charismatic, married a Raiderette, All-American big man, pro football star and media personality! None of this would have happened without Tim Ryan. He was somebody who took me under his wing, but I didn't have the coaching encouragement from home. He became like a brother to me, and I was a surrogate member of his family. We went to Oak Grove High School in San Jose together, and I was at his house more than my home. Sometimes he'd not even be there, but I'd visit his house and his family. I was very close to his family, they had a big impact on me, not just for football but the personal side of things.

Tim led his life by commanding authority. He led by example. All that he touched he was great at. He was an All-American in basketball. We have a friendly competition, it's like that, but in my own mind just keeping up with him, to be close to him, helped me a lot. All I ever wanted was to be like Tim. I didn't have all the history like he had. I had one year of football. I was not trained, but I was a big old dude and made tackles for a lot of losses. After graduation holes opened up for a giant guy like me, but I didn't know anything. My coach was Lee Evans. He paid for my attending the U.S. Marine football camp, where I learned fundamentals. That got me going. I'd always had discipline. I'd put my nose down and do what needed to be done. I learned it from Tim. He helped me a lot, to have a player of his caliber ahead of me at the next level.

Two things got me into Southern California. Because of my late status, I was not highly recruited, but Tim knew who I was and he made it sound like USC was the place to be, the Mecca of football. He wanted to be part of that. Some Pac-10 teams like Washington, California, Arizona State, and Arizona were interested, but none of the big name schools looked at me, none of the SC's, Miami's or Michigan's of the world. I would have been happy and content to go to one of the second-tier programs, but I heard the Fleetwood Mac song "Tusk" coming out of the tunnel. I heard that and wanted to be part of it. I know people know where that comes from. I was inspired. That got me

I went to Tim and I said, "Why not me?" So we put together a tape of me playing and sent it to USC. I waited to find out. They saw that video. I write a letter to Ted Tollner personally introducing myself as Gene Fruge of Oak Grove High School, and I know Tim Ryan, I'm a right tackle. I'm here waiting, but I hear nothing for a while. I keep my fingers crossed, then I get this letter. They looked at me and were impressed. I have Tim's size and more speed. No sooner did I get a letter from USC than my mail blew up. When the recruiters heard SC was interested, they knew I had to be good! Tim had a lot to do with it.

Tim and I come from meager backgrounds. His family did worse than mine, and this was a blessing for both, a chance for us to do good for our families. For me, all the good things that happened in my life started at Southern Cal. If not for Ryan, I'd never have been noticed, but I did gel with the opportunity. What I did was work hard and do the best I could. I was very competitive. Tim was an All-American. He got that position on the other side. I have an All-Americans in my position, Dan Owens. Where do I want to compete? I play nose tackle, I take what they give me, and I'm best at stopping the run. Others might have been better was I was more prepared, but I was a late bloomer. I had the opportunity as a Trojan. I started slow except for the fact I'd come on late, but I would finish strong. Being a Trojan means being at the highest level. I didn't realize it all at once, I made same mistakes, and I didn't train as hard as I needed because I didn't know what it was until I saw the level of conditioning and dedication at USC. I learned a lot. Later, I was one of the top conditioned athletes on the team. People said it would never happen for me, but again I'm a late bloomer and was not gonna quit until I'd done all that possible. That's What It Means to Be a Trojan!

It was a valuable lesson to me. To sum up the experience in a nutshell, the statement I want to make to bring it all together, the moral of my story is that I went from being disciplined, to doing as I was told, to being well trained, to doing different things, to doing what you know to be the best thing . . .

In my early years my conditioning was an issue, but I was "yes sir," I'll do what I'm told, and be a typical nose tackle, stuff the gap, close the gap, do the job . . . By the time I stopped doing that, and getting off the block to get down field and make tackles behind the line of scrimmage, the coaches started looking at me beyond my being a back-up. Originally I'd give Don Gibson a breather. I took my job seriously. I did that every day until Gibson got hurt. He hurt his knee. I stepped up and was asked to do the job do full service, and not just squeeze the middle. All of a sudden I'm doing the opposite step, I'm anticipating, I'm making tackles. That's what you do in football, but in our scheme that's not your job. In my senior year I learned what I should have known earlier. It wasn't enough to be well trained, that 's just not what was called for.

Against Ohio State I had a great game. Because of Gibson getting hurt leading to the 1990 Rose Bowl, I became a starter. The coaches were nervous, not sure of my category. Do I bang it up and try to do what was right? Larry wanted me to just bottle the middle, to let the linebacker do his job.

When the Rose Bowl came around Don was healed and they sat me down. They put Don in. That was it for me, I played no downs.  I was stuck all summer long, all through spring ball in 1990, the same thing. They told me, "Make no mistakes, up the middle is yours." Larry Smith himself came to the sideline and he yanks my facemask, and he's yelling in my face, "You've yet to make a tackle! You've yet to do this or that . . ." I can’t recall all of it, but he was not pleased.

"That's all you ever told me to do," I said. I don't understand, it's my senior year, and I decide I'm not gonna go back to disciplined training, I'm not just gonna do what I'm told, because I knew what I was doing and I did what I knew was best. Sometimes the other guy's wrong, and if you don't do what's right there's no ink out of the box, and your opponent's are going down.

So, in 1990, the first six games of the year I started worrying about football and how I can get to where I want. Ohio State was a big one. A guy named Beattie was opposite me. I didn’t wanna hear that I had let that guy run all over me. I had a big day in 1990 at Ohio State. I got an interception. There was a thunderstorm and there were lightning bolts that hit the field, and they called the game with a minute or so left, and we won, 35-26.

Off the field, we hung out at the 502 Club. The camaraderie at the "Five-oh" was magical. My first year I couldn't go in. Rex Moore did all these crazy things I heard about and I finally got to go in there myself. It was an awesome place that made you feel most like a Trojan. There were former Trojans on the wall, pictures of USC and Notre Dame in the room, players in the NFL and guys from before, plus all your teammates. Everybody knew you. People who were die hard to the Trojan tradition. It was the place you went to be part of that it. It was part of the community, all of us were representatives of the players and the school. It was a place to rally around. Friendships were made and forged there that last a lifetime. Every win or loss, after it was a place to celebrate victory or drown our sorrows after a defeat.

 You'd see celebrities in there. Marriages were made in the "Five-oh." The owner, Tony Caravalho, was the most cardinal and gold individual that there ever was. He was the center of the Trojan family. He made it possible for us, we could hide in there and keep it private if we didn't wanna deal with crowds. We'd come in at two in the morning after a road trip and just unwind. Other times there was this excitement in the 502: "There's Charles Whites . . . there's O.J." I met the daughter of the Uncle Ben rice empire at the 502 Club. That's what the "Five-oh" was for me.

 In many ways I was moving slow. Tim was the big man on campus but I was not. Tim worked with me on my presence. Some guys become cocky and arrogant. I was meek and timid, but I saw how others rolled and operated. I learned. I got confidence. I was practically afraid of girls at first, terrified of rejection. I gained confidence, not as a womanizer, but Tim taught me to be comfortable with women who gave me good vibes. I perceived myself as not very desirable but it changed for me at USC. I talked to women on an even playing field and learned I actually was a nice guy. I've carried that with me all this time, and that comes from my experience at USC.

I had a "never die" attitude given to me from my parents and I built on it at USC. I found it there, it made me a man, it made me outgoing, it made me a people person. Now I make it my life, in PR and real estate. My friends were confident; Ryan, Scott Ross. Those guys knew they were great and it rubbed off. I spent a lot of time with both those guys and they liked me.

The moral of the story is I went from being disciplined, doing what I was told to be being well trained, and then to what it is you think is best. Always go back to that and put your nose down and grind. You don't have to be the smartest, the cutest or the best, but there is always that option to then take what you learned and now call yourself well trained and educated.

 

Gene Fruge played on three straight Rose Bowl teams (1987-89) and on a Hancock Bowl team his senior year. The 1989 Trojans beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl to finish eighth in the nation. They were ranked every year of his career. His best games were against Ohio State, when Troy beat the Buckeyes 42-3 (1989 in Los Angeles) and 35-26, when his key interception helped seal victory at Columbus.

 

TODD MARINOVICH

Quarterback

1989 - 1990

 

Things are going well for me. I'm coaching young quarterbacks in Orange County. I do private lessons for sixth and seventh graders. Bob Johnson at Mission Viejo has a high-profile camp there, but I was never part of his system.

I was highly recruited as has been reported, but it was always assumed I was heading to USC. I really didn't go to any other schools but I almost rebelled and went to Stanford. I like Northern California and identified with the lifestyle up there. I went on a trip to Stanford and two "trips" to USC. Jack Elway asked me on a scale of one to five, what were the chances I'd come to Stanford, and I told him four, but Larry Smith

put on his best suit during the recruiting process, and it came down to playing in the Rose Bowl. I just didn't want to come down to the Coliseum every year and lose like John Elway had done. There was that allure of the quarterback history at Stanford, plus it appealed to my artistic interests, which had started ever since I was a freshman at Mater Dei High School. I transferred to Capistrano Valley High School as a sophomore.

What a dream to have played for Pete Caroll and Norm Chow! I went to practice and he's a quality guy. What a dream I told him it would have been. That atmosphere is alluring and attractive. He makes it fun. They stopped practice while warming up and he introduced me to the team. I waved and they acknowledged me. I've not seen any other group that is so classy.

I "red-shirted" in 1988. With the Rodney Peete situation I walked into, it made all the difference in the world. I had a year to mature and learn from a guy like Rodney whose a quality person, to watch how he handled himself on campus and with the media. You learn through experience. You can't put a price tag on it. I traveled that year, though. They took me to all the away games to give me a feel for the road.

My first start was the 1989 season opener with Illinois at the Coliseum. The game was scheduled for Moscow, but plans fell through for political reasons. The Berlin Wall came down two or three months after that game. We ran a very conservative offense but seemed to have it won, until Jeff George got hot and they upset us, 14-13.

A few weeks later came the defining game of my collegiate career, at Washington State's Martin Stadium. It was an intense game and we trailed, 17-10, with a couple minutes to go in the fourth quarter. The noise was phenomenal.

The comeback was unbelievable. We were getting ready to stop them and give ourselves the opportunity to drive for the winning score. Cleveland Colter was standing on the 50-yard line waiting to catch the punted ball, and he's an All-American, so I'm figuring we'll have great field position. But the punt goes off his head and just bounces and bounces and bounces until we recover it on our own eight-yard line.

That took all the wind out of my sails and we started out the series 0-for-three. Then I hit Gary Wellman for a first down. Wellman pretty much did it all. Wellman and Leroy Holt. We did it all with passes and converted four fourth down conversions on that drive. We just advanced until we scored a touchdown from three or four yards out. I looked to Ricky Ervins in the flat pattern and then came back to Wellman. That made it 17-16 and we decided to go for two and the win. We stayed with the same play as the TD and made it.

I didn't call any audibles on that drive. I love two-minute situations. I always enjoyed it because I was in the "shotgun." I loved it because I could see the field and was more comfortable back there calling my own plays. The coaches called the plays except in a two-minute drill. They gave me the green light to do audibles and call my own plays because most of the plays came in from a run/play "check with me" from the offensive coordinator, but with two minutes we didn't have time to run plays in. Our offensive coordinator was either Ray Dorr or John Matsko.

We returned to Los Angeles after the game, which was played at mid-day. I was downstairs at Heritage Hall putting my stuff away when Smith's secretary came down and said, "You've got a phone call from President Reagan." I thought it was a joke. Reagan had been out of office since January but was at the height of his popularity with Communism on the verge of defeat.

Larry walked out and gave me his office, and I thought this was different. It was Reagan. I immediately recognized his voice. He was the in hospital recovering from surgery and had watched the whole game, and he had this distinctive way of saying, "Way-uhl, Nancy and I enjoyed your game today. You inspired us . . ."

He played The Gipper and a lot of people thought he was a Notre Dame guy, but President Reagan's a Trojan all the way. I was quiet and grateful for the call. The others, they thought I was full of crap. As I told the story people still think I was full of crap, but guys who were with me at the 502 Club that night all had been there and verified it happened.

The energy at Notre Dame in 1989; one of the greatest experiences of my college career was that stadium. It's similar to the Rose Bowl. There's not a lot of room between the field and the stands there, the bands and the crowd are right on you, and their crowd is knowledgeable about when to get loud and when not to. I was wearing a turtleneck and two shirts. I'm calling from behind the center at the line and I see Chris Zorich, their All-American, and he's wearing a cut off-jersey with steam coming out of his facemask. The helmets are cold but they were used to it. It was the first cold game I ever played, it was in late October. It was not a real factor but they were all baring their arms and looking beastly. It was one of the most exciting games in the rivalry history, but they prevailed, 28-24 to knock us out of the national title hunt.

We played Michigan in the 1990 Rose Bowl. It's funny, I don't know how I can sum it up except there was not much excitement. It was a combination where I played well but they thought Ricky was the MVP. We just broke their backs and controlled the ball at the end to win, 17-10. What finally stands out about that game is that it was Bo Schembechler's last game. As a kid I watched him forever. On the play that sealed it, we made a big punt, and he threw his headset to the ground. I knew it was over then.

In 1990 I was a Heisman contender and we were a national championship contender. We opened at the Kickoff Classic near New York City. The big thing that stands out is that prior to that game, at the pre-game meal that afternoon, USA Today was spread out front on the table, and the sports page had my photo and it asked, "Marinovich swan song? Is this his last year?" I'd not even thought about it but third-year players were coming out for the first time. We'd lost Junior Seau and Mark Carrier, and the paper brought attention from the coaching staff, but it wasn't my idea, it was the New York media. We beat Syracuse and looked really good.

We had an all-time shootout with Tommy Maddox and UCLA at the Rose Bowl at the end of the season. A lot was going on with Smith and I, and he's playing games. He took Shane Foley to ASU and we only beat 'em, 13-6. The reason given was my attendance, missing classes, which was a joke because all they go by is G.P.A., but this was the thing he used to make a pit for me. For what reason, I don't.

They didn't announce I would start the UCLA game until the game that day. I wanted to make the most of it to prove my worth. That is the best stadium I ever played in, that Rose Bowl energy is the best. We didn't do much in the first half. I didn't do much but we broke out in the fourth quarter. Johnnie Morton was the youngest receiver I threw to in my era, and he just beat this guy on the cover to give me a chance. The main receiver wasn't clear, so I went to the right guy on the sidelines and gave him a shot at a great catch.

The last touchdown I was going for Gary while he made a timing/crossing route from the 14 or the 17. We called a time-out and I said, "Let's try Gary up the middle between the two safeties," but he got bumped at the line of scrimmage so we had to go to the "mack" side for Johnnie Morton. It was just like catches made by Sam Dickerson to beat UCLA in 1969, and J.K. McKay's catch to beat Ohio State in the 1975 Rose Bowl. It was my favorite route since Pop Warner, the corner station.

What It Means to Be a Trojan. The deciding factor on why I went to USC was my grandfather, "Chief" Henry Fertig, who ran the Huntington Park police department. Chief asked me, when I'm done playing college football, where did I want to live?  I said I wanted to live in Southern California.

He says, "Why make your name in Miami or someplace? It doesn't make sense to go out of state." That was the deciding factor. I found out over the years that the Trojan family extends long and far. Wherever I go I am welcomed with open arms. The love and support of my fellow Trojans, along with my faith in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, has sustained me through some really tough times. 

 

Todd Marinovich set the all-time national passing records, and was perhaps the most highly-recruited, sought-after and heralded prep football player who ever lived coming out of Capistrano Valley High School in Orange County. His father, Marv was the captain of the 1962 national champions. His uncle coached Pat Haden and J.K. McKay at Bishop Amat High. His mother was the sister of Craig Fertig, hero of the 1964 USC-Notre Dame game. His grandfather, Henry "Chief" Fertig, was a legendary figure at Troy. He possessed perhaps the greatest Trojan pedigree ever. Nicknamed "Robo QB" because he had been raised and nurtured on a steady health food diet and workout regimen by his father, he was a freshman All-American who led the Trojans to victory over Michigan in the 1990 Rose Bowl and the next year engineered a stunning 45-42 win over UCLA in Pasadena. Todd had problems with Coach Larry Smith but was a first round draft choice of Al Davis and the Los Angeles Raiders, but did not achieve success. His life has been a Shakespearean drama, but he appears to found peace through Christ, and today coaches high school quarterbacks in Orange County.

 

SCOTT ROSS

Inside Linebacker

1987 - 1990

 

I was a linebacker at El Toro High School in Orange County, which is really "Trojan country." I was being recruited by the University of Arizona, Coach Chris Allen and their head coach, Larry Smith recruited me. They were pushing hard, and Allen came from Arizona to my house. I had been recruited by USC Coach Ted Tollner's crew, but Tollner was not recruiting me as hard as some other schools. Then there was a switch. Tollner was fired early in 1987, and Larry Smith got the USC job two weeks later. So now Coach Allen was in my house, again he'd traveled from Arizona, only this time he's recruiting me for USC because he'd come over with Coach Smith. I was already set on USC. I had been polite and listened to Coach Allen and to Arizona, but I was going to USC.

       I was a freshman in 1987, but I got playing time. Rex Moore was the starting inside linebacker. Delmar Chesley backed him up. I didn't travel. We played the Kickoff Classic in East Rutherford, New Jersey against Michigan State, and I was in Ensenada watching the game. I watched Tony Mandarich break Rex Moore's ankle, and it was like a Joe Theismann thing, and I looked at my friend and said, "My 'red-shirt' season's over with."

       On Monday coach said, "Delmar's ahead of you. You're number two. Get ready." I played on special teams, and five games or so into the season we traveled to South Bend to play Notre Dame. I'm 218 pounds. Notre Dame's running up the middle. Delmar's getting his butt kicked, so the assistant coach was furious, he was spitting mad.

       "Get me a linebacker who can fill that hole," he screams, and he just looked at me and said, "Ross, get in there." I'm a freshman and it's my first game, vs. Notre Dame. I played the rest of that game and stopped the run. We lost but I never lost the starting position again after that.

       I'd wore number 64 because of Hacksaw Reynolds, but here I was, I was starting and I got accepted into the senior upper class. There were exceptions. Marcus Cotton didn't appreciate a freshman running the huddle, but Rex said number 35 was a longstanding linebacker number at USC, so I went from wearing number 64 to number 35.

       Our quarterback was Rodney Peete, who I described as the most modest "Hollywood player" you could imagine. He fit the image of the USC football player; good-looking, charismatic, a leader, articulate. He was like a movie star, like what a casting agent would recommend to play a quarterback in a football movie.

       Rodney never looked down on anybody. He knew I was insecure, but he propped me up. He was one of the best players I ever played with. He was a senior in 1988, he always had a smile, he always encouraged you. He was so versatile. Rodney was a superior athlete, a great baseball player. At first he'd been a running quarterback but he could throw the ball, too, and was a pro prospect. I played with Junior Seau, Willie McGinest and Tim Ryan, but Rodney was the best all-around athlete and leader. He was more like the Bo Jackson of USC, very versatile, and he was the politician of our team. He knew how to talk to everybody, how to encourage people. He was diplomatic and helped make the team work. Junior was quiet, not a leader of the team the way Rodney was.

       In 1987, we were trying to establish ourselves. UCLA was in the middle of a strong run. Troy Aikman was their quarterback, and under Coach Terry Donahue, they had beaten USC four of five years and won the Rose Bowl a few times, and there was talk in Los Angeles that the Bruins now had the better football program. We'd gone through the firing of our coach and were struggling. We entered the UCLA game at the Coliseum underdogs but with a chance to get to the Rose Bowl with an upset.

       That game was the best thing in the world. We rallied and came from behind against them. Rodney had a pass picked off, a heartbreaking play where we could have been right back in it but it was picked and ran back almost the length of the field, but Rodney chased him down and tackled him yards from the end zone before the gun sounded. It was a swing for us and they couldn't score with time expired. Rodney brought us all the way back, we won 17-13, and went to the Rose Bowl.

       I hadn't realized the magnitude of that game when you're 18 or 19, but here we've beaten Troy Aikman, and Terry Donahue was curled up in the fetal position, crying in the tunnel after the game. I felt for him but I did laugh, I gave a little snicker, because it was a sweet win. We knew what it was like to be humbled.

       In 1988 we had national championship aspirations. Rodney and Aikman were on every magazine cover, the two Heisman hopefuls. Early in the season we beat Oklahoma and UCLA beat Nebraska, and we both ascended to one-two in the polls, so the whole season there was this anticipation of a showdown for all the marbles. It seemed like it was one of those California seasons that happen every so often. The Lakers won the NBA title, Stanford won the College World Series, the Dodgers beat Oakland in the World Series and the 49ers won the Super Bowl, so it seemed like USC-UCLA was a natural in '88.

       Finally, we get to the UCLA game at the Rose Bowl. It's gonna be Peete vs. Aikman for the Heisman Trophy. The winner of the game will be conference champion, probably be ranked number one or at the least play in the Rose Bowl for the national title. People are talking about the 1967 USC-UCLA game, O.J. Simpson vs. Gary Beban, and you can't play a bigger, more high-pressure college football game. The intensity, the media buzz, was over the top.

       So what happens? Rodney Peete gets the measles. It couldn't have happened to a better guy. We rallied behind Rodney, like we knew we'd have to play as a team and not rely on our star in order to win. For the defense, we increased our intensity, our urgency to get to the Rose Bowl game on New Year's Day if we do this. Our best guy is sick so we figured we can't let it get away. We have to stop Troy Aikman.

       We did just that. It was kind of a mediocre win, not a big crushing, but we controlled them, 31-22. Rodney's statistics were not great. He recovered enough to play, but we won as a team. No sooner do we win that game, we have to play Notre Dame at the Coliseum one week later. This is a unique aspect of USC football. Other teams play one big rivalry game. Ohio State gears up for Michigan, Auburn-Alabama. Even Notre Dame is gearing up for us at the end, at least in even years, but in those years we have to play UCLA and Notre Dame in consecutive weeks. What other program in the country would ever put itself through something like that?

       All season in 1988 it was USC-UCLA, Peete vs. Aikman. Now we've beaten them, and it was like, oh man, Notre Dame's unbeaten, too and we have to beat them too, if we want to achieve our goals. It's hard to say it was a let down vs. Notre Dame. It's still Notre Dame. I played well, but I can see how you look at the whole team and we lost ourselves. I think as a team, as a whole, we had won the "Super Bowl of L.A.," and then have to play a great Notre Dame team. Trojans don't make excuses, many USC teams have done what we had to do, but it's sort of like a baseball team that gets on a hitting streak, peaks, then hits a lull. A lot of guys were still on a high.

       It's not so much a factor in the pros as it is in college, where you still play on emotion. You play in front of 80 to 100,00 fans, and an average player plays exceptional, and an exceptional player plays out of his mind. In the pros you have to play exceptional all the time. But for 20-year olds it’s a lot to ask.

       Peete hurt his shoulder in the 1988 game with Notre Dame. I remember him hurt, but to tell the truth, as much as we were a team, the defense is consumed with defense, so we let the offense alone, you don't meddle in the offense. We were down three at the half and it was anybody's game, even though Rodney was hurt and not playing great, but they dominated us in the second half, intercepted his pass and ran it back, and we lost, 27-10. It's tough to be more down than we were, because the national championship was taken from us and our biggest rival, the Fighting Irish, now had the inside track at it. That was Lou Holtz's team. I remember screaming at Holtz on the field. We knew each other. The intensity gets up and it's hard to lose to them, especially on our home turf.

       So much was lost that day. The national title, and all of a sudden Rodney's Heisman. It was like, he was gonna win it after beating Aikman, but out of no where Barry Sanders at Oklahoma State has quietly been putting up incredible rushing totals. Now that Rodney had a bad game on the big stage, Sanders won it.

       We still went to the Rose Bowl against Michigan. It got to be the norm going to the Rose Bowl for me. I went after the 1987, 1988 and 1989 seasons. I can't say we let down against Michigan after losing to Notre Dame in '88. We led 14-3 and seemed to be in control, but they rallied and beat us. People said we were uninspired because we were not playing for number one, but it's still the Rose Bowl so I doubt that.

       Larry Smith was unsung. He took me to three Rose Bowls. He was a tough coach. We went full speed in practice if he thought we were getting soft. He was great with Peete, the two of them communicated well. They were on the same level, but he was a little conservative. He got conservative with Todd Marinovich.

       I competed against Todd in Orange County high school ball. I was at El Toro and he transferred to San Juan Capistrano, where he set every national record and was the biggest prep recruit maybe of all times. The expectations for him were off the charts. His dad, Marv Marinovich, had played at USC. Todd was literally a SCion, Trojan royalty on both sides of his family, born and bred to play quarterback for USC. His dad controlled every aspect of his life, what he ate, his workouts, his preparation, but when Todd left home he was gonna do what he wanted. 

       Smith and Todd; the two of them didn't communicate. If Todd would have his way he'd run shoots, trick plays, and he'd change plays in the huddle. Larry'd go nuts even if it worked and Todd would gain 20 yards.

       In 1989, no one remembers the season opener vs. Illinois. Todd was a "red-shirt" freshman and he starts. Jeff George was Illinois' quarterback. We led 13-0 but Smith didn't let Todd open up. We just ran the ball and held them on defense, but late in the game George starts to bring them back, and we go into a "prevent defense." With 1:30 left they had a third down and they needed a touchdown. Jeff threw a lightning strike over my head. I jumped up and got ahold of the ball, tipping it, and Mark Carrier was behind me ready to intercept the ball, and their receiver went up and caught the ball and went into the end zone. If I'd let it go Carrier would have intercepted it and we'd have won.

       Todd's best game at USC may have been the 28-24 loss at Notre Dame in 1989. That was a tough pill to swallow. Smith's conservative approach never really meshed with Todd, who was more of a "West Coast offense" guy, a freelancer who was good at reading defenses. We beat Michigan, 17-10 in the 1990 Rose Bowl, to finish 9-2-1. It was a surreal experience. There was a picture of me in the Los Angeles Times, on the front page, and that was the highlight of my career. We beat Bo Schembechler in his last game. We couldn't have beaten a bunch of better guys. We ran into those guys from Michigan out in L.A. a few nights earlier, plus there was the "Beef Bowl" at Lowry's Prime Rib. It was a good win, but my senior year we go to the John Hancock Bowl and the season was a disappointment.

       We had high hopes for a national championship and Todd was a Heisman candidate. We opened with a big 34-16 win back in New York over Syracuse in the Kickoff Classic, but we ran into that great Don James team at Washington. They beat us in Seattle and everything crumbled. Todd and Coach Smith argued. Junior Seau signed after his junior year so he was not with us. We beat Tommy Maddox and UCLA, 45-42. That was Todd's greatest moment, but we lost again to Notre Dame and then we were uninspired in the Hancock Bowl. Todd and Smith argued on TV and that was that.

       What It Means to Be a Trojan? I don’t think there's a better club or camaraderie other than the U.S. military when it comes to a helping hand. There's no one better when it comes to that, they all want to help, to catch a game with me. I have friends in the alumni who are 80, and there is a connection with people there, we break down walls with each other, open up and they help you.

       When I had to come back to USC to get my degree I called the Orange County Trojan Football Club and they came up with money from the John Wayne scholarship fund, which paid my way to get my degree. I never would have graduated without their help.

       The generation gap totally breaks down due to the USC connection. I became best friends with an 80-year old guy whose 45 years older that me, but he lived through the Great Depression and could relate to my problems and we just hit it off.

       Pete Carroll is remarkable. He intuitively understands this and incorporates it into his philosophy. I was with some of the younger guys last year before the season, and I couldn't believe the self-discipline. It was not harsh, but it was something they wanted and needed, and he gave it to them in a way they accepted. The things they do in the off-season, I thought was wonderful that they get up at six in the morning to go running. He makes sure they're not out partying, running amok, and I couldn't believe the discipline they impose upon themselves and upon each other.

       I attended a football event at Phil Traini's restaurant in Long Beach, and they were disciplined in that environment. They had this great demeanor, there was no alcohol in-take, they were not drinking, and it was all because of Carroll. I was amazed. The old school wild boys would get in trouble, run amok, get crazy at the old 502 Club, but Pete's got a complete handle on that. I had a hard coach but this guy is hard, yet he makes it seem like you are imposing his discipline on yourself. The ability to do that is something you can't teach, but Pete's got it.

       Maybe part of it is societies' reaction to sports. There's a lot of money in it and parents see it as a way to promote their kids, so the ones who make it may be more disciplined and focused, but Carroll's embraced it and there's an acceptance of what's in store for young men who come to play for him. He tells them, "Here's why we do this," he explains it, where Smith would just say, "Its my way or the highway." Pete's almost like a counselor.

      "This is best for the team and yourself," he'll tell them. Parents look at kids as an investment. My daughter is good at golf so I think scholarship, and Pete connects to that way of thinking. A parent meets Pete Carroll and comes away thinking, "This is the guy who can best maximize my son's potential as a player, a student and as a man." Most coaches it's one or the other; a good coach but academics takes a back seat, but with Pete you're getting a well-rounded experience. 

       I met Pete out on the field at practice. Pete ties in the old and new, and there's never a problem getting on the field, he's real good about that. The way I know him through practices, and we're all a family, he loves the tradition and completely uses that.

       I knew Rob Johnson, who was USC's quarterback in the early 1990s. He was my water boy in high school. His older brother, Bret, was my teammate at El Toro High School, and their dad, Bob Johnson was our coach. My teammates, Bret, Scott Spaulding and Colt Miller, all went to UCLA. I think they all made a mistake. Bret left UCLA and transferred to Michigan State. Rob, being our water boy, saw that, so my decision reflected on him, and he saw his brother's mistake, and chose USC

       It's a brotherhood. To this day I look around in society and see SC people. They're all over the place. I never met a bad USC guy. They just rise to the top.

       When I was a player, I went to the 100-year reunion at the Coliseum. Aaron Emanuel and I butted heads all the time. Sports Illustrated said he was supposed to be a Heisman candidate but he wasn't. We were in the locker room and these old cronies come in, and we've got a keg of beer, and Aaron and I got into it, and we're in suits, we're supposed to be respectful. We start to get after each other, and Pat Harlow grabbed me, and I heard a couple of the older guys chuckling, saying it hasn't changed since they had played there. We went out and had a good time at dinner, and the next day we laughed and shook hands. We're all Trojans and respect each other.

 

Scott Ross was an All-American in 1990. He was All-Pac-10 in 1988, 1989 and 1990, played in three Rose Bowl games (1988, 1989, 1990), was selected team Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year, and was the recipient of the Davis-Teschke award as a senior.  USC's record was 35-12-2 in his four years. After selection to the East-West Shrine Game and the Hula Bowl, he was drafted by the New Orleans Saints, and played for them in 1991.

 

DERRICK DEESE

Offensive Guard

1990 - 1991

 

I played at the University of Southern California from 1990-91. I came from El Camino Junior College, which is one of the best J.C. football programs in the nation. John Firestone, a legend, was my coach there. Between him and the offensive line coach there, they made great names for themselves. They do a great job of getting kids to the next level. The good thing is they're still sticklers for getting kids an A.A. degree. They make sure you get it whether you needed it or not, and it's one reason I still stay involved.

       I played at Culver City High School, which was not a very good program but it's getting better. I see they've been making it to the play-offs more the last seven years. My senior year was the first time they'd been in the play-offs in 15 years or something. Carnell Lake of UCLA and myself, we cam from there.

       Clarence Shelmon recruited me for USC out of El Camino as an offensive guard. I also played on the defensive line in high school and at El Camino. The funny thing is Coach Gene Engle was not sure if I'd play on the offensive line or not. He recruited me to play there. They give you an envelope detailing your position responsibilities, and mine was for both sides of the ball. I felt like Coach Engle, whose still there, it was hard for him because there'd been a disruption of coaches because of what happened my senior year. He told my mom, "I never make promises," but he guaranteed he'd get me to a division I school. My situation was, I wanted to play football and get an education. To be honest, I wanted to be a police officer, so I went to El Camino and Clarence Shelmon talked to their coaching staff. My tapes had been shown and they said I had great speed and technique. I spoke with a lot with coaches and I signed with the Trojans in the spring of 1990.

       Mark Carrier and Junior Seau would have been seniors that year, but they were two of the first players to leave early after their junior years. Now it's common but then it was rare, but we lost them. We expected to compete for the national championship that year and had we had them it would have been much more possible.

       I got to USC, and you have an air about yourself there. Basically you felt like everybody wanted to be at that school. As on offensive lineman, you get hyped. It's "Running Back U." and it's "Linebacker U.," but we've had a lot of offensive linemen and that was the thing SC was known for. Unless you are a real football addict, you don't pay attention to offensive linemen, but you have to have them in order to have the running game USC's always had.

       I was an L.A. kid, so growing up I knew a lot about it and knew all about the USC-UCLA rivalry. So I get there and find out we're kicking off the season for college football and have a chance to go big and win a national championship. The opener was the Kickoff Classic at Giants Stadium, in the Meadowlands at East Rutherford, New Jersey. It's a pro stadium and that was a big hyped game. No one else was playing so all the focus at the beginning of the season was on us, and you want it to be like that at the end of the season like at the beginning of the season. You want to be playing for number one. That was our focus, to show what we had worked for all spring and summer.

       Our quarterback was Todd Marinovich. The funny thing about Todd is I played with some of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game. I think if he'd stayed focused he would have been a great quarterback, but Coach Larry Smith had a spat with him over control issues, over who had the power, and it affected Todd. He came out early, and looking back, if he'd stayed another year he could have changed USC as a whole if you think about it. He was up for the Heisman for three-quarters of the season, he'd been a Freshman All-American and led the Trojans to a Rose Bowl victory, so if he comes back, I look at him like a guy who probably could have won the Heisman.

       We lost to Notre Dame, 10-6. That was after our big offensive game with UCLA. I don't think there's a big physical difference between the Irish and the Bruins. I look back, and both teams were well coached and had great guys on both sides of the ball, who played in the NFL. In big games the first team that makes a mistake is usually the first team to lose. We fought back as well as we could and felt we had a chance to win. Some people thought that coming back from the high of the UCLA game caused us to lose, but great teams keep that level of play consistent.

       The UCLA game in 1990 was one of the greatest games in USC history. It was my first year coming from junior college at El Camino, where we had a semi-horseshoe of a stadium. It seats a few thousand and for a big game you're talking several hundred people. Then we play the Kickoff Classic in our first game. This is after I've played in the Cardinal and Gold spring game, which can get a few thousand in one section of the Coliseum, which to me was like wow, and in New York . . .

       So at Giants Stadium we warm up and I'm thinking, this isn't so bad. Then you hear the introductions, and after we've rested in the locker room and hear the roar of the crowd, and now we go out there and see this big, full stadium, all around there's 40 or 50,000 people, and it's shocking for a junior college transfer. Then we go to the Rose Bowl to play UCLA. Being an L.A. kid, that's the "granddaddy." If you're in the Pac-10 you wanna play in the Rose Bowl, bottom line. USC owned that stadium for quite some time. Now we get to play our rivals there. They're the enemy whose gonna have bragging rights all year, and you know all those guys. We follow them, they follow us. They see us out in J.C. or high school, we know each other. We get to the game, and I remember they had Scott Miller, a receiver from Saddleback and I had played against him. He was a pretty good guy and you knew he could take the game and control it if given the opportunity, and we entered the game and I'll say this is, it's the biggest game aside from Notre Dame also. We get out there and see 100,000-plus going crazy. That is phenomenal. Even in the NFL you don't experience that type of crowd atmosphere. That's a true football game, and it became a definite game of mistakes, a game of inches in which the lead must have switched hands 10 times or better. I talked to people from UCLA and they’re always asking, could Johnnie Morton have made it if not for the one-foot rule in college, or what if he needed two more feet in the end zone, and that’s where it becomes fun, and we both showed up to play and obviously the best team won!

       I started with the San Francisco 49ers in 1992 and played with both Joe Montana and Steve Young. We won the Super Bowl in 1995. I played with Jeff Garcia. Those quarterbacks, in themselves, they show how much more you need to think, how much they achieved, but they've all had different reasons why they succeeded.

       Montana's secret, when you look at Joe, you look at a guy whose extremely smart. He could read defensive players. He had an air about himself and was able to lead guys to a higher level. In his case he had good athletes around him and his confidence rubbed off on all those around him. He had a swagger, no matter who was coming into the game, no matter where you played on offense, it rubs off and made people better around him.

       In 1994 I think Steve Young put the pressure on himself to win the Super Bowl, and to be the best no matter what he did, no matter, he was not gonna be satisfied with his accomplishments and accolades. It didn't matter. It's easy to say, but basically he'd take the bull by the horns and decided what he's gonna do with the horn. He had to play a long time behind a quarterback considered the best in the game. To replace somebody like that is pressure, but he put the same pressure on himself. The 49ers have always been a team, when I got there was nothing less than winning the Super Bowl. It's like USC can go 11-2, win the Rose Bowl and finish number two, but it was a disappointing season because the expectation is a national title. That breeds excellence. When you put the pressure on yourself and play with that, you carry that on and off the field. Nothing breaks you. There's nothing you cannot attain, and you will do it, and Steve was a guy, we brought in other players and had lost to the Cowboys, but that third year there was a sense, a smell in the air, that we were gonna win the Super Bowl. We lost to Philadelphia and Kansas City, then ran off an 11-game winning streak. Every time we stepped on the field before the kick, you knew we were gonna win. We were 13-3 heading into the play-offs. With Steve we knew what we needed to win the play-offs, and here's Dallas, and you feel different about yourself when you win that game.

       All Eddie DeBartolo said was, "We will bring back the Lombardi Trophy." There was no hesitation, it didn't matter who we were gonna play, to me that was Steve, it was the way Steve relieved the pressure to go to the Super Bowl, and he did everything in his ability to win, but if we don't win, it's a failure. Even if he's the Most Valuable Player in the NFL, it doesn't matter. There was a look in his eyes, and he knew enough to know he was the perfect quarterback to replace Montana, and he did a great job. That guy was a great quarterback, and with a championship he proved it with what he did. That's what was he supposed to do, to not back down from a challenge.

      My teammate Gary Plummer said, "There's no more monkey, or gorilla, or elephant hanging on his back any more." It was like a heavy weight had been moved and we loved to own that victory more than ever. So I've played with two Hall of Famers, both Joe and Steve.

       Pete Carroll came to San Francisco in 1995. When he came there, he was guy who'd been fired by the Jew York Jets. He was our defensive coordinator and our defensive players loved him. Merton Hanks, Tim McDonald; they all loved him. I find it ironic, if you look at the 49ers they're known for offensive players. What they do in games, people figure the 49ers' defense is ranked in the top 10, they do a great job, but we'd win 11 or 12 games and go to the play-offs because of offense. That's the media writing. But we knew everybody needed to play, to show up, and he showed up and fired up any player any time, and guys loved to play for him, and you thought he could be the guy whose our next head coach. There were veterans who thought about it, and he definitely was a great defensive mind, and when he left guys were in shock but they were happy he got a head coaching position in New England.

       I think Steve Mariucci was hired from the University of California after Carroll was already gone. There was a lot of controversy about whether Mike Shannahan would be the new coach. Pete had succeeded Ray Rhodes as the defensive coordinator. I don’t know if Pete would have been the head coach had he stayed. That's a hard road to go down, I just don't know.

       If Pete had been the 49ers' coach, I'm not 100 percent sure what he would have done in San Francisco, to be honest. For the guys who played for him, I think they loved him. New England was not the perfect job for him, but look what happened after him. I can't say if the personnel was perfect for him, but he got that organization prepared for where they are now. Somebody has to start something to continue off what was there. Look at his resume. He was with the Jets one year. He was a defensive coordinator a number of years. You've got to give a coach, he needs four or five years to really decide what he's done. You need to get guys out who were there before him.

       When he was hired at USC, I came on the air, Tim McDonald and me, and we said they'd made a great hire. I think he was a great hire, and it can't get any better for USC. What was funny is later we find out that Mike Garrett thought he was not gonna hire him. You've gotta be kidding me. He was thinking about going in different directions.

       Players who played for him knew how good he was. I saw him coach every day, so I knew. The alumni and the media were not excited, but you knew players wanted to play for him, and I knew this. The thing is, when I was playing for him before he was at SC, I would say, "I bet this guy's a good recruiter." You'd look at Carroll and never see Carroll highly upset. He was always smiling, there was always something good on the other side, and a kid can see that.

       Either he has it or he doesn't, and that's why you look at it now, he could get an NFL job, but frankly as a past Trojan, I hope he never takes another job. He's good for USC. He has a great staff. Look at the way he runs his system. Yeah, some kids leave early, but they gotta understand that it's not just one person whose that good, but a lot of intangibles in a team game that makes you that way.

       Reggie Bush was like that. He needed that team around him, to know it's not all me. The fact of the matter is Carroll, even with kids who leave early, he's still able to take it to another level. Guys credit that . . . you're talking great USC coaches, and he's right in the mix. One thing that's different with this guy that they, previous coaches, don't even compare is he's done it with great players leaving early and he has to re-load.

       For Mike Garrett, it's like, you don’t understand, you wanna jump on my bandwagon, but Garrett - everybody makes mistakes - but a real man can stand up and admit, "I was wrong," and that's how you have to look at it. Garrett needs to say, "I didn’t ask him to be our coach, but he's the best thing in years."

       There's lots of reasons for him to stay at USC, but you can't take into account a guy's desire to prove he could make the same transition in pro football. This is what makes him take another job, is full control, period. It's hard to go out and cook the dinner you want when another buys the groceries and they get the wrong meat. You can't cook steak if they buy chicken. Maybe that's the difference, I don't mean that's not out there. Bill Walsh, they thought he was crazy installing the "West Coast offense." A lot of those coaches had a major influence on Carroll. Walsh touched a ton of players and coaches. He was involved with the 49ers when Pete was there and they established a strong relationship, so Walsh is huge influence on Pete.

       Carroll, to be honest, has made a name that will live on for decades. He'll be talked about when my kids are old enough to have kids. You can't look back and see his achievement and not say he has not made a name for himself. Does he want to accomplish more at a higher level? You mention college legends like Knute Rockne, Bear Bryant and Bud Wilkinson; Pete's there now, I think.

       Steve Spurrier tried it his way, in college or the NFL, but who does the recruiting in the NFL? Look at the questions a general manager asks. Do we wanna pay him? In college it's, "Do we have a scholarship?" Carroll can get 10 "first round draft picks" in one recruiting class. In pro football you can't do this, you've got that budget. Jerry Jones will put the money out. Dan Snyder an a few others will spend money to get the players as long as they have to.

       Announcing is great. An interesting thing is I always did radio from my second year with the 49ers. I've done a lot of Elvis and JayVee on KMEL "Hot 97," then 94.9 and so forth, "Big Joe" was his name, and I liked it. On radio I get a chance to be able to talk to someone who can't see you, but you have to give them a visual. On TV it's all on the screen, but it's just you on the radio. You have to keep people listening to you who can't see you. I like things difficult more than easy, that's the road I traveled.

       I did "In the Trenches With Derrick Deese," with Rick Barry on KNBR/68 in San Francisco. From there I went to Tampa and did an ESPN show down there. Chris Visher got me on weekly and when got hurt and I got a try-out on 570 in Los Angeles and got hired. It's kind of funny because "Big Joe" from Northern California was on when I came to L.A. That's Joe Grande from "Power 106." They hired me, and 570 let me do this show, and I stayed there a year. Fox Sports had me sit down in there, and they liked what they heard, and it's been that way ever since. It's difficult because I've had a lot of injuries and I can't sit as long as you need to . . .

       Ultimately, you don’t wanna be a guy who walks the fence. I pick one side or another. "In the Trenches" gave some glory for the linemen. The "pretty boys," the blonde guys like Boomer Esiason, the Frank Gifford types, they get lots of these post-career media jobs, but Mike Golic gets to do those things. You look at it, and offensive linemen are big guys, but we get to put it forward Lincoln Kennedy has his opinions and they're different.

       Why do so many USC athletes do so well on the radio? There's a media perimeter around the campus. It's tradition. You have no choice but to talk to somebody every day. Los Angeles is one of the top three markets in the world, so you're gonna be seen and heard. Some guy from a small town may talk to five or 10 people in a week when you bring him to L.A. I guarantee, Jason Sehorn was like that, coming from a tiny town like Mount Shasta, but he became a celebrity in New York. He learned how to handle that, like Gifford did, at USC. There's so many people around you at USC; celebrities are coming by, and the last thing you want to see on TV is you saying "uh . . . I uh . . . let me see . . ." That's not how you want to be portrayed. You want to be viewed as an intelligent man, an intellectual who can convey himself to anyone. A lot of people don't like what I say, but know what I am saying is my honest opinion, and I'm building a fan base off that.

       That's what you're looking for. You don't have to like it, but you have to appreciate what someone says. Disagree with my opinion, but I know what I'm talking about. I've played and I'm knowledgeable, that can't be denied. Those are things you look at. That's what I can do because of what I did at USC. They have speech classes, communication classes, plus psychology and sociology. You have to be able to get yourself out there in the open field and be a guy who can speak to anybody. You have no choice, you had to do interviews, we had to do that. Even if you just got here, they'll say, "Get here and speak." You learn that, and it's not just football.

       Basketball players, baseball players, women athletes like Lisa Leslie . . . Jim Rome interviews USC athletes all the time and says that far and away our people are the most articulate. Baseball players like John Jackson and Tom Seaver are well spoken. Years ago when Tom Seaver was a young celebrity/superstar in New York, he knew how to handle it. He'd say, "That's a journalistic trick you're trying to pull; I learned that in a journalism class at USC." Or "I took public relations classes in college and know what you're trying to do."

       Plus I learned what not to do from people in the media when I was a player. I never respected Ralph Barbieri on KNBR/68 in San Francisco. He was dogging me even though he never played, so I told Mark Ibanez, who did a post-game show on channel two, that I didn't appreciate certain members of the media trying to discredit me, especially when they had two DUIs in a couple months like Barbieri did. Ibanez laughed so hard they had to do a second take, but I repeated it on air. After that Barbieri had all kinds of praise for Derrick Deese. Whatever.

 

Derrick Deese was selected for the 1992 Hula Bowl, then starred with the San Francisco 49ers from 1993-2003. He was a member of their 1994 world championship team and was with the 49ers when Pete Carroll was an assistant with them from 1995-96. After playing for Tampa Bay (2004), he became a national sports radio host.

 

MATT GEE

Inside Linebacker

1988 - 1991

 

I came from a small town, Arkansas City, Kansas and went to USC, where I played inside linebacker. I was a highly recruited player out of a town of 10,000 people, and they tracked me down. We had a great historical high school program down there, so scouts knew to come there.

       Coaches Larry Smith and Ted Tollner both recruited me after they found me, and they really loved me. I as on their list, but not excited about California. I was all for going to Oklahoma University, because my town is near the Oklahoma border. I was a good track athlete and had set a high school javelin record, and was asked by the Olympic Committee to try out for the javelin at a camp with track and field professionals, for the Seoul, South Korea Olympics. So there I was, along with these track veterans, and it was held at USC, so I was at Heritage Hall. I'd dodged USC, but they came out and I ran the 40 in 40.6 seconds, but I fell on the track and scraped my hand. I went into the training room, and the coaches just went down there and talked me into coming to SC. I took a trip and here I was. I did my research on SC and saw all their linebackers were in the pros. Back then for linebackers, it was by far USC

       I went from a tiny town to L.A., so it was an awakening culturally, but my expectations were centered on football; to win a national title. They also said I could run track if I wanted to, as long as I played spring ball, because others had done the same thing. USC has a long tradition of dual-sport athletes - football-track, football-baseball - as does UCLA, who allows dual sports as does SC. But I couldn't keep up with the javelin and track and still play football. I came out for some points in track meets, but not full time. We went to two Rose bowls when I was there.

       I think to be a Trojan is everything. For me, coming from the Midwest, I had no idea how big it was, to be a Trojan, to have that connection for life. For people who live in Southern California, people's eyes get big when they hear you went to USC. "So did I." Not having grown up here, but as time progressed, I became tight friends with so many USC people. Even my business today is centered around USC people. They stick together. As you progress from freshmen to seniors, you don't realize how important it is until you leave school. I can't emphasize enough, so many things happened when I was there, it's unreal. I can't imagine something else. I go see coaches I've not seen in years, and it's just great. And it’s a small school, a tight area to have to know a lot of people, it's so small.

       Coach Smith was Coach Smith. I didn't really get to know him until my senior year, when he was under stress. I stayed close with my position coaches. He had nothing to do with the defense. I was the captain my senior year and we got closer, but he was a standoff guy. He never bothered me. His nose was always to the grindstone and he worked constantly. Some people didn't like him but I did.

       Coach Tom Roggeman was my linebackers coach all the time I was at USC. He had a real Marine drill sergeant's demeanor, was constantly yelling and was very intense. He'd love to hear about this book. He was as old school as he could possibly get. Smith and his people were all old school guys. Their philosophy going into games was that it was a constant fight, and you just beat 'em down.

       Away from football, our hangout was this legendary watering hole called the 502 Club. It was a restaurant called the California Pizza and Pasta Company, but the bar was called the "Five-oh." It was at the corner of Jefferson and McLintock in the University Village, next to the Bank of America where a Yoshinoya Beef Bowl is now, and it was a part of USC for about 20 years. Kids at USC today don't have a place like that to go to. They cab to downtown clubs, or Westwood or the South Bay, but people at USC in those years had the "Five-oh," and even today if you mention the 502 Club people have this look in their eyes, like it's a secret code or message, like, "Yeah, I remember the 'Five-oh.' " Coach Smith tried to keep us out of there, but everybody was in there; baseball players, women athletes, fratties, locals, everyone.

       I felt like I was one of the owners when I went in there. You felt like you knew everybody. Tony "Bruno" Caravalho, who did own the place, took care of us and I smile when I hear of it. I almost got sick to my stomach when it closed. Certain guys, most of the guys met there to blow off steam. Tony made us feel like family. When the 502 closed down from the 1992 riots, it changed USC. Now there's a glitzy corridor between STAPLES and the Galen Center. The neighborhood's cleaner, there's upscale housing for faculty, the air quality is greatly improved, and the academics are better, but there's no place to go on a Thursday night like the old 502 Club. The 901 Club is still around but it never compared then or now.

       I still stay in touch with Scott Ross. Mike Salmon is doing great, the Gibson brothers, Don and Craig. We’ve all taken care of Todd Marinovich at one time or another. He's trying to get well. He's a good guy. Matt Willig and Pat Harlow are good friends. I married a USC girl, Alana graduated from there. I stayed in L.A. and went to the Raiders. I was on their practice squad in Los Angeles for one and-a-half years, and that prolonged my time here. Then my wife and I got married, and I'm sure glad I did stay in the area. I can't imagine living anywhere else.

       I try to go to as many games as I can at home, but with three kids it's hard on Saturdays. But my kids love it here. I go out to the practice field two or three times a year to keep in contact. I know Pete Carroll. We got set up at San Francisco when I was trying out with the 49ers and he was the DB coach there, so I knew him at San Francisco before he went to the New England Patriots. He's a people person. I wish I'd played for him.

       It's really hard to explain What it Means to Be a Trojan. It's a great thing and I'm very honored by it. People do not realize this until they're out of school, and it's like having a gold medal. I hope I can get my kids in there. I got my start there and love it.

 

Matt Gee was a four-year letterman and team captain his senior year. He was in the Los Angeles Raiders' organization before becoming a successful businessman in the L.A. area.

 

TIM "MAD DOG" LAVIN

Fullback

1990 - 1991

 

In the fall most college football players live for Saturday afternoons. I lived for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Those were my days.

Growing up in Southern California I remember all those USC games on TV. Seeing the crowds in the stadium, hearing Keith Jackson’s voice, and watching "student body right." It became my dream to play football for the USC Trojans. After being named CIF-Southern section Player of the Year in football my senior year in high school, I knew I was well on my way to getting a scholarship to USC. But when I didn’t, I had two choices; go somewhere else or "walk-on." At the advice of numerous outside influences, I was told I would never play at USC, much less earn a scholarship. I was told to go to a small school and be a big fish in a little pond. Hearing that, my mind was now made up. I decided to "walk-on" at USC.

In August of 1988, I walked-on and was obviously sent to the scout team. I was told I would play fullback and not tailback like I did in high school. At a staggering 195 pounds, I was curious how I was going to compete with the other fullbacks who were in the 225- to 245-pound range. On top of that, my tasks were to block the Trojan defense in practice, who was ranked first or second in the country at the time. I had the distinct honor and privilege to try and block guys like Junior Seau, Tim Ryan, and Scott Ross among many others. Needless to say, it was brutal. I had to ice down my body daily. But, it was fun.

The middle of practice week was my time. We would go full pads, all out, "smash mouth" football. I got into more fights than all the other guys on the team put together. I knew I was going to be on scout team for a year or two and I was determined to make the most of it.  Go full speed every play.  Those guys hated me. I loved it.

In year two, I had made my way on to special teams and saw action on Saturday’s on kick-off and kick-off return. Our special teams coach, Bobby April donned the nickname “Mad Dog” on me after knocking down a Washington Huskies player on his backside during a game at the Coliseum. But, during the week I was still on the scout team. I was now playing on special teams but still wanted to move up the depth chart at fullback and see action in the backfield AND earn that scholarship. I had to do something drastic.

The best part was my fight with Junior Seau, who had a cast on his wrist all taped up. We fought for a good 15 seconds, which is a lifetime when you are getting hit by a cast. I did what I could and the coaches had a hell of a time breaking us up. I knew I was going to lose, but Seau was going to be one tired SOB when it was over. In the locker room after practice, Junior came up to me and shook my hand and said, "Way to go Mad Dog, don't ever give up."

Then there was Notre Dame week. I noticed a San Francisco 49ers helmet hanging in the equipment room as decoration. I grabbed the helmet and peeled off the sticker. I now had a gold helmet and it fit “almost” perfectly. It was really tight. I gave myself a buzz hair cut to make a little more room and suited up. I had also memorized the Notre Dame fight song. When my teammates hit the field, there were 110 guys with their cardinal helmets on. I hit the field with a gold helmet singing, “Cheer, cheer, for old Notre Dame. Wake up the echoes hearing her name…” I just kept running around the field singing, wearing this gold helmet and waiting for scrimmage time. Needless to say, when the scrimmage started, everyone was down at our end of the field watching. The media, kickers, punters, and long snappers started a cheering section.  Every play there was a fight. The excitement around us had the players and coaches at the other end of the field watching and not doing their own plays. It was absolute madness and I had the best time of my life.

Shortly after that, I got a letter in the mail from the USC athletic department: "Due to your efforts, we are putting you on scholarship." It’s a great day to be a Trojan!  For the next two seasons I was placed on every special team and alternated at fullback. Not known as "Fullback-U," I finished with just three carries for 22 yards during my career.

I was afforded two quick tryouts in the NFL with the 49ers and the Raiders. I didn’t make it. But, I look back and realized I had a blast. We were on three consecutive bowl teams. The Rose Bowl was obviously very exciting. Everything leading up to the game is a major event and every player is treated like a star. Even though I wasn't a star, it was a blessing to have some little kid ask for your autograph, want a photo with you, or just watch him smile because he met a player for the Trojans. Sure, every player enjoys the atmosphere and the thrill of running on the field in the largest stadiums in the country, and playing in the biggest games on national TV. But, it is also the times when you are met by the youngsters. In the hotel lobby, there were several kids in wheelchairs asking for autographs and photos and telling us how proud there were of us. At that point, I was just blessed I could walk and had the great, heartwarming moment to make that kid happy for just a few seconds. It puts life in perspective and I walked away in tears.

In the end, I got to play football at the University of Southern California. I got to play for the Trojans with over a century of historic traditions. I got to do something that millions of others dream about. It's a great day to be a Trojan. I am so grateful

 

Tim Lavin was involved in the program from 1988-91. Orginally a "walk-on," he earned a scholarship through hard work and talent and was a member of two Rose Bowl teams (1988-89) and the 1990 team that went to the John Hancock Bowl. He is working on a book about his experiences with the catchy, Doors-riff title Walk On Through to the Other Side.

 

PAST AND FUTURE PLAY WINNING TENNIS AT MERCEDES

StreetZebra, 2000

 

UCLA's Gimelstob helps SC's Leach make last year a winning one.

 

A bit of the past teamed with a bit of the future when former UCLA tennis star Justin Gimelstob teamed with ex-USC national champion Rick Leach to defeat some local talent (Zach Fleischman/John Fruttero) in a first round doubles match at the Mercedes-Benz Cup on Tuesday, July 25 at UCLA's Los Angeles Tennis Center, 6-4, 6-4.

The match was a homecoming for both players. Gimelstob has previously been quoted as saying that the Tennis Center was "his house," a reference to his home court during his UCLA days.

"I wish I could retract that," he says. "I meant just to say that I'm determined to do my best when I play here."

Justin also played down the significance of an ex-Bruin playing with an ex-Trojan.

"That stuff's far removed from where we are now," he remarked. "I'm just honored to play with Rick because he's got so much experience. I know he has a steady partner, but last year I approached him and said that if he ever needed someone, I'd love to play with him, and to learn from him."

The 6-6 Gimelstobs' father was a college basketball player, and Justin had success in hoops growing up in New Jersey and Florida.

"What I get from basketball, it's difficult to really compare," he says, "but the sacrifice and pressure of all sports is related. Actually, tennis is different, being an individual sport, but doubles does lend itself to the team concept a little more. It's interesting to observe your partner and make suggestions."

As for the team of Fleischman and Fruttero, Justin remarked, "They're good young players."

Looking back (it is only a couple years, but tennis pros morph into "grizzled vets" pretty fast), Gimelstob said he chose UCLA because he wanted to stay with a coach who was associated with the program, and "I just loved playing for Billy," a reference to long-time coach Billy Martin.

The southpaw Leach is a very mature player with an attacking style that is tailored to his doubles game, which is one of the best in the world. Rick grew up with Street Zebra.com executive producer John Simerson, who claimed to have taught him all his "bad habits" off the court. Leachie was more than willing to pin the blame on Big John, but he could not defend his decision not to choose Simerson as his doubles partner despite their 4-0 record together in the amateur ranks.

All kidding aside, Rick recalled that "His <Simerson's> parents were nice enough to let me stay in his house when I was traveling on the California Junior Davis Cup circuit, and we've been friends ever since," which includes their time playing together under Leach's father, Dick, the head coach at USC.

"Every time I come here it brings back memories," Leach said of playing at UCLA, which was constructed for the 1984 Olympics and became the Bruins' court during his SC career. "We used to play at the old sunset courts, but after they built this place the rivalry was hot, and we'd fill the stadium. It's never been a mean rivalry, not a hatred kind of thing."

Leach is one of the most consistent players on the tour, having won a major tournament championship in each of the past 14 seasons. In January, he and regular partner Ellis Ferreira won the Australian Open doubles title, but Ferreira did not want to travel so much in between Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, which left Leach looking for a partner in Los Angeles.

The Mercedes-Benz is a big deal to a guy who grew up in Arcadia and Laguna, then played for his dad at SC. It was a homecoming for both players, and the crowd was sprinkled with friends and supporters.

"Ferreira's my normal partner," said Leach, "but he wanted another week to rest his back, which has been hurting him. The rest of the summer's gonna be pretty heated, right on up to the U.S. Open. I've known Justin since he joined the pro tour, and I've had some intense battles with him. He offered to be my partner, and I'm excited to be here. As for the SC-UCLA rivalry, I gave him a hard time, asking if he'd be parking in the handicapped zone, but it's all in good fun."

(For those who were not in L.A. a year ago, UCLA's football team ran into trouble when it was discovered many of their players were illegally issued handicapped parking stickers.)

"All my shots are geared to rushing the net," Leach says of his aggressive style. "Volleying is my biggest asset, it's how I've made a living, and with Justin and myself, we're both tall and feel we control the net. I don't think I've lost my quickness at the net, and in doubles the game is won or lost there."

The rumor mill has swirled with word that Leach is retiring at the end of this season to succeed his dad as SC's coach, but Leach adamantly insists that, while he will be assisting his father on a full-time paid basis, it is strictly that: Assisting. Still, with his background and credentials, Leach will likely be considered for the top job when the time comes.

"I'll be there every day," he says of the upcoming challenge. "I just hope I've learned from my dad--his demeanor is quiet and patient, since he was a player himself and understands the pressure. My dad sees us <SC> in the top 15 next season, but our goal is to get back to beating Stanford again. I just hope to share my knowledge with the kids, who can use the college experience as a stepping stone."

The Trojans' lost a number of key players to injury or the pro ranks before the 2000 season, and most of their losses were 4-3, so they obviously are close to the top. What motivated Leach to retire?

"I'm married, and I want to spend more time with my family," he says. "This season I've been to Europe four times, we travel all the time, and I'm just tired of living out of a suitcase. I want to be able to sleep in my own bed every night."

I spoke to Rick about the legendary George Toley, who coached Stan Smith and USC to three National Championships in the 1960s, before Dick Leach took over.

"I had the privilege of knowing Coach Toley since I was a kid," he says of the man who was inducted into the Tennis hall of Fame this year.

Leach is still excited about having won the Australian doubles championship early this year.

"It was totally unexpected," he says. "We played the last set to 18-16. I just don't think it's good to play a tiebreaker in the fifth set of a grand slam event."

This makes sense for Leach to have this attitude, since years ago his father played the longest match of all time, which Rick states was the motivating factor in the creation of the tie-breaker.

The aches and pains of the pro tour have taken their toll on Leach, who ices his aching knee after matches.

"I just wish we could play on more soft courts in the U.S.," he says, but with the exception of the South, clay courts are rare here.

Leach has had a successful career, and made his friends and family proud. No doubt, his contributions at his alma mater will continue to keep him in the spotlight of the L.A. tennis scene for a long time to come.

 

TASO PAPADAKIS

Fullback, Inside Linebacker

1994, 1996

 

Like my father before me I played at Rolling Hills High School, but when they combined it with Palos Verdes High it became Peninsula High, which is what it was when my younger brothers went there. I was at USC from 1993 to 1998 and graduated with a diploma in religious studies with an emphasis on Eastern thought.

I was involved in the football program from 1993 to the spring of 1997, but I stepped out of it when I had my fifth orthopedic surgery at the end of spring practice in '97. I just thought, "That's that!" I came in as a fullback originally until they changed me to a middle linebacker a year and a half into it, just like my dad had been a running back but they moved him to linebacker because they had running backs like Sam "Bam" Cunningham ahead of him.

To me, education was the most important part of What It Means to Be a Trojan. I studied in the religion school. When I was there it was considered progressive. I got hooked into the subject from a class I took for general education. I was turned on by the rhetoric, the train of thought and analysis that coupled with emotions, and discovering deeper paths of spiritual thought. The teachers were progressive. One interesting professor was on a real "Jesus kick" with emphasis on the historical New Testament and the role of Easter. Professor Peter Nosco was the head of Eastern religious studies, which teaches many different courses on Eastern thought, including Zen Buddhism. I finished really strong with these classes.

Being Greek, I grew up not realizing the significance of my heritage until I could get some retrospective. I look back at my father, who would read poetry, including "The Beats": Allen Ginsberg, Richard Brautigan, Jack Kerouac; mind bending stuff, meant to be read out loud like "Howl." Brautigan's Dreamscape was cool to hear. My father practiced his speeches in front of us. He was a motivational speaker with a through-line on Greek concepts, of the "Id," he'd read Ulysses and Homer. His concepts and ideas, about approaching people, relationships, philosophical ideas, were always being espoused around the house. Food was also a big part of my upbringing, a celebration of life. Our religious emphasis was Lutheran, and in my high school memorial I quoted verses from Isaiah. I was exposed to a lot of that.

I didn't choose this, to apply the cognition of philosophy, when I played. I did not address those issues at the time. It's demanding if you start thinking, it involves the opening of areas that create sensitivity, and that's not so hot about running into fullbacks. On a football team you don't want to give anybody a reason to second-guess you. I didn't want to have real conflicts. There's not really a symbiosis between the two studies, football thinking and philosophical thinking. I was stuck in an area between the two and waited until I was out of football to expand my way of thinking.

The intellectual pursuit that I engaged in class helps me now. I think everything you learn in life can be used, whether it be writing or photography. People tuck away inside of themselves the things they learn. Perhaps these issues don't manifest themselves on the images I photograph, but it's present. I don't always know what it means, but my education enriches my work.

John Robinson was my coach. My experiences with him are easier to make sense of now that I'm outside of the game. I was hurt and worked myself back into playing shape. I had different experiences, but he was a wonderful speaker. He knew young people unbelievably well. The way he spoke to you was very emotional, it was very direct and personal. As a coach he was a little scattered. Choosing assistants, he surrounded himself with people he trusted and relied on, but the way he chose, he kind of lacked specificity with his coaching. He gathered up on a conversation then walked over and talked to some alumni, then came back. He was entitled to his point of view and due the respect worthy of his accomplishments, but at that stage of his career, I don't know the levels of his motivation to come back after he'd been out of it awhile. From my experience he was like a father to me, but his focus was not as much as it should have been. He was a beautiful man but a bit disconnected, and even a bit jaded.

It always came back to academics at SC. I was in special religious department and didn't stray too far from that. I was at USC at a time when Dr. Steven Sample was establishing himself and turning USC from a very good university to a world-class institution of higher learning. He insisted on higher entrance requirements and there was a transition period.

A lot of alumni saw what was happening and came to the conclusion that there was a trade-off; that Dr. Sample could preside over a great academic university or a great football school, but not both. I think towards the time I left and when my brother Petros was there, the alumni was satisfied that we were now a top academic school and it was okay not to dominate in football as long as we were.

Dr. Sample had a lot of inter-action with the football team. I knew him quite well. He was very energetic and passionate. As a football player, our role as student-athletes was clear. When Coach Pete Carroll came in he had the challenge of restoring the football tradition while maintaining academics, and to have successfully accomplished that has been a huge achievement. I don’t know too much about the program on a day-to-day basis, but I interact with Pete. He lives near my family in Rolling Hills Estates and I see him at the pizza parlor with his family or down at the Hermosa pier. He loves the beach and inter-acts with fans there. They give him plays and he takes them seriously.

Pete gives you his undivided attention and looks you in the eyes. He listens very intently and has a unique countenance with people. Anything he does is intense with results that are correct or successful. At that level he's going to succeed and not just in football. It's not just the way he conducts practice. He's not pre-occupied and lives in the moment.

Pete's son was at Peninsula High School and my brother plays there. He takes suggestions, he likes the ocean, it's like a good church for him. Fans come up to him and like any good director takes suggestions. He's open-minded, he's able to have as much going on as he does and the kids are open-minded with him. Every day he's your "god," so you mold yourself into that kind of mentality. He studies and his football players see he's open-minded and grab onto his ideas. A coach gives you his personality, and if he's maniacal then you feel constricted.

As far as my studies go, it's possible I was below par. I spent a lot of time slamming dominoes on a table in school and could have studied more, or managed my time better off the field. Some quarterbacks are pre-med. It's not easy, but I did well and loved it.

I spent 10 years as a Shakespearean actor in productions up and down the coast. I performed in some of the "sweat houses" in Hollywood, and have the Shakespearean language. Petros also loved and reads Shakespeare and would quote from The Bard at press conferences when he was playing, which perked up the ears of writers not used to hearing such things. When I got to Hamlet it was the end of the line. Macbeth is a role that ruins your mentality for awhile. I've never been to London to study with the Shakespearean masters, I but saw Ian McKellen play King Lear.

 

Taso Papadakis comes from the "royal family of USC." His father, John and brother, Petros played for Troy. His grandmother "sat in" on writing classes at the school before embarking on screenplays and daily missives she sends to the newspaper. Petros is a high-profile member of the L.A. media. The family restaurant, Papadakis Taverna in San Pedro, was the finest Greek eatery in the city, and destination for countless Trojans after games over the years. Taso is a photographer whose work can be viewed at www.Tasophoto.com.

 

I'S TOO EARLY TO HYPE PALMER FOR HEISMAN . . . OR IS IT?

StreetZebra, 2000

 

If Trojans' win, quarterback will be a candidate

 

The University of Southern California's storied football program always lived and died by the run. At least, that is the way we remember it. Four Heisman Tropy-winning tailbacks (Mike Garrett '65, O.J. Simpson '68, Charles White '79 and Marcus Allen '81) established the school as "Tailback U." However, they had top-notch quarterbacks handing off to all those studs, and putting the ball in the air effectively enough to keep the defense honest.                       

"We've always had a great quarterback tradition, going back to Pete Beathard and Bill Nelson in 1962; Craig Fertig in 1964, and the best college quarterback for the kind of team we had when O.J. Simpson was here was Steve Sogge," says Garrett, now their athletic director. "Mike Rae and Pat Haden were good professional quarterbacks, as was Sean Salisbury.  Rodney Peete was a Heisman candidate in 1988, and in the 1990s Rob Johnson starred.

"The emphasis on the pass shows more creativity" than the old "three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust" mentality. "The concept has changed, as 300-pounders on defense are now quicker and more agile."

The school has transitioned from a power-running offense to a more sophisticated passing system since John Robinson first left in 1982.

Carson Palmer was one of the most highly recruited prep football stars in the nation at Santa Margarita High School in 1997. He started several games with success as a true freshman in 1998, but the road to glory was interrupted by an injury last year.

Asked about Palmer, USC sports information director Tim Tessalone practices "low expectations" Heisman politics.

"He has a legitimate chance to be a candidate in 2001, but that remains to be seen," says Tessalone. "If he performs well, everything will fall into place. If he gets off to a big start, maybe he'll be a candidate by mid-season, but that's just a question right now. If it does happen, we're prepared to do what is necessary to expose him to the nation and promote his candidacy."

Coach Paul Hackett is like Hamlet's mother, who "doth protests too much," when the talk turns to the Heisman.

"I'm not trying to play it down, but he needs to have a year of playing time. He's not arrived yet," he says, then adds, "He does have a great supporting cast. I'm excited, maybe he'll merit it."

The favorites are Drew Brees of Purdue and Michael Vick of Virginia Tech. Palmer beat Brees in 1998. Sophomore Vick, not likely to play in a New Year's national championship game again, toils in the backwaters of Blacksburg, Virginia.

Southern Cal is in a position to have their best team since the 1996 Rose Bowl champs. They have the speed, experience and schedule to contend for the National Championship. If they beat Penn State in the Kickoff Classic, get off to a 5-0 start, and Palmer is putting up numbers, he will start getting Heisman mention. He is also helped by the fact that SC has transitioned from its traditional emphasis on the run into the West Coast offense.

"We've shifted from being a hardcore running team," admits Hackett, adding "we aspire to get back to that. We need an assertive offensive line to do this, and a tailback that can handle the chore, but Carson sets the tone. He'll only be a success as long as he has a runner he can hand off to a lot."

If Sultan McCullough runs for 1,200 yards, and Palmer throws for 200 yards a game, USC will win with a balanced attack.

"If we win," says Palmer, "everything will fall into place. I won't win the Heisman unless we're in the top five, competing in the Orange Bowl or Rose Bowl at the end of the year."

Coming off his injury last year, Palmer says "I'm a bundle of nervous energy getting ready for the season. Right now, I'm working on my timing and rhythm with the receivers, and I watched a lot of film. I don't have any restraints placed on me, except that I'm under orders to duck out of bounds instead of lowering my shoulder. In high school, the DBs were 160 pounds, but here they're my size."

Palmer grew up near SC's pre-season Irvine training camp, playing for Santa Margarita coach Bob Johnson, a man who is largely responsible for South Orange County's reputation as "quarterback Heaven."

            Palmer is the latest of this group (Todd Marinovich, Rob Johnson, among others) to lead the Trojans', and probably play in the NFL. He could be the first of them to bring home that little guy with the high-stepping gait.

 

BARRY ZITO IS KEY TO OAKLAND'S RE-EMERGENCE

San Francisco Examiner, 2001

 

Barry Zito reminds people of Bill Bordley. Who, you might ask? Well, for those of us who saw him, Bordley was the best college pitcher ever. Some people thought he was as good as Sandy Koufax. There are scouts and Pacific 10 umpires who say he was the best pitcher in the world, not just in college, back when he was leading USC to the 1978 national championship.

Zito has the size, the big kick, the hesitation at the top of his motion, and the classic Koufax-style overhand delivery. He brings it well over 90 miles per hour, with hop and movement. His curveball crackles.

"He's the real deal," says USC coach Mike Gillespie, who coached Zito when the tall lefty was the top pitcher in the nation in 1999. Barry became a rich young man when the Oakland A's made him their first pick in the draft. It has all happened pretty fast.

Zito grew up in the San Diego area, rooting for the Padres. At University High School, he had a "decent" senior year, threw a fastball that topped out around 83 miles an hour, and was drafted in the fifty-ninth round in 1996. He was helped on his mechanics by a coach named Craig Weisman, and six months after graduation was throwing 10 miles an hour harder.

Barry took his 3.1 grade point average to UC-Santa Barbara and coach Bob Bronsema, which seemed like a pretty good choice at the time. Cal State, Northridge and Wake Forest liked him, too, but the SC's, Fullerton's and Miami's of the world had bigger fish to fry.

"SC seemed out of my reach," recalls Barry. "I got full financial aid to Santa Barbara, plus some scholarship help."

It happens to some kids. Tom Seaver went into the Marines and came out a ball of muscle. How can you explain it? Yes, Barry lifted weights and worked hard, but his "late" development can only be attributed to God, who seems to have a plan for armies, countries, kings and ball players - sometimes. At Santa Barbara he was a freshman All-American, striking out 125 in 85 innings. He was up to 6-3, 195 pounds, and the scouts took note of his improved mechanics.

He started working with a San Fernando Valley trainer, Alan Jagger, and figured that he had entered a window of opportunity in which he would be eligible for some big bonus money.

"Santa Barbara just wasn't a high-profile program," he says.

For this reason, he transferred to L.A. Pierce College, although he says his departure from Santa Barbara was ugly. Zito showcased his wares for the 1998 draft, and was 9-2 with a 2.60 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 103 innings.

"The competition just wasn't that good in JC," says Barry.

After losing to Harbor in the state play-offs, Zito found himself drafted in the third round by Texas. He was intent on signing, but he is a savvy guy who knew his market value. The Rangers came in at $350,000, but Barry held out for more, finally took off for the Cape Cod League, and left his Dad in charge of the negotiations. The old man has a hard-nosed reputation, no doubt based on his money demands. Zito made the Cape All-Star team, but decided not to sign.

The result was a windfall for Mike Gillespie, who needed a new infusion of talent to replace all the studs who won him the '98 National Championship. Zito picked SC over Clemson, but he had to go to Grossmont College to get an A.A. degee first. He enrolled at Southern Cal in January, 1999, and immediately assumed the role of ace.

Gillespie loved him, and he loved Gillespie.

"I also experienced Rod Dedeaux," Zito says, recalling getting the chance to meet the legendary former coach. He was a consensus All-American in 1999, pitching the Trojans past Pepperdine in the West Regional before the team lost a heartbreaking 1-0 decision to Stanford's Jason Young, when a fly ball was lost in the dusk at Sunken Diamond, with the College World Series on the line. For fans that were unaware of Barry's rocky but flashy road, he seemed to be a surprise. Scouts, coaches, Gillespie; they got what they expected.

"The USC-Stanford rivalry is always a battle," Zito says of what is probably the best confrontation in the nation. "They'd come here, win two of three. We'd go there, take two of three."

The disappointment of not pitching Troy to a repeat national title quickly wore off when Billy Beane, the A's boy genius GM and architect of baseball's best story the last few years, made Barry their number one pick. $1.6 million later, Zito was lighting up the California League, where he was 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA with 62 strikeouts in 40 innings of work at Visalia. In mid-August he found himself in Midland (AA Texas League), and while he did not schmoose with George W, he did pitch four impressive games.

"It's a tiny town," Zito says of the place where the President grew up. "High school football is huge there."

He is a strikeout pitcher all the way, who has learned to trust his bullpen--or so he says--but after usually facing 130-pitch limits, when he broke into professional ball he found himself limited to 100 pitches by the protective A's.

 Zito's work ethic is legendary. He says of the subject of getting ready for Spring Training, "the less I will have to catch up to people. I don't worry about the other guys, I can't get caught up in it. I don't lose sight of what I want and I know what I need to do to work hard, and have everything fall in place."

He works with a nutritionist and a personal trainer every day is the off-season. The result is that he has gained weight but lost body fat since turning pro, while putting speed on his heater. At the recent SC alumni game, pitchers from both sides were getting tagged in a slugfest. Then Zito came in, and in one very impressive inning he mowed down the assorted pros that make up the alumni as if they had forgotten to bring their bats. 

This is a kid who makes you sit up and take notice. You would mortgage the stadium to sign this guy after watching him throw 20 pitches! That is the thinking of every general manager in baseball, too. Beane probably had to hire extra secretaries to handle all the calls he got from other teams willing to take Zito off his hands. One possible trade almost went down, a blockbuster with the Angels involving Jim Edmonds. Although the details were not revealed, one can surmise that Zito was what the Angels wanted, and what the A's would not give up, even for a player like Edmonds.

Beane held on to Zito.  Edmonds ended up leading St. Louis to the 2000 Central Division championship. The A’s brought Zito along slowly last year. He pitched for the Sacramento Riverdogs, and finally made the jump to Oakland late in the year. Just in time.

Zito may have been just the spark the club needed to overtake Seattle by one game to capture the West Division title. In the Play-Offs, Zito’s inspired performance beating the vaunted Yankees in New York was one of the great coming out parties in a long time.

              "I always knew the A's didn't want to lose me," says Zito. The prospect of Oakland developing a staff around Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Zito has long-time Bay Area fans waxing nostalgic for the days of Catfish Hunter, Ken Holtzman and Vida Blue.

"The A's had the best all-around minor league system in baseball my first year in the organization," says Barry.  Two years later, many experts predict this will be the Team of the Decade in the first 10 years of the new century.

"We have great coaching," say Zito of his minor development. "Ron Romanek, formerly with Seattle, helped me a lot. So did the roving coaches, Curt Young, Glenn Abbott and Pete Richert."

Barry is a very nice, polite young man with Hollywood good looks. He is managed by Paul Cohen of TWC Management, and trains at Health South in the San Fernano Valley. He has a chance, if he can avoid injury unlike the great Bordley, to enjoy a great career. Watching this guy is already fun!

 

JOHN ROBINSON

Head Coach

1976 - 1982, 1993 - 1997

 

USC had enjoyed success in 1962 with a national title team. In 1970, 1971; and then in '72 they had the greatest team of all time. Sam Cunningham was a catalyst in 1970, a great guy and a great athlete, but those two men, John McKay and Paul "Bear" Bryant, by the nature of their relationship, bridged the gap and saw some of that change before it happened. We see this in the effect of the 1970 USC-Alabama game, and it was the experience of the sophomores of that year who formed the incredible '72 champions.

Now, if you think about the effect of the West Coast on society and how it plays out in sports, I think we're kind of wacky anyway. A lot of civil rights things were happening, and California was part of that whole scene.

Up at the University of Oregon, we were like a radical "triple-A" ball club. They sent you there for "training." There was a lot of unrest, new ground being opened in those areas. People in other parts of the country were reluctant, but there was a lot of new ground being opened up on the West Coast, not just in civil rights like in the South, but in the every day expansion of things. In terms of athletics, it seems that so many talented African-American kids got a chance to play in high school in L.A., and you're not gonna succeed unless you had recruited those players.

Over a 20-year period from 1962 to 1982, USC was probably as strong in football as any college ever was. Our location was advantageous. We're right in the middle of the inner city, so many kids grew up wanting to play for SC. If they were basketball players, they wanted to go to UCLA. With all that going on, it was a major advantage, and nationally USC always benefited from the fact that African-Americans felt welcome there.

There's no question that SC got it right. A lot of black kids looked at UCLA as being in the rich part of town, so we had this strange mixture of all things that linked us together. Maybe Miami was like that, during that stretch when they were so good you saw Miami and SC, similarly did not have great facilities, but each had great weather, but athletes felt at home at these schools, and discipline was not a hallmark.

There's a coalition of people in the stands at an SC game that a politician would dream of. I'd drive through south-central L.A. and people would wave at you if you were from SC.

One other thing is that African-American athletes became very socially adept at USC. Maybe this was because of the Hollywood connection, or because the school's located in a major city. There's always media around, and McKay was brilliant, he exposed his players to the media, to alumni groups, and so they became very comfortable and polished. Listen to Cunningham, Mike Garrett, Lynn Swann, Marcus Allen; they are savvy with the press, well spoken and represent the school beautifully. Not all athletes, black or white, do this role well.

It's not just football players or black athletes. Look at John Naber, Pat Haden, Tom Seaver. Famous people go there. O.J. obviously flipped but before that; before he had his collapse, he was a star in Hollywood and sportscasting.

It's a major metropolitan area with two, three, four newspapers and a lot of TV coverage. It's different if you go to, say, Athens, Georgia and the local guy is asking a player a question, and down there it's, "Yes, sir; no, sir; proud to be here, sir," those kinds of questions.

USC and UCLA athletes were exposed to so much more, and were from a town with two pro football teams, two baseball teams, two basketball teams, and a broader social world. It's very interesting and ironic that in the 1980s and early '90s it kind of turned things the other way with the riots, and this made it - L.A. - a negative place. USC basketball and football took a dip, it was not as attractive as it had been, but in recent years the city, the state and USC have made a comeback.

It was fun to be there. A lot of those athletes were great friends of mine, The 1979 team, the only negative was Anthony Munoz got hurt in the first game and played just the last game. Marcus Allen was a sophomore, we had a great secondary, and we were loaded from freshmen to seniors. The 1972 team was a veteran team; both were really good teams. I was an assistant, Marv Goux and myself. We were both guys who were there with John McKay. It's sad that Marv passed on. That '72 year was magical, especially after I'd been at Oregon.

I was at USC for a number of years under McKay, then John Madden had me for a one year in Oakland in order to broaden my range for head coaching, as USC had me in mind for replacing McKay. That happened. Sometimes the hardest thing is to be promoted from assistant to head coach, so my one year at Oakland kind of helped me transition. If you go away, people think you're better. To be successful, I advise a coach to take on different jobs under different coaches and develop a range of experience.

That's what Pete Carroll's done, and now he's bringing all this back at USC. I had an easy transition and just said, "I don't want to change a thing." Certainly nothing major. I was hired over the phone. They just called me, I was at the airport, and they said, "Do you want the job?" I said, "Yes," and I was in.

 

John Robinson was an assistant coach for two national champions under John McKay (1972, 1974), then coached USC to the 1978 national championship, won three Rose Bowls, and had two players (Charles White, Marcus Allen) win Heisman Trophies. Between 1976 and 1982 his teams beat UCLA five times while beating Notre Dame five straight times (and six of seven). His first tenure completed the most dominant two-decade period any college has ever had. After a successful stint as head of the Los Angeles Rams, he returned to coach at Troy from 1993-97. This included a 55-14 pasting of Texas Tech in the 1995 Cotton Bowl; the 1995 Pacific-10 Conference title; and a 41-32 triumph over Northwestern in the Rose Bowl.

 

"FOR REAL!"

StreetZebra, 2000

 

SC's Trepagnier, the Trojans' most athletic player, has come into his own.

 

"For real!?" was Jeff Trepagnier's reaction when told he would be the cover story in the March issue of StreetZebra.

Trepagnier's infectious enthusiasm shines through when USC's handsome 6-4, 195-pound guard flashes his million-dollar smile. No seen-it-all, media-weary histrionics from Jeff, who seems surprised that he is the focus of attention.

He should not be. Trepagnier is the best athlete on a team that is emerging as one of the most interesting college basketball stories in the nation. Whether the Trojans' make the NCAA Tournament, and how far they advance, is still very much up in the air. So is Trepagnier, every time the best shooter on SC's opponent takes a shot. Trepagnier has blocked his share of those shots because he does not merely jump high, but he is super-quick.

"I wasn't always able to jump high," he says. "It just started to be natural for me after the tenth grade."

That was at Compton High School, where he played for coach Rod Palmer (who has since moved to Centennial) and was named to various All-American teams (USA Today, Street & Smith) and made all the regional all-star squads (Long Beach Press-Telegram's Best in the West and Dream Team, All-CIF Southern Section Division II first team, Cal-Hi's All-California, Moore League MVP, L.A. Times' All-South Coast League).

Trepagnier's natural leaping ability has been augmented by hard work. Henry Bibby brought in former N.B.A. center Paul Mokeskie to work with the big men. The results: Front court players' Brian Scalabrine and David Bluthenthal are stronger, quicker, display better ball-handling skills, and make fewer mistakes. Trepagnier is not a big man, but the conditioning work, weight training, and ladder drills have paid off for him as well.

"We do anticipation foot drills <fake pass competitions> every day," explains Coach Bibby of their 45-minute daily practice ritual, designed to improve foot speed. "The guys' have improved in those situations, all our players now anticipate where the next pass is gonna be."

Trepagnier set the school season season steal's record by mid-season.

"That's not a goal of the team," says Bibby. "The goals we have pertain to team goals. If that's his goal, fine. Steals come from teammates creating steals, whether he knows that or not."

Trepagnier knows. He also knows that Bibby has been to the mountaintop, and deserves respect.

"He's won NCAA titles, an NBA and a CBA title," says Trepagnier. "He has the experience, so when he tells us something we take account of that. We've invested in the coach, we believe in him 100 percent. Practices are a lot more enjoyable, now that we're winning. He tells us practice is over, but guys' stay and work on other things. When we were 9-19, going to practice was like going to a funeral, everybody dreaded it, but you can't doubt him, even when things go wrong."

Trepagnier is given the task of guarding the best offensive player on the other team.

\            "My focus is on defense in practice," he says. "We work on sliding drills and full-speed cutbacks. Playing good defense gets our all-around game going. Coach Bibby doesn't stress offense in practice."

Trepagnier believes in Bibby, and vice versa. While Trepagnier is a phenomenal player when it comes to steals and blocked shots, the rap on him is that he takes ill-advised shots.

"The players don't have a green light," says Bibby of his shot-selection policy. "Jeff got off-track in the beginning, but he knows, and the whole team knows, that the shots will come. Trepagnier always takes one or two bad shots per night. He's aggressive. I've never seen a player who doesn't take bad shots, everyone takes their share of bad shots. He has to be patient and let the game come to him, maybe not beat his man off the dribble, but instead get more free throws.  He makes up for his bad shots with good plays on the other end. Jeff is better than he was last year, he plays hard every night. I have no complaints."

"I've taken some bad shots," admits Trepagnier. "Coach Bibby tells me don't force it. I play 40 minutes a night, I just let the game come to me now."

Trepagnier has learned not to "force it" on defense, as well as on offense.

"Jeff had some silly fouls," Bibby says of the maturation process. "We worked on cutting back on his mistakes. I want to play hard defense, and not think about fouls. We don't quit playing, we'll play Jeff with four fouls. College players don't really `grow up' until their junior years. It's a big step from one year to the next."

Trepagnier, a junior, has grown up with his teammates. The leader of the Trojans' is another junior, 6-9 Brian Scalabrine. Scalabrine has the work ethic of Richard Nixon, a willingness to spend long hours working on fundamentals like footwork, or going to his left.

"Brian influences us in lots of ways," says Jeff. "He works hard the whole practice, so we know we should work hard like Brian. He takes constructive criticism, and we have good chemistry."

Scalabrine is also outspoken, willing to talk up the Trojans' program in a town where basketball has always been spelled U-C-L-A.  Until now.

"We try not to get involved with the media, we're not about controversy," says Trepagnier, "but when he says we're gonna win, we know we have to do it. We have to work hard all week to back him up."

Scalabrine pointed out that local coverage is centered in Westwood, but after SC's convincing January 12 victory over the Bruins', he told any writer willing to listen that Southern Cal deserved more props. It may be a little early to make this kind of prediction, but the potential for a cataclysmic power shift in college basketball exists.

Bibby is a highly respected coach, a man who started for three straight National Championship teams under John Wooden at UCLA He has paid his dues and his status is now paying off on the recruiting trail. USC has broken ground on a state of the art, on-campus arena. The current squad has the potential to make a solid mark for themselves once March Madness gets underway. Steve Lavin is under fire, and the UCLA program is a mess right now. All of this means that SC has a chance to become a basketball school, something that they should, be considering the talent base in Southern California. This is a window of opportunity that needs to be handled better than the last time SC was on the cusp of real change.

That was in 1986. After capturing a share of the Pac-10 championship in 1985, Stan Morrison recruited "The Four Freshmen," the best in-coming class in the country, but when George Raveling replaced him, three of the freshmen transferred. Had they stayed, USC may have been a Sweet 16 team (or better), and Harold Miner might have been able to deliver them to the

Promised Land a few seasons later.

"We know we're pioneers for the future of Trojan basketball,"  says Trepagnier, "and we're buying into Coach Bibby's system. Being tied for first helps with recruiting, we need to get more local players. When we get the arena, we can get blue chip prospects."

Of UCLA's recent troubles, Trepagnier says, "We try to go after them, but we know they're gunning for us <after S.C. beat them the first time>. We have to work hard to stay up there. In the past we looked to them, but we know they have great players."

Trepagnier, like all of the Trojans' key players, returns next season. Regardless of how 2000 shakes out, the future is bright at University Park.

 

MARCH MADNESS: U.S.C. PREVIEW

 

"This is a great win," Henry Bibby told the media after Southern Cal ended UCLA's 10-game victory skein over the Trojans'. "The streak is over."

"We're tired of playing second fiddle in the L.A. Times," said Brian Scalabrine. "They <UCLA.> get all the hype."

Bruin assistant Jim Saia tried to put a positive spin on what looked to be the dawning of the Bibby Era.

"Scalabrine was solid inside and out," said Saia. "He exposed us, we didn't stop him, and you've got to give SC credit. Still, it's not mid-season yet, we've got a long way to go."

Some writers are placing Scalabrine on a pedestal, but Bibby is a no-nonsense type,

"We're in charge," said Bibby of on-court decision-making, "not Brian. He's good, but he's not Michael Jordan."

David Bluthenthal (28 rebounds vs. Arizona State) on playing in Israel:

"You could hear bombs going off in the Golan Heights," he recalled. "There were guards with Uzis at the airport, we all had armed guards. The Israelis didn't act surprised, most people there are darker than I am, but the other delegations seemed surprised at me being with Israel. I felt comfortable there. I went to the Wailing Wall and swam in the Dead Sea. Clubs in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are wild, it's like Miami's South Beach."

 

Revenge at Pauley

On February 9 at Pauley, UCLA got their revenge.  Scalabrine was a floor leader for Troy, bringing the ball up court along with David Bluthenthal on more than one occasion.

"When you play as much as I have, it just comes naturally," says the big redhead of his skills. "You get tired posting up all the time. I try to lead by example by working hard, 'cause I have to in order to be a good player."

"Jerome Moiso's tough to guard," said Bluthenthal, who dominated the boards early. Moiso, seemingly in answer to Bluthenthal's strong game, responded with great work in the paint that included some spectacular dunks.

"We knew it would be tough stopping them," said Jeff Trepagnier, "Jason Kapono really stepped it up." Trepagnier's shot selection was markedly improved, and he made some nice fall-aways, as well as some well-executed floor driving, followed by a sweet stop, pull and swish.

"I've been working on that part of my game," he explained.

Paul Mokeskie is modest, but the finesse demonstrated by SC's big men is a direct result of his coaching.

"We have talented players," he said. "We work on getting them to do their pivot moves in such a way as not to be called for traveling, which happens to a lot of big men. Brian works hard because he knows he has to."

The UCLA cheering section finished up their school song with "F--k SC." every time. USC is no better. School officials need to clean up their respective acts. John Wooden must cringe when he hears this garbage.

 

A RELIQUARY FOR REAL BASEBALL FANS

StreetZebra, 2000

 

Lee, Postema and Moe Berg are inducted into "Shrine of the Eternals"

 

"Reliquary" means "casket" or "resting place." In the context of the Baseball Reliquary, "resting place" is more appropriate. Sanctuary might be even better. Sanctuary from the too-fast, the pedestrian, the average. It is a little known organization, but a delight for real baseball fans. Actually, it may not be for every baseball fan. The Reliquary is for the more cerebral among us, as it is devoted to that beautiful confluence of art and baseball. You see, baseball is the favorite sport of intellectuals, who are able to appreciate its intricacies, both on and off the field.

The Reliquary reserves its honors for those who distinguished themselves (in one form or another) off the field as much as on. Curt Flood and Doc Ellis were among the 1999 inductees. Remember these guys? Ellis got in hot water by complaining about the softness of his pillow while on Pittsburgh Pirates' road trips, implying that it was some kind of plot against black players. The white establishment vilified him, and while he was not always on the mark, in the long run he did expose some truths about baseball. During his day, the game was not as "color blind" as Bowie Kuhn might have wanted fans to believe.

Flood sacrificed an All-Star career to challenge the reserve clause, and in the end opened the gates to free agency. Of course, some might think him evil for doing that, but the old system was about as unconstitutional as a French penal colony.

On Sunday, July 16 at the Pasadena Central Library, Reliquary President Terry Cannon presided over the second induction of three more people into their Shrine of the Eternals.

Bill "Spaceman" Lee was a three-time 17-game winning lefty for the Boston Red Sox, but the former USC All-American was better known for his goofy, off-the-cuff remarks.

Pam Postema is still baseball's only female umpire.

Moe Berg was a catcher for several teams. Oh, and he was a Princeton man, Columbia Law School graduate, and fluent in 12 languages (but he could not hit in any of them). Wait, there is more. Berg, who was Jewish, was recruited by "Wild Bill" Donavan of the OSS (pre-cursor to the CIA) to go to Germany during World War II, posing as a Swiss physics student, and determine if Hitler was close to exploding an atomic weapon. If so, his mission was to assassinate the top scientist working in their "heavy water" project, then eat a cyanide capsule. His recently de-classified file was donated by the CIA to the Reliquary, and can be viewed in the Pasadena Library (Cannon accepted it saying, "This'll make good reading tonight").

That is the kind thing the Reliquary thrives on. Postema did not know about the organization, and looked up "reliquary" in the dictionary after receiving the letter. When it said "casket," she figured her umpiring career was dead and buried, so why not? She noted that baseball was mostly a good influence on her life, except that for 13 years the number one word in her vocabulary was "f-ck."

Unfortunately, Berg is dead so the audience could only listen with rapt attention at a recounting of his unbelievable life and contribution to the war effort. What this guy did is far too amazing for a full recounting here, but numerous articles, a book, and hopefully a movie starring George Clooney tell his story in greater detail.

Lee was the star of the day. He brought his aunt, Annabel, who signed copies of the article about her in the July issue of StreetZebra. Annabel, you see, taught Bill how to pitch. She threw the only perfect game in the old All-American Girls Baseball League. Ex-USC coach Rod Dedeaux was there, and overall the whole thing was baseball Heaven.

Lee was introduced by "baseball film" director Ron Shelton ("Bull Durham"), an ex-Baltimore Oriole farmhand himself. Shelton is too Hollywood for this down-to-Earth crowd, eschewing much conversation with fans and making a hasty exit once his obligation was complete, but Lee kept the packed room in stitches, saying things like "I never liked to strike guys out. It's fascist," and "I'm really conservative, because I eat road kill," or "Politically, you could say I stand back-to-back with Chairman Mao," and "I hang a Cuban flag on my front lawn, and under it it says, `Long live Fulgencio Bautista." He also said, "My father told me, `Question authority.' He 's regretted telling me that ever since….I hang out with George Thorogood. `I'm bad, bad to the bone, I drink alone'…I live in Vermont, where we have one Representative, and he's a Socialist. They asked me to run for Governor, and I said I don't believe in the Executive branch of any government…My address is a rural route box, 'cause I don't want anyone to know where I live. They told me they were putting in street names, what did I want to call mine? I said `call it the Theodore Kasczinski Memorial Highway. I'm still on the rural route. I mean, I'm not for killing anybody, that was wrong, but a lot of what Kasczinski said was right on. One of these days we're gonna wake up and be really sorry about what we've done to the world. I look at L.A. today, and I get depressed. There's freeways everywhere, the 605, the 210, the 10. I remember you used to take Foothill Boulevard to get to San Bernardino."

Spaceman was, well, let's just say…BITTER…when recalling his career. Postema, who had more real reason for wrath, remarked, "But we're not bitter, are we, Bill?" Overall, though, the tone was light and not meant to offend anybody. Lee showed up in the baseball uniform he wore pitching both ends of a doubleheader the day before in a Vermont semi-pro league, and was to wear the next day pitching in still another game, or a clinic or something. Presumably, he had not showered!

Like most things Spaceman says and does…hey, don't ask! More information about the Reliquary can be obtained by calling Terry Cannon at (626) 358-6255, or at their web site: www.baseballreliquary.org.

 

The

NEW MILLENIUM

 

KEVIN ARBET

Cornerback-Safety

1999 - 2001, 2003 - 2004

 

Jeff Simmons, who was a great receiver at USC, is my step-dad. Through him I rooted for Southern California. I fell in love with the band and the tradition. I just grew up rooting for USC. I was a running back, a cornerback and a punt and kick returner at USC from 1999 to 2004. I came out of St. Mary's High School in Stockton.

I played for two national champions and I wear the rings proudly. In the 2003 season we beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl and won the national title. I was hurt halfway through that year. Growing up I'd heard of USC's national title teams, but I never thought I'd be a part of it. In Los Angeles, you wear your SC gear and it's incredible. People honk and smile and give you victory signs. We went back to Washington, D.C. and I met President George W. Bush. We got a tour of the White House. I didn't know how much security there was at the White House, but this was not long after 9/11, and soldiers had machine guns. There's all these pictures and statues. We saw a statue of Martin Luther King and visited the Oval Office. We had lunch with the President and took pictures with him. I don't know if Pete Carroll had ever been at the White House before, maybe as an assistant coach in the NFL, but I think it was his first time. Coach Carroll had been an assistant coach at Ohio State. That team was denied the national championship in 1979 when USC beat them in the Rose Bowl. My step-dad was on the team that beat them. I just remember him being really happy and upbeat. Coach Carroll was fired up how cool this was.  

In 2002 we defeated the Bruins, 52-21 at the Rose Bowl, and in a lot of ways that was the game that announced the Pete Carroll era was on and we were now a dynasty. It was one of the most total blowouts imaginable, and to do that to our biggest rival, and they were pretty good, maybe 7-3 coming in, on their field in front of their fans, was one of the greatest dominations ever. I was hurt that whole year but I remember Carson Palmer and everybody was fired up. It had been a long season. We lost early to Kansas State and Washington State, but then we went on a run. The 2002 Trojans in the second half could have beaten any team Pete Carroll has coached and we were the best team in the country by the end of the season.

We were all pumped up. Carson scored and jumped onto the pilon. Kareem Kelly was a senior. and we had a lot of seniors. It was their last regular season game and it was very emotional. The difference between the UCLA and Notre Dame rivalry for me is that I held a hatred for Notre Dame. UCLA, I hate 'em but it's more about bragging rights. We're in the same city. With Notre Dame, it's hatred but it's also respect at the same time. Notre Dame goes deeper, at least for me, but Coach said to treat every game the same.

I remember losing to Notre Dame in 2001. We put a lot into it and got beat, and Coach said, "We'll never let that happen again." It made the game bigger than what it was. So there's hatred, but the respect runs very deep. After the UCLA game you're in the same town and you see the UCLA guys at the same parties.

The 2005 BCS Orange Bowl victory over Oklahoma, 55-19, was a game where we knew we were gonna win. We knew they were good, but I remember sitting in a hot tub with Darnell Bing the night before, and somebody asked how we felt, and it was like we felt sad for Oklahoma because we were gonna kill them. Darnell said, "We're gonna kill 'em." We knew they were good, that the competition in the Big 12 is good, but we felt we could beat those guys. Adrian Peterson; I was in awe of him, but we had more confidence than the 2003 national champs. We were 90 percent confident in 2003 and 100 percent confident in 2004.

What It Means to Be a Trojan? When Carroll came in he turned it all around. The attitude he instilled in all of us, he's a great motivator and a great coach. We all wanted to play for him. We had to play for each other, too, and he made sure we stayed with the academics as well. A lot changed when he came in, including academics. A couple of players had to leave for academics. He was not playing around. He would have us believe we could run through brick walls. We couldn't but we'd try anyway. I motivated so well, to this day, four years removed, it still seems like yesterday. I get some recognition as a Trojan, not a lot, but it's just great to know I played, especially for Coach Carroll on some of the greatest teams in history.

What I learned at USC was to be a better man and hard work. Carroll taught me, he pounded it in us every day, to compete at everything; your job, every day never give up on anything. He always stressed competition and said it brings out the best in you. That's the number one thing.

I made some great friends. Keary Colbert, Mike Patterson, Lofa Tatupu. We're all family.

 

Kevin Arbet is the stepson of Jeff Simmons, who was USC's all-time career receivers record-holder when he left in 1982. A first team All-Pacific-10 Conference special teams player in 2001, Arbet was also selected as the top special teams player of that season (an award now named after Mario Danelo). He was selected for the 2004 Hula Bowl.

 

THE HEIR APPARENT TO FLO JO

StreetZebra, 2000

 

If the University of Southern California were a country, they would have finished fourth behind the USSR, USA and East Germany at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. The Trojans have dominated track and field in a way few colleges have dominated any sport, winning no fewer than 26 national championships. Since their last one was in 1976 under then-coach Vern Wolfe, and the football team's last number one finish was in '78, however, critics have taken to calling SC "Yesterday U."

One cannot vouch for the gridders, but SC track is back. Leading the way is a delightful 5-2 sophomore named Angela Williams. Okay, Angela was singled out by Florence Griffith Joyner when she was 12, anointed as Flo Jo's "heir apparent." Sure, she lived up to that accolade at Chino High School, where she was the nation's fastest female track athlete in history. Of course, when she won the NCAA 100-meter championship as a freshman, it just fulfilled her destiny, and when she comes home from the Sydney Olympics draped in gold, you will just say, "I heard it first in StreetZebra." All these things are true, and more.

That being said, what is most wonderful about Angela is her character, her personality, and her sense of duty. Read on.

"The drive I get from sports, I apply to my education," says Angela. "My focus is on pediatrics. I want to work with kids, maybe in physical therapy. I'm also interested in the law and sociology. What I'd really like would be to organize a boys and girls home, an orphanage for kids who are 16 and over. Then I want to organize a group of homes."

How many 20-year olds think about things like that? Not many.

"I mean, I want to be set financially," she continues, "but my parents taught me that I have to do what makes me happy."

What also makes her happy is dancing, watching music videos, swimming and hanging out with her friends.

Angela and her coaches are actually more focused on the Olympics' than on the early part of the collegiate track season.

"My coaches brought it to the forefront," she says. "My training is focused on the summer. Lately, I'm only running 400s, but I'll be ready to sprint when the NCAAs come around. If I have a chance to compete in the Olympics, I'll be ready and just ask the Lord for guidance."

On the subject of the "lonely path" of choosing track, Angela says, "I can't rely on others. I want to be a mentor who brings others into the sport. It's important to have others to look up to, but when you are alone you must be positive, because people are looking for you to fall."

As for her place in track history, Angela's philosophy is to "strive for records, and make my own history. My main focus is for people to know me as a good person with character. I mean, of all the great runners, Wilma Rudolph is remembered because she stands out as a loving person of character."

What is so impressive about Angela is that she understands the unique gifts God has blessed her with, and she genuinely wants to use those gifts to influence people.

"I just want to stay focused," says Angela, as if there was any chance she would stray from her purpose. "My parents taught me not to rest on my laurels and stay on level ground."

       As long as the ground is level, Angela will be breaking records.

 

THIS VANDY DANDY IS  NOW A TROJAN

StreetZebra, 2000

 

San Diego native's transferring in is becoming a good habit at Troy

 

Mark Prior was better at San Diego's University High than Barry Zito. Zito played there ahead of him, was a freshman All-American at U.C.-Santa Barbara, transferred to USC, and was Oakland's top draft choice last year. Prior was 10-5 with a 0.93 earned run average as a senior, earning All-American and All-State honors, while slugging 15 home runs at the plate. The Yankees made the San Diego County Player of the Year their first round draft choice, but Mark declined to become an instant millionaire in favor of college.

Mark will not admit that his father Jerry playing football at Vanderbilt influenced his decision to play for the Commodores. After a Freshman All-American season, he pitched in front of 10,000 fans - a moment he lists as his greatest thrill - for the USA National Team. Prior transferred to Southern Cal, and is a 2000 pre-season All-American. Mark "established himself in the Southeastern Conference " says coach Mike Gillespie. "He is a superlative athlete."

"I learned how to lead playing for Coach Serrano at Uni High," says the mature Prior. "I watched Zito when I was a sophomore, and we had <USC's> Seth Davidson, but we didn't win the C.I.F. <San Diego Section>. The talent level down there is great, with guys like Eric Munson and Eric Chavez." Both those players were first round picks.

 

"I developed physically and mentally as a baseball player when I decided not to play basketball my senior year" he continues. "That gave me a chance to train year round, and work on my hitting. I got stronger, my overall body strength, my abs and back. I was around 200, 205, now I weigh in at 220 pounds. As a senior I threw about 86-89 miles per hour. Now I clock in over 90, right around 90-93."

A supplemental "sandwich" pick by the Yankees (43rd overall), Prior had to be pretty determined to get a college education in order to turn down George Steinbrenner's money.

"I was focused on the college experience," he explains. "My dad played football at Vanderbilt. I was recruited by Stanford, SC, Miami, Tulane - I'm not a big fan of Stanford. Vanderbilt fit me as a person, it was my choice. I loved the Vandy community, don't get me wrong. It just didn't work out from the baseball and coaching point of view. I just outgrew the baseball program at Vanderbilt. It was a tough situation, I just had a different opinion about how a program should be run.

"I like Coach Savage and Coach Gillespie. Gillespie offers discipline and organization, and I just needed to be in a situation where guys get pushed and challenged more. I felt my physical and mental skills were the same at the end of the year at Vanderbilt as they had been at the beginning."

What is his take on Gillespie, who is notorious for his tight reign handling pitchers in game situations?

"What I know, from talking to Barry, is that he wants perfection, and he wants it right away," says Prior. "He's carried on the SC tradition, and I think he'll help me. I also worked with some alumni, like Tom House, who helped me to understand that I have to prove myself every time I pitch. I know the expectations for me are great."

What about the fear factor? Does that push Mark to constantly be on his toes?

"That's very true," is his answer. "I got asked `what are you thinking?' about turning down the money. At Vandy I felt pressure to throw a perfect game every time out in the SEC, to prove I am what they say I am."

 

BRANDON HANCOCK

Fullback

2002 - 2003, 2005

 

Was USC everything that I thought it would be? I think without a doubt it was, but to be frank with you, they were 6-6 in my senior year of high school. Obviously it was USC, but it was a gut decision to come there. Academics was my thing so I took a three-tiered approach to how much a degree from here means. I looked at the social environment, the weather, and the demographics. I have family in Southern California, which played in my favor, but basically I wanted the chance to win a national title. It was between Stanford or USC. Stanford's an academic juggernaut on the West Coast, but they've never assembled a team that could win a national title or a BCS bowl game. Maybe 20 years ago I would have made a different decision, but in the last 15 years under Dr. Sample, USC has narrowed the academic gap with Stanford so much that it's the best of both worlds now.

I graduated from Clovis West High in Fresno a semester early. Well, we went from 6-6 to 11-2 my freshman year, then 12-1, 13-0, 12-1 my senior year; and 11-2 since. Three Heisman winners, BCS bowl wins. Wow. Are you kidding me? That said, with two national titles and five Pac-10 championship rings, the way the school lived up to the hype for me was the fact I got my bachelor's degree, my secondary minor and a master's paid for by my scholarship. Academically the school provided me everything and more. With no NFL team in Los Angeles, we're a big-ticket atmosphere. The college life, the quality of school, the weather, beautiful girls, business opportunities; USC provided me all I could dream of and beyond. It's a good time to be Trojan!

Dallas Sartz was my teammate and good friend. The Los Angeles Times ran a funny human interest story about how Dallas lived in a place with four good-looking girls, how they'd model their clothes for him and ask for his opinion before they went out. "Is this too suggestive, Dallas?" "Do guys like this, Dallas?" It was like that old sit-com Three's Company.

I tried to call him to hang out as much as I could, but it's a tough call because I had a chance to live with a couple of attractive girls. Sunny Byrd was like 25 or 26 years old, he was a senior and a wiser man than me, and he says, "Chicks can be crazy." They're cleaner, yeah, but you gotta put up with so much stuff, and you don't wanna make a mess where you eat, so to speak. But Dallas, he got in touch with his feminine side. He's a ladies man and he was like the queen bee in reverse. Besides, he had his buddies living across the hall so anytime he wanted a break from that he could just walk over there for the chips and the beer.

What they say about Pete Carroll is all true. Coach has an incredible gift for powerful rhetoric. He understands the power of words and conveys a message that is readily perceived. He's persuasive, he comes to your house and sits in your living room, and he gets your attention. He thinks about things you say, he listens, and the next thing is, "Wow, what just happened there?" I was committed to Stanford but after I went to USC and met him - and he didn't even have his record then - he's a great story teller and can go to a house in inner city L.A., Compton, or a house next to a golf course in the suburbs of Marin County; Carroll can identify with any audience. He's like a politician or an attorney or whatever. He studies this stuff. I walk into his office and he's watching tape of himself. I say, "What are you doing, Coach?" and he says he's going over this again, and it's always, "How can I do this better?"

Guys from every state come to USC because What It Means to Be a Trojan is something Carroll conveys and guys want to be a part of. That's absolutely right. Carroll has a unique take on what's hip. So many guys are stoic or archaic like your grandfather, but this guy knows who the hottest rapper is at the time. He knows this stuff. He has a keen memory and doesn't operate a run of the mill meat market. He embraces our parents, our family and makes you feel like an important person. I sat with Lloyd Carr of Michigan and it was booorring.

Pete Carroll possesses the kind of charisma that gets guys to want to compete. A Mitch Mustain wants to be a part of it with no guarantee he'll start. Pete recruits players who are competitive. These guys are competitive athletes who like to think you are a guy who, with proper mentoring, can beat anybody out. We had seven tailbacks, all five-star "blue chip" kids, and none of those guys were thinking, "I'm not good enough." Chris Carlisle works those guys hard. You work hard at football and at school, and guys learn to be model Trojans, to earn their stripes on the field. Sometimes they fade away but others embrace it and make the most out of them. Stafon Johnson was almost ready to hang it up and go someplace else, but he stuck it out.

The guys who have what it takes to be Trojans are the ones who look at this situation and it fuels their fire. I'll be the best. Matt Cassel was phenomenal, plus a pitcher on the baseball team. He was drafted without playing much baseball. A Matt Cassel stays in the program, he was a great quarterback, but he never played but still had a legitimate shot with the New England Patriots. He had a good pre-season with New England's and ran some good offensive series and with Tom Brady out now he has a chance to shine. Our system's crazy but prepares you. Brandon Hance was the front-runner with Cassel and Matt Leinart the third-string dark horse. We're stockpiled with talent on talent, but he allows freshmen to play. He guarantees them a shot. Some schools don't play freshmen, but 80 percent of our incoming freshmen play. I don't know how he does it. I'd coach myself if I knew how to sell this idea that you can be part of something big.

Sometimes we have guys who get hurt because of the way we practice, which is unique in its intensity and tempo. We pretty much scrimmage every day, one-on-one at full speed, double-sword, go hard, compete at a high level. On Saturday you almost slow down after the week. There's a risk of injury. Every fall camp there's 13 or 14 hamstring pulls. At one practice guys were dropping off like flies, but he recruits by a philosophy in which the depth chart is etched in sand, and there's not a lot of drop-off. I was the starting fullback, but it was no big deal when I tore my ACL. Ryan Powdrell just came in and kicked butt. He got hurt and Stanley Havili was an incredible athlete until he broke his leg. It goes to what former assistant coach Ed Orgeron said, which was that football's like war:

"When you're on the firing line and the guy next to you takes a bullet in the chest, you just pick up his musket and keep on marching."

Ex-coach John Robinson used to talk about how the fan base at USC was a "politician's dream." I was attracted by the school's demographics. I took my first recruiting trip to UCLA with Bob Toledo. The school's surrounded by Westwood. It's pristine, it's so nice with Brentwood, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica beach; heck, the Hugh Hefner mansion's a couple blocks away. That experience, though, you know what, it feels soft, like a country club. It's too nice. It's not roughneck, hardcore football.

 USC is an island in the ghetto. They've brought it up to speed along with downtown L.A., "L.A. Alive," the building of STAPLES and Galen Center, new condos, businesses, restaurants, and nightlife. We've expanded student housing, professor's housing, cleaned the streets, decreased crime, even cleaned up the smog a lot.

 Downtown was a ghost town when I first got there. Back then you didn't cross Exposition Boulevard, but now you have a cross-section of demographics, of all kinds of people. They call it the "University of Spoiled Children," but that's a fallacy. You got these rich kids who pay $1,000 to live in a "roach motel." There's really good security, but being there, there's this diversity of contact with all kinds of people, and you enjoy the academic experience. It's a diverse pool of people and I thoroughly enjoyed that facet of it. Our fans are a wide-ranging group, from the super elite wealthy, old school alumni. These are the people who drink wine and eat cheese at Stanford, but they come to the Coliseum and are part of the scene.

Then you have you're more hardcore crowd. Mark Sanchez and his Latino heritage; the fans embrace him already. If you're a gal walking across campus in the middle of the night, there's a little fear factor. Guys a little less. We've had stuff happen. Some bricks got thrown through a window once. I've seen cholos run through 28th Street with guns pulled. I'm not sure about all the students, but it makes you appreciate it more than if you're in this sheltered environment.

We have tennis players at SC from rich families. A lot of these kids are not on campus on weekends. Some are commuter kids. You have wealthy Jewish kids whose father's are big-time movie producers, or girls whose dad's live in the wealthiest part of Orange County, in Emerald Bay. It humbles them a little bit, but for me, coming from my family, this is a place where I was able to look at life and appreciate what I have.

We had a lot of fun at USC. There's a couple of choices as at any college. You have your "animal house" fraternities. During the fall, nightlife is the best. That's when a college becomes a social arena, what with concerts on campus, on Thursday nights the frats would blow up, there's rush, but if you're a football player you kind of lock it down and miss that experience. In the spring there's some of that but you never really know until your last year what the experience of game day is like; the barbecues, the tailgating.

Most of the guys had fun, but it was so much different when USC became a Hollywood-type environment with Matt Leinart. He's hanging with Paris Hilton and all these beautiful models and starlets, and we're all a part of that. We'd go to these Hollywood blowouts, and you're rolling it out with Reggie Bush or someone, and I'm telling you we were the biggest thing in town. A lot of guys would lock it down during the season, but after the 1990s, when Pete Carroll got here and the pro teams were gone, USC football became a celebrity scene. Some of the stuff that went on is still infamous. You take your licks on a Thursday, then get in a plane Friday, or stay in the team hotel, and play on Saturday, then the rest of the week is practice. During the season people kept it close to home.

Some guys don't like being gawked at by chicks. Most want to get away and concentrate on being a starter. That walk from the locker room to practice could be a gauntlet of autographs, cameramen and reporters. You'd be late to class because a camera crew wants a quick interview. Most players live with each other. In the off-season we'd get around to L.A., the south bay, Manhattan and Hermosa Beach. Maybe a quick trip to Vegas.

I live in Manhattan Beach and there's a lot of cardinal and gold down there. The Trojans are huge there. It's a great place to live your senior year and then after you graduate, but you like that roughneck situation near campus. There were kids with no clue, they'd never been exposed to that lifestyle. Don't get me wrong, Westwood's nice and you can't say it's not an advantage for UCLA, but I honestly mean it when I say the neighborhood surrounding USC was part of the broader educational experience, and I was glad to have it. 

 

Brandon Hancock was one of the most popular Trojans of the Pete Carroll era; a hard-nosed fullback who sacrificed for the good of the team. Had he played at another school, like Sam "Bam" Cunningham in the 1970s Brandon might have been singled-out for superstarstardom. Hancock was part of two national champions, two Rose Bowl teams, and the 2003 Orange Bowl champions. He won the Howard Jones Football/Alumni Club award for the highest G.P.A., and the John Wayne Memorial Scholarship given to the player aspiring to higher education beyond graduation, who does not go into pro football. After injuries ended his career, Brandon became a respected radio football analyst.

 

MAKING HIS OWN LEGEND

StreetZebra, 2000

 

Gene Bartow succeeded John Wooden at UCLA After following 11-time national champion Coach Rod Dedeaux at USC, Mike Gillespie knows how Bartow must have felt. In 1998, he coached his first national championship team, and following a disappointing exit from the hunt for the national championship in '99, we sat down with the Trojan skipper to discuss baseball, big bats, and the Beach Boys.

 

TRAVERS: First question: did you know The Beach Boys at Hawthorne High?

 

GILLESPIE: Yes. Brian Wilson and Dennis Jardine were two years ahead of me, and they were pretty good football players. I was acquainted with them, and stayed updated with them through a mutual friend. I remember they just started out, singing at school assemblies.

 

TRAVERS: Tell me about the 1959 Trojans, considered the "12h National Champion," only they were barred from post-season competition because of a football penalty your freshman year at USC.

 

GILLESPIE: Back then, if you were ineligible in one sport you were banned in all sports. That was an incredible team, and even after Oklahoma State won the College World Series, Collegiate Baseball magazine ranked us number one. We had Bill Heath, who played for the Cubs and the Houston Colt .45s. Ken Guffey, Ron Stillwell of the Senators (the father of Kurt Stillwell), Fred Scott, John Werhas (now a respected minister), Don Buford in left. Rex Johnston played for the Pirates and also the Pittsburgh Steelers. Also Len Gabrielson, Bill Thom and Bruce Gardner.

 

TRAVERS: Is the Bruce Gardner story, how he committed suicide on the mound at Dedeaux Field, a taboo subject around here?

 

GILLESPIE: It's not really taboo, although when Coach Dedeaux was around it was probably not spoken of much.

 

TRAVERS: What were your first impressions of Rod Dedeaux?

 

GILLESPIE: I was in awe of him, mute, a rookie who just "shut up" when I was around him. Back then freshman didn't play, we practiced off-campus, maybe played the varsity in intra-squad games, but the man certainly left a lasting impression. He is brilliant, with unmatched charisma, the sharpest tack in the box. He has incredible speaking skills.

 

TRAVERS: Before the era of major college baseball, if a young man was a top prospect and entertained any desire to attend college, especially if he grew up in California, he went to USC and that was it. There are other schools, so what is it that Rod did to separate SC from all the rest?

 

GILLESPIE: Well, that goes back to the question, what came first, the chicken or the egg? SC had won the national championship in 1948, and again in 1958, but we had not yet cornered the market. Pete Beiden at Fresno State, John Scolinos at Pepperdine, Frank Sancet at the University of Arizona had fine programs, although for a kid from L.A. back then, Arizona might as well have been Saudi Arabia. USC had the tradition, the reputation of being a great university, we had the football team, the track team won the national championship every year.

 

TRAVERS: I have followed USC baseball, and your career, very closely. Quite frankly, I think you have improved as a coach because, in the beginning, you were very intense, highly prepared, but I always got the impression that you pressurized the game. Your teams used to start out very hot, but fade towards the end. Now, your teams come on strong at the end, and dare I say they seem to be having more fun? Have you "loosened up," and if so, is that a reason for your recent, greater success?

 

GILLESPIE: I don't really know how to answer that. If there is an evolutionary process, I'm not aware of it. I think our recent success is more the product of good players. I have the same philosophy I've always had, and if I carry that through I believe we will always be better at the end than at the beginning. Again, the ability to hang with the competition until the end of the year is a product of better players. I started in 1987, and in '88 we had as good a team of position players as we've ever had here. Pitchers have become good here eventually, but the biggest factor is improvement in the depth of our pitching.

 

TRAVERS: Okay, Coach, it's the fourth inning, SC leads 2-0, your starter walks the lead-off guy, goes 2-0 on the next hitter. Is Mike Gillespie less likely to go to his bullpen in 1999 than he was in 1989?

 

GILLESPIE: Okay, maybe I've matured. I'm less nuts. Confidence comes with success. The Rod Dedeaux/John Wooden analogy I often make is still a good one. If you have better players who are confident, good things are more likely to happen. In the old days, if UCLA's basketball team was in a tight game with two minutes remaining, they always had the edge. Things have changed around here. Bench jockeying was crazy, but we ended that. Now, SC just believes the other team will crack. Yeah, I may stick with my starter a little longer. I'm like the state of Missouri; you have to "show me." I'm looking for "red flags," but what you have seen is less a change in philosophy than the fact that we have better pitching now. I'm more likely to go with a Seth Etherton or a Barry Zito, because they've demonstrated that they can do the job. 

 

TRAVERS: There is no question, based on the players who have played for you-Bret Boone, Aaron Boone, Jeff Cirillo, Mark Smith, Geoff Jenkins, just to name a few - that you are one of the best recruiters in America. My guess is that there are more Trojans in the big leagues than any other school. What is your secret, and how do you differentiate yourself from Dedeaux?

 

GILLESPIE: Well, Dedeaux was the most dynamic recruiter I've ever seen. It has been a competitive era, and to be honest UCLA has almost as many names in the Major Leagues as we do. Look, if SC calls, you'd better be listening. The University has incredible history and stature, and heritage in baseball specifically. In the '80s, S.C. was still SC, one of the front two or three names, but we still finished second or third too often. Cirillo is an incredible story. He was not highly recruited. Our success was good but not overwhelming, our numbers in the '90s. Nobody pays attention through the years to the polls anymore, everybody has 40 wins a year. Now, we have the recruits' attention. John Savage is really running recruiting now, doing most of the work, and he's incredible at it.

 

TRAVERS: You mention that USC has always been competitive, but winning the 1998 national championship has revived the program and put you back on top. Honestly, you must have blown a big sigh of relief.

 

GILLESPIE: No doubt, winning was a tremendous sense of accomplishment. Of course, I'd be crazy not to say that it was a relief. If Rod had not won all those titles, would I feel differently? I don't know. I didn't dwell on the old days. I always did understand what's going on, but Rod has always been a big supporter, he wanted us to win. He's been in our corner, and if he hadn't then maybe things would have been different. Let's face it, there've been some hearts broken around here. We were in the '91 Regional driver's seat. This team this year, even, was capable. Coach's have lots of goals, and the drive to win. I like to compete, like any typical coach.

 

TRAVERS: When you were at College of the Canyons, did you ever dare dream that you might be the baseball coach at the University of Southern California?

 

GILLESPIE: I never really allowed myself to think that. I was a California schoolteacher, locked in to a certain salary structure. After 20 years, you might not be all that well paid, but I had benefits. I was not in a flexible situation, I had three kids and a house.

 

TRAVERS: When did you first start to think about your future?

 

GILLESPIE: I had no grand plan. My strongest influences were always teachers and coaches, I chose P.E. as a major, which we no longer offer, and made myself a candidate for a teaching position.

 

TRAVERS: What would you be today if you were not a coach?

 

GILLESPIE: I don't know how to answer that. I sometimes look with envy at some of my friends who have gone into business and made 10 times the money I make. I like money, but I have no regrets.

 

TRAVERS: May I suggest that some of those same friends may occasionally look with envy upon you?

 

GILLESPIE: I hadn't thought of that.     

 

TRAVERS: What is the role of a coach as a role model and teacher?

 

GILLESPIE: I suppose, like any profession, some are better than others. Not all who coach are successful at accomplishing all the roles of a coach. Obviously, it's incumbent upon me to teach the game, and the ones that do it best do it with some style and class. I'm bound to have an impact on my players beyond just teaching how to turn the double play. Teaching and coaching, I think, are interchangeable. I have good rapport with my former players, but I'm not so dumb to think that there aren't some that had a less-than-positive experience. I try to be fair, but I make mistakes.

 

TRAVERS: Have you ever considered the relative anonymity of college coaching, and regretted not taking the path of professional baseball, the way somebody like Jim Leyland has: scouting, minor league manager, then maybe the Majors, where the big money and notoriety is?

 

GILLESPIE: No. I never really had the opportunity, aside from a chance to be a non-bonus player. Pro baseball offers a great deal of instability.

 

TRAVERS: Bob Hamelin retired today. How do you explain players like he and Joe Charboneau, who have terrific rookie years and then quickly fade from the scene?

 

GILLESPIE: The longer we are at it, the more strategy figures into the equation, plus psychological factors. Baseball, as much as any activity, is one in which, if you are not confident you do not succeed. We have learned that you have to be able to relax. I see that with Chad Kreuter, my son-in-law (with the Kansas City Royals). Sometimes a better guy comes along. Sometimes a player is limited, he runs his string out. Pitchers figure out how to pitch him. There are many factors, all of which add up to the fact that any player is stupid not to go to college.

 

TRAVERS: It is my opinion that today's athlete is not just bigger and stronger than in the past, but better prepared, better coached through the youth leagues. What is your take?

 

GILLESPIE: Bigger, stronger and faster means better. They are the product of improved strength and conditioning, supplements, more of everything. There are more outstanding coaches, more clinics, TV, conventions, even the Internet. We rarely play a team that isn't prepared; the coaches have their teams ready to play. Execution of proper fundamentals is not unique to Southern California, cold-weather teams come out here and they are ready. I find no difference in the approach of players to the game in 1966 than in 1996. The good ones want to practice and improve. Today's players are no more or less difficult to deal with.

 

TRAVERS: College baseball has become big business in some parts of the country. Give me your take on the evolution of the game at your level.

 

GILLESPIE: I think there's been a domino effect. Skip Bergman was Ron Fraser's pitching coach at Miami. Fraser built a better mouse trap. Bergman moved to L.S.U. and copied it down there. Auburn saw what LSU was doing and said, "We'll build a state-of-the-art stadium, market the game, and make money." Athletic directors began realizing that they should support baseball, and now 50 schools make money in baseball. The accomplishment of winning the national title is even more awesome in light of these developments. The facts say that to pass up college is the move of a fool. Guys are turning down one million, $1.5 million to play in college, and I can go into families' home and demonstrate how all the odds favor the college player.

 

TOM MALONE

Punter

2002 - 2005

 

I was real lucky to go to USC. As a freshman and sophomore at Temescal Canyon High School in Lake Elsinore, California. We had a guy named Nate Goodson who was a big recruit. USC had recruiters looking at him, and consequently I came to their attention. I wasn't going to go to USC, but Coach Paul Hackett and his coaches saw me a lot. I never heard much from then until Ed Orgeron called. I grew up rooting for the Washington Huskies and had no interest in USC, but they called me back. I thought about it and I saw the campus, and I was impressed. Orgeron offered me a scholarship. I checked Arizona out, a couple other schools, but committed within a week. It was my junior year at Temescal Canyon. I got everything ready to graduate early so I could come in for spring practice. I wanted to have spring practice and summer training under my belt in order to get a head start. I graduated from Temescal Canyon in December of 2001, and enrolled at USC in January 2002, right after the Vegas Bowl. I started as a true freshman in 2002.

       Quarterback Carson Palmer was great and that was a great team. I hadn't realized the team was down a little before I got there, but with Pete Carroll you just knew we were gonna be real good. Carroll said we were a couple years from competing for a national title, but we were there that year. Troy Polamalu, Malaefu MacKenzie, Carson; we had a fantastic team, as good as anybody in the nation, but it was hard getting used to college and the big stage.

       Receiver Mike Williams was incredible, so athletic. He was a basketball player, we played basketball a lot. He was so tall and so big that anything that was coming up, he came down with. Keary Colbert and Kareem Kelly were phenomenal as well. That was one of the most fun years I ever had. We started fairly well but not great. We lost a couple games then just took off that year, and by season's end we were the best. Then especially the next year it carried over.

       Defensive back Troy Polamalu was incredible, one of the best I ever played with. He had a great work ethic. I picked up his work ethic, in the weight room and on the practice field. When practice was over we'd still be working with the punt return team, for half an hour after practice, and we got that from Troy. He was an All-American and one of the all-time best Trojans. We wanted to do all we could to make it work. We knew we had All-Americans and first round draft picks, and wanted to make the most of the talent we had. It helped me out a lot.

       In 2003 sophomore quarterback Matt Leinart took over. At first we thought it would be a transition from Carson to Matt, but he was another one of those guys who just came in, he had that winning attitude, and he worked hard in the weight room. He did everything he could to be the best. So did Matt Cassel. He had been around and there was a lot of competition for starting quarterback, but it was good, which was the good thing about USC. There's always somebody who can take your spot. Matt was calm and we always had the feeling it was gonna be good when he was out there.

       Reggie Bush was a guy I knew from the start, every day in practice; I felt bad for other teams that had to kick to that guy. He was ridiculous. He had unreal talent and was freakish about working out. He was so fast and everything we did, he took over, doing it really well. In 2003 that was probably the most fun overall I had. The team had a good year. We had a loss but battled back and we were able to be in a position to win the national championship at the 2004 Rose Bowl.

       Against Michigan I think we were really confident going in. By that time in the season, the way we played nobody doubted how the game would turn out. Plus it was at "home" in the Rose Bowl. Winning the national title was on the line. It was like winning against Iowa in the Orange Bowl the previous year. Now we knew we'd be good and we were confident.

       We beat UCLA every year. In 2002, 2003 and 2005 we just crushed them. Beating UCLA's so big, it's awesome to do that. We never had to worry about the outcome, we were messing around on the sideline, but we'd take care of business against them. We always prepared hard, but there was a little difference against them. There are bragging rights, and so many guys from Southern California you knew or watched, so it's a lot of fun and great to play in.

       There's a difference between the Notre Dame and UCLA rivalries. UCLA is more for bragging rights, and you know so many players in L.A. You've got the bands, there's so much going on in the stadium, all this stuff is going on, but with Notre Dame you feel the tradition of that game. Personally, Notre Dame is bigger as far as the rivalry meant. I hated USC growing up and watched that game rooting against them. For the fans, there's no tradition like it, and there's so much hype when you go back to South Bend. It's a lot of fun to be part of, that two great rivals both have a different feel, and the Notre Dame game is a great college tradition in general.

       Against Oklahoma in the 2005 BCS Orange Bowl national championship game, that night everybody had a great game across the board. We were prepared and had been unbeaten during the season, but there was a feeling of being a slight underdog. We practiced hard for all our games, we had the same approach, but our practices were a lot of fun before that game. We worked hard but still had a great time going out in Miami. Some people said we didn't take it seriously because we'd go out and see the city, and Oklahoma got there early. They never wanted to do all the bowl stuff, but Coach Carroll said have for us to just have fun. It was a reward for a good season and we didn't change anything. We went at it as hard as we could in practice and got it done, and then we'd have a good time, but we came out right away, jumped on 'em and never let up. We finished every game.

       In 2005 I was never on the field. I was hurt and never had to punt a lot because we were unstoppable. People said we were the best team in college football history. I struggled with an injury. In that UCLA game, the last game at the Coliseum, I ran out on the field for the last time as a senior, but I never punted once. It was a fitting end, to not play against UCLA, because our offense was ridiculous. We never got held to a fourth down. It was awesome. LenDale White was a Heisman-caliber player in his own right. He was just a football player who never went down. He'd do what he had to do to get a first down or get a touchdown. He was a great football player, a great athlete, but he never touched his true potential on that team. As a punter I could watch a lot of the game, sit back on the side and watch them break runs.

       Being down on the field against Texas in the 2006 BCS Rose Bowl national championship game was awesome, right until the last few seconds. We'd worked so hard and Matt came back for his senior year. We worked hard all off-season and it was a great season, maybe the best any team ever had. We were confident and felt good but Texas played a great game. It was definitely not the feeling we want to leave with after four years, and it wasn't what we expected, but it was a fun game, it was so close. You want those games, it's the most fun to play well at the end in close games. That was an awesome game, again some say the best ever played. Vince Young was very good and he had a great game that night. I don’t think, without him, they'd have had the same game. He had the majority to do with that win, but there were a lot of great players on the field that day for both sides. The fans had a great game and it was a thrill to be a part of it. I had a feeling for a long time inside, you wanted another year. We'd worked so hard to have a great season and you try and remember that.

       Pete Carroll is the best, period. I know of a lot of guys at a lot of colleges and hear what they say about their coaches. I can't imagine playing for another coach. Practice was 100 per cent all the time. If you were tired or not into it, he got up to it everyday and that makes you practice hard. We always had a great time and the team got along so well. We'd sing and dance. We all went out together, and we worked hard, we were prepared, but we had more fun than any team and hung out as a team. Carroll brought us together. He just turned on and knew how to prepare us, how to play football, not just all on the football field but in life. It carries over: be early, pay attention, whether in class or on the job, you always do your best, there's always somebody working harder than you so you have to compete vs. yourself more than others on the team. It was awesome.

       I don't know what his secret is. Coach Carroll loves football. He never tires. Every game he does as good a job as anybody. He says anybody can beat you, no game is bigger than any other game, so we never do something special vs. a particular opponent. We'd just go out every day and work hard. It carried over. He did a good job and we all bought in, and we just had so much fun, during games he runs around, at meetings he's enthusiastic. On Tuesday practice he's running around and never gets burned out, and we did it year round so much, doing it you'd not realize how hard we were working because he made it fun. Other players on teams were ready for a vacation but we were ready every week.

 

Tom Malone is the greatest punter (and first All-American at the position) in USC football history. He played for two national champions (2003-04), two Orange Bowl champions (2003, 2005) and a Rose Bowl champion (2004). Tom was twice all-conference (2003-04) and a two-time Playboy Pre-Season All-American (2004-05). He would have led the nation in punting (2004) except the Trojans scored so much he did not get enough tries to qualify. He played in the 2006 East-West Shrine Game, but injuries sustained in his senior impeded an otherwise-sure professional career.

 

THE FORREST GUMP OF BASEBALL

StreetZebra, 2000

 

A journeyman is defined as "someone who works competently but not brilliantly." Such a description captures the career of new Dodger catcher Chad Kreuter, who was told by manager Davey Johnson that he would work day games after night games, but has seen seen much more action that that.

Kreuter has spent his career in places like Texas, Detroit, Kansas City, Seattle and Chicago, but he has deep ties to California. He once played for the Angels, and Chad prepped under legendary baseball coach Al Endriss at Marin County's Redwood High School, located in suburban San Francisco. In the 1970s and early '80s, Endriss fashioned a prep dynasty. The school won a national championship and several C.I.F.-North Section Section titles. It was not uncommon for most of the starters to go on to college or pro careers.

"The Redwood program was very disciplined," Kreuter says of his years in Larkspur, "and we were taught the value of humility. When you lose it's not fun, and at Redwood we just didn't lose. Losing is humbling, so the few times we experienced that, it made us disciplined to work harder, and this carried over to the rest of my career."

Kreuter played on the last of Endriss' NCS champions, in his junior year of 1981. He was also an all-everything quarterback on the Giants' football team, and upon graduation in 1982 faced a dilemma. The University of California wanted him to come over to Berkeley and play quarterback. Instead, he chose to play baseball only at Pepperdine. Hey, he could have been at Memorial Stadium for The Play. Regrets?

"My main thinking between football or baseball was that football meant a greater risk of injury," he says. "I was at Memorial Stadium when <former Cal quarterback> Gale Gilbert broke his leg. It occurred to me that as much as I love football, longevity belonged to baseball. It was still tough during college. I would watch USC and UCLA play, and think to myself that if I were there I'd do as good a job as their quarterbacks. Still, in hindsight after 10 years in the big leagues, I have no regrets about not playing football."

Other Redwood players like Brad Cole and Jimmy Jones had preceded him to Malibu, where Kreuter played for well-respected Waves' coach Dave Gorrie.

"SC was in a down time back then," he recalls. "UNLV had a good program. We were in the Southern California Baseball Association with Pepperdine, Loyola, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara. We had a good program, and that started with walking on the field, playing in a nice facility. We had good batting cages. All this contributes to getting a step up on the competition."

In the summer of 1983, Kreuter played for then-College of the Canyons coach Mike Gillespie with the North Pole Nicks of the Alaskan Summer Collegiate League. He was lonely at first, trying to adjust to the strange environment. Then he met Gillespie's pretty daughter, Kelly. Kelly, an L.A. girl, was also adjusting to the "land of the Midnight Sun." Love flourished, and they are now married.

Father-in-law Mike became USC's head coach in 1987, and in the off-seasons Chad assisted with the program for a couple years.

"Early in Mike's career," says Chad, "he was filling in Rod Dedeaux's shoes. Even though there had not been many quality teams in the period before he got there, he felt he to win. The alumni are huge at SC, and they put pressure on him, so when he produced a national championship, that opened the door for him to enjoy it a little more.

"I was there today, and his interaction with player's is unique. He's obviously learned to relax," he observed. 

After college he climbed his way through the minor leagues, and while Kreuter is not a household name, he is, like the fictional Forrest Gump characeter, seemingly always in the middle of the action. He was behind the plate when Nolan Ryan struck out Oakland's Rickey Henderson for his five thousandth career strikeout.

"That is one of the highlights of my career," he says in an understatement. "That and my first day in the big leagues, hitting a homer off Dave Stewart."

Of course, everybody in L.A. and Chicago knows that Chad has been suspended recently for going into the Wrigley Field stands after a drunken fan stole his hat and glove, but due to legal complications, he has been unable to speak about this event. 

Chad is the kind of guy who is a leader, never complains, and demonstrates terrific work ethic. He hits the weights, so as to maintain the strength a catcher needs to handle a long season, swings from both sides of the plate, and is creditable defensively.

"Hey, this is where I should have been the past 10 years," Chad says of Dodger Stadium. After having grown up going to games there, one can see in his eyes that the Dodger mystique is still alive.

 

MARIO DANELO

Place-kicker

2005 - 2006

 

When Mario Danelo passed away, former Trojan football player Tim Lavin wrote about his funeral. Eventually Tim's missive made its way onto the Internet, eliciting a thousand responses. Here is the essay.

 

Trojan in the Sky

Mario Danelo # 19 PK

USC Trojans Football 2003-2006

Friday, January 12, 2007

 

Today, I attended the funeral services of a young man I did not know personally, yet we are part of the same family; the Trojan football alumni family.  Today, I witnessed families, friends and teammates coming together to pay tribute to a young man who touched the lives of thousands of people. I was not planning on writing about my experience but was inspired to do so.

When I got to the San Pedro church, there was a crowd of hundreds, maybe over 1,000 people gathered around the front entrance spilling on to the blocked-off streets. All roads surrounding Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church were barricaded by the police department. At 10:30 a.m., the casket, flanked by eight young men in the prime of their lives, was carried from the hearse, parked directly in front of the church, up the steps to the front doors.  With over 100 USC football players and coaches in coat and tie surrounding the front of the church, they slowly followed the casket in a procession that proceeded inside and down the center aisle to the altar.

From the outside looking in, a funnel of ominous young men disappeared into the wide open doors that welcomed their entrance. Swallowed up by the flow of their wake, patrons began to file in side by side. Mary Star seats some 1,500 people. Its high ceilings cast the sun light through scores of stained glass windows.  The pews are split down the center with a wide middle aisle.  Three quarters of the way down the center aisle is a cross aisle, creating a “t” or a “cross” if you will.  With standing room only, both of the side aisles were jam-packed, making the cross aisle completely full, and the center aisle filled up.  When it was time for the crowd to sit down, those that couldn’t inadvertently created a standing human cross.

In the rear of the church, the vestibule was shoulder to shoulder, chest to back, 20 people deep.  People continued to arrive only to find out there was no place left inside.  Hundreds of mourners remained standing on the steps outside the church, spilling on to the sidewalk and into the street between parked limos and police motorcycles. They were forced to listen to the outside loudspeaker of what was being said on the inside.

Mario Danelo was just 21 years old when he left this earth six days ago.  He was the place-kicker for the USC Trojans.  When officials cleaned out his locker, amidst the socks, cleats, t-shirts and shorts, was Mario’s Bible.  That Bible lay on top of his casket during the entire service. During the homily, the priest spoke of doing mass services for the Trojan football team before games. He spoke of the tough loss at the end of the regular season being a tragedy.  And then later, on January 1, the victorious Rose Bowl game that turned into glory. He spoke of the tragedy last week that took Mario away from us here on earth. And then, the victorious ascension into Heaven that has turned into glory.  And he spoke of remembering the great big smile on Mario Danelo’s face.

When the mass had ended, four people got up to face the overflowing congregation, inside and out, of more than 2,500 people. First to speak was Joey Danelo, Mario’s older brother.  For some 10 minutes, Joey captivated us with moments of sadness along with outbreaks of laughter. Fighting back the tears, he actually told several humorous stories of Mario’s aggressive behavior from his childhood days. He said Mario was the first five-year old basketball player to foul out of a game in the first 11 seconds of the first quarter.  Later on, in Little League baseball, he was the first pitcher to hit four batters in the same inning.  Regardless of what he and his brothers did together, they were constantly having fun, living the life, and always smiling. Joey said that Mario once told him you can tell the content of a man’s character by how many people attend his funeral.  He looked up from his written script to glance around the church through his watery eyes. It was beyond a chilling moment.

As they got older, they became even closer. In the past couple of years, they hung out with each other’s friends and became even tighter. Joey finished his eulogy by saying, “Thank you, I love you buddy,” and walked over and gave his brother one last little pat on the shoulder as his hand came down on the casket. Brian, his friend of 20 years, took the podium. He too had several stories that created moments of laughter and sadness at the same time. Whatever happened while they were growing up, he could always remember Mario laughing and smiling. Next to speak was from Mario’s San Pedro High School football team, Coach Walsh. During the coaches’ 26-year reign at the school, only three players were ever named to the All-Academic Scholar Athlete Team of Los Angeles, and Mario was one of them. On the field, he was an outstanding young football player who carried himself with grace, dignity and pride. Off the field, he was an exemplary student with the highest grades. On or off the filed, Coach Walsh always saw Mario having fun, and always smiling.

Lastly, Coach Pete Carroll came to the microphone.  He reiterated what the priest talked about earlier of this being a glorious day, and actually a time not to mourn Mario’s passing, but to celebrate his life. And oh man, how he did live. He was living the dream.  Coach Carroll, not surprisingly, talked of that “Mario Danelo smile” that we had heard so much about from all the others. And then, for the first time in my life, I experienced something that I had never experienced before at a funeral service.  Coach Carroll talked about the NCAA scoring records that Mario has. He said, “Most of you don’t know that Mario has the highest scoring record for college football. I think that is something to cheer about!” Carroll went on; “…now when I say Mario has the scoring record, I want to hear you!” Nervous laughter seemed to fill the church.  And then Coach Carroll yelled out for all to hear; “MARIO IS THE SCORING RECORD HOLDER IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL!” The seated patrons rose to their feet in an eruption of thunderous applause, cheers, yelling, screaming and whistling.  It was like being at the Coliseum and USC’s Mario Danelo just kicked the winning field goal and the place is going wild!!!

For nearly two minutes the church was going berserk with deafening cheers on the inside, absolutely booming roars that filled the daytime sky on the outside and the entire building was shaking. People, blocks away, must have been thinking, “I thought there was a funeral going on at Mary Star????”

As the noise slowly started to subside, Carroll stepped away from the microphone, pointed at his 100-plus players in the front 15 rows and said, “COME ON, LET ME HEAR YOU!”  The football players let out even loader cheers and cries that had to have echoed through the Coliseum tunnel. The crowd went nuts again for another two minutes of constant clapping, cheering and whistling led by the Trojan team. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen.

Shortly thereafter, the priest gave his final blessing and the exodus of 2,000 plus began to overrun the streets and join those hundreds of others who had been out there for nearly two hours. On my lapel I wore a Trojan football alumni pin. In my pocket, I had another lapel pin still in its package. I wanted the Danelo family to have it. But, not knowing them, it was certainly not appropriate for me to approach them at this time. So, I wondered what to do as I stood on the grass on the side of the church. Not more than 10 seconds elapsed when Coach Pete Carroll walked by, saw an opening on the sidewalk and stood alone only a few feet away from me. Questioning my own thoughts of the right thing to do, I nervously approached Coach Carroll. With the pin in my hand, I reached out so he could see it. As he looked down at the pin in the palm of my hand, I said, “Coach, perhaps you can give this pin to Mario’s parents.  When Mario walked on the field, he was a Trojan football player. When he walked off the field for the last time, he became a Trojan football alumnus. He will always be part of the Trojan Football Alumni Club.” With that, Coach Carroll took the pin out of my hand, looked me in the eyes and said,“Thank you.  I will give it to them.”

Today I witnessed what the Trojan family is truly all about. Regardless if we know each other personally or not, we are always family. You may not know us personally, but if you need us, we are here for you.

May God bless Mario, his family, friends, and teammates during this most difficult time. FIGHT ON!

 

Tim Lavin

Trojan Football Alumni ’88-‘91

Club Secretary

 

Shortly after the Trojans defeated Michigan in the 2007 Rose Bowl, Mario Danelo walked to the rocky shores of his native San Pedro, California to contemplate things. He slipped and fell, apparently hitting his head and dying.  Since then, the special teams award has been re-named in his honor: the Mario Danelo Special Teams Player of the Year award (given to Thomas Williams and Clay Matthews in 2007). Mario's funeral was a well-attended, emotional affair, and when Troy came out for their first extra point of the 2007 sseason against Idaho, Coach Pete Carroll sent the team out with only 10 men - no kicker - taking the penalty in his honor. Mario always said he was "living the dream" playing for USC, and the goalposts at the Coliseum are draped with those words in his memory.

****

MARK SPINO

Secretary of the Trojan Football Alumni Club

 

The week of the 2005 USC-Notre Dame game, Mark Spino emailed his - and others - inspirational messages, letters and remembrances of the old coach, Marv Goux. Notre Dame was special to Goux, above and beyond all other games. "This week is about Marv Goux," Pete Carroll would often acknowledge when asked to address the question of What It Means to Be a Trojan.

Mrs. Goux in turn forwarded Mark Spino's emails to a large list of former Trojans that included Anthony Davis, Sam Cunningham, Manfred Moore, and many, many more. Wrote Mrs. Goux:

 

"Dear Fellow Trojans,

"This inspiring piece was sent to me by a good friend.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did." Spino called his missive, "The Field Marshal," but it could just as easily have been called "This Game Is Different":

 

"The doldrums is over for our players.

"Every man who slips the Trojan helmet on (past or present) feels it.

"The new coaches will learn it.

"Pete Carroll went to Marv Goux to inquire about it.

"It's been alive since Howard Jones and the Thundering Herd went toe to toe with the Four Horsemen and Knute Rockne.

"John McKay nearly preached it.

"John Robinson embraced it as if it was the Crown Jewels.

"USC's ex-players will physically pull aside current players and explain, in a manner where there is no chance the player doesn't understand (nose to nose), it.

"Ronnie Lott won't be able to talk but if you get the rare opportunity to look into his eyes as he's lacing his cleats on the day of the Notre Dame game, you will know it.

"Anthony Munoz can only whisper but he speaks only about the all out commitment to physically assault Notre Dame's players, all of them, on every play all game long or else you cannot be on this team and you are not a Trojan football player and he never wants to hear of your existence again.

"Not a lot was ever said about doing your assignment, holding onto the ball, converting third downs.

"This game is different.

"This game is for the greatest of men, only.

"The mentality that is demanded and that, will, be given by every man wearing the Trojan helmet, whenever matched up with Notre Dame.

 

            Spino's message created a number of email responses from other Trojans who had played for Goux:

 

"Sweeney Dawg,

"I realize you are making the trip with the team to 'back water Indian no place' this weekend for the game. Thus, I could not help but share the attached story from one of our teammates about Coach Goux.  Still today -  the only thing I hate more than UCLA football is Notre Dame football. Reading the attached makes me wish I could go back to South Bend. Support the cause and help in the burning of their barns and pillaging of their villages.

"Let the troops know that this game is different. In the words of General George S. Patton, 'Their health is of no concern and from this point forward, if they are not victorious, let no man come back alive!'

 

"Fight On!"

. . .

"Coach Goux would gather us around him and he'd start to tell us a story about a young player at USC who although undersized and outweighed, started at center and middle linebacker. This player was the pinnacle of desire and hard work often leading not just by example but by inspirational speeches during a game. His love of the game was unmatched.

"As he spoke he wondered around the field, always starting down by the end zone and slowly working his way out toward mid-field as he stayed in the middle of all the players.

"During much of the story he would stare down at the field, kind of kickin' at it and pawing at it with the bottoms of his shoes. It seemed to me from the first time I witnessed this ritual that he was actually looking for something. I was wrong. He wasn't looking for something. He was looking for a spot. As he continued the story, this absolute pillar of strength and determination, the cornerstone of the entire football program at USC, a man who had been at McKay's side every step of the way, the defensive line coach, started breaking down.

:"I remember elbowing the guy next to me and asking, 'What's happening to him?' The player, who was a few years ahead of me, turned to me with tears streaming down his face, and said, 'Shut up.' Coach Goux started moving around the field, faster and faster as we struggled to stay with him. In one lightning bolt of gut-wrenching passion, he screamed out, 'Where is it, where is it?' as he crisply walked around, sometimes in circles like he was getting close, all the time looking down at the Notre Dame Stadium's grass. Tears flowing like a river.

"Then, in a split second, in a moment of recognition, this man exploded into a sick combination of Pain, Regret, Fear, Determination, Desire, Retribution, Passion and Sorrow. Crying in an uncontrollable manner, bawling, weeping, Coach Goux snaps his head up, to expose himself to us. So that we would always know. So that we would never forget. The face I looked into was unrecognizable to me. I didn't yet know what IT was. Coach Goux was possessed with all that his life had been and all that his life was at that point. Like a big cat, he spun around and made sure that every player made direct eye contact with him. 

" 'This is the spot,' he screamed looking down again. 'This is the spot.' Looking up at us, he said, 'This is where they got me,' his voice trailing off.  Instinctively, we all started backing up, until Coach Goux stood alone, looking down at the grass and pawing at it with his shoes. I realized that the player in the story was him. For what seemed like minutes you could here a pin drop, as we watched this man deal with the moment that ended his dreams as a player, forever. 

"When he looked up again, the meaning, the feeling that makes this football program what it is. That thing that makes USC football special, whatever it is, shined like a lighthouse beam in the Indiana night from his eyes. 

" 'I wouldn't trade my time as a USC football player for anything.' Then he said while looking down and getting more and more animated in a hurry, 'I was clipped from behind right here,' as he pointed at the grass. 'Got me in my lower back and hip,' he growled. 

"I don't recall seeing anger in a man's eyes, like his at that moment. 'Get in here,' he demanded as the entire team closed in on him. 'Tighter, tighter, until you can't breath. Now listen to me. Notre Dame ended my dream as a player. They ended it right here where we stand together. I'll never be able to forget it or change it. I can, however, bring a football team here every other year with the best players the world has ever seen. A football team that is a great big family. A team who loves each other and will go to war for each other. A team who doesn't care about the last play. A team full of men who's only, living, breathing desire is to be allowed by God one more opportunity to hit a Notre Dame football player as hard as humanly possible.'  

"The tears we're flowing and we we're mesmerized by the entire experience. The emotions of the team were laying on the table for Coach Goux to mold. He paused, so as to look you in the eye. Then he looked down and started to shake his head back and forth.  Still looking down, he slowly said with a deep voice, 'I can't hit them anymore but God knows that I want to. More than awakening tomorrow morning, I want another shot at a Notre Dame football player. Just so I could send the clear message that the University of Southern California's football team was in town and that today will end in Pain for you and your team and your fans and your school. That USC was here and we're taking everything you have.'            

"His head rose up.

" 'There won't be anything left when we're done here,' he screamed. At which point the entire team exploded together. 

" 'They got me but they're not going to get you. They f----d me right here but their not going to f--k you. Not tomorrow, not tomorrow. Tomorrow we wake as one. Tomorrow we take the body. Tomorrow each and every man on this team will attack his opponent in a way that has never been seen before. Tomorrow we are relentless. Tomorrow we play the most powerful brand of football ever seen. Tomorrow we are devastating, play after play, every man until the final whistle. We're not even going to look up at the scoreboard during the game. If I see any man look up at the scoreboard, I'll kill him. F--k the score, we came here for more than that. Tomorrow we take a program's heart and tear it to pieces with our bare hands. Tomorrow we play with Pride and Dignity. Every play, every player on the field for Notre Dame gets knocked to the ground. All of them, every play. Then you reach down to help them back up. That's who we are. Tomorrow we play like MEN. Tomorrow we play like TROJANS.' "

 

Mark Spino, secretary of the Trojan Football Alumni Club, was given the Trojan For Life Award in a formal ceremony featuring athletic director Mike Garrett and Marv Goux's lovely widow, Patti Goux.

 

 

The

THIRTIES

 

NORMAN BING

End

1937

 

I was a walk-on and didn't play much. I was a pre-med major who just enjoyed playing a little on the 1937 team for Coach Howard Jones.

       I played at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles. I played there in 1932 and 1933. I got out of USC in 1939. I was there four years. In 1935 I entered L.A. City College for a year. Then I started pre-med at USC, then moved to the business school in 1939.

       I was not one of Jones's favorites. I was not to close to him, but we all enjoyed him. He played favorites. Everybody has his own opinion. Doyle Nave was a good friend and could throw like crazy, but Jones didn't care for him much. He didn't like the way he played, but he could pass very well. He won the Duke game for us.

       Ray George and I were both good friends and chased the same girl. He married her. I was friends with Don McNeil and Tony Tonelli.

       The UCLA rivalry was pretty damn big. We didn't have the armor plates like they have today, but as a consequence we'd not play as viciously. That was a big game just like today. Some days were good and some days were not. Most of the players came from the L.A. area, like today.

       Jackie Robinson came after me with Kenny Washington to UCLA. They were star players. Washington could throw the ball the length of the field. Jackie did a good job, too. He was a shifty guy, Robinson. They had some big players.

       Al Kreuger was a damn good player for us. He was a big guy and it was hard for guys to cover him. Pat Nixon, the future First Lady, was at USC when I was there but I didn't know who she was. I never knew her. We had a fair number of famous people at USC; people who were in the movie industry. Before that we had Aaron Rosenberg from Fairfax High. Aaron went in the movies as a producer/director. He also helped us on spring training in high school. Homer Griffith was a good friend of mine.

       I knew of Lou Zamperini, the trackman. He was a star, a very good star. He was one of the most accomplished guys of anybody in world history. He was fantastic, his character things. He did great things during the war and he was in the Olympics. He was shot down in the South Pacific and survived a lot of time on an island.

       Rod Dedeaux was a student at USC in the 1930s and played baseball. I saw him one year before he died. He was a wonderful guy, all baseball. He did very well with the USC teams and won many national championships. He was the lowest-paid coach they ever had at USC. He worked for a dollar a year.  He was a helluva guy. I spent some with him at 50-year reunions; the last time was the year before he passed away, he sat at the football table. He was a millionaire with Dart Trucking

      Dean Cromwell was the best track coach in America. I knew some of the track guys. Cromwell was well thought of and well respected, very popular too.

       What It Mean to be A Trojan: I was gonna be a dentist and went to the dental school. The atmosphere at SC was very close. It was just a great time and being a Trojan continued my whole life to be a very great thing. We competed with UCLA. Half went to UCLA, portions went to USC. L.A. was a small town then. It was not as big as the mess we have now. You knew the fellows on other teams. The school today is like what I think of a county or town back then. You'd have inter-changeable friendships with players and it was not different from living in a community.

       Most local high school players went to USC. A few went up to Stanford, Cal or Washington, but in the main they came from the local area. USC would pick up fellows from the Midwest. It was a different atmosphere. Once you're a Trojan, you never forget it. My whole family; my wife, our kids, they all went to SC. I helped start the Trojan Club of Orange County after the war. We met once a month during the football season. The coach came down to Newport Beach. The Orange County Trojan Club attracted top speakers, they'd come out to a private house at Balboa Bay. It was very close with much camaraderie. Down in Balboa we had a good group, there were always a lot of SC people there, and they all came home from the service and knew one another. Once a Trojan, forever a Trojan. Even during the war we'd run into each other.

       I had a compadre in my class I was tight with. We'd run with the same girls. We practically all knew each other, we all married girls we knew, we all knew one another. Like the last one I heard from, we had dinner with friends of ours in Newport. His wife, I knew her folks at Fairfax High. They had married and they were in the swing of things and threw a cocktail party, and later we had a dinner party, so we went over, and we had all these close friends and we all had known each other forever. The camaraderie is still there. I reflect back on those days in school; I'm now 92. It was a wonderful time and I appreciate all my life. I got a great education, got all I could get out of it. I want to compliment the staff and faculty, I had great professors, great personnel. It was a time of great memories.

 

Norman Bing was a walk-on for Coach Howard Jones in the mid-1930s, but remains one of the oldest surviving players of that era.

 

AMBROSE "AMBY" SCHINDLER

Quarterback

1936 - 1937, 1939

 

I graduated from San Diego High School in February of 1935. I played with Ted Williams in junior baseball. He went to Hoover High. I played for the Ryan Juniors, which was in a youth league in the city. That team was made up of high school kids who were going to the playgrounds. I played on the same fields with him. He pitched and I caught at different times together. My favorite player was Cotton Warburton, and I understood that he was Ted's favorite, too. Cotton had come out of San Diego High before me. He was my inspiration. He was so great. The best day of my life was after watching Cotton play in a high school game, finding out he was coming back for another year of high school football. He was there four years, a little guy but he could sure run and so you were inspired my him. Harold Hobbs Adams was our high school coach. He coached both Warburton and I. Howard Jones hired him as an assistant coach at USC and he brought me with him.

       This was a fairly common practice in those days. Nibs Price, a high school coach from San Diego, started it. College football teams had always consisted of players trying out from amongst the student body, but after World War I the country became more mobile and the concept of recruiting came into being. Suddenly teams did not consist generally of boys from the general region, but rather a young man might be enticed to come to school even if he did not live near the campus.

       The University of California at Berkeley had a large number of students come there for military training so they were attuned to this situation, and Coach Andy Smith decided to turn his program into a national powerhouse. He hired Price because he had many contacts among the coaching fraternity in Southern California, which was a growing populace that Smith recognized was the place where most of the great athletes were coming from. One of those players was Brick Muller out of San Diego. Smith brought Price to Berkeley because he could bring Muller into school with him, but this practice was fraught with a new set of problems.

       These recruits were prima donnas unlike average students, and Smith was a hard driver who conducted exhausting practice sessions. Muller and the Southern California contingent got fed up and decided to leave school. A meeting was held in the summer halfway in between, in Fresno, between Price and the players from Southern California in which it was agreed that the practice sessions would not be as strenuous. They all came back to school. Muller was the greatest player in the nation and those teams were known as the Wonder Teams, up until then the best dynasty the country had ever seen.

       Well, Howard Jones had decided to one-up Andy Smith and Cal. "Gloomy Gus" Henderson had built USC from a regional program to a national power by bringing in high school players from the Seattle area, which had been the best hotbed of prep talent for years. He ushered USC into the Pacific Coast Conference and won our first Rose Bowl over Penn State in 1923. Jones started the rivalry with Notre Dame, which gave us an edge over Cal and Stanford, making us a national power and the top program on the West Coast. Coach Jones also had an advantage in recruiting, which was the movie industry. John "Duke" Wayne had played for him before going into the movies, and Duke arranged for Trojan players to be extras in movies, attend Hollywood parties, and be around all those pretty actresses.

       By the time I got to USC this was the standard practice and the program attracted the greatest players in America. I entered USC in February of 1935, right out of high school. It was mid-year, and as I say I went with my high school coach, who got his job as an assistant under Jones. It was never really spelled out for me, but I understand that he got the job by bringing me into school with him.

       Cotton Warburton was at USC for three years before me. I attended at night at first. I had been on the track team in high school. A track meet was held at Southern Cal and I participated and visited the campus in a slight drizzle. The Tommy Trojan statue was getting wet a little bit but it was an awesome sight, as the campus was turning from dusk to dark, so I could not have been there at a better time to be impressed. It was kind of plain otherwise, it was not much of a campus at the time. Coach Hobbs had all the connections. I never really claimed Hobbs got the job because of me, but Hobbs had coached Cotton, he had a good track record coaching in baseball, football and track. So Hobbs had gotten to USC and we were all together and were Sigma Alpha Epsilons. It was a great time, a great time in my life. I can't imagine anything being any better.

       Even though USC was the school you wanted to play for, the football program had been down just a little bit before I got there. Cal and Stanford had gotten really jealous and accused us of cheating and academic impropriety, but it was all just a response to our surpassing them as a West Coast football power. We had won three national championships and the 1931-32 teams were probably the best teams ever, the famed Thundering Herd, but those freshmen up at Stanford had promised never to lose to Southern Cal again and they never did, so they became known as the Vow Boys. UCLA was getting better and better every year, so Coach Jones was determined to have his team get back to where they had been.

       For me, it was a struggle. There was a lot talent, playing time was always hard to come by, and I broke my foot in a freshman game against Santa Ana High School, so that set me back for a year and a half. All of my freshman year was gone, but it did not affect my varsity eligibility. Freshman could not play varsity ball in those days. I became a starter in my sophomore year and started all the time I was at USC as long as I was healthy, but there was always competition at my position.

       I was a tailback in a single wing offense. We lined up out of the huddle in a box formation single wing called the "Warner B." It was a designated single wing offense and I always ran out of that formation. My varsity years were 1936, 1937, I laid out in '38, broke an ankle, then in 1939 I played my senior year. All in all, I was at USC for five and a half years including everything.

       I played against California in 1937. They were the most powerfully organized team I'd played against and when I played against them they were seniors. Stub Allison was their coach and they had great players, they were great athletes like Vic Bottari and Sam Chapman, who went on to play outfield for Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics. Cal and Stanford made comebacks, they were determined to be national powers again, as Southern Cal had become. In 1937 Cal won the national championship, beating Alabama in the Rose Bowl, and in 1940 Stanford won the national title when they beat Nebraska in the Rose Bowl. Those were the last national championships each of those two schools won.

       I got hit in the head against Cal. I was fuzzy, I was down and a guy just swung his foot through my helmet and I was goofy after that. We had a fierce competition with Cal and Stanford. Cal and Stanford never played an honest game in their lives, but there were a lot of shenanigans at that time. Cal would arrive in Los Angeles and it would be 90 degrees, it hadn't rained in months, but the field would be a quagmire. The maintenance guy would come out all apologetic, "Oh I must've forgot to turn off the sprinklers," but it would slow down Bottari and Chapman, you see.

       It was always like that, rivalries between Northern and Southern California teams. Later the Candlestick ground's crew did the same thing to slow down Maury Wills of the Dodgers. Gamesmanship, all part of the sport of it, you see. But it was also an evolving time in the relationship between USC, Cal, Stanford, and now UCLA became our biggest rival. They were just a little commuter school, first in downtown then in Westwood, where at first people said nobody would travel that far just to go to school, but they played in our stadium, the Coliseum, and they were integrated and quickly built themselves into a competitive team by doing that.

       We had been integrated way ahead of almost everybody, what with Brice Taylor making All-American back in the 1920s, so these games between the integrated Bruins and Trojans in front of huge crowds at the Coliseum were just visual statements that were more powerful than any speeches.

       Jackie Robinson and the Bruins tied us, 0-0 in 1939. In 1936 they'd tied us 7-7. These games were just intense struggles with everything on the line. That game started to even things between the two teams, and over the next couple of decades UCLA was at least as strong as USC. Robinson was a great player, and his wife, Rachel Robinson was a student at UCLA then, why she still talks about the rivalry, which she compares to the Dodgers-Giants rivalry. But Jackie met his match in terms of opposing coaches when they went up against Jones. As a matter of fact we were getting ready to play them and Jones was at the blackboard drawing up UCLA's offense and defense. He drew their offense vs. our defense and he shifted where he saw weakness in our defense and we asked, "What about that, Coach?" and Jones saw weaknesses but Jones covered up the hole and we outclassed them by overshifting them on our defense to offset their power. Robinson was on that '39 team but when they were driving towards the end for some reason they did not go to him and it cost them a chance at winning the game.

       Kenny Washington, who also was a great sprinter in track, played for UCLA. Woody Strode was a big wide receiver and we didn't have anybody who was tall enough to cover him, but they weren't able to get the ball into his hands as much as they'd like. Jones just out-coached 'em, but they put the ball in the air and that scared the livin' daylights out of Jones. Afterward he just hid in his office like he was hiding from their passing.

       I had some injuries, I think maybe I'd been hurt in '37 too, but anyway we were the Coliseum "visitors" and I didn't play, and so I was sitting outside with the lockers right behind us at tunnel six. I was on crutches and I decided to walk up the tunnel to avoid both teams from rushing up past me. So I walked across the track and entered the tunnel and started up and then somebody said to stick around, and all hell broke loose. Kenny Washington broke through with the ball twice and scored two touchdowns in 45 seconds. Oh man!

       But we won in the Rose Bowl two years in a row. You know, we beat those Southern teams, we beat Notre Dame, our most difficult competition was in the conference, and so the big argument going on at that time was, where's the best football being played? Before World War II it was determined that the best players were out west and there were all kinds of theories, ranging from the sunshine, the vitamins in our fresh fruit, the gene pool of pioneers, more athletic men and women coming out to Hollywood. The world was taking notice of American football. Adolf Hitler was alarmed that America had the most rugged athletes playing football and that would make us formidable in war, and he sure would've been smart to have played that hunch.

       I was hurt in 1938 and when we played Duke in the Rose Bowl we were heavy underdogs. Those guys had not only not lost a game, but nobody had even scored a point on them. They would punt on third down just to pin opponents down. They would get turnovers and score off their defense and just overwhelm you. Nobody really gave us a chance. I didn't play in that game. I'd played two or three games early in the season but I was injured with a broken foot so I just decided to sit out and save my eligibility for 1939.

       Well we all know what happened. Duke led 3-0 and we couldn't move the ball against them at all, certainly not on the ground. That was how Howard Jones liked it on offense, he never liked putting the ball in the air. He never felt it was safe, but we went through several quarterbacks and all were ineffective and so Jones was desperate, we had to put the ball in the air if we were going to have a chance.

       Quarterback Doyle Nave was fourth string, end "Antelope Al" Kreuger was third string I think. In another offense either guy would have started, they were great athletes, fast, Nave could throw, but neither was entirely compatible with Jones's offense. But Duke was unprepared for Doyle's passing effectiveness, and we drove with a few minutes to go and Doyle hit Al on several clutch passes until we were down near their goal line and then he hit Al for a touchdown to win the game, 7-3.

       The place just went bonkers and the press made the biggest possible deal out of it. For years, decades, this was said to be the biggest sports moment of the century, the biggest Rose Bowl game ever, and Doyle Nave was instantaneously elevated to national hero. Women wrote him letters, magazines featured him, and even though Southern Cal was a huge football power before that, it put us on the map. It was on the radio across the country and Norman Topping heard it supposedly on his deathbed and it "miraculously" cured him, so the story goes. Braven Dyer just made his name writing about that game.

     Kreuger was a demonstrative character. He and Doyle had great personalities and this helped because they talked to reporters and expounded on what happened, it was all very colorful. They were both fun-loving guys and the girls fell in love with 'em after that and they just had a great time at USC, we all did.

       In a video Tom Kelly did some years ago Kreuger made these great descriptions of those catches. Doyle was sitting a little in front of him and he would say, "Oh, every pass was right on the numbers," and in the back Al was gesturing and gesticulating like every catch he had to dive and stretch out, and it was all great fun, typical of their personalities.

       But as great as they were, neither really got better. Doyle never got better as a tailback, not in the kind of offense Howard Jones liked to run. Grenny Lansdell and I were ahead of him at tailback. The newspapers said Grenny and I were about equal. Doyle could not make three yards running in the single wing. He could throw and kick, but Jones liked us to run and both Grenny and I were better runners. He would have been excellent in a better system for passing but we were ahead of him.

       Doyle as a person was sure of himself, he was athletic, confident in what he could do. Sometimes he felt he could do more than what he really could do. He was not as good a runner as Grenny and me, a good passer but not a field general. Grenny and I were given a better rating.

       Kreuger was a happy-go-lucky fellow, a great player but not to the point where we would build an offense around him. He could execute his plays excellently but the coaches did not develop an offensive around him. He could get open against anybody who tried to cover him, though.

       In 1939 Jones would not have made Doyle the number one tailback. Grenny and I held up the position. This was the single wing, it was different then, a quarterback was not what he is today. Doyle was more oriented towards what we now think of as a "drop back" quarterback, whereby Grenny and I usually ran out of the formation but could on occasion throw short passes.

       In 1939, I recognized that I had a helluva job to play vs. the competition between myself, Grenny and Doyle. Now Doyle was at first one up because of his Rose Bowl performance against Duke. Jones was influenced by the newspapers, because they all backed Doyle. Braven Dyer of the Los Angeles Times particularly advocated the "modernization" of football. The ball had been reduced in size, making it easier to throw, and it was not a uniform-size ball, whereas at one time balls might be one size in the West, another size in the South, you know. Sammy Baugh was a throwing sensation, and Don Hutson an end who could catch any thrown ball at Alabama, and we had Doyle Nave. His performance against Duke had been considered a breakthrough.

       It went against Howard Jones's natural instincts to throw the ball, but how could you argue against what Doyle had done? But we tied Oregon in the opening game and boy we all just thought that was the end of world. How to overcome that? I don't recall much about that game. I'd say we were inexperienced, Doyle had hardly played in '38 aside from the last couple minutes of the Rose Bowl, so I was getting up and running and Doyle did not make it. After that I got more playing time, Grenny and I. Doyle certainly played a fair amount, but he did not emerge as the great star his Rose Bowl performance led so many to believe he was destined to become.

       Well, we found our rhythm and just went on a streak, and by season's end there was not a better team in America. That was the year we went back to South Bend and walloped Notre Dame. In those days we played the Irish at the end of the year back there as well as at home, and it could get cold and that was an advantage for them, but we beat them 20-12. We'd beat them 13-0 in Los Angeles the previous season and the rivalry was very even, but USC never beat the Irish at Notre Dame again until O.J. Simpson in 1967.

       The USC-Notre Dame rivalry is and always was exemplary of what college football is all about. To go back there and play against them, to be a part of that is an honor, it really is. As I say, it was the end of the season, it was colder, and put it this way, I was a disappointment to Jones because I was a senior but I was not playing as much as I thought I should. Doyle got a lot of time on the field and Grenny was an All-American. I probably could have made a big success at any other school but at USC that year there was more competition for playing time than the opposition provided in games. Vs. Notre Dame we won 20-12. I went in, played well and we won. I ran an end run in front of Coach Elmer Layden and made about eight yards and decided to run it again and I broke loose 44 yards for a touchdown. The whole weight of the game, I could feel it, I knew it, and nobody was gonna catch me so I thought of thumbing my nose at Layden. Some guy from 'Bama had thumbed his nose on about the 12, so I thought of doing the same thing, then I thought it would be disrespectful so I stuck my tongue out at him and nobody saw it but me. I said to myself, SC doesn't do that.

       The West Coast had the best football teams at that time. We barely beat Washington, 9-7, then tied UCLA, 0-0, so when another unbeaten, untied, unscored-on Southern team, this time Tennessee, came out to the Rose Bowl we were not intimidated at all.  We did not think of the national title before the game, it was not recognized, no group was authorized to do that. I was not playing to win that, just to win the game. The Associated Press had started up a poll in 1936, and there were a number of systems, the most recognized and respected being one devised by a Professor Dickinson based on strength of schedule, performance, it took into consideration the bowl games, and it was the most legit, but as I say there was not the hype for this then as today, so our main concern was to win the game for the prestige of the University, the conference, the Pacific Coast.

       Coach Bob Neyland's Tennessee Volunteers were a fine team but frankly we had a superior team, both in terms of our ability and our coaching. I felt I was the best quarterback on that team for field generalship so I don't think we would have done as well without me, and I had earned the playing time I got in that game.

       I threw a touchdown pass to Kreuger, and as I say in those days passing was not number one in SC's method of advancing the ball, especially when I was in the game, but Doyle was the inspiration for the idea of passing the football. Maybe not so much because of what Braven Dyer wrote, but he liked Doyle. Rather, Jones saw the way the game was changing and started opening things up.

       The offense we designed meant that every pass was from the threat of a run, so you faked to run, drop one or two steps, then threw a pass something under 10 yards. I was primarily a runner and only threw about two passes in that game. What I'm trying to say is we depended on running more and had to make it all look like I was running to help the passes.

       I remember we had the ball on their two. I went back to the huddle and I said to myself, "Here we are in the Rose Bowl," and I said, "Give 'em something to think about," and I faked two or three steps and arched a perfect, beautiful pass, and Al was not looking, and he just turned around and it was there. We only needed two yards and it was perfect.

       Jones possessed tremendous ingenuity, but it was his application of the defense that made him great. He understood the game of football and understood defense, and his players were always strong on defense. He recruited good players who were strong on defense.

       I felt we were better physically than our opponents. We had a first team and a second team. In the days of both-sides-of-the-ball football, you used to go with two teams, and out second team was as strong as our first. The second team with Joe Shell as our captain, they did most of the scoring and Shell was really proud of that, made a big point of it.

        Jones had adjusted to what he had because he had great players on that '39 team and they produced for him and they knew that. He never got beat badly. We never lost 40-0. Heck, that's just SC football over the years. Even in the rare times they're down the Trojans never lose 40-0. They lost like that to Notre Dame one year and it was such a rarity they talk about to this day like it's a freak thing, which it was.

       What It Mean to Be a Trojan? I was happy I was able to go to USC and be successful in football. I had been well coached and could do what was required of me and was so happy that other players were equally as well skilled in football, on offense and on defense. I was very fortunate and we could play with anybody. I figured we were as good as anybody we played and we loved competition. We weren't afraid of Notre Dame or any teams.

        We skipped over before this question, what USC meant, and behind my mentality on that would be that we were a big university that wanted me to play football, to represent them. We had wonderful scholars there and I had great teammates. We were recognized as a champion and I was thrilled to death to play because of that, it was the best place I could possibly go to further my desire to be educated and get great coaching.

        There is a sense of tradition there, it was strong then and it's been maintained, and that's a big part of What It Means to Be a Trojan, because a young fella like yourself can come talk to me about it and we have this common understanding of the place, of what it does mean. Historically USC never lost site of fact they are USC, and they represent the great collegiate world of education and football, and are a vital part of the collegiate experience for undergraduates, as it should be. It was a perfect place to do the collegiate education and we had great coaches to help us out.

        USC was a place where all kinds of people come together. Patricia Nixon, the First Lady, was at USC when I was there. She was not yet married to Richard Nixon, they both lived in Whittier and Richard Nixon had a car, which was a little unusual in those days, but he had one because his father owned a grocery store and he needed it to drive to the Farmer's Market in L.A. to buy groceries for that store. He would drive Pat Nixon on dates with other guys, like a limo service, and they'd go to the Coliseum to watch football games together.

        USC drew good athletes. It was great to be part of that machine. The Olympic team in those days was like our track and swim team wearing red, white and blue instead of cardinal and gold. In our leisure time, if you had money you could do what you liked and really enjoy being a USC person, but it took money to be able to socially enjoy the social scene, to join a frat. It took money to maintain a wardrobe. You had to be a guy people wanted to associate with in order to be invited as a pledge.

        But as an athlete we were considered part of that in crowd. John Wayne had played there and even though he didn't come from money he was invited to pledge a fraternity because he had a persona others wanted to have around, but he injured himself body surfing down in Newport Beach and when he fell out of the first string he lost his scholarship. His fraternity brothers loaned him money but the debts got too big after a while so he left school and went over to Fox Studios and got into the movies, but he always maintained loyalty to USC. That's What It Means to Be a Trojan.

 

Ambrose Schindler was the star of USC's 14-0 victory over unbeaten, untied, unscored-on Tennessee in the 1940 Rose Bowl. His pass to "Antelope Al" Kreuger secured victory and gave Coach Howard Jones his fourth national championship. He is a member of the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame.

 

The

FORTIES

 

BILL GRAY

Center

1943

 

It's getting harder to get around. I had to give up tennis when I twisted my back, I'm slowing down.

       I was one of those guys who came in to the University of Southern California through a military program. I was with the Marines and USC had a contingent of Marines. We were sent down there to Southern California, to Los Angeles, from Oregon, and I was allowed to go out for football.

       The Pacific Coast Conference at that time was short because some of the schools didn't have enough guys to field football teams. Only schools that had a military contingent, Navy or Army Air Corps, or whatever, could play. I was in the Marine Reserves and played for Jeff Cravath, who was a fantastic coach and a great guy.

       We got to play in the Rose Bowl. They weren't sure about the Rose Bowl because of wartime conditions. At the start of the war it was kind of tough, but towards the end of the war we kind of took over until the Japanese were not a problem any longer. We were no longer concerned about any military action by them.

       I had previously played at Benson Tech and under Coach Lon Stiner at Oregon State. I was on the Oregon State team that beat Duke in the Rose Bowl in January of 1942. The game was switched from the Rose Bowl to Durham, North Carolina because of Pearl Harbor. I was not allowed to play in that game because I was a freshman.

       Everyone at that time in college joined the military reserves, or they had to wait for the draft. Some of the guys were drafted and that wasn't so great, because you had no choice what you would do, so we joined the Marine Reserves. I wasn't called up right away because all the services had a great influx of these college kids, because of the draft. If you waited too long you got drafted.

        I got into a great program and sent to Quantico, Virginia. So that's how I got into the Marine Corps. I was at Quantico and the football season was gonna roll around the next year. The Marines wanted to do everything. The Navy had all kinds of horsepower, but the Marines just had a few guys, but a lot of us played football. We didn't play a lot of games but we played the Navy, we played the Army.

       They had service teams throughout the world. It was big for morale and for the entertainment of servicemembers. We beat Japan and Germany on two war fronts while playing sports - football, Major League baseball - and they had to look at that and wonder how we did that. Here's these two countries putting every available resource into beating us in a war, and they're getting beat, both of 'em, by a country that still finds the time for sporting activity. Only in America!

       It was kind of an off-hand thing, in fact. They took Marines who were seniors first, but I was a sophomore so I got to stay around and play for USC in 1943. A lot of the colleges at that time had V-12 programs. USC had one and I was transferred to them. It was a special situation. We had barracks and took over the girl's dorms. Girls were not around. It was like we were just sitting around and they decided to have football. It was almost intramural, but there were enough big teams and the East Coast was loaded with ballplayers. To get back to how strong the U.S. was, here we were defeating Nazi Germany and imperial Japan while our service academies held back their football players and won national championships. What a morale boost for America, and you have to think the German and Japanese High Commands looked at that and just thought, "We can't beat these people," which they couldn't.

       So anyway, we had baseball and recreation, and of course it was interesting. We had a guy like "Crazy Legs" Hirsch playing on military teams, and a lot of people came out to see him.

       The T-formation was just coming in, and I played with Sammy Baugh from TCU. I never saw a guy throw a football like Sammy Baugh. I never played in the T. In our offense we had played the single wing. Clark Shaughnessy at Stanford brought the T to the Pacific Coast Conference, and it took a long time to get in because people couldn't figure out how to handle that.

       Sportswriters were writing about it, and a lot of teams were just starting it out, but nobody knew about it and how to run it with perfection. It gets kids to do the thinking and it's a big change from the single wing to the T-formation, and this was right at the beginning of the war. The T was not that sophisticated but it had just started.

       I'd never scouted one until the seventh game of season. We won every game by shutout, then we went to San Diego and the Navy team beat us, 10-7. That’s interesting, they had college and pros in there. They had no eligibility problems. If you wore a uniform you got there.

       We had pros and college kids from the Big 10. Those guys were a mixture and it was very, very special because it was football season and it was entertainment for service people. It was special, the best thing about it was we got special treatment.

       We beat Washington, 29-0 in the 1944 Rose Bowl. They didn't want to bring a team out from the East, so they selected Washington, who'd won the Northern Division of the PCC. They played the northern schools. It wasn't the PCC like now. It was a wartime arrangement. We drew 68,000 at the Rose Bowl and they were very careful, there was a lot of security

       They were worried about a terrorist operation like later with 9/11. They wanted to do it, but they wanted to be very careful so we had Navy, Army Air and Air Corps personnel protecting the Rose Bowl. Southern California was a popular place for service schools and a lot of guys fell in love with the area during the war.

       I was assigned before the war to the 1st Division, 5th Marines, and they were moving into China, in Peking. We were aligned with Chiang Kai-Shek, who was fighting the occupying Japanese while Mao Tse-Tung was in the hills waiting for the right time to try and take over. We beat the Japanese and Mao took over later, but I never got into action, I was younger so by the time I got into it most of the heavy fighting was over. I was a lieutenant and had a platoon, but by the time I got in there they'd moved back and it was settled down. I missed most of the Marine action on the islands because I was so young. I had been in a replacement battalion at Quantico. If I'd been older I'd have seen some real fighting. If they'd have casualties they'd move us up.

       I was happy when the war was over. I was in the Hawaiian islands when the war was over and then went to Japan to repatriate the Japanese, to get everyone back to where they belonged. The Marines did that.

       California in those days, when I got to USC, right after the war, why it was like Shangri-La. That’s why California got a lot of people from Oregon, where it rains half the year, so guys would see California and nobody could believe L.A. The sun was always shining and it was something else. USC is in the middle of the city. I couldn't believe it, it was a beautiful school. Jeff Cravath was a famed player and outstanding coach. He was great.

       What it Means to Be a Trojan? I think that was a great experience to be down there with those guys, on the field. We had great guys. It was rugged out there, Cravath was the toughest guy ever. He was the toughest pound for pound I ever saw or played for. We also had an assistant coach named Hubert Herd. I really liked that guy

       It was better to play for a tough guy like Jeff Cravath than sweating it out against the Japanese in the middle of the Pacific. It all depended on how old you were, whether you were over there seeing action. Several guys ahead of me were killed. We were right behind them, I was a second lieutenant. There were all kinds of jokes about second lieutenants. We were expendable is all I can say. I was ready to go because we were trained, but I never got into the heavy combat. I was with a replacement battalion in China.

       We were "China Marines," and that was a very special thing. That was Jimmy Doolittle and Pappy Boyington. I loved the Marine Corps. I was in Peking, China. Now it's called Beijing. What was interesting is we were cleaning out the Japanese and sending them back to Japan, and we had to make sure they got on their way safely. The duty of that fighting outfit, the 1st Division, was the very foundation of what later became a famed outfit, from way back to modern days.

       Ralph Heywood was an All-American. After the war I played for the Redskins. I'd been a center but later I was a linebacker with the Redskins.

 

Bill Gray was one of Jeff Cravath's "Marine Trojans," who attended USC because the military sent him there for training. He was an All-Pacific Coast Conference center for the team that beat Washington in the 1944 Rose Bowl and later played for the Redskins.

 

JIM HARDY

Quarterback

1942 - 1944

 

My brother Don also played at USC, in 1943 and 1944, then after the war in 1946. He was an All-Coast end. We came out of Fairfax High School. Los Angeles prep football was outstanding then, far better than it is today. Football in the CIF-Southern Section is superior to the L.A. City Section, but at that time it was outstanding. A lot of guys from city schools went on to play at USC or other Division I schools.

Life in L.A. was much different. L.A. at that time was what I like to call a "little pueblo." It didn't have the congestion, crime and dirty, unkempt streets that there are today. The atmosphere was much clearer. I can remember walking to school in the morning and I could see the Hollywood sign in the Hollywood hills. The hills were not covered with homes like today. I'd go hiking up there. We'd race cars up the streets; wagon cars, not automobiles. It was much smaller in population, plus it was warmer and friendlier than it is today.

The movie industry influence has always been a big part of USC. The two "major league" items in L.A. were movies and the Trojans. At that time there were no Dodgers, Angels, Lakers, Kings, or Rams. UCLA had not yet "arrived." The only "major league" attraction in sports was the Trojans, and we played a great schedule. I can remember listening to the USC-Notre Dame game on radio, and they were winning national titles, USC was dominant under Howard Jones. Those were the glory days of The Thundering Herd.

I wanted to go to USC from the time I was eight years old. As a kid I rooted for them. If the Trojans lost I was in tears. I remember kneeling down at night to say my prayers, saying "Please make me a USC football player."

I also played baseball played for Rod Dedeaux. He had outstanding teams. The last year I played I was the only guy on the team not to play professional baseball. Five guys went to the big leagues, but football was my passion. I had baseball ability and Rod said if I had committed to baseball as I did to football, I'd have played in the big leagues for 10 years, but all through high school and college I was always the first to arrive and the last to leave football practice. I didn't do that to impress anybody, but I didn't have the same passion for baseball, which you have to have.

I was the batboy for the Hollywood Stars for years. They played at Gilmore Field where the Farmer's Market was. They'd have midget auto races, and motorcycle races over there. Loyola played football there. It's where the CBS TV studios are now. The football stadium was next door to the baseball field. There was the Pan Pacific Auditorium. Before they built Gilmore Stadium, other than the Farmer's Market at Third and Fairfax, there was a semi-pro baseball field. The Paramount and Twentieth Century Fox semi-pro baseball teams played there on weekends during the Great Depression. On game days, the farmers would park their trucks and sell produce right out of their trucks. In 1934 or '35, Mr. Gilmore set up the field with chicken wire and two-by-four bleachers. He owned the property; the family still owns the red adobe hacienda in the back. In the back of it was an oil field and he told the farmers that if they'd rent space, he'd turn the stand into fruit stands. They accepted and that's and that's how the Framer's Market grew. Nothing else was around it. There was no park yet, no stadium or the Pan Pacific. There was just the La Brea Tar Pits and open fields. When they built UCLA out in Westwood, people said nobody'd go to school way out there. There was nothing between Western and the beaches houses in Santa Monica.

Sam Barry gave me my scholarship to USC. He was the head basketball and baseball coach, and Howard Jones's number one assistant football coach. My last year of high school I broke my leg three days prior to the opening game. I didn't play any games all season, and my hopes of a scholarship were nil. But I was determined. I knew I could play and was determined to play as a walk-on at SC, so I paid own tuition and books. I beat out all the others and played on the freshman team. We couldn't play varsity ball, but I beat out all the scholarship guys who were all-city and at the end of the year there were three or four varsity games to play. They said to the freshmen, "Your season's over, forget football until next spring, unless you want to play on the scout squad." So I did.

We played a single-wing, not the T-formation. I played tailback on the scout squad and was whoever the opponent's star player was in the upcoming game, and I did real well, night after night. The season ended and the semester ended, and I ran out of money.

I worked during the summer session to pay my tuition. Every month I made an installment on tuition, but at the end of the semester when it was time register, I had determined to go to junior college, at Los Angeles City College, because I had no more money. I came home one afternoon and my mom said Coach Barry was on the phone.

Howard Jones had died the summer before my freshman year. They didn't have time to go out and search for a coach, they so appointed Barry as head coach in 1941. He'd been my coach when we scrimmaged the varsity. I couldn't believe he was calling me. He asked, "How come you didn't register?" and I said, "I ran out of money," and he says, "Get down here tomorrow. You’ve got a scholarship." It was the biggest thrill in my life. I guess I would have gotten one had I been healthy my senior year of high school, but I can't say for sure. But I knew in my mind, I had confidence that I could play football. I had no trepidations.

Barry coached the team in 1941. Our star was Bob Robertson, a great player. He was a senior at that time. The war started in December of 1941. He gave me a scholarship around the first part of January. Then, about two months later, he got called in the Navy, and in March before spring practice, we hired Jeff Cravath. He'd been at USF but had played at USC and been at assistant under Jones. Now, after I thought I'd impressed the coaches, I had to start all over again.

Cravath came in before spring practice in 1942. He had tremendous material. We had a lot of transfers during the war. Oregon dropped football. Washington State and Stanford dropped football. Their guys would come to USC, Cal, UCLA or Washington, and we had a lot of good material. It was not difficult to win at that time, but in Jeff's first year we had a mediocre season in 1942. I can't recall, I think we were 5-5-1. We had good material but did not have an outstanding season.

The next year we went to the T-formation, but he didn’t know how to run the T. We'd run the single wing, we'd line up in a T then run out of a single wing. Contrast that with Frank Leahy at Notre Dame. When he switched to the T, he had Chicago Bears quarterback Sid Luckman and the creator of the formation at Stanford, Clark Shaughnessy, who had been hired by Chicago, come to Notre Dame for spring practice and teach them how to install the T-formation.

We didn't do that. We retained the same coaches. Years later, when I was in the pros, Les Casanova wanted to change from the single-wing to the T, and he asked the Rams to install the T at Santa Clara. I went up there and met Cas, and introduced myself. He says, "There's a blackboard and chalk," and I drew up the whole offense in spring practice. By then I'd had great coaching and schooling in the T-formation. I'd not had that at SC. I had on-the-job training, one season anyway.

We had officer candidates come in. Bill Gray came in from the Marines. We had transfers from Oregon State to USC. Eddie Saenz, who later played for the Redskins, came from Loyola. All the transfers from Santa Clara, Fresno State, both Oregon schools; they came in under the Naval and Marine programs. It was not really a problem. Some resented not playing more, but they all became Trojans. Some didn't cotton to Cravath, but they became Trojans and certainly played like it. Nobody asked for anything.

The track star Lou Zamperini was a fabulous guy I've known since back then. He's an eccentric. I saw him a couple weeks ago. Even today with Pete Carroll I go to practice one day a week. I drive up there and I knew all the coaches; Don Clark, John McKay, all that group. A lot of players I knew. I know Pete but don't know the other coaches or the players. I'm a Trojan and try to contribute moral support at spring practice and in the fall, and Lou is up there frequently. Pete encourages the old guys to come to practice. It's no secret day, no one watches to keep you out. If you're a Trojan you get into practice. I see Zamperini once in a while and I've known him over the years. His story is legendary, it's a miracle that he's alive because of what happened to him during World War II, when he was a fighter pilot who was shot down in the South Pacific and had to survive for a long time until he was rescued. He's a smallish kind of guy with a slim build, as a miler would, but maybe that's how he survived the hardship. I don't know what he doesn’t do. He skis, he surfs.

He got out of school before I started, but his exploits were legendary before that because he shimmied up a pole to take down the Nazi flag at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, That's a famous story about Zamperini.

We played Notre Dame my first two years with Sam and Jeff (1941, 1942). They  beat us in South Bend, 20-18 in '41. They had a national championship team in 1943. My senior year, 1944, we finished seventh in the AP poll. Stanford with Frankie Albert had won the 1940 national championship. They were coached by Clark Shaughnessy and beat Nebraska in the Rose Bowl. Speaking of the Rose Bowl, I've seen every Rose Bowl since 1930 except for January 1, 1942, when Oregon State beat Duke in Durham, North Carolina. That game was moved from Pasadena for security reasons after Pearl Harbor. That's the only game I've missed since 1930. I saw Aaron Rosenberg, Grenny Lansdell; these were all my heroes growing up.

UCLA really started to come on in the late 1930s. In 1939 and '40 they featured the likes of Kenny Washington and Jackie Robinson, some pretty good players, but they couldn't beat SC. They tied SC 0-0 in 1939, the year we beat Tennessee in the Rose Bowl for the national championship. Then in 1941, my freshman year, they tied the Trojans, 7-7. In my sophomore year of 1942, they beat USC for the first time and played Georgia with Frank Sinkwich and Charlie Trippi in the Rose Bowl. Georgia won but they had arrived at that time. The next year with the war on, we played UCLA twice and won both times. In the opening game of the 1943 season we beat them, 20-0 and in the last game of the season again, 26-13.

In 1944 they had a helluva good team with Bob Waterfield, Jack Myers and Jerry Shipkey. The rivalry was intense between good teams. We had them beaten in the opening game, leading 13-6 with about 35 or 40 seconds left to play, but I mis-read the clock. It was fourth down deep in our own territory. I thought there was a minute, 30 seconds left. I punt beyond our coverage and Johnny Roesch, a great halfback, ran it back 80 yards for a touchdown to make it 13-13. Waterfield kicked the extra point. It hit the cross-bar and dribbled over for a tie, 13-13. I was the goat.

The last game of the 1944 season was for the Rose Bowl, All-Coast, all "Queen of the Mary" stuff. There was a lot of pressure, but we had  'em 40-0 at the end of the third quarter, and Cravath took out the starters. UCLA made it 40-13. We played Tennessee in the Rose Bowl and beat them, 25-0, to finish the season unbeaten.

From that last team, most of the guys are dead. John Ferraro, Jim Callanan, my brother, my center; all the guys are dead. Only a couple are left.

Don Doll, who used to be named Burnside, played in the NFL. Gordon Gray was a great player who started as an end. We had no wideouts in those days. In the 1944 Rose Bowl he caught two touchdown passes as an end in a 29-0 win over Washington. I had a touchdown in the 1945 Rose Bowl win over Tennessee, 25-0. That's USC 54, opponents 0 in the 1944 and 1945 Rose Bowls!

Gordon weighed 190 pounds and could run like a deer. He was a gifted athlete. The next year I moved to halfback and I started both ways. We were outstanding on offense and defense in 1944. I led the nation in intercepted passes as a safety with nine. On fourth downs I'd return punts. I was mediocre at that. Braven Dyer, a sportswriter with the Los Angeles Times, wrote an open letter to the coach saying we should use Gray, that "Hardy's standing around, use Gray." My nose was out of joint, but we played Washington in the first night game ever at the Coliseum. Gordon brought it back 70 yards. He was absolutely one of the all-time most unsung players we ever had

Ralph Heywood was out captain and an All-American. He died. Other guys across the line all passed away. Bill Gray, who lives in Oregon, is still alive.

Pete Carroll is unreal. He knows Xs and Os, but he inspires you by walking into your living room and saying, "I want junior to play for me." Parents hear him and they say to junior, "I want you to come to SC." Most coaches played favorites but he makes you earn it or lose it on the practice field. Nobody grouses or gripes, because the guy ahead of you is the better player. I tell Pete, "If you were around then I'd have loved to play for you."

 

Jim Hardy was an All-PCC back in 1944. He is a member of both the USC and Rose Bowl Halls of Fame. Drafted number one by the Washington Redskins, he went to the Los Angeles Rams, where he starred for them before playing for the Chicago Cardinals and Detroit Lions until 1952. His brother Don also played for the Trojans.

 

GORDON  GRAY

Right Halfback

1943-1944, 1946-1947

 

I came out of Poly High School in San Francisco. It's interesting how I ended up at USC; they hate SC in the Bay Area. The war was on and I was 17. I was gonna be 18 in a couple months and I had some advice, which was get into the officer training program, which was the V1 program for the Navy. I went to St. Mary's on a scholarship but I knew I'd be called in. I had room and board, books and spending money, and played basketball in the spring. In July the Navy called me up. They sent me to USC, where they had an officer's training program, and I played football.

       Jeff Cravath was a good defensive coach, but lousy on offense. If he liked you, you were golden, but if not you could do nothing right. In my first year I was an end, as I'd been in high school. My freshman year (1944) we went to the Rose Bowl. I made some fancy runs, catching passes, but I'd switch to halfback for my last couple years. I was all-PCC two times.

       Jim Hardy was there my first two years. All four years I was there, John Ferraro was there. He was an All-American tackle and later entered politics. He was on the Los Angeles City Council for 33 years, and was president of the city council 27 of those years. Paul Cleary was an All-American end for us. Don Clark was our captain and a fine guard. It's hard to recall many of the others.

       We played Notre Dame twice. In my junior year we scrimmaged during a stop we made on the way to South Bend. We'd be on the train. A guy was tackled and broke his jaw. We played in front of the biggest crowds - 102,000 for UCLA and Notre Dame; almost 105,000, the biggest crowd in the history of Coliseum, for the 1947 Notre Dame game.

       We played in the Rose Bowl three times. In 1944 vs. Washington, the war was on, so we split the Pacific Coast Conference into the Northern Division and the Southern Division. Washington was favored by four touchdowns. We beat them, 29-0. We beat Tennessee 25-0. In the 1948 Rose Bowl we played Michigan. They beat us, 49-0.  They were a great team, it was a toss between them and Notre Dame for the national championship. Michigan was the first team to have full platooning on both offense and defense. Fritz Crisler was the first to take advantage of the new rules. We played a lot of those Notre Dame and Michigan guys in Chicago for the College All-Star Game.

       I did not play in the Rose Bowl vs. Alabama after the 1945 season. I was on a destroyer. We had a weak team that year. USC had beaten highly touted Southern teams with big reputations, so they wanted to prove themselves.

       We knew a lot of those UCLA guys, more from high school and socially; we knew a lot of them but at game time you hated them and they hated you. We had to live with those guys if they beat SC. They'd lord it over you all year, you but we were the nice sweetheart guys if we beat them. They were obnoxious. The Notre Dame rivalry is entirely different. UCLA is a different kind of rivalry. Against Notre Dame we wanted to be the best in the country, and you know, so do they, so you go for it. Against UCLA it's more intense in a lot of ways, because we live in the same city and see them all the time.

       Sam Barry was an assistant football coach. He'd been the head baseball coach before going into the Navy, and Rod Dedeaux took over for him, but we was also the head basketball coach at a time when USC was one of the best basketball programs in the nation. The "triangle offense" was invented under Barry at USC, when Tex Winter was there, and he took it to Phil Jackson in Chicago and Los Angeles. He'd played before the war but was still around when I came back. Alex Hannum, a basketball Hall of Famer, played for Barry. Bill Sharman, another Hall of Famer, was a freshman when I was a senior. He was a great baseball player and was with the Brooklyn Dodgers when Bobby Thomson hit the "shot heard 'round the world" in 1951, but went to the Boston Celtics after that.

       I ran track for one year and lettered in basketball, but was not allowed to play on the varsity because they started in October, and our season was never over until January 1st. You couldn't come in that late and expect to play, but one year a team was formed for Cardinal and Gold. The Cardinal and Gold schedule was for us guys who'd played football and wanted to play basketball. We'd play in the preliminary to the varsity game.

       What It Means to Be a Trojan? SC has a tremendous network, a system for you to obtain your first job, and through that system, all my life it has helped me. My associations with the University, and through those I knew there and afterward, and having played there with some name recognition, it could not have been better

 

       Rod Dedeaux was a great Trojan. I have great memories of him. I was flattered, I was the only one whose name he remembered. He called everybody Tiger, but he remembered my name. I knew him in school and knew him in business. I was in the Rotary with him, and he was a helluva guy. He never used a cane, he used a baseball bat made into a cane. Rod was a great businessman, building the Dart trucking empire. He coached for a dollar a year.

       I sure remember all the cute girls on campus. I'm pretty close to the University and see nothing's changed in that regard. All through the years, I've been on different groups like the president's convocation, the community board of governor's, the alumni association, and I was the past president of the Half Century Trojans. I'm still active.

       When I was there it was all Bovard Field; there was no track, no baseball field, no Heritage Hall. The track guys had to dodge the baseball players when a game and a meet were both on.

       Pete Carroll impresses me. I met him in Mike Garrett's office. He shook my hand and he looked me in my eyes. He looks you right in the eye.

 

Gordon Gray was a four-year letterman, his career interrupted by one year in World War II. He was an All-Pacific Coast Conference back in 1944 who was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in 1947.

 

The

FIFTIES

 

FRANK GIFFORD

Halfback

1949 - 1951

 

Before Bakersfield I lived in Hermosa Beach. I lived at 913 5th Street in Hermosa. When the war broke out we went there and my dad worked in the Long Beach shipyards. Honestly, Hermosa Beach hasn't really changed all that much since then. It was a beach town then and now. After the war my family to went work in the Bakersfield oil fields.

Growing up in Bakersfield, in my senior year I was not qualified to get into Southern Cal academically. I never even thought about playing football at USC until my senior year. My coach at Bakersfield High School, Home Beatty, had played at USC. That was a big thing. No one in my family had ever gone to school, but he said it was possible.

I changed my course curriculum and he said if you have a good year, it's possible to go to USC. USC said to come on and check out the campus, that they'd changed their offense. I'd been used to the T where I was a quarterback, but as a junior I was in the single wing. I could run, throw and catch. I had a big year and we won the San Joaquin Valley championship, but I still didn't get in academically. Coach Beatty said I needed to go to Bakersfield Junior College to make up classes in language and a few other things. I had one semester and made junior college All-American. I was recruited by everybody in the country. I was astonished. Me and my family were oil workers. I lived with my sister and never thought of anybody else. In my second semester of my freshman year I transferred from Bakersfield J.C. to USC. Others were trying to land me but I was a Trojan.

Jeff Cravath was my coach. Some people said the game went by him, but my relationship with him was not about football. I met he and his wife, and our relationship was about personal things that involved other aspects of my life, financial things. My dad was not terribly successful in the oil business, it was not booming like it is today. His was a very personal relationship.

In the UCLA game in 1950, he had me playing defense. As a sophomore and in my junior year we had bad years and there were rumors that he'd be fired. UCLA was stomping us and he came up to me and pointed out all these seagulls on a foggy day at the Coliseum.

"The buzzards are circling me, Frank," he says. We both laughed. He knew he was gone. He put his arm around me. We lost to Notre Dame but almost pulled it off. He was from the Howard Jones days of the 1930s. For many reasons I shouldn't have liked him because he played me on defense. I made All-Coast on defense and he helped me a lot. A year later the Giants drafted me for both offense and defense.

Jess Hill came in. I think he'd run track in the 1936 Olympics. He was much different and quite accomplished. Hill had run track and played football at USC. He played baseball for the New York Yankees. He was the track coach after Dean Cromwell, and later he was the athletic director during a time in which USC athletics was probably more dominant than any school ever was. He wore a suit and a hat. He was reserved, dignified, and quite religious, a John Wooden type.

He knew he had to do something different. He didn't do that much coaching. He made sure we were in great shape and really made us run. That helped me a great deal. Later on I ran a lot for the Giants, but I'd not done that much, but we did a lot of sprints. I liked Jess. He was not really that much of a football coach, he'd coached track and he was more of an administrator.  He delegated authority to his assistants. I was never the fastest guy around, but he helped me a lot through his track techniques.

In 1951 we were 4-0 and ranked number 11. California was unbeaten and ranked number one. Pappy Waldorf's team had not lost a regular season game in years and had been to three straight Rose Bowls. They'd been a big-time power and were really back.

The interesting thing about that game was I had a high school teammate from Bakersfield named Bob Karpe. He went to California and was an All-American tackle. He was on an academic and football scholarship up there. He'd been on the freshman football team at Cal when I was at Bakersfield J.C. He tried to get me there. Pappy Waldorf wanted me, so that was the backdrop of that game. They were number one in the nation, Karpe was my best friend and co-captain with Johnny Olszewski. They were loaded. They had Les Richter, one of the best guards ever. We were unbeaten going in but nobody dreamt we could do anything against California.

The legend has it that we trailed 14-0 at the half and I "fired up" the team with locker room antics. I was not that kind of football player but I got animated and ran around the room telling people, "We can win this game!" People made more out of it than it was. I just said we could do it and others felt the same thing. We'd had a couple fumbles in the first half down and were down 14-0, but by the second half we started kicking their butt. On the first play from scrimmage I ran 69 yards for a touchdown. I threw and caught for touchdowns and we won, 21-14.

Midwestern teams dominated in the early 1950s, but just like everything else in the country at that time, travel and communications caused a mass population shift from coast to coast. On the West Coast we'd get athletes who play sports all year round. If you live in Illinois or Michigan, six or seven months of the year you're stuck in the house or in a gym. The most dominant athletes in every sport come from California.

I've had a great career and a great life, but I go back to my experience at the University of Southern California and it all started there. I'm a Trojan for life, and now my son, Cody is at USC. Fight On!

 

When Marilyn Monroe returned from Korea, she told husband Joe DiMaggio, "Joe, Joe, you never heard such cheering," to which Joe D. coldly replied, "Yes, I have." In the pantheon of ultimate celebrity, other than a few Presidents, war heroes and astronauts, no actor or rock star outshines that greatest of all American heroes: the New York Sports Icon. They include Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and a few others, including two Trojans: Tom Seaver and Frank Gifford. The Giffer was an All-American in 1951, a first round draft choice of the New York Giants, an All-Pro, a member of both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame, and a famous sportscaster who for years teamed with Howard Cosell and "Dandy Don" Meredith on ABC's MondayNight Football.

 

AL "HOAGY" CARMICHAEL

Right Halfback

1950 - 1952

 

I arrived at USC in January of 1950 from Santa Ana Junior College, where I had played in 1949. I was at USC in 1950, 1951 and 1952. Prior to that I played at a small school, Gardena High.

There were no freeways when I was there. I got out of high school and entered the Marine Corps in 1946. I spent three years at the El Toro Marine base and went out for football. In 1946 I was in training camp, in boot camp. I missed playing football for a year, but once in the corps I decided to play, and played for the Marine team that won a championship. So the local junior college scrimmaged us, and the coach asked me to go to school there after I got out of the Marine Corps. I played one semester and USC came along. I had not made plans, but one thing came after another, everything fell into place - the guy upstairs led me on - and I was a Trojan!

Jeff Cravath was my coach in my first year. He reminded me of the Wallace Beery character from the movies. He had some of the same motions, his personality reminded me of Beery on screen. He was not a theatrical guy, it was not that so much, but his looks and stature, the way he carried himself, was like Beery. He was not a comical guy, he was pretty tough.

I got to play a lot and started most of the games unless I had an injury, but he had the T-formation, which I liked, but the problem was that he was a little antiquated. He was something of a "dinosaur" when it came to teams changing offenses. He insisted on us wearing out-of-date equipment. He refused to let us wear low-cut shoes or newer equipment. Low-cut shoes were coming in, but he wouldn't allow any of that. We had to wear high-tops. He didn't want to "go with the crowd." Teams had plastic helmets and he stuck with the old leather helmets.

He would get carried away in practice. We'd turn on the lights on and we'd practice late into the night. We left too much on the practice field. My big complaint was that we left most of the game plan in practice, but we were listless in the games. He was pretty restrictive with water and whatnot. We could drink water at the beginning of practice and at the end.

Frank Gifford was my teammate. Frank had different abilities and played different positions. Frank should have been the halfback on offense but Cravath had him on defense. He won honors as an All-PCC defensive back, but then they let Jeff go. After that, the last two games were under an assistant, and in 1951 we hired Jess Hill and he went to the single-wing. He knew more than Cravath, who had used the T-formation. Hill had played single wing under Howard Jones. Giff moved to USC from Bakersfield. He'd been an All-American at Bakersfield Junior College. He was perfect for the position; a good runner who could throw, an excellent player, smart.

The young Frank Gifford was very sociable and well liked. We all got along with him nobody said anything bad about him. He blended in with the crowd and was real happy-go-lucky. He had no "dark side." One interesting story he told. Frank came from an oil family in Bakersfield. Once he volunteered to make care packages for welfare families, which they would put in front of the homes of the downtrodden, and one morning they had there own care packages.

Later on a lot of us worked on the movie studios in the summers. Frank was good-looking and smart. He got bit parts acting, and back at Bakersfield he had a five- or 10-minute radio show, and he sort of prepared himself for the future. In New York he got exposure in commercials. When he played for the Giants, they at first put him at defensive back, but he argued that he should be moved to offense, and when he was he made All-Pro.

But he played mostly on defense in my first year at USC, 1950. It was in my junior year, which was his senior year (1951) when he got his real opportunity to play tailback at USC. Gifford surprised a lot of people. He had hidden abilities. Cravath would move a guy around for the wrong position. He didn't read individual traits like Jess Hill did. He did put the right people in place.

Hill was a real gentleman, the complete opposite of Cravath. He wore double-breasted suits with a hat, and was a mentor to his assistant coaches, like Don Clark and Joe Muha. Mel Hein was our centers coach. Hill had good assistants and let them do their thing. He orchestrated the whole thing, he was good at putting a team and staff together.

The 1952 team beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, 7-0. They had Alan Ameche. He was an All-Big 10 Conference guy and their big gun. They had a good defensive team and people had them figured to beat us bad. The odds were that we'd put up a good game but not win, but our defense was one of the best in Pacific Coast Conference history, one of the best ever at USC other than the 1932 team. Spread out we had given up something like five or six points per game on average. Nobody scored against us on defense. That was the power of that team. We got in that game and held 'em defensively. We kept it in at mid-field most of the game. It was mostly a defensive struggle.

I had an average game in the Rose Bowl. I caught a few passes. Jim Sears, God bless his heart, and Aramis Dandoy, had fine games. Rudy Bukich started throwing the ball and did a good job. He threw a 22-yard pass to me and I caught it for a touchdown. Rudy was the Most Valuable Player of that game.

Big 10 teams would be very conservative against USC. They really looked forward to that game. Ohio State would have USC players names in their locker room. The approach to USC was different than other Pacific Coast teams, it was a different game plan than against a more freewheeling Pacific Coast team such as Stanford or UCLA. That's why you see a lot of low-scoring defensive struggles when the Trojans are the Rose Bowl representative, like some of those games with Michigan and Bo Schembechler. A similar game was the 1970 Rose Bowl, where Jimmy Jones broke up a low-scoring duel with a long touchdown pass to Bobby Chandler, not unlike Rudy catching me in the end zone for the only score 

The legacy of USC over the years has always been of a great football school. The teams were great in the 1920s and '30s and so forth, and we have that heritage which they carry on, and we try what we can to keep that spirit going when we represent the University of Southern California and the West Coast. I feel like we have to carry the banner wherever we go, to make a good showing and continue to be winners, with that reputation to point to. It was like that when I was there. We felt we had to build on what was before us, and now teams feel that need to carry on the traditions my teams established. I'm very proud to be part of this legacy.

We had some very strong conference rivals. UCLA was a dog 'n' cat fight. In 1951 at Berkeley, they had won a string of games, something like 28 regular season wins in row under Pappy Waldorf. California was ranked number one in the nation, and since the war ended they had established themselves as the conference powerhouse. Nobody now thought we had a chance on their home ground, and they had us at down at the half, 14-0 maybe. Frank got so fired up at the half, and in second half he was yelling and he got us up and we scored 21 straight to win, 21-14.

This re-established us as the power in the Pacific Coast Conference. They had taken away the banner from us as the national team from the West Coast. I remember Johnny Olszewski, their star halfback. We had a guy named Pat Cannamela, a linebacker. He's no longer with us, he went to the big football field upstairs years ago, and he tackled him. John later admitted he was taped from his hip to his ankle because he had a bad knee, and Pat gave him a little extra aside. The crowd went crazy, they thought he tore his leg up, but it was a clean hit.

Les Richter was an outstanding guard-linebacker for Cal who I played against. We had a pretty good season, we won our first seven games, but lost the last three. Stanford's Bob Mathias ran a kick back in the last few minutes at the Coliseum and knocked us down 27-20. UCLA beat us, and then we lost to Notre Dame; all tight scores.

Frank was outstanding. In 1951, we played Army at Yankee Stadium in New York, and he had a great game, but it was played in a mud storm, it was a terrible day and the stadium was empty except for 200 cadets at the 50-yard line. The game was shown on national television and was expected to be a huge event like the Notre Dame-Army games had been. I don't how the cameras avoided showing how small the crowd was. It rained hard and was so muddy they had to stop and start the game, but we won, 28-6 in the cold.

Later, my 1952 team that beat Wisconsin to finish 10-1 had 15 players go in the 1953 NFL Draft, which is the most players ever in a single draft. I went in the first round drafted and played for Green Bay.

            Recently, I wrote a book of my own. It's a tabletop book called 106 Yards with a lot of pictures about my days in school, the Marines, junior college and the NFL.

 

Al Carmichael played halfback for three years after a stint in the Marines. A first round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers, he was a member of USC's 1953 all-time-most class of 15 players drafted by the NFL. He played for the Packers and Denver from 1953 to 1961. To learn more about his book go to www.106yards.com.

 

TOM NICKOLOFF

Right End

1951 - 1953

 

I came out of Los Angeles High School. They used that school in the TV show Room 222 after I left. Jeff Cravath recruited me but he didn't last. He got canned my freshman year. Jess Hill took over in 1951. Frank Gifford was an also-ran because of injuries. He didn't play a heckuva lot, but when Jess came in they had Red Sanders across the road at UCLA. They thought the single-wing would take over the world, and we adopted it and Frank became a superstar.

We played Cal in 1951, and at that time Cal had something like 25 or 26 consecutive wins in conference, maybe more, but they'd lost every year they went to the Rose Bowl. So we went to Berkeley in 1951. They were ranked number one, and it was 14-0 Cal at the end of the first half, and Frank had an outstanding day and we beat Cal, and won the game. To make a long story short, Frank was an absolute superstar and played in the NFL 10 years after he was a high draft choice.

I was an end. I was All-PCC. I never knew Cravath, I was a freshman. He was a very tough individual, so to speak, and I don’t know, but to make a long story short he was discharged. He lived two blocks from me in L.A., but I moved into school as a freshman so I didn't see Cravath, but he lived near my folks. I joined a fraternity and lived on campus, so I just came home to wash clothes on weekends.

Hill was my coach. He was a very great athlete in his own right. I mean, he was just a super baseball player and a track star, maybe an Olympian? And he relied on assistant coaches a great deal, and we had some really good assistant coaches. He was more of an administrator, in my opinion, and he called the number signs and what have you, but he relied on his assistant coaches.

As for my teammate Marv Goux, I can't say enough about "Marvelous Marv." As you probably know, following the 1952 season we went to the Rose Bowl and played Alan "the Horse" Ameche and Wisconsin, and even though I was primarily an offensive end, when they got down to the goal line, I was good size - 6-3, 220 - and they had a guy who was 5-9, 160 and they put me in at defensive end. I'll never forget this play as long as I live. They went into a field goal formation and I told Marv I was going for the block, but Marv tackled the runner after getting past the block. He played an outstanding game. He was not much for size but he could sure play. He was very special. I did have the pleasure of catching seven passes in the Rose Bowl, but there was nothing better than what Marv did. Al Carmichael caught the only touchdown in that game. He was a great running back but it was a single-wing, and candidly in the single-wing he didn’t have a chance to shine, but he was the number one pick of the Packers and had a great football career.

The UCLA rivalry was very intense, it was very high. I grew up near Wilshire and La Brea. I lived in that area and went to L.A. High and knew more UCLA freshmen than I knew at USC. A couple went to Cal or Army, but I knew their whole team. They had 29 players on their freshman team and we had 40 players. We played in all-star games in high school.

Red Sanders "walked on water." He did unbelievable things at UCLA and made good football players into great players. He had good players, but when they went to the single-wing they excelled. Paul Cameron was one player he made great. He made them all great. I came close to going there. I knew Ronnie Knox but not well. He was later. Cameron and Bill Stits were there big honchos.

We had a perfect season but lost to Notre Dame in 1952. We lost three years in a row vs. Notre Dame. The first year it was just a good game, but by far they had their best team in 1952. We should have been national champions. We were 9-0 going back to South Bend and our heads were up in the sky. The only detriment was that the field was frozen and we had just beaten UCLA and we were going to the Rose Bowl, and our heads were in the sky. I was off-sides twice in that game, the only times I was ever off-sides in 31 games and 300 minutes per year. We were thinking about something else and they beat us, 9-0. We blew it against them. We were far and away the best team, but we left our game at home.

I was highly drafted in the third round by the Rams. They had two ends at the time, Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch and another guy. But I had an auto accident that ended my football career.

I went to Southwestern Law School. I got married and had to go to night school, and practiced 45 years. I had a small firm and had 14 people working for me, mostly defense work. My clients were about a dozen insurance companies. I specialized in offers and compromise.

I moved to San Diego in 1965. I put on luncheons twice a year and saw teammates, and that was the extent of my activity. I'd go to occasional events but I didn't go to all the games. I followed the games but don't go a lot - one, two or three a year - or the Rose Bowl.

In my humble opinion Pete Carroll "walks on water." He's a truly great coach. Every year he gets half a dozen pro offers from everybody under the Sun, but I hope he stays where he is.

What it Means to Be a Trojan is that, coming out of high school I had 10 offers, but thank God I was directed to USC, and was fortunate to end there, and I never regretted that choice one little bit. I'm proud of the University and the people I remember and know up until this time. It's a wonderful tradition.

 

Tom Nickoloff starred in the 7-0 victory over Wisconsin in the 1953 Rose Bowl. The captain of the 1953 team, he was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams. Tom practiced law in Los Angeles and San Diego for decades.

 

SAM "THE TOE" TSAGALAKIS

Place-kicker

1952 - 1954

 

I graduated from Manual Arts High School near the University of Southern California campus. Jon Arnett was behind me at Manual Arts and my roommate at USC. I was a walk-on. It was during the Korean War and we'd either get drafted or try and go to school. My parents agreed to pay. I had to go to extension and get a C average, but I didn't get in as a kicker or anything.

I had friends who had scholarships and they talked to Joe Muha, who had been a punter with the Eagles, about getting me a scholarship. I had kicked in high school, but I was kicking with street shoes. Jim Bluett was my high school coach. He was the best coach in the state, and put out a lot of great athletes. Manual Arts and the other schools in the south-central L.A. area produced a lot of super players in baseball, football and track, and he was a great human being. But I was lucky they let me come out at USC. Frank Gifford was a senior and he could do everything. I started on the JVs, then the rest is history.

My claim to fame was a field goal I kicked with 14 seconds left to beat Stanford, 23-20 in 1953, in front of a huge throng at the Coliseum. That knocked Stanford out of the Rose Bowl and sent UCLA in. The game was tied, 20-20 when I went in. Bob Mathias was not on that Stanford team. He was there in 1951 and 1952, but they had their great quarterback Bob Garrett.

I never had a scholarship, even after I kicked that field goal. I was named the Helms Athletic Foundation Hall of Fame Athlete of the Month for November of 1953 in a ceremony at the Biltmore Hotel downtown. Sam Balter, a sports announcer, comes up to me and he says, "I understand you don't eat at the training table. Why not?"

I just turned to Jess Hill and said, "Ask him." The next day I was put on the training table, but I never had a scholarship. I never went to the hotel with the team on Friday nights. I'd just show up on Saturday. I wore my own sweatshirt, not the one issued by the team. I was on my own and people looked at me kind of like an outsider, but that was all right.

So I had no grant-in-aid. I went to Jess Hill and Don Clark and said I needed to have a scholarship. They just said they went to the players who took the hits. Clark said, "You're not gonna get a scholarship," but it's not a big deal. Years later Jess Hill said, "I apologize for not giving you a grant-in-aid," but I got my degree and it's not a big deal, about being walk-on. That was my team.

Sam Balter called me "the Toe" and they also called me "Sad Sam" because I always had my head down. Harley "Ace" Tinkham created the "Morning Briefing" for the L.A. Times. He gave me that name, "Sad Sam." Braven Dyer was a fine writer for the Times. I knew his son. He ran the Helms Hall trophies and stuff. Braven was a good guy and the paper was just great back then. Any time I kicked a field goal you'd think World War II was over; unbelievable headlines, front page, everything. I kept a scrapbook but don't know what happened to it. Not many kickers in those days won games like that. We beat Cal 10-0 in 1952. I kicked a field goal and the headlines read, "Trojans win on Sam's feet," or whatever. Or, "SC wins on Jim Sears' arm."

Jim Murray was a great guy. I went to see him all the time. I worked for Blue Diamond. I was down in Pismo Beach and he was there with his wife, and we spent some time together. He always remembered me. He was just a genuine guy and he'd go out of his way to do things for people. I probably met him later at USC. I'm the past president of the Trojan Club board and the football alumni group. I hosted a luncheon going back to 1984 every two years called "The Game is On." It was my idea. Craig Fertig and Tommy Hawkins, a Notre Dame guy, co-host and switch wearing each other's letterman sweaters. It's a USC-Notre Dame dinner held the night before the game when it's played in Los Angeles. Pat O'Brien would come and do Knute Rockne routines. Nick Pappas was a big alum who was part of that.

We've had every Heisman Trophy winner from the two schools. The only one who turns his back on us is Marcus Allen. His agent, Ed Hookstratten was in school with me and played baseball for Rod Dedeaux. Marcus's agent said he won't come. We sent a letter but had not heard back. Rodney Peete's there this year; he and Anthony Munoz. For Notre Dame hopefully we'll get Joe Montana now that his son plays football for Bill Redell at Oaks Christian now.

Ronald Reagan was at our events back in the 1950s. He was there my sophomore year when we had a kickoff at the Biltmore in downtown L.A. He was the guest speaker, and he was funny and great, and I remember thinking, "Goldarn, that guy should go into politics," and he did. He flipped the coin at the USC-Notre Dame game and said, "Let's win one for the flipper."

Passions run high when the two schools play each other. One of the biggest robberies of all time was when Todd Marinovich played at Notre Dame and they made a bad call, fake clip calls. Clips on us.

USC-Notre Dame is the greatest rivalry going. I've always liked Notre Dame. I had a chance to kick back there in the snow. It's cold. I've gone back there since 1979. I never miss that game. I walk on that campus and you can just feel the Gipper, Rockne, Leon Hart, Johnny Lujack . . .

It's a shame they're on a downer. 2005 was one of the best games, when we won at the end. I don't want to lose to UCLA but I respect Notre Dame and their tradition.

 

Nicknamed "the Toe" after kicking a dramatic field goal to beat Stanford in the closing seconds of their 1953 game, Sam Tsagalakis remained active in Trojan alumni circles for many years, and is credited with starting "The Game Is On," a bi-annual luncheon featuring former Southern California and Notre Dame players held every even year in Los Angeles.

 

MARV GOUX

Center, Linebacker

1952, 1954 - 1955

 

USC always had a good record in the area of civil rights. Brice Taylor was black and he was our very first All-American, way back in the 1920s. I played with C.R. Roberts. He was a black running back on coach Jess Hill's team that traveled to Austin in 1956 to play Texas. The night before that game, Roberts was not allowed to stay in the same hotel as the USC team. Coach Hill took the whole team out of that hotel to keep them together.

The next day, there was tremendous abuse heaped on C.R. The fans yelled awful epithets and the Longhorn players abused him, but C.R. was a very competitive guy and used all of it to fuel his performance. He gained 251 yards in the first half. He was removed mid-way through, and we won, 44-20. After the game, the Texas players shook his hand and acknowledged in effect that they were wrong, but the Texas fans continued to catcall him. Change was not ready yet.

I was injured at Notre Dame. It probably prevented any chance I had at a pro football career, but it got me into coaching. I coached at Carpinteria High School for a year but there were some problems there. I moved on to USC and was there with Don Clark and Al Davis; with John McKay; and with John Robinson until 1982. I was one of the gladiators in Spartacus, Stanley Kubrick's 1960 Roman Empire classic. Later I made speeches in the old "dungeon" and many have said I used Kirk Douglas's speech from Spartacus. Maybe some of the phraseology, but I picked up a lot of that stuff over the years, was inspired by Coach McKay and wanted to emphasize that the team "win one for John" after we lost to UCLA, and others have made the analogy that beating the Bruins was the same as the slave rebellion against Rome.

When Sam “Bam” Cunningham led us to a 42-21 victory at Alabama in 1970, Jim Murray wrote in the Los Angeles Times, "Hatred got shut out.” You know, at the time, I had my hands full. So did Coach McKay. We were talented but unable to build on that game. Our season was disappointing. The team was not as together as others, although talent-wise we were close. But it was only over time, the media bringing it up, old friends talking about it and asking about it, that I’ve come to see just what an incredible event it was. I made some strong statements about it at the time, but remember, no sooner did we win that game, we had to fly back to L.A. and get ready for the next one, and the one after that. Sports is hard to be involved in and see the big picture.

Sam was a big recruit, yes. He was built like a brick you-know-what. But we were loaded and John McKay was not promising starting jobs to sophomores. It was his first game, and considering the environment, McKay wanted to play it close to the vest. Look at the highlights of that game. Off-tackle, boom - breaking tackles, running over guys. Sam just made an outstanding contribution on his own.

Plus, Sam was from Santa Barbara. I grew up in that area, too. It’s a very low-key area. He didn’t have any idea, really, about what was happening in places like Selma. He was still a kid, barely away from home for the first time when that game was played.

We already had an All-American running back in 1970, Clarence Davis, and he'd grown up in Alabama before moving to L.A. Davis was a typical example of our advantage at that time. Today he’d’ve finished school in Alabama, and been up for grabs, probably in the SEC. His family left that environment and we just got him to succeed O.J. Simpson.

Bryant had talked the game up. It was his baby, and if Bear was for it, the state of Alabama was willing to accept change. After Sam’s game. Alabama was able to use [recent recruit] Wilbur Jackson.

Eventually, the Southeastern and Southwestern Conferences were desegregated. Earl Campbell at Texas, Billy Sims at Oklahoma, although Bud Wilkinson had integrated OU - the whole region changed dramatically over night. It was great, even though we found recruiting to be harder after that.

 

Marv Goux played at USC and was captain in his senior year. He is one of only two Trojans to win the prestigious Davis-Teschke award twice (Ken Antle, 1957-58, is the other). His pro aspirations dashed by an injury at South Bend, he became perhaps the most legendary assistant coach in history; under Don Clark, John McKay and John Robinson from 1957-82. Marv is a member of the Rose Bowl and USC Halls of Fame. This interview comes from a 2000 article in StreetZebra called "The Eternal Trojan." Goux passed away in 2002. At his memorial service, his granddaughter, Kara Kamen, urged the Trojans to, "Win one for the Goux!" USC's "down period" from 1983-2001 oddly parallels the time between when he left the school and his passing. Only after his passing did his "spirit" seem to revive the football team under Pete Carroll, who spoke at his 2002 service.

 

JON ARNETT

Left Halfback

1954 - 1956

 

I grew up in Los Angeles and attended Manual Arts High School. Manual Arts had a lot of famous people go to school there, not the least among them being the World War fighter ace Jimmie Doolittle. In those days there were only two or three high schools in the valley. My mom went to Manual Arts before me, and when she went there, there were only about three high schools in the city.

            A lot of great athletes grew up in Los Angeles, in my neighborhood, around the time I was growing up. Sparky Anderson and Billy Consolo attended Dorsey High School. All these guys played on an American Legion team that was incredible. Consolo became one of the first "bonus babies," after a pitcher named Paul Pettit. He got around $80,000 to sign with the Detroit Tigers. He'd been a trackman like me, as well. I think they gave his dad the barber shop lease at the Hilton downtown as part of his signing.

            There's a story I cannot confirm that Sparky Anderson's bedroom was located where home plate at Dedeaux Field is today. I can confirm that he was the Trojan batboy for Rod Dedeaux's teams. Gene Mauch and Dick Williams went to Fremont. There are those who say Fremont has produced more Major League baseball players than high school in the nation, but if I had to bet I'd put my money on Dorsey, what with Anderson, Consolo, and the Lachemann brothers, who were Dodger batboys, played for Dedeaux at USC, and became big league players and managers. Marcel was the pitching coach at USC for a while. There were at least four or five from Dorsey that I knew of from my era who played in the big leagues.

Jess Hill, Mr. Trojan, a great Trojan, recruited me to play football for him. I think he was first a trackman and the first white man to long jump 25 feet. He played baseball for the New York Yankees, but he was not much of a football player that I know of. The story goes that he ran track for Dean Cromwell and planned to become a teacher and coach. He figured he'd be asked to coach football and if he played it he'd have better experience and could get the job more easily, so he played football for Howard Jones. Later he was the track coach at USC and won two NCAA titles, but when Jeff Cravath was fired, USC only hires alums and they chose Jess Hill as the football coach. Later he was the athletic director, so if anybody was Mr. Trojan, it was he.

Freshmen could not play varsity ball when I got to USC. We scrimmaged vs. the varsity plus we played about three games against UCLA, Stanford, a couple of military teams. We'd play a junior college team from Santa Barbara and a Naval team in San Diego that featured the pro player Billy Wade, who was in the in Navy at the time. Maybe we played four games.

I played varsity ball in 1954, 1955 and '56. I played two years with Marv Goux. He played the same way he coached. He was not big enough to play the position he played, but he was on Notre Dame's all-opponent's team for some 30-odd years. In the huddle, he just wouldn't let you lose. Marv played center at 180 pounds and I weighed more than he did.

C.R. Roberts was also my teammate for two years, but he only played five games because of probation and penalties in my last one-and-a-half years. He was very talented as far as running backs go at that time. He was a very big running back, he weighed around 215 or 220 pounds at the time and was very fast; one of the fastest guys on the team. He was a good athlete. It surprised me he did not do better in pro football. I think he originally signed with the 49ers but did not make it there, then he played in the Canadian Football League. I'd have to check when he was with San Francisco. He was part of the "all-initial" backfield, all guys with initials like his, C.R., Y.A. Tittle.  

In 1956 I was at Texas when we played the famous game he had. I was the team captain, and I always tell the story of the first integrated team to play down there. It caused problems because we refused to play unless they let our black guys stay at our hotel. The tradition was for black players to stay at the private homes of black doctors and prominent local people, but we insisted they be allowed to eat the pre-game meal with us. When the UT band played "the eyes of Texas are upon you," C.R.'s eyes were as big as the Moon. He had quite a game. The referee, as a matter of fact, came up and said to me, "That black man can sure run."

He had 250 yards-plus in that game. I made 150 or 160 yards but it paled in comparison to him. He only carried the ball a few times but made 80-yard runs. I think his yards were all in a few carries. It was a good game. I've seen a lot of great games and it was as good as any I've ever seen. We went down there and just killed Texas.

The irony of it was I made All-American in 1955, so my senior year (1956) I was on the cover of the magazines and was supposed to be the Heisman Trophy winner. I made more yards the five games I played that season than in the entire previous year when I was an All-American, but it was not enough to be voted the Heisman. I finished fourth or fifth in the voting behind Notre Dame's Paul Hornung, whose team was 2-9 or only won one game, something like that. It was 50-50 that I'd play in Canada instead of come back for my senior year at USC. I almost didn't play, I almost played in Canada because of the NCAA penalties that reduced my season.

Only God knows who would have won the Heisman over Hornung had I played the whole season. I do know anybody with a pretty good year would have beat him since his team was poor, but instead of my becoming USC's first Heisman winner, he became Notre Dame's fifth. Today we're tied with seven, so if I'd won USC would have eight and they'd only have six!

I got made ineligible for half the season. I was 19 or 20 years old and we were made ineligible. It still doesn't make sense, it was questionable and I was not breaking NCAA rules, where you could have room, books and tuition, but in the PCC you only could have tuition. We had a sponsor help us with books and room expenses, and USC got caught. UCLA, Stanford and Washington voted against us. I will tell you as a fact that Stanford offered me more than anybody else. They offered a car, those hypocrites. That bothered me more than anything. I had to make a decision; play just five games or go to Canada, then go the NFL. I was offered $100,000, which in 1956 was a lot of money, but I opted to stay at SC. I talked to some alumni and they said I'd never regret staying, and they were dead right. Going to SC was the best decision in my whole life. I made so many friends there, its' true, you're a Trojan for life. It's affected me my whole life. That's all I can say.

I heard Stanford ratted the others out after the NCAA discovered they had committed the worst penalties, so they cut a deal to save themselves by turning evidence on the other teams. Ultimately I believe Cal, UCLA and USC were penalized. This was the 1950s and there was a real estate boom on the West Coast. Rents in Berkeley and Westwood were beyond the ability of college students to pay, which was the main reason that the "sponsor" program was instituted, but I was only paid for tuition costs.

The scandal hurt the prestige of the Pacific Coast Conference, once the class of college football, but after World War II the PCC went down. The Big 10 and Notre Dame dominated. UCLA had won the 1954 national championship and USC was on the verge of restoring ourselves to a pre-eminent status, but the penalties set everything back until John McKay restored things a few years later.

I know what Stanford offered me, and guys I knew in the pros from Stanford laughed and said they got more. The same thing at Washington. They were all hypocrites. It was hard to get over it. It really was that at USC, each player had a sponsor, a businessman, an alum, and he would get me $75 a month for a campus job. I don't know anybody who got more.

At Michigan, Ohio State, Texas, they gave you more, but I didn't need it. I know for a fact nobody got more than I did at USC, and that's a straight fact, but we suffered more because of the scandal than any other school.

Joe Jares was in my fraternity. He was a good friend. I told him all kinds of stories and he'd write about it, about life in the frat. One of those pieces appeared in Sports Illustrated. Some of the guys in my fraternity in the 1960s later went to work in the Nixon Administration and became involved in Watergate. Jares's father was a good guy. He was a wrestler when I was growing up. I'd see him at the Western Arena in L.A. His dad was the "dirty guy" who'd rub resin in people's eyes. They called him Brother Frank.

Don Clark was an assistant coach at USC when I was there. I knew Al Davis, too, but he came the year after I graduated. My brother played for Davis at USC. I'd go to practice and I met him there, and later visited with him when he was with the Raiders. He might have owned them at that time. I knew John McKay but not as a social friend. I didn't spend too much time with him beyond the occasional dinner.

I ran track for Jess Mortensen, who was also the freshman football coach. USC won the NCAA track championship almost every single year from the 1920s to the 1970s. We were perennial champs. My sophomore year at USC I took second in the NCAA long jump with a 25-foot jump. One of the things I enjoyed the most was the medal for second place, because it was not expected, and my sophomore year I broke Jackie Robinson's PCC record for the long jump. In track, my best year was my sophomore year. I had a chronic hamstring pull, and I kept pulling it. It kept it me out of the championships, but our team itself won the NCAA every year I was there if I'm not mistaken, maybe 17 straight championships, or 17 of 18, something incredible. Until restrictions on scholarships, USC dominated track like no college sport, men's or women's, ever. Now they're limited as a private school to 12 track scholarships, which is not enough depth to win any more. You need to have a lot of second and third place finishes. We get people who can finish first but you need more second and third places to win NCAA titles.

I was a center fielder on the baseball team my sophomore year before I concentrated on track and football. I gave up baseball but I knew Coach Rod Dedeaux very well. I went to his 90th birthday party and he said, "Man, you’d have been my center fielder." You just love him, he never called me Jon, everybody was Tiger. He was a great guy. He loved going to Santa Anita Race Track. He was one of a kind, he inspired players and knew the game as well as anybody. Rod was a great recruiter, you just loved him. A great man, a great Trojan.

The social scene at USC was quite different then. I don't know what it is now, but it segued from the rest of society. It was the sort of school you knew a lot of people on campus. Just walking around you'd know a lot of people. Now it's like a city, but then we knew everybody. My life was centered around the fraternity and sorority parties. On weekends you'd just want to know were those parties were and that's where you would go. It was an intimate environment, a small school.

As for life in Los Angeles, probably the best thing to say about it back then was you could drive on the freeways and can get there in time. I live in Oregon now but I go to Southern California once a month, and I look at it and say, "I can't believe I lived here." There's 13 million people in L.A. now, I'm not sure of the population, but back you then you could get from the campus to Manhattan Beach in 30 minutes. Now it takes two hours. You could find parking at the beach. There's no parking at the beach anymore. L.A. is a zoo now. This carries over to campus life. It was intimate, but now it's a city in itself.

Los Angeles is different now, but it was a wonderful place to grow up, a great climate, but it's not intimate anymore. I go to USC games less than I did before. I don’t like the big crowds at the Coliseum. I prefer to watch on TV. Even when I lived there I went to every game. I lived in Manhattan Beach or Palos Verdes Estates, and I'd go to the first part of the game. I enjoyed the tailgating, seeing all the people I knew. Then just before halftime I'd drive home. I'd miss a few plays at the beginning of the third quarter but I could see the second half on TV. I think Pete Carroll is an absolutely great guy. I can't say anything other than him being a super coach. I hope he stays at USC. I don't know if he can. I hope he stays 10 years

I almost went to UCLA. Red Sanders was a nice guy and a heck of a coach. He recruited me when I was 17 years old. We went to Truman's restaurant, off campus in Westwood, for dinner. Suddenly his head went into his food. He was quite drunk and his head went down into his food. He was fairly soused, he lost his balance and his head went in his salad. I didn't say much. The other coaches laughed to try and make up for it, but it made an impression on me and was one of the reasons I didn’t go there. I just thought that I couldn't play for a man like that, but besides, I'd felt like a Trojan my whole life. At Manuel Arts I'd go to the Coliseum, I sold programs. I grew up with USC.

The Coliseum held huge crowds. I played in front of 100,000 fans many times; UCLA and Notre Dame. With the Rams I played in front of 100,000 people many times. Notre Dame was a big rival, but to me all the teams are rivals. I relished competition and didn't care whether it was Notre Dame or anybody else, they were all the same. Once we kicked it off, it was the same as when you played in the front yard with your buddies. I was into the competition.

Playing for my hometown team, the Rams, was great. I love the Coliseum, it was home. In those days with the Rams, Sid Gillman was a super coach, but the Rams had a theory of always trading somebody for "next year." It was our downfall. We traded 11 guys for Ollie Mattson. The "genius" who put that together was Pete Rozelle. We went from being half a game from first place to 2-10. Pete was going be fired and Bert Bell died. They voted 20 times for NFL Commissioner and couldn't resolve a regional fight. Dan Reeves put Pete's name in nomination and he became the Commissioner. He'd made trades over Gillman's objections. He loved Mattson because he'd been the PR guy at USF when Ollie played there, but it was ridiculous. I played 10 years in the NFL, seven with the Rams and three in Chicago. I joined the Bears in 1964, one year after they won the 1963 NFL championship. I played for George Halas with Dick Butkus, Mike Ditka, Doug Atkins and Gale Sayers.

What It Means to Be a Trojan. As I say it's meant a lot to me. SC is as close to me as anything. It's like my like family. A lot of people say that. I went to school and got a great education. Back then, you had to go to school. I was a finance major and had some awfully good professors. Professor John Martin became the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury. USC had a great faculty. I enjoyed the school, the whole experience. There are people I met who to this day I know, I go to re-unions and there's just great support.

People have more loyalty to their college than the pro team they played on. The NFL is a business. There's no comparison. There's no loyalty in pro football. Teams once belonged to the city, but now players are like chattel, they're traded every year, they play out their contracts. It's a different money game with no loyalty. There's more loyalty with the fans than the players and owners.

Georgia Frontiere was a disaster for the Rams. When Dan Reeves was there, he was one of the great owners, along with Dan Rooney, the Mara family with the Giants. Those people were football people and they built the league. There wasn't a nicer man than Dan Reeves. Today it's a different league of owners. They do it for different reasons. It's a different kind of person, but in my day the owners loved the club and the game.

I can't fault 'em because it's a business and they all have their reasons for getting into it. At one time it was almost a hobby. For George Halas, it was his life. With Halas it was his biggest economic asset. The Reeves family had New York money. They owned a chain of grocery stores and sold them to Safeway. Dan put a good portion of that into a young company called IBM. I sat with him once and he said he had a lot of shares and split them many times since.

 

Jon Arnett was an All-American in 1955 and likely would have been USC's first Heisman Trophy winner the next season had the team not been penalized by the NCAA for recruiting violations. He was All-Pacific Coast Conference (1955-56), a two-time recipient of the Voit Trophy awarded to the outstanding player on the Pacific Coast, and winner of the Glenn "Pop" Warner award for being the most valuable senior on the coast. Elected team captain in 1956, Jon played in the Hula Bowl, the East-West Shrine game, and the College All-Star game after his senior season. Arnett is a member of the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame. The second overall pick of the 1957 NFL Draft, he had a long, successful career as a running back with the Los Angeles Rams and Chicago Bears.

 

C.R. ROBERTS

Fullback

1955 - 1956

 

I am from Oceanside, near San Diego, and considered going to West Point. That was my goal, a military career. It's interesting, as I say, I was going to go to West Point and make a military career, but as things progressed I found I was not as good in math as I should have been. People had me thinking that, even though I was better than I thought in math. USC offered me tutorial help, but West Point did not, so I basically went to USC for that reason. USC also had a great ROTC unit drill team. It was said to be the best ROTC drill team in America, so I figured I could stay close to home, get a good education with tutorial help in math, play football, and still pursue a military career after graduation. Plus, USC offered lots of help in the private sector. Finally, I liked warm weather. I was not enthused about going back to New York where West Point is.

       Marv Goux was a teammate of mine, and I knew him real good. When I first went to USC, I was a mystery. People wondered about me, there were questions about who I was. I always did my best, and one time I was with a couple guys on the field, and we almost got in a fight. I'd not realized I had tangled with two of the toughest guys on the team, Marv Goux and George Galli. Goux was quite a guy. After we found out about each other, we were both good players, and the minute we got off the field, these things were forgotten. That was real professional of him. He was one of the guys I could get along with, and basically we formed a friendship that lasted our whole lives.

       All the guys didn't hang out together like they do now. When Goux played ball, he didn't do a lot of taking, no trash talk like now. Most of the time he was in a situation where he would try and tackle me, and I'd get away, and he'd let me know it was a good run but he'd get me next time. So he was a good player and it was good fellowship. I was an underclassman and he was a team leader, so it was helpful that we had men like Goux. You strive to get players who have a professional demeanor.

        Jon Arnett was a year ahead of me. I didn't know about any of the guys until I got to school. I'd never even seen a coach until we started to practice, and didn't know any of my teammates. I wanted to play tailback, but at USC he was the tailback. The coaches said, "We'll put you at fullback," and I was disappointed.

       "What is this?" I thought. Then at spring practice, I saw Jon play, and then I thought, "Hey, this guy deserves to play tailback." He was a good player. I had no idea before that how good he was. He probably would have been up for the Heisman had the probation not interrupted our careers.

       The game that defined my football career was the 1956 game at Texas. I was the first black player to play there, and this game has been mythologized and spoken about in legendary terms. 14 years later, Sam "Bam" Cunningham and the Trojans traveled to Birmingham and had a similar game against Alabama, but the results then were different. But that game and my game have been compared, and I became pretty close with Sam and most of USC's black players over the years. I became the "old man," a father figure to a lot of black players.

       Regarding the Texas game, I have an opinion on the question as to why it did not result in the social changes, integration, that the 1970 'Bama game did. Sam said it had to do with the unique nature of the state of Texas itself, in that those people have their own way of doing things.

       Because I was black, I had a close understanding with the race problem, like most guys my age. When we played at the University of Texas, it was sort of like a pride situation. My coach, Jess Hill, told me that Texas called and asked if we had two colored boys on our team. We actually had three, but they didn’t know it, and they explained to Jess that this posed "problems." Jess was not sure how to deal with this, but he was an unusual man, a real God-fearing Christian, on the contrary to most hard-nosed coaches, and he had a feel for the culture and my situation. Consequently, his first inquiry was that he asked me how I felt about the trip. I just wanted to play football, so I told him, "I'll play wherever and whenever you want me to. I'll go to Haiti to play if need be."

       So Jess mentioned to the team that we might have to adjust our hotel accommodations. He mentioned that we might have to leave our black players at home, but I said, "No, I have other schools I could transfer to if you don't let me play." Basically Jess negotiated the situation, where the team said that I go or we don't go.

       Then he had to deal with the question of where I'd stay. At first they had a place outside of town, at the YMCA, but I refused. I said I'd stay with the team or nothing. In the city, there were colored people who said I could stay with them, but I was adamant about staying with the team, and the team agreed and felt that if I don't go, if I don't stay with the team, then they won't play.

       The coaches wanted that game. Texas had a "million dollar QB," whatever they called him. They had a good team, especially their quarterback, and the two coaches consequently figured they could get the game going somehow, and everybody knew that whatever team won, it would be a big thing.

       It would turn out to be the best road trip I ever had, and when it started out, it was highlighted when I got on the bus at USC. It was an excellent day. The sun was shining, and for the first time on the bus, a black radio station was playing my favorite songs. I'm thinking, "Oh, man this is good." I wanted to go then.

       I'm sure integration was an issue. As I learned later, the coaches decided to have the game after they considered moving it someplace else. There were laws in place making this illegal, and many options were considered, but ultimately it was played as scheduled at Memorial Stadium in Austin, right on their campus. But the night before the game, the whole team had to leave the hotel because of me.

       Well, there's nobody in the world more precise and orderly than a football coach, who plans everything right down to the minute and hate any disruption of their plans and routine, but we had to scramble and find another hotel, the whole team the night before the game. Now this obviously was a major hassle, but it also coalesced the team.

       The coaches or the schools worked it out, but Texas law did not allow integrated hotels. Coach Hill was a good man, and he moved the team to a different hotel. I always had weird ideas about how we did that, because we moved to a hotel that also did not allow integration, but there must have been some USC sympathizers in Austin, maybe somebody who owned the hotel, because somehow it was worked out and we were accepted.

       When we got to Texas, all the hotel workers were black. Consequently they were afraid for us. At first they came by and saw that we had some black players, and they said blacks can't stay in hotels there. But were young and said, "We're with USC, nothing can happen to us." That night, black hotel workers from all over the city came and visited us. They'd take off their smocks and give to others, so they could come visit us. All night we had visitors. The people at the hotel did not realize that all these black people were not their workers. They weren't allowed in, but they wore those smocks as a disguise. It was really nice, and we met dozens of black people, all of whom encouraged us, supported us.

       Well, all of these activities of course had me ready to play ball. It could have had the effect of making some of us not ready, but some of the things that occurred probably jelled our team. In those days, we didn't socialize with the team, but consequently, when the team said they'd not play if I didn't play, that made me feel good, and we came together. Basically my position was, I wanted to go out there and take care of their quarterback. I was supposed to play linebacker, so that was my focus, making sure their quarterback did not win the game for them. Before the game, that was my focus.

       A lot of those workers who were happy we could stay in the hotel, they all came to see us, and we found out that blacks could come to the game at the University of Texas for the first time, along with some Mexicans. They all sat in the end zone and cheered for us. I guess I had a lot of enthusiasm for the game. I usually try and play a half-way decent game, but one thing that's interesting, I'd been upset about not playing tailback, so consequently when I started the game, I was at linebacker and I going real good.  I tackled their ball carrier and the crowd got ugly. I learned later that Coach Hill was really worried about the effect of my tackling their players. He said, "Next time they have the ball, you don't have to go in." So, I could concentrate on offense. I thought that was neat. Basically I just wanted to play a good game. I'd not been privy to all the information. I mostly had no idea why we left the hotel, I don't think I really knew everything that was happening, and so I could concentrate on the game.

       So I got the ball on offense and as they say, there is such a thing as a "zone," and I found it. I ran about 12 times for 251 yards. I think I had one gain of 80 yards. There's no way to explain it, really. I was focused, the team was fired up, the events surrounding the game worked in our favor instead of the other way, but Texas was good, there's no real explanation that I could get the ball and run for so many yards, break holes every play. I did it all in the first half. We blew them out and the game was over by then, so Coach Hill removed me to avoid ugliness. I've seen a tape of that game a few different times. It's not very good, but I just ran and nobody was able to bring me down.

       The reaction of the Texas players and fans explains a lot about why this game didn't have the same affect as Sam's game at Alabama in 1970. It is accurate that the Texas players respected my performance. After I made a couple tackles, a couple of their guys were upset and let me know it. But on offense, after I made a couple good runs, when I got up they would give me a bad time, but later as I kept making gains, one of them extended his hand to help me up. Eventually, the Texas players themselves came around, so by the time Coach Hill took me out, I felt these guys were okay.

       Their fans, on the other hand, never let up, even when we destroyed their team and walked off the field, having won 44-20. At Alabama, the players themselves never had a problem with USC's black athletes, and afterwards their fans were stunned into silence. This manifested itself into a belief that Bear Bryant needed black players, which was his plan in scheduling the game, to help conditions for Wilbur Jackson, who came in at that time. But my game did not have the effect of convincing Texas or Southern fans to integrate, although the players seemed to reach this understanding.

      Three or four of their guys talked to me a couple years ago, when USC played Texas in the Rose Bowl. Several spoke to me and I tried to thank them for letting me play, because there was pressure not to play us, as it was illegal. These guys played good ball, it was a fair game, and there was a respect for each other. This group of guys never even were recognized, but they took a chance so the system could be changed and deserve credit for it.

       Sports and Christianity played a major role in the Civil Rights Movement, but I would intersperse religion with music. Music maybe even more important than religion. The fusing of jazz with rock, and the mainstream popularity of different forms of music, rock and Motown, brought races together in a social environment. I was lucky, and I became an expert on one thing or another, and one was music. I loved music.

       What It Means to Be a Trojan? I think actually being a Trojan is more special than any other group, even Notre Dame models its alumni set-up after us. Being a Trojan is something special. We played ball but we do a lot of other things. I was on the board of governors many years, I was involved in the school's mentoring program, and when there is a need, USC comes through in an extra special way. We're human beings but we're very feeling and very excellent people who do a lot of things the best, in football and in life. Nobody could stop us. We proved it when we beat a team that went to the Rose Bowl.

       Had I played my senior year, had Jon Arnett been allowed to play more than the last five games of his senior year, I think we'd have been one of the best teams ever to play at USC. The probation scandal of the mid-1950s set USC and the conference back just as we were about to become the dominant team in the country after a down period. It was not until John McKay that SC gained that stature again, but the teams I played on with Arnett and Marv Goux potentially were powerhouses. The Texas game demonstrated that, too.

       USC and football put me on a different path than the one I'd planned on had I gone to West Point. I've thought a lot about that. Perhaps Colin Powell got the job I might have had. I'd wanted to be a fighter pilot but had a stigmatism in my eye, so I was the leader of a crack drill team in the USC ROTC. The military was my life. They actually had to change the rules for me to run the drill team, because the captain had to be an upper classman, but I was the commander as an underclassman. It broke my heart when in spring practice I made the football team and got ready for drill competition, but it was the same day as the last day of spring practice. I thought since I'd made the team, I thought that it was all right to miss football practice for drill competition, but I'd not understood the public relations aspects of college football, the press was out there, and I was told I had to be at football practice.

       My executive officer and I still talk about that. He still thinks I was the best drill commander in the world, but they tried to tell me in no uncertain terms that I will be in spring practice. But it was the day before the drill competition and the commander came down and said, "You’re here to play football. Let us fight the wars." So I was out of ROTC. I'd always missed events like the North-South All-Star Game. I didn't play in that because I went to Ft. Ord for drill competitions, which I felt was more important. But football ended military career. I played in Canada and with the San Francisco 49ers, then had a long career in the teaching profession, which I loved, but my first love was the military.

 

C.R. Roberts may have been the greatest Trojan you never heard of. Moved from tailback to fullback because of Jon Arnett's star presence, his career at USC was cut short by the mid-1950s probation scandal, but his performance against Texas in 1956 must rank among the greatest single-day games in college football history. Roberts was a first team All-PCC running back in 1956. Drafted by the New York Giants, he played professional football for the 49ers and in Canada before becoming a teacher.

 

MONTE CLARK

Right Tackle

1956 - 1958

 

I came out of Kingsburg, California. It's a tiny California farm town in the San Joaquin Valley, so small that Bakersfield is considered a big city, so to speak. Our rivals were towns like Chowchilla. However, two of the greatest athletes of all time came from Kingsburg. Rafer Johnson was ahead of me. He won the 1960 decathlon at the Rome Olympics. His younger brother, Jimmy (who was two years younger) played on the same teams with me. He became an All-Pro defensive back with the 49ers. 

Al Davis was an assistant coach at Southern California when I was there. He was 26 years old and was billing himself as "the smartest young coach in the nation," but he wasn't. You have to respect what he's accomplished, though. He was a smart guy and I never had problems with him. It is pretty remarkable what he's accomplished.

Willie Wood was our quarterback and later team captain in 1959. He had leadership skills. He's not doing well and a teammate named Bob Schmidt is helping him. He was extremely talented, from Washington, D.C. He's a Pro Football Hall of Fame player so you can't say much beyond that. I don't know that he could have played quarterback in the NFL, but I wouldn't have put anything beyond him. He starred for Vince Lombardi's Packers and won numerous world championships in Green Bay.

 I formed a basketball team in school. We had all these "sanctions guys" who could only play five games. They were called "five-game seniors," and we formed a basketball team and called them "no-game seniors." We won the University championship hands down. Willie was on our team and he was the best basketball player in school, including the basketball team. I think he played with Elgin Baylor in high school.

Ken Flower was a good friend and a good man. He was a great basketball player at USC. I know a guy named Clyde Connor of UOP. He was raving about what a great player Flower was. Kenny went into the radio business in his native San Francisco and was for many years the media chief for the 49ers.

The McKeever twins were teammates of mine. They were excellent players and had good size. They could run like heck and were good players. Mike died tragically in an auto accident, but I can't believe Marlin is dead. He was doing fine and then suddenly he passed away.

Lon Simmons used to be with the Fresno Giants. I knew him well. He was the announcer for the San Francisco Giants and the 49ers, and is in the Hall of Fame. He lived in Glendale at one time and was a good pitcher who I think was recruited to play baseball at USC by Rod Dedeaux but I don't think he ever did.

Don Buford was a star in football and baseball when I was at USC. I looked at the highlight tape of that season during "Salute to Troy," and I have to say he was one of our best players, a very productive performer. That tape reminded me that he made interceptions on defense and some long runs. He was a heck of an athlete. I got to spend time with him in Miami when he played for the Baltimore Orioles. They had Spring Training there and we'd get together all the time. He taught my oldest son how to throw. My son Brian turned out to make it as an NFL quarterback.

John McKay was nothing when I was there. I never really knew him well.

Rod Dedeaux was a great coach. I watched as many games as I could. I loved baseball and knew all the players, and he impressed me with the unique job that he did. I was a big fan of his.

Bruce Gardner lived in the same dormitory as I did. I didn't really know him well, but I watched him all the time. He had "Major Leagues" written all over him until he got hurt and became depressed. We all assumed he was headed to the Major Leagues.

Ron Fairly was also an All-American baseball star for Rod Dedeaux.  Catcher John Werhas became a Christian minister. That was quite a departure. I didn’t think he'd be a minister. He was also a starting basketball player.

I played more than a decade in the National Football League. I'm not in the college or Pro Football Hall of Fame, but I still feel I was a valuable player. I was a defensive tackle for the 49ers. I played a little bit of offense when somebody would get injured. I'd take their place on offense. Leo Nomellini was at defensive tackle. After three years I injured my neck. I ruptured a disc and I didn't think I could play. I figured I'd be in the hospital if I hit somebody, so they didn't let me hit anyone. I was traded to Dallas. Tom Landry told me I'd be the right tackle offensively. I studied every night and started the game on Sunday. I told him I know the plays and he said, "You're going in there."

I made it through a year thinking, the next shot I hit somebody, I'd be in back in the hospital. Then I was traded to the Cleveland Browns. Jim Ray Smith was an All-Pro guard from Dallas and he was getting into real estate in his hometown. He told the Browns he'd retire if he wasn't traded to Dallas, so they made the deal. They gave them me.

I played seven seasons for the Browns. We won the world championship in 1964, defeating Johnny Unitas and Baltimore in the NFL championship game. My teammate was the great running back Jim Brown and our coach was Paul Brown. It was one of the best teams in pro football history. The next year we lost in the play-offs to Vince Lombardi, Willie Wood and the Green Bay Packers. That was the first of three consecutive pro football championships for the Pack.

I became an assistant coach after my 11th season as a player. I retired and joined the Miami Dolphins' staff as an offensive line coach in Don Shula's first year. Shula didn't really know me, but he got a recommendation on me from Blanton Collier. Collier had succeeded Paul Brown as head coach at Cleveland and coached me there. He was one of the players who played with Shula when they were with the Browns. Shula had faith in Collier's opinion and hired me on the phone.

I was not O.J. Simpson's coach in San Francisco. When I was in Miami we beat him 20 times in a row. The 1972 Dolphins were a great team. Whether they're the best team in NFL history is subjective, but what remains a fact is that nobody else has done what they have done, which is run the whole season, play-offs and Super Bowl unbeaten, and we're pleased to retain it.

My youngest son, Boomer became very friendly with a player I coached in San Francisco, a great big defensive lineman from Hawaii. He'd sleep in his room and they were really good friends. There were a lot of good moments in football

What It Means to Be a Trojan is that I was always very proud for 11 years to be introduced as "Monte Clark from the University of Southern California."

 

Monte Clark was the team captain in 1958 before embarking on a long professional career with the San Francisco 49ers (1959-61), Dallas Cowboys (1962) and Cleveland Browns (1963-69). He started every year in college and pro football except when he was injured. Monte played for some of the greatest coaching legends in NFL history, among them Red Hickey of the 49ers, Tom Landry of the Cowboys, Paul Brown and later Blanton Collier of the Browns. In 1964 he was a teammate of Jim Brown's when Cleveland captured the NFL championship. Another teammate in Cleveland was Bill Nelsen, who helped quarterback USC to the 1962 national title. Clark became an assistant coach under Don Shula in Miami and was on the staff when the Dolphins went unbeaten en route to the 1972 world championship, and later was head coach of the 49ers and Lions.   

 

RON MIX

Right Tackle

1957 - 1959

 

I was at Hawthorne High School before Brian Wilson, the Loves and all The Beach Boys were there. I met them later in life, but Mike Gillespie was two years behind me. He is a longtime friend who grew up in the same neighborhood and we probably played sports with each other. He was on USC's 1961 College World Series champions and became the USC baseball coach from 1987 to 2006, winning the 1998 national championship.

I was recruited to USC in 1956. It would have been by Bill Fisk (senior, his son was later a Trojan All-American) and Mel Hein. Hein's in the Pro Football Hall of Fame with me. Al Davis was on the staff until my sophomore year at USC. He's in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, too. My teammate, Willie Wood, is also in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I can't say, but I'd bet there's no other program with so many Hall of Famers at the same time, except of course if you're talking about USC in other eras. How about the 1979-1980 Trojans? Anthony Munoz, Ronnie Lott, Bruce Matthews? 

Al came in with Don Clark. He was one of his assistants. The first time I met him I was in the locker room. I was doing leg exercises. He was standing on a bench looking me up and down. Al asked me, did I lift weights? I said I did lift weights, and he says, "Yeah, not many coaches approve of lifting weights, but I think it's important."

I thought he was another player at the time. Later that day he was introduced as the ends' coach. I was at the time an end, so he was my "personal" coach. I owe a great deal to him, in my development as a football player. He took a great interest in the players and worked with me after practice.

Much has been written over the years about Davis's philosophy, and whether his experience at USC and in the city of Los Angeles formed his view of the pro game, and where the best players are trained. It's been said that USC ran more pro sets, that the Coliseum better duplicated a pro atmosphere, and that L.A. was a big city in which the popularity of USC was marketed more in line with a pro style than a college town.

I don't think Davis limited his vision to the USC model. I think he just recognized that if a player went to a big-time football school such as USC, there was a greater chance that player would develop into an outstanding pro than an inferior one. That said, he was also signing players from little-known black colleges and many of those players flourished in Oakland, too.

In 1960 the Baltimore Colts and the Boston Patriots drafted me. Al left USC when John McKay got the head job, joining Sid Gillman's staff with the Los Angeles Chargers. There was maneuvering and I went from Boston to the Chargers, and chose to sign with Gillman, Davis and my new hometown team, the Chargers. We played at the Coliseum, then the franchise moved to San Diego. In 1963 Al left San Diego to become the Raiders' head coach.

I'd been with the Chargers for 10 years when Al obtained me for the Oakland Raiders in 1971. He brought me out of retirement.  I'd taken the bar exam after going to the University of San Diego law school and had been out of football for a year. I'd passed the bar and was technically an attorney when, to my surprise I get a call from him saying he'd traded David Grayson and some defensive backs for me. He asked if I was  interested in returning to pro football. I could make $18,000 as an attorney or join his team for two years at $45,000, so it seemed like a wise decision, but things didn't turn out the way I'd hoped.

I played at 270 pounds but I'd stopped stuffing myself, so I was down to my natural 225. It took a two-month period to gain the weight back but I'd lost my quickness. I was not the same player. I'm sorry about that. I'm fond of Al Davis. I was on the taxi squad in 1972 and the last game ever played while I was still a Raider was the "immaculate reception" game at Pittsburgh.

Two of my teammates at Southern Cal were the "Twin Holy Terrors of Mt. Carmel," Mike and Marlin McKeever. Marlin, Mike and I were probably the only three serious weight lifters on the team. We trained at Redpath Gym in Inglewood. All coaches in all sports discouraged us from lifting. The mantra was that we'd lose fluidity, but that didn't seem logical to us.

Marlin, Mike and myself; we all got stronger than anybody else. I don't want to sound immodest, but we were better conditioned than anybody else. We were incredibly strong college players with a huge advantage that we had over the players we played against. I was immense at the time. In my senior year we each weighed 225 pounds at a time when most linemen went both ways between 210 and 225, 230, but Marlin, Mike and I attained incredible strength. We could military press 300 pounds each, and you can imagine your confidence going into games, lifting up a player. It wasn't just the strength, it was the way it made you feel, the way you saw your body change, the results you achieved through effort.

It was just a tremendous advantage we had over opponents. My senior year (1959) was the first season I started, and again I don't mean to sound immodest, but the fact is it was amazing I made All-American with no publicity, but it was because of the strength increase I made. All the pre-season publications paid all their attention to Marlin and Mike, but my play reached a level in which it was at such a high level, that suddenly all the coaches began to tout me for All-American, It was astounding that this could occur, to make All-American without any attention from the publicity staff.

I remember the "Steve Bates incident" at Berkeley. It was Mike who tackled him. Bates was either a running back or a wide receiver, and Mike broke his jaw. There was no penalty called, but because of the severity of his injury, the California team and their alumni, from that point to the present day, feel it was an illegal hit by Mike.

It was interesting in that of the two twins, Mike was the "good" twin. Marlin was the "evil" twin, but it was Mike who was the one who got publicly hammered for that play. I don't have an opinion and don’t remember the film was distinctive enough to determine whether it was a late hit, but common sense tells me if it was late or excessive, the referees would have called a penalty, but they didn't.

Sports Illustrated ran a big cover story on the incident, calling into question the safety of college football and the nature of "dirty play."  I do not recall that Berkeley sued USC over the incident, but I'm told they did and that the film exonerated Mike, but that never fit the template Berkeley created for USC, which is essentially jealousy because we win all the time and they went from greatness to mediocrity.

John McKay was an assistant defensive backs coach when I was there. You could just tell even then he had a unique personality, a little bit of an impish personality, which was unusual on that staff. Every other member except Hein and Ray George were intense Marv Goux types, but he had an impish way. I actually thought it was out of place, that it was not what we were.

Football was a primeval sport at that time. The truth is the USC practices were so demanding, so tough that I felt the games were easy. I played an unskilled position, tackle, the last two years. It was so tough that it left you so exhausted that I told myself I'd play two years of pro football, and that would be enough to buy a house and a car, and I'd never see this game again. We went both ways and special teams with no TV time-outs.

Our practices were two and-a-half hours of pure hitting and running. I was completely exhausted and candidly surprised any of us graduated, because it left so little energy to devote to schoolwork or to pay attention to grades. Then, when I went into pro football and went one-way as an offensive tackle, it was so easy that I would have liked to play longer, except your body wears out.

Don Clark was a good coach who came in under a real handicap. The year before or two years before, the University was penalized for a whole bunch of abuses, funneling money to athletes, and as a result the University was placed under three years sanction with no participation in the Rose Bowl. There were a number of other sanctions, such as all the seniors being suspended and forced to choose whether they'd play the first half or the second half of the season. I don't recall, but I'm told the 1959 USC baseball team, which at the time was called the best college team ever, was denied a chance to compete in the College World Series because of football penalties. That team included Bruce Gardner, a great left-handed pitcher and a tragic figure who later committed suicide.

It was very detrimental and had an effect on recruiting, as you might imagine, and it took awhile to re-build the team, but Clark did an extraordinary job. We had an outstanding team by his third year, which is an unusually fast amount of time to turn a program around, in three years. He had excellent recruits, such as Willie Wood, as I say a Pro Hall of Famer, and the McKeever's were still their usual dominant selves. However, in that third year Clark committed the ultimate sin. We started out 8-0, then lost to UCLA and Notre Dame.

I went to the University of San Diego law school and was the Chargers' team attorney when Mike Garrett was playing here, but I was not involved in Mike's decision to go to law school, which helped prepare him to become USC's athletic director.

Now I specialize in representing retired pro athletes, working for their workers' compensation benefits. I'm involved in trying to help retired football players as a group. The Hall of Fame and the player's association asked if I'd help a guy in need, and one thing led to another. We did a good job and I'm proud to do it.

Half the members get very little. The wife of a member gets less than 45.000. I help them get a supplement to bring them up to that amount. Al Davis is one of the lone voices in ownership wanting to see benefits improve for retired players. You have to wrest it from them.

 

Ron Mix, like many of his fellow Trojans, was one of the greatest football players in history. Through hard work he made himself team captain, All-Coast and All-American in his senior year (1959). In 1960 the Baltimore Colts (NFL) and Boston Patriots (AFL) made him their first round draft pick. Mix went to the fledgling AFL and ended up with one of his college coaches, Al Davis of the Los Angeles (then San Diego) Chargers. A perennial American Football League All-Star, Mix was re-united with Davis in Oakland (1971-72), elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1979) and the USC Athletic Hall of Fame (1997). After retirement he became an attorney specializing in sports labor law.

 

The

SIXTIES

 

"PRINCE HAL" BEDSOLE

Left End

1961 - 1963

 

I was recruited to USC by Jim Sears, a Trojan great in his own right, and later by Don Coryell. Then he went to San Diego State when John McKay took the head coaching job at USC. I was brought in as a quarterback at first. I was the L.A. City Player of the Year as a quarterback at Reseda High School in the valley. We lost to Craig Fertig and Huntington Park in the City championship game. I played a year at Pierce J.C. in Woodland Hills. McKay recruited athletes, this is the reputation he had - a coach who did not recruit by position but rather the best athletes and then find a position for them  - but it didn’t come about by McKay's choosing. Pete Beathard, for instance, was not the L.A. City Player of the Year, but the fact that McKay moved me to receiver and kept him at quarterback proved that he knew what he was doing.

       USC was playing the regular conference schedule between 1960-61 like any other football team, and then the NCAA mandated a two-way program. They instituted many new rules about substitutes, how many substitutions per quarter. They mandated that the 11 players on the field had to play both ways except for a "walk-on."

       There had been platoon teams modeled after the "Chinese bandits," which was LSU's nickname for their defense, mostly specialists. They were number one in the country in 1958. McKay didn't fashion his scheme based on the "Chinese bandits," though. He was an innovator in his own right and learned he had to play 11 guys. For years a lot of teams played both ways. On occasion a quarterback or wide receiver didn't play both ways, but in 1961 there were changes; a one-time substitute per quarter, except for a "walk-on." McKay figured out which particular guys could not play this or that position, so he would take the best athlete by each position, and find a solution to his dilemma, which was that a tight end might be made into a tackle; a quarterback was made into another position. He found the best 11 athletes on the team. In high school, the best athlete was invariably the quarterback, just as the best baseball player was a pitcher, the best athlete on the basketball team a point guard. Still to this day, people would be shocked at how McKay had this epiphany and turned the whole program around, by utilizing a system whereby he found his best athletes and then distributed them to available positions, so the best 11 on the team were all on the field out there at the same time. He adapted to NCAA rules changes and it suited his style and the program.  

       You looked at Pete Beathard, who was a great defensive player, and you're not going to take him out of the game. So a Hal Bedsole they'd keep in there as a wide receiver. Ron Butcher is a high school tight end you'd move to left tackle. Skill position players were moved to non-skill positions. I was not the best pass receiver, but I was the best athlete for playing defensive end and wide receiver.

       You needed to get Damon Bame in the game as a linebacker at 185 pounds. He couldn't play offense so he was a "walk-on." It was good thinking because in 1961 McKay was developing his coaching style, his innovations, his ideas. He's instituting the I-formation, which was revolutionary. Iowa was the number one team in the nation, and we played them early in the season. They had Paul Krause, Wally Hilgenberg, some great players like that, and they led 35-14, and McKay put some others in the game, experimenting with his personnel. I got the chance to play and I caught a 78-yard touchdown pass, and a 40-yard touchdown, then a two-point conversion. We rally to within a point with a chance to tie, but McKay always went for the win, so he went for two but we didn't get it. But in 1961 we lost two games by one point and one game by three. We lost to Iowa, 35-34; Pittsburgh 10-9; and UCLA by 10-7, so that's three defeats by five points, which is similar to Pete Carroll's first year in 2001. Eight points would have meant three more wins.

       It was the 1960 win over UCLA that helped McKay keep his job. Bill Nelsen beat Billy Kilmer, 17-6, and that made Dr. Norman Topping believe McKay could succeed. Had he lost, he was gone. We were 4-5-1 in 1961 and lost in the rain to Notre Dame, but McKay said, "I know we're gonna be good."

       The whole 1961 season there was a lot of experimentation. We went to the figure I-formation, single-platoon, and McKay told Topping he had confidence, but we lost to UCLA by three. But by this point he'd figured who could play in the new substitution system and who could play his way.

       In 1962 it took several games to get anybody's attention, but most teams didn't score on us. We gave up 55 points in a 10-game regular season and Illinois had 16 of those. We never thought we were the best team in the country, we only had one blowout game, a 25-0 win over Notre Dame. They had an All-American wide receiver named Jim Kelly, who held quite a few Notre Dame records, but we held him down. Hugh Devore was their coach and it was not a great team. He was an unheralded coach. Notre Dame was the only team we really dominated. We beat Washington 14-0, but they literally could not move the ball. We stopped Roger Staubach and Navy, 13-6. We didn't feel like a team that rolled up 40 or 50 points a game like later Trojan teams, like the 1972 national champions. We beat UCLA in a close game, 14-3.

       When we played Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl is when we felt we really were champions, but there was no predicting that game. No Big 10 team had ever come out to Pasadena and threw the ball the way they did that day. Their quarterback, Ron Vanderkelen, was the Big 10 Player of Year, but he was not as good Pete Beathard. Pat Richter was another good player, an All-American receiver for them. Lou Holland was a nice little running back, but in comparing the two teams position-by-position, the way they do in sports, none of their guys were guys we'd take, not in my mind. But Wisconsin was favored because the Big 10 had long dominated the Rose Bowl, and the dominance of McKay and USC, and the Pacific-8 Conference later, was not yet established. But we were convinced we could smoke Wisconsin, and considering that we led 42-14 late in the game, it's clear we could and should have.

       I scored a 67-yard touchdown and later a 30-yarder, and we never passed again. Wisconsin coach Milt Bruhn was a guy McKay liked and he didn't want to run it up on him. "He's a nice guy, let's just run the clock out and get out of Dodge City," said McKay. Then all kinds of freak things happened; a fumble, a snap over the kicker's head, and Vanderkelen went to the air 29 straight times.

       McKay I think admitted later that you gotta smoke 'em then say you're sorry afterward. I can't speak for John Robinson, who had games like that, where he had a big early lead and let opponents catch up and almost lost some big games because of it, but I can speak for McKay because he told me personally, he'd come up to you during the game and say,  "Tell Pete this or that," and his comment, "Just run out and get out of Dodge City" then backfired. If we're up 49-14 Milt Bruhn calls it a day and turns off the machine, but we gave them just enough daylight.

       Plus remember, we played both ways then and we got tired. They're running up and down the field on us, and we couldn't run the clock out. Plus we had players at odd positions because two off tackles were out early. Gary Kirner sliced his hand, and Marv Marinovich got thrown out in the first quarter for slugging a player, and we had non-lettermen playing in the Rose Bowl.

       USC's never really acknowledged or appreciated the significance of what we did, from a historical point of view, but we'd not won the national title in 30 years, even though we'd had great players like Frank Gifford, Ron Mix and the McKeever twins. USC had been on probation and people wondered, would USC ever be like those 1930s "Thundering Herd" teams, dominant teams? And the 1962 team comes in and McKay figures out something special, and now a run, it's "showtime." From 1962 to 1981 was a big-time run. You have Alabama under Bear Bryant paralleling that same time period, but this is two decades between John McKay and John Robinson which is probably the most dominant 20-year period any college program has ever enjoyed.

       This is the beginning of a real golden age, at USC, in California, in all sports. The Giants and Dodgers came to the state and it was a period of great excitement. There was a population boom after World War II, the schools were expanding, and the talent base was incredible. 49 of our 50 players on the 1962 teams were from the state of California.

       "Why should I go outside the state?" McKay would ask, rhetorically. Today Pete Carroll would laugh at that, but then we could do it. You still need to dominate your base in the L.A. area.  

       The 1960s were the peak of the rivalry and success of both USC and UCLA, and a lot of what John Wooden did with UCLA basketball, and John McKay with Southern Cal football, is built on a big advantage we had in the West. That was the full-scale recruitment of black athletes, which the South was not doing and much of the country was not doing the way McKay did it.

       McKay was not prejudiced in any way. He only wanted football players, and USC had a history of playing blacks that went back to Brice Taylor in the 1920s. In the 1930s the USC-UCLA game was an integrated game, with Jackie Robinson playing at UCLA, and this had a big social effect. USC had blacks in the 1940s and 1950s when almost nobody else did. We had guys like Willie Wood and C.R. Roberts. USC never had a problem in this area. What happened for McKay is that he was the guy who had guys attain superstardom. Prior to McKay, there were no black consensus All-Americans or first round draft picks at USC, guys who achieved a lot of attention, but under McKay, he got the elite recruits, the kind of star players who were role models. This meant that USC was a program that other black kids wanted to play in. The level of quality athletes, white and black, got higher and elite-level guys got into SC, guys like O.J. Simpson and Marcus Allen.

       Now some such kid that McKay got was ready for the pros, but it was "show and tell." Two or three kids were drafted and they looked back and asked, "How did they do?" Once that happened, and our guys became stars, number one draft picks, made All-Rookie teams, made All-Pro, what it does is it elevates programs. This happened at Florida State, Ohio State, other coaches are looking at these elite programs. At Miami they had something like 21 first round picks in five years, mostly on defense

       In the 1990s, which was arguably the worst decade in the history of USC football, we still had the most pro football players, but most were linemen or linebackers. But in order to have a high caliber team like Pete Carroll has, you need skill guys. Another thing I'd have to say about McKay is that he was not afraid to play a black quarterback. The reality was that it was difficult in 1970-71 when there was a dispute over whether Jimmy Jones (black) or Mike Rae (white) should start, but he said if you're the best player, you were gonna play. Give McKay credit, because there were a lot of teams that didn't play black quarterbacks for a long time. USC did it first with Willie Wood in 1957 and McKay stuck to his guns despite great pressure and criticism with Jones over Rae.

       What It Means to Be a Trojan, well, when I played USC was not the phenomenon that SC is today. It was not quite there. It had been a famous school but we'd been on probation, and we had yet to attain that phenomenon which grew with McKay. My interest was the fact that there was a lot of history there, it was a private university, and it had a prestigious "family" of USC players and alumni who, in the real world, could help you in your life and career. There was a saying at school, whether you were an athlete or not, that, "USC takes care of its own." When I got out it was a fact. I had a short career in the NFL and went right back t o USC and asked, who can help in the real world? I was living proof it was a family, that they reach out.

       Over the years USC sent me many people to me talk about the broadcasting industry. Bob Wood, the former president of CBS and I believe the past president of the USC Trojan Club, was a member of the board of trustees. I once met him in the locker room as a player. I called him at the suggestion of Nick Pappas. Wood was in New York, and I was asked if he was expecting the call or had an appointment, and I said no and was told he probably can't speak to you. I just said, "Hey, this is Hal Bedsole," and he got right on the phone and asked what he could for me. He gave me the leads I needed and I went into the broadcast business, and later they'd send me players and non-players who graduated from USC, and I was always a contact for them. I was flattered to be asked. Then I was a guest lecturer in the USC graduate school, and I also taught in the UCLA adult education program.

       I don't go a month in my life without the phenomenon of being a Trojan happening to me in some way. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college. USC broadened my horizons. The fact is I was a player and a participant in a real world atmosphere in which I got benefits from being an athlete, as well as from being a USC student and graduate. You meet all kinds of people, people who go on to fame and sometimes infamy in different fields, people from different countries. It's all part of the USC experience. The Nixon Administration had a large number of USC graduates working for them, many of whom had been at USC when I was there. Dwight Chapin, Donald Segretti, Bart Porter, John Lewis; many of the members of the early conservative movement were recruited out of USC. Some of them were friends of mine, and things didn't always work out perfectly, but their still Trojans and you maintain loyalty to them. A lot of judges, attorneys and media professionals came out of USC, and a lot of people went into public life, into politics.

       All I'm willing to say about O.J. Simpson is that before the tragedy, there was nobody, and I mean nobody, who represented the school better than he did. He was a great and loyal Trojan who loved the school and was a first class guy. What happened that night? Everybody has their opinion. I do know an American jury found him "not guilty." They could have gotten it wrong, any jury could, but I can't speak beyond that because I don't know for certain.

       USC over the years maintained a sense of tradition, a decorum. When there were campus protests, and as colleges especially west of the Mississippi became staging grounds for protest, USC remained patriotic. The biggest change over the years is the level of academic excellence. The school was always great fun, it had fine facilities and super athletics, but some people questioned the education. They were just envious of our network, but what's happened is Dr. Steven Sample has turned it into a major college with great graduate schools; doctoral, masters. He highly elevated the prestige of our academics, while none of the other things changed.

       Many of the alumni, I for one, felt there was a time the emphasis on academics, while fine, meant a choice had been made: we were now a great academic institution, but that could never co-exist with being a sports power, at least not in football. Dr. Sample and some others made tough decisions about entrance requirements, accelerated SAT scores, and made academics a first priority. It took a while for all of this to take place, and we figured out a way to get great people in there, the right kind of athletes in line with the academics, athletes who could uphold our tradition. There was a lot of attention paid to this, but we knew there were schools where this tradition was upheld, at Penn State and Michigan. Mike Garrett and Pete Carroll get the credit. You need coaches who say, "We don’t get every kid we want, but we can compete for and get the elite kid who is a great student-athlete." This is what USC has become.

       I'm proud to be a Trojan. I did graduate, which shocked some people, but I'm part of the school in all ways. A applaud what they have done. There were grumblings, some felt Dr. Sample would our ruin athletic heritage, but lo and behold they changed and now they have elevated every aspect of the University of Southern California, to compete not just as a great sports school but a great school with terrific students.

 

Hal Bedsole was an All-American wide receiver for the 1962 national champions, catching two touchdown passes in the 42-37 Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin. He was twice all-conference, was selected a Playboy Pre-Season All-American (1963), played in the 1964 Coaches All-America Game, College All-Star Game, and Hula Bowl, and is a member of the USC Athletic Hall of Fame.  Drafted by the Vikings (NFL) and Chiefs (AFL), he played three years for Minnesota before embarking on a long career in the broadcast business.

 

WILLIE BROWN

Right Halfback

1961 - 1963

 

I came out of Long Beach Poly High School and played three years of varsity football for Coach John McKay. I was a member of the 1962 national champions, and made a key interception of a pass by Wisconsin's Ron Vanderkelen at the end of the '63 Rose Bowl to preserve it, 42-37.

            My coach at Poly was Dave Levy, and he came to USC when McKay took over the program. Dave was a good coach and a fine man. I had a lot of discussions with him about the race issue, which was prevalent at that time. USC always had a good civil rights record, but that increased dramatically with McKay. Men like Levy were pioneers in good relations between whites and blacks.

            The Los Angeles Rams of the NFL and the San Diego Chargers of the AFL drafted me. Those were the days of the "bidding wars" before the leagues merged. I chose to sign with the hometown Rams and play in the Coliseum, then finished at Philadelphia in 1966. I decided to go into coaching and was given the opportunity to become USC's first black assistant when McKay brought me on board. McKay never waited until he was pressured to do it; he just brought me in.

            I was on his staff when USC visited Alabama in that pivotal 1970 game credited with integrating Southern football. I talked to Charlie [Weaver] the other day. I heard that [he and Tody Smith] had guns, and I’m not surprised if they did. A lot was riding on it. We received hate letters sent to McKay and some of the players, so going back to the Deep South, our guys were not used to that, and now they’re exposed to that situation. I heard about that gun story, but I didn’t see it. But I’m not surprised.

I remember black people outside the stands, cheering for USC, plus people in the stadium, blacks jumping up and down cheering. They recognized the bus and cheered us after the game. They surrounded the bus, there were blacks everywhere, and they were very happy. They were rooting for us; they’d come down and were cheering for us. Our black players just took it all in, and did it with wonder. As I sat in the bus, I did recall they held candles and Bibles; people were crying; it was very emotional. This was not a regular game. It was just monumental. The players, who normally would be rowdy after a win, they were quiet. They’d played well, and the players knew something important was going down!

I was with Coach McKay until he left USC in 1975 and moved on to other places, but returned "home" and now work at heritage Hall.

 

Willie Brown starred on both sides of the ball for John McKay's 1962 national champions and was named All-Athletic Association of Western Universities (AAWU, changed to the Pacific-8, 1968) in 1962 and 1963. He earned the Davis-Teschke award (1962), was team captain and winner of the Roy Baker award for back of the year (1963), then was chosen for the Hula Bowl, East-West Shrine Game, College-All-Star Game, and the Coaches All-America Game after his senior season. Drafted by the Rams (NFL) and Chargers (AFL), he played for Los Angeles (1964-65) and Philadelphia (1966) before being tapped as USC’s first black assistant coach. He was on the staff of the 1970 team that ventured to Birmingham, Alabama and helped end segregation. Today he works in the University’s athletic department.

 

CRAIG FERTIG

Quarterback

1962 - 1964

 

I came out of Huntington Park High School and John McKay recruited me in his first year, but USC was after me before he was hired. Guess who came out to look at me first? Al Davis, that's who. Al was trying to get the job that McKay got. It dawned on McKay early on that Davis was after that job and he didn't retain him on the staff after Don Clark left, because he knew Davis would be maneuvering behind his back the whole time. It worked out for both guys.

       My father was Henry Fertig, the chief of the Huntington Park Police Department. They called him "Chief." He also owned the same little beach house down in Balboa Bay that I live in now. My dad was "Mr. SC." He went to USC the same time I did. When I was a senior, he took classes there too and we ended up in the same class together. I asked if he was checking up on me. Heck, he was more into partying than I was. Once he urged me to miss class or blow off studying or something; he said, "Let's go to the 901 Club and get a beer." I said, "I need to study, Dad," and he just laughed and said, "The professor's the chief of police down in Hermosa Beach, a pal of mine, and I take care of all his parking tickets so we're in." And we were. If you ever had parking problems, just call the Chief!

       Chief was the "chief of security" for Trojan celebs and the like. At Austin, Texas he was with John "Duke" Wayne, pouring whisky into his plastic cup while driving the Duke around Memorial Stadium, and Duke's givin' 'em the "hook 'em horns" sign. The Longhorn fans are all cheering Duke, see, because they know he's this cowboy guy and figure he's rooting for Texas. They don't know he played at USC, and the whole time Duke's telling Chief what the Texas fans can do with his middle finger. I'm keeping that clean for ya.

       Coming out of high school, Notre Dame recruited me. I'd never been on a plane. I also visited Stanford, Washington and Wisconsin. I read all the letters schools sent me, but I just wanted to travel and Dad was set on SC, and I wanted to go there. Dad had taken me to my first USC game in 1948. We tied Notre Dame, 14-14 to deny them the national championship and I just said, "I wanna be part of this."

        I played in the California Shrine high school game at the Coliseum. Craig Morton also played in that game, and Steve Thurlow, who went to Stanford. Baseball might have been my best sport in high school but it was not like it is today, where kids concentrate on just one sport. I was not fast enough for track. Remember what McKay said about me? "He's awfully skinny but he made up for it by being slow."

       Pete Beathard was ahead of me. We're lifelong friends, we were recruited together. Assistant coach Dave Levy said, "If we could have Beathard's body and Fertig's brain we'd have the most unique quarterback in nation." Beathard was a great athlete.

      So Pete and I played baseball for Rod Dedeaux when we got to USC, but one day McKay's secretary, the lovely Bonnie, strolled on out to the field and told Rod, "Coach McKay wants to see Beathard and Fertig." Well Rod knew where his bread was buttered. He had a great program but it was all paid for by football, so he said, "Take 'em." I look at Pete and he looks at me, we're trying to figure out what we did wrong. Beathard says, "I'm your roommate, I haven't left your side." We walk in and McKay's sitting there reading the sports section, so all we see is smoke drifting up from his cigar. He just says, "You guys aren't very good at either sport. Make a decision." We said, "Well, we'll play football," and he just said, "That's being smart, boys."

       In 1962 we were the national champs and I was the third string quarterback, but Coach stole something from LSU, called the "Chinese bandits." The first team offense and defense would play seven minutes in the first quarter and then he'd send in these "specialists," mostly sophomores, and we'd play the rest of the first quarter, play the last four minutes or so, and we'd do this most every quarter. 33 guys all knew they would play, and that was just great for morale. I never started but I did play. I was deeper than the deepest wide receiver. I mean the only way I could go deeper was if I was running to Julie's Trojan Barrel. I'd run to the track and then up the peristyles. I was never a threat to catch the ball but I took a defender off somebody else way down field, and we were a ball control offense, run and short passing.

       That unbeaten season saved McKay's job. They were gonna fire his behind. Dr. Norman Topping verified this; we all knew it. When we beat Notre Dame, 25-0 that just solidified the national title. I scored the last touchdown in that game, it was a bootleg run for the last six points.

       In 1963 Beathard was the first draft choice by the AFL and the NFL, the Lions and Kansas City. I suggested to him that he sign with Henry Ford and Detroit, but Al Davis and Sid Gillman were making the AFL an exciting league, so he went with Don Klosterman and the new league.

       1963 was a disappointment but a lot of guys were hurt and we were 7-3. Washington won the conference. I'd had to block Dick Butkus of Illinois the year before and I said, "This isn't in my contract." Thankfully they made me the quarterback after that.

       In 1964 we were not really sure what we would have. We were supposed to win the conference but we lost to Washington, 14-13 and didn't play Oregon State, so it went to a vote. They told us if we beat Notre Dame we'd go to the Rose Bowl. After the Notre Dame win we had a party after the game. One of our guys had just been drafted and we went to a steakhouse, it was a big celebration. The TV was on but nobody was really listening, then Fred Hessler, the voice of the Bruins, came on TV and we all saw he was talking about the Rose Bowl selection. We turned on the sound and heard him say, "This is a crime," and we knew right away we'd been robbed, and he said Oregon State, who'd beaten Idaho, 7-6, God bless 'em, was going to the Rose Bowl and we were done.

       Now, this is What It Means to Be a Trojan. After the euphoria of victory over Notre Dame, followed by the biggest letdown you ever saw learning the Rose Bowl had been denied us, there were two attorneys in the restaurant. They were USC guys, and they just opened up their wallets and the next thing we saw were two dollies with four cases of champagne, and they said, "We don't beat Notre Dame every day," and we just turned it into a party

       That game against the Fighting Irish featured us against a couple guys from Southern California. John Huarte had played at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, and his favorite receiver, Jack Snow, he'd gone to St. Anthony's in Long Beach. St. Anthony's is where Dan Lungren went to high school. Lungren's father was Richard Nixon's doctor. Lungren went to Notre Dame and USC, then got elected to Congress from Long Beach and was the Attorney General of California.

       Huarte and Snow, they were lifeguards or something but they spent the summer right outside my door on these beaches here in Orange County, running routes and practicing, Huarte passing to Snow. I don't know how they concentrated. If you ever spend time on those beaches in the summer there's so many beautiful girls to distract you I don't see how you can get any work done, but that's there story, God bless 'em, and they stuck to it. McKay saw all these guys from California playing for Notre Dame. Nick Eddy was from Tracy. We hired Mater Dei's coach. McKay was Catholic and we brought in six players from Bishop Amat, too.

       Anyway, we were moving the ball in the first half and here is the key: on Thursday we had a chalkboard on the field and Coach takes the chalk and says Notre Dame's defense has thrown their opponent's quarterback's for 79 yards in losses, so we bring the flanker back in to block for me and I liked that, it was a damn good idea. Fred Hill was our split end and Notre Dame, stubbornly or arrogantly, insisted on playing him man-to-man. We moved and threw the ball, and Mike Garrett ran well, but he got tired. Rod Sherman shifted and coughed up the ball twice. We were on his ass after that. We'd been driving and he'd cough it up, and Huarte would eat up the clock. They went up 17-0 but then they fumbled on our five.

       That was the key. Otherwise it was an uphill battle, us down 24-0, but Coach at the half said, "We'll take their opening kick and if we just do what we can do we will score," and we did. Garrett took it in and we held, and I hit Fred Hill in "Sam Dickerson's corner" of the end zone, and we hold and now it's all about time because Huarte takes so much off the clock. I hit Hill on a post pattern, which was the big play on the drive, and then we're gonna go back to Sherman, whose fumbled the ball before this.

       We were on their 15 with a minute 50 left in the game. It was fourth and eight, we're trailing 17-13 so a field goal is not an option. McKay calls for "84 Z delay," which was designed not just for a first down but aimed for the end zone. The key to it was Garrett goes in motion, and as I say on that side Notre Dame, stubborn or arrogant or however you put it, their strong safety goes with him and I let them get enough past Sherman. I know if I can just hit that seam I know he's got a clear shot at the end zone. If you look at the photo, obviously I didn't see it because they knocked me right on my behind, but I heard that big Coliseum crowd roar and I knew something good had happened. There was a minute, 33 seconds left.

       Huarte was a ball control, play-action quarterback and not the kind of guy to take a team down the field in a two-minute drill. Notre Dame threw it with loft and our safety picked it off. Huarte has a place in Pacific Palisades and a tile business, he's successful, a member of the Jonathan Club with J.K. McKay, and we've been friends over the years. "The Game is On" is a banquet we started in the back room of Julie's, three Notre Dame guys and three Trojans. Tommy Hawkins and I exchange lettermen's sweaters. One year Regis Philbin was there and we did a comedy routine with him. We're different from any other rivalry. It's about mutual respect.

       Both USC and Notre Dame are about class. We can tell their a class program and they don't cause problems. The key word is tradition, both schools have it, they're steeped in it and so are we. As a player you want the guys who precede you to be proud that you are carrying on what they created, perpetuating what the other guys did. We have plenty of respect for UCLA, too. I'm good friends with a lot of ex-Bruins and most of us are that way. We usually root for 'em unless it's for the Rose Bowl.

       I got drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1965 but that was short-lived, and Coach McKay brought me in as a coach. I have as many great memories as a coach as I have as a player. One memory that isn’t so great was the 1966 51-0 loss to Notre Dame, but in a lot of ways, that game tells you What It Means to Be a Trojan. Ara Parseghian ran up the score, trying to impress the pollsters so he could win the national championship over Michigan State and Alabama, but one of the reasons we got blown out was because McKay never stopped trying to win. We've faced other coaches, Parseghian among them, who would just run the ball into the line when they were out of it late, hoping to avoid turnovers and keep the score respectable, but not McKay. He kept putting the ball in the air, and they kept getting it back and scoring off a short field, but we held our heads high.

            A month later we refused to settle for a tie and went for a win, a two-point conversion against Purdue in the Rose Bowl, and we lost, but you had to respect McKay for trying that instead of playing it safe, going for a tie like a lot of coaches did. 

Dick Coury was the coach at Mater Dei we brought in to get that connection and he brought in six players. Toby Page, who quarterbacked our 1967 national champions, was one of those guys. Bruce Rollinson, the coach at Mater Dei now, he played at USC. We just said, "Mater Dei's our Catholic school." Page called that audible against UCLA in 1967 that resulted in O.J. Simpson's 64-yard game-winning touchdown run. Half the guys on the field never heard him call it, the crowd was so loud. Toby always gave me credit for calling that audible but I never remembered giving those instructions.

       Coach Coury saw a seam in UCLA's line when they set up for kicks and brought in tall Bill Hayhoe to block Zenon Andrusyshyn, and that was the difference in a 21-20 win that gave us the national championship in 1967.

       Then in 1970 I was part of Coach McKay's staff when we went back to Alabama to play in that memorable game that is considered a pivotal moment in civil rights history. Coach McKay asked me to drive him to the Los Angeles Airport but I never knew what was up, but he was meeting Paul "Bear" Bryant. Coach Bryant invited the Trojans to come down to Birmingham to open the 1970 season. He knew we had a highly integrated team, which was a big testament to John McKay, who probably opened more opportunities for black athletes in the 1960s than any coach anywhere. Bryant wanted a classy Trojan team to demonstrate that an integrated program can work in college. He knew his fans and alumni would respect McKay because he respected him. I sat in on history when these men planned that game, but I didn't know it at the time. The idea of it was to pave the way for Wilbur Jackson and John Mitchell to integrate 'Bama football in 1971. Sam "Bam" Cunningham had a huge game for us and after that recruiting black players in the South was just smooth, at least compared to the way it had been with Jackie Robinson and other milestones.

       The next year John Mitchell runs past McKay and I on the sideline on the first kick in the re-match at the Coliseum, and McKay wryly looks at me and says, "Well, that's what you get." We lost that game, and while McKay and all of us wanted the South to integrate, in a way it hurt us some because we had a pick of the great black athletes in the South, but now they'd go to places like 'Bama, Tennessee, you see, and the SEC built itself into the powerhouse it is today on the strength of this, but it's all worked for the best.

                   I understand a movie's gonna be made about that 1970 game based on the book One Night, Two Teams: Alabama vs. USC and the Game That Changed a Nation. J.K. McKay wants Kevin Costner to play his old man. Jon Voigt can play Bear Bryant. Colin Farrell can play me!

We did not know the ramifications of that game at first, we were just scared to death of a real good team and didn't realize what we accomplished by winning and helping them. Afterward Bear said thanks to Coach McKay at mid-field, and it was just amazing to me that he looked at a loss as something that helped his program, but it did. There was a consensus at 'Bama, but Pat Dye, who was a good friend and an assistant under Bear, knew it was Politically Incorrect if he came out and said they needed to get black players.

McKay wanted that re-match at the Coliseum because it was a big payday, and he knew Bryant could tell his group that they could come out and attend parties with Hollywood starlets in 1971. Corky McKay believed this, they worked it between themselves, and I just sat in as a needed witness. Notre Dame was the only other team Bryant could ask to come down to Birmingham at that time that would have the same national impact we had. He needed a big name, but they didn't have a lot of blacks and he thought he could beat us. Little did he know.

In 1971 we didn't know what they had. 'Bama didn't send us a whole lot of film the next year, but what they did send showed Scott Hunter passing the ball out of the "Green Bay offense," but they practiced the wishbone in secret and we were unprepared for it. It was 14-0 right away before we adjusted and then they just kept the ball away from us, played great defense and had a great place-kicker, which can be dangerous, and they beat us, 17-10.

The 1972 Trojans are the greatest college football team of all time. The 1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers were bigger but slower. We moved the ball better with the pass. The 1995 Nebraska team gets a lot of mention, and for me it's harder to compare eras because players got bigger and faster, but I can't think of a team that could beat the '72 Trojans.

 

Craig Fertig passed away in October 2008. This was his last interview. He was a member of USC's 1962 national champions, but became a certified Trojan legend in 1964 when he engineered a comeback from down 17-0 at the half to beat Notre Dame, 20-17 at the Coliseum, ending Fighting Irish hopes for their first national title in 17 years. The team captain and recipient of the Davis-Teschke award for most inspirational player his senior year, Craig was an assistant coach under John McKay from 1965-73, 1975, and was on the staff at the famed 1970 game at Birmingham. Craig entered the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, was the head coach at Oregon State in the late 1970s, and was Tom Kelly's longtime sidekick on Fox Sports TV's football telecasts. He always joked, "Back to you, Tom," a phrase he repeated for years at speaking engagements. In later years he gave tours of the USC campus. His father, Henry "Chief" Fertig, attended USC and was considered one of the school's all-time boosters. His brother-in-law, Marv Marinovich was captain of USC's 1962 national champions. His nephew, Todd Marinovich led Troy to victory in the 1990 Rose Bowl. His son, Mark Fertig lettered four years (1989-92) on the SC baseball team. 

 

BILL FISK JR.

Right Guard

1962 - 1964

 

I was an All-American in 1964 and had always wanted to be a Trojan; I was born to be a Trojan. I came out of San Gabriel High School, which was very competitive. In those days you had to win your league title in order to get into the CIF-Southern Section play-offs. My dad had played against Jackie Robinson, who went to a rival high school, Muir in Pasadena. In Jackie's day he played in the L.A. City Section even though Pasadena is not part of the city of Los Angeles.

       My dad was a huge influence on me, having played at USC and coached there. Bill Fisk (senior) played at USC and was an assistant under Jeff Cravath and Jess Hill from 1949 to 1956.  We picked up a lot of stuff, my mom kept a scrapbook. My dad played with the Lions and the 49ers. I asked him what he remembered most and he said a College All-Star Game he played in, and the band or the public address played "Fight On!"

       We went both ways in my day. I was an offensive guard and a linebacker. I was six feet tall and weighed in at 210 pounds, but by the time I got to be a senior I was 225 or 230. The rules were different, and you bet we went both ways, but for this reason you did not bulk up the way they do today.  We played Washington and I never went off the field.

       It was a crazy time in 1962 with some crazy rules instituted about substituting, and John McKay set up the "red," "gold" and "green" teams. So many guys played that morale was great. You had to substitute the whole team. They had changed substitution rules so we went two ways. Pete Beathard had to play defensive back. Craig Fertig didn't not do much in 1962, he didn't play much until his senior year. He backed up Bill Nelsen and Beathard.

       We had a small weight room and I was one of the guys who lived in that weight room. I got a key and let myself in. Gary Kirner and a few other guys lifted weights, but the coaches didn't like us lifting weights. The thinking back then was completely different from today, the fallacy being that weights tied you up, slowed you down. Once I was lifting by myself, bench pressing 430 pounds, but I couldn't lift it and had to let the weights crash to the floor. Everybody came running in to find out what the commotion had been. We had a special group who were into weights despite the coaches admonishing us not to. I got up to 450 pounds on the bench. Assistant coach Mike Giddings said I'd bench myself right out of the league. Everybody wanted speed and agility and said they couldn't use weights because it would slow you down.

       Mike Garrett was a little guy who realized the value of weights. He was also a good baseball player and he advised his teammate, Tom Seaver, to start lifting weights. Seaver became one of the first baseball players to really benefit from weight training. I was doing my graduate work at that time and they were doing that, but I'd done it since my senior year in high school.

       Craig Fertig was always a fun guy on trips. Talk to Craig about a game against Ohio State at the Coliseum. He comes in and we're on our own 20. Craig takes his first snap from center and he drops the ball. I'm supposed to be pulling out of the line and go to my left. I try to grab it and I kicked the ball 20 feet in the air, so to this day he'd always ask me if I was trying a dropkick.

       McKay was an old school coach who did not believe in a lot of water on the field. He'd always say to watch how much you could drink, that it would slow you down. I thought, "Man, that's ridiculous." McKay was aloof. I had one teammate who'd see Coach McKay when after he had workstudy and the guy wanted to hide behind a tree. McKay would call people "Billy" or  "Tommy" or "Johnny." He'd refer to you like that, but you'd see him coming and go the other way. He did the jokes with writers, but not with players. At practice he'd be up on the tower with a megaphone, and you'd hear him and just stop. Coach Marv Goux would grab your facemask and kick your face. That was how it was then.

       In 1962 we were an integrated team that traveled to Dallas, Texas to play segregated Southern Methodist. I knew about the C.R. Roberts game at Texas in 1956, and I know about the 1970 Sam Cunningham game at Birmingham in 1970. Our game fell in between those, but there were no problems in Dallas in '62. It neither caused the problems of C.R. Roberts's game in 1956, or the changes of the Sam Cunningham game in 1970. We won the game. What I do remember is that it was hot and the bugs were huge. We should have run over them but the score was closer than it should have been.

       My dad was on Howard Jones's 1939 national championship team, and in 1962 we won the first national title since that '39 team. They called us a "Cinderella team" because we were not rated to do anything. In 1961 we didn't have a good record, but we surprised everybody the next season.  Now it's all PR. The times are different. There weren't all the ratings systems like we have today.

       I faced some great players. I played against Dick Butkus at Illinois. In 1962 we went to Champaign and defeated the Illini, 28-16. It didn't matter to Butkus, it could be an exhibition or an all-star game, if he was opposite you, he'd try and kill anybody. I played against Alan Page of Notre Dame, both on off-guard and on defense, where I'd play nose or tackle. He moved, he slanted quick.

       Pete Beathard was so good, he could run or throw out of the I, and he was a great athlete. The other side of that was he'd be nervous in the huddle, it would take him awhile to calm down. I was not surprised that he enjoyed success with the Houston Oilers. Our other quarterback, Bill Nelsen, was tough as nails. That was the difference in the two quarterbacks. Beathard was a great athlete but Nelsen was really tough, he was like a drill sergeant, then Pete would come in and he was quiet. Nelsen dislocated his finger, and he'd pop it back in. Nelsen once led USC to a win over Billy Kilmer and UCLA, when I was on the freshman team. My first varsity year was in 1962. Kilmer had a reputation for toughness, too, but Nelsen was tougher than Kilmer, who was more of a partier. Later, Bill led the Cleveland Browns into the play-offs, and you'd see him on TV playing in freezing cold weather on a muddy field, and his knees by then were like glass, but he was always tough.

       In 1964 we had high expectations even though we no longer had Nelsen or Beathard. McKay called me in his office and asked Craig and me to give more senior leadership. We had a good team but the season was a disappointment, since we beat Notre Dame after being promised the Rose Bowl, only to see Oregon State go for beating Idaho by a point.

       Notre Dame was unbeaten and one win from Ara Parseghian's first national championship, with Heisman winner John Huarte at quarterback. What happened was, I was in there the last series at guard, and of course Craig Fertig hit Rod Sherman for the winning touchdown, bringing us from 17-0 down to a 20-17 victory, and everybody went wild like I've never seen. They were just super excited. When the gun went off, people were on the field and you could not get off the field. The tradition is for seniors to go over to the student section and say good-bye after their last home game, by I couldn't get to those stands for the introductions. I was hyperventilating.

       I've been asked if I see Notre Dame players very much, and what they tell me about being on the other side of that, but I really haven’t seen a lot of those guys over the years. Craig sees those Notre Dame guys a lot.

      What It Means to Be a Trojan is to connect with being a USC guy, not being a so-called "Big Man on Campus." I was brought up to be a Trojan because of Dad. My dad coached there. I was five and my brother was seven, and we had full SC uniforms, and he'd bring home blocking bags, and I was a kid on the bench and sit on the equipment bench. I was always in the locker room. I remember Marv Goux when he was a player. For me, I realized my dream of playing there. UCLA offered me the first scholarship and at first I said, "Well, I guess I'm going to UCLA," which upset everybody until USC gave me a scholarship. Ask everybody and they'll tell you, it's a Trojan family, it's the Trojan huddle, it's the former players

       I coached for 40 years at Mt. San Antonio College. I was the head coach for 18 years, so I couldn't go to many games, we played on Saturdays, but then I retired and started to take my kids to the games. My son paints his face cardinal and gold, and the last couple years two of my coaches, Rocky Seto and Demetrice Martin, have been on Pete Carroll's staff, so I get to say hi to them and hang out around the team.

       Carroll is tremendous; his enthusiasm, the way he relates to players. McKay was not there for you like that, you were afraid of him, but Carroll throws balls to guys, he laughs. It's not all Xs and Os, it's how you treat people. I love his practice schedule, how they compete every Tuesday. He's changed the way football is coached.

       The question is whether his way is unique to college, or whether it works in the pros. That's hard to say. Pro football is a business involving a lot of money, so there's a difference from the enthusiasm and fun with college players. There's not as much in the pros, it's a different environment, especially from when I coached at the community college level.

       When I was at Mt. SAC, one of our big rivals was Pasadena City College. Harvey Hyde coached them. He and I worked out together at the Pasadena gym. I've enjoyed hearing his radio reports with Chuck Hayes on "Trojan Talk."

       I've come a long ways from the old days when I was just a little guy sitting on the bench when my dad was an assistant. The L.A. Times used to do a series of articles about great past events, and once they ran a photo of Aramis Dandoy returning a kick 100 yards vs. UCLA. I looked at the picture, and there was a kid on the sidelines running downfield with him. That was me. J.K. McKay was a little kid who'd run around the sidelines when I was playing, too. When USC played in the Rose Bowl, he'd watch the game from a particular place next to the end zone, and he said he'd always envision catching a touchdown pass in that corner of the end zone. In the 1975 Rose Bowl he caught the winning touchdown from Pat Haden in that very end zone.

       Playing football at USC was so special, like the fact that a lot of USC players were in the movies. Once we all went took a bus to see a showing of Spartacus, and when Marv Goux came on screen we all yelled for him. People in the theatre were wondering, "Why are they cheering?" Craig Fertig to this day brags about killing a Roman soldier in that movie.

 

Bill Jr. was a member of John McKay's 1962 national champions, and the 1964 team that beat Notre Dame. In that season he was an All-American, all-conference and team co-captain. He was selected for the East-West Shrine Game and the Hula Bowl. Bill was the head football coach at Mt. San Antonio Junior College in Walnut, California. Fisk's father, also named Bill, played in two winning Rose Bowls and was a member of the 1939 national title team. After an NFL career he became an assistant coach for the Trojans.

 

TIM ROSSOVICH

Defensive End

1965 - 1967

 

The way a kid from St. Francis High School in the San Francisco Bay Area becomes a Trojan is that, what happened was I was friends with Gary Beban, who starred for a nearby high school in Redwood City and we went on recruiting trips together. I was recruited by Stanford. I was born at Stanford University Hospital in nearby Palo Alto and grew up almost next to the campus, in the Los Altos area. By my senior year I was fortunate enough to attract 125 scholarship offers. My mother's first choice was Stanford.  Coach John Ralston was a wonderful man but he had bad football teams. Coming from a Catholic high school, Notre Dame was next on the list, but it was all boys then and that was not to my liking. Gary Beban and I were co-Peninsula Players of the Year and we took a lot of trips together, including to Los Angeles. He liked UCLA the best and I liked USC the best. Stanford was too close to home and they weren't good. I didn't want to play for a bad team and I didn't want to play for a Southern or Eastern team.

The decision-maker for me was when Coach John McKay showed me his 1962 national championship ring, and he said what he says to everybody: "Do you want one of these?" or something like that. He had an office overlooking Tommy Trojan. They'd have somebody take you around campus and he'd just say, "I'll see you on Sunday before you go home." The next thing you know, Ron Schwerdle, whose now a big movie producer and was the team manager at the time, picked me up downstairs in a limo and takes me to a beach party. I spent the weekend down at the beach, barbecuing and having fun playing at the beach. We came back and I took a quick tour of the campus, and then we went to Coach McKay's office. He says, "What do you think?" and I just say, "Where do I sign?" After playing on a patch of grass at my high school I can play at the Coliseum? It was a wonderful experience and an easy choice, and I was still in California.

Of all my teammates, Mike Battle was one of the most memorable. He was a little guy but nobody had a bigger heart than he had. He always had something to prove. Whatever he wanted to prove, he was gonna prove that he was the baddest, toughest dude and nobody was going to be his master. Marv Goux loved him. He was a Marv Goux-type of player all the way. Marv recruited me and talked my parents into believing that this is where I should be. He drank tea with honey and I never forgot that.

O.J. Simpson was the only person I saw who was more talented - but that was because of his size - than was Mike Garrett. O.J. was God-gifted with size and speed. Garrett was a senior when I was a sophomore and he could outrun people. At Cal he was returning a kick or a punt and all of a sudden he catches the ball and eight or 10 Cal players hit him at the same time, and they all go down in a pile. Garrett squeezed like a seed out of a grapefruit and ran for a score. Not to take anything away from O.J., who was far and above anybody in his time, but Garrett was awesome.

St. Francis was good and they've been good to this day. We never played O.J. in high school. He played in the San Francisco Academic Athletic Association and I played in the West Catholic Athletic League against St. Ignatius, Riordan, Serra, Bellarmine, Mitty; those schools. When I started at St. Francis there were 300 students and the coach built the football team into the top power in the Central Coast Section.

The 1967 UCLA game was wonderful. They came in number one and I think we were number two, and it was not just for the Rose Bowl or bragging rights for L.A. It was for the whole ball of wax; the national title, the Rose Bowl, who was the best, the Heisman Trophy, it all came down to that. It was close, 21-20 on a blocked extra point.

People think that in a game of that magnitude it's different, the intensity level is higher, and once or twice the on-field intensity is amped up, but it's a big question and hard to answer except for the fact that it's your job, it's what you're there for. You're responsible, and if you have any integrity and care about your reputation, if you care about what you do, you want to be respected by your opponents. You want them to have to look over their shoulder at you. If comes down to what they do best, I can do best and better, and after you dump somebody on their back you lift them up and slap on them on the back and say, "Nice play." The next time they're gonna be looking for you and saying, "Where is he?"

The 1967 Trojans were one of the best teams ever, and we set the record for most first round draft picks from any school in a single year. Ron Yary was the first pick by Minnesota. There was myself (Eagles), Earl McCullough (Lions), Mike Taylor (Steelers)  and Mike Hill (Bears), plus Adrian Young was drafted by the Eagles like me. He was my best friend and co-captain, but he was pissed off that I was chosen in the first round and he was not. I was 6-5 or 6-6, 220 or 225 pounds, but Adrian didn't have that kind of size.

I never lifted weights. We had a little weight room down in the bowels of the old gym. Bill Fisk was in there all the time. There was some Russian shot-putter who lifted weights there. All there was were a few barbells, a couple of dumbbells. Now they have million-dollar equipment.

We had great baseball teams at USC when I was there. Garrett played baseball with Bill "Spaceman" Lee and Tom Seaver. I didn't really know Spaceman all that well, but Seaver was my fraternity brother. He was one of the Sigma Chi crazy guys. God, he had such talent. He proved that in his pro career. Seaver was intelligent and had a good personality. I don't know how smart he was other than he was fun to be around, and we were there to be the best we could be as athletes and as people. He was never a bad person. With the Mets he had a reputation for his intellect, and he returned to USC every year for years until he finally graduated.

We beat Indiana in the 1968 Rose Bowl, 14-3 to clinch the national title. It was as much a game of redemption as it was a game of glory because we'd lost to Purdue the year before, and of course I totally blame that on myself. The score was 14-13 and I missed an extra point. I'd missed a 47-yard field goal a little wide to the right, but those were the days of straight-on kickers so it was a pretty good shot. We trailed 14-6 and scored in the last minute, then McKay went for two and the win instead of kicking for the tie, but we failed and lost to Bob Griese. McKay took my kicking shoe off my senior year.

Finishing number one in 1967 was a double blessing. It had been a wonderful season until we went to Oregon State and played in the mud. Bill Enyart ran through us and it poured rain. We lost 3-0. He was about a 260-pound fullback. O.J. was not a "mudder." He could not run in the mud. Somehow, someway Enyart pounded way close enough for a field goal and we lost 3-0. Well, my God, we were fortunate because the other teams in the top 10 went down so it came down UCLA and that memorable game, and it was something for all of us to remember, for everything. It was so close.

Beban passed for something like 303 yards. I was right in his face but he still completed passes. He was a wonderful athlete. He didn't have the size or the arm for the NFL, but at the college level he was amazing.

Indiana played us in the Rose Bowl. They were coached by John Pont, and we handled them, 14-3. The Big 10 was going through a period in between the dominance of the 1940s and '50s, and before the great rivalry of Woody Hayes at Ohio State and Bo Schembechler at Michigan. Our conference was better and we demonstrated it. That game was a long time ago, but I know against Indiana we played good defense and pounded it out. That was our way, the way our guys did it. If O.J. didn't go wild, we only gave up 87 points all season. He didn't need to do all that much. It was pretty much a defensive struggle. When you give up less than a touchdown a game, you're gonna won most of them. Our only loss was 3-0. You'd think a national title team could muster more than that.

They call the years I was at the University of Southern California the "golden age" of USC, and also of Hollywood, of the city of Los Angeles. The Dodgers, Angels and Lakers were all established by then. Movies transitioned from the old studio system, and some of the people most responsible for that were at USC then. Among them were George Lucas and John Milius, two brilliant filmmakers.

Over at UCLA Francis Ford Coppola was in their film school with Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek of The Doors. Steven Spielberg was hanging around with all these guys.

I knew Rod Dedeaux and his son Justin very well. Justin was a student and played on the baseball team. The Pittsburgh Pirates wanted to sign me out of high school, and every year Rod wanted me to come play baseball. I wanted to go to the beach and party, so I never did, but baseball was my favorite sport. I was better in baseball, but I knew if I went to the Pirates I'd be stuck in their farm system for years. I figured I'd be a "smart guy" and take a scholarship to college. It worked out; a national championship and 10 years in the National Football League.

I'm always asked about "setting myself on fire," which I did on the cover of Sports Illustrated. I had a cast on at the time. I'd hurt my knee and got the okay to use the Philadelphia Eagles' team jersey. NFL Films and Steve Sabol filmed me doing it, wearing the green jersey. I had a full wet cast.

To be honest Sabol, who was living with me in an apartment complex, was a master manipulator. We just came up with this "where are they now" segment and he has me on his show, and I told him a story about being on fire. Gary Pettigrew, a defensive tackle, was with me, and I told the story about when I was at SC and they said we couldn’t park in the parking lot. That upset me so I turned over one car. The gas cap came off and gas leaked out. Someone had been smoking a cigarette. Sabol was in the room and he saw the fire. They had all these hoses out. I was naked and I jumped through the flames, slipped and fell, and so I was in the fire and got burned a little bit, but I was fortunate I had no serious burns. They turned the hoses on me. I knew from that I could burn a certain period of time before sustaining serious injury. The legend got around and Sports Illustrated came around. They asked me if I'd light myself on fire. They said, "We'll put you on the cover," so I said okay.

I played for the Eagles and then San Diego where I was a teammate of Mike Garrett, who had come back to pro football after taking time off to play professional baseball. Johnny Unitas and Dan Fouts were on the team with me.

The Trojans today I think are doing pretty good. My wife follows football much more than I do. What It Means to Be a Trojan means, "Once a Trojan, always a Trojan." If they need me I'm there for them. That's the feeling of respect John McKay and Marv Goux instilled in all their players. It's a family forever. It's about respect, and the experience to have gone there is one I cherish forever. After football I had a 25-year acting career, and I did stunt work. Those were special years.

 

Tim Rossovich is one of the greatest college linemen of all time. A 1967 consensus All-American and All-AAWU selection, he was the co-captain of the national championship team that defeated Indiana in the Rose Bowl. He played in the 1968 Coaches All-America Game and College All-Star Game. A recent inductee into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame, Tim was a first round selection by Philadelphia, playing in the NFL until 1976 before launching a long career as a Hollywood actor and stuntman.

 

RON YARY

Offensive Tackle-Defensive Tackle

1965 - 1967

 

I played one semester at Cerritos J.C. What attracted me to USC was my coaches instructed me to go there. My high school coaches from Bellflower directed me to go there. I didn't know USC from Johns Hopkins, but my coaches explained the tradition of USC.

Once there, incredible people surrounded me. Tim Rossovich's attitude was that he brought intensity and leadership. He was very intense, but off the field he knew how to have a lot of fun. He made you laugh.

Mike Battle was the same way; extremely intense and reckless on the field. Off the field he was also very reckless and knew how to have fun. He played with reckless abandon.

Adrian Young on the field was reckless too. You have to be completely reckless. I mean this completely. Let me put it to you this way; the only place I ever felt completely safe, where I knew I was safe, was being in the middle of the football field at game time. I was more at home there than sitting on my couch watching TV. I've never been anywhere or done anything else where I felt as centered as in the game of football. You have to be reckless, careless and unconcerned of the consequences of what you do. You have to feel immortal or you don't play up to your maximum ability.

Young was smart. He had decent size and good strength, but his smarts and field vision were assets. We were all smart, all of us were. Two guards; one got a master's degree, Steve Lehmer . . . Fred Khasigian became an orthopedic surgeon. We had surgeons and dentists. Chuck Arrobio, our tackle, became a dentist. We had smart guys on our team plus some average students who were lucky to play at a great university. Mike Scarpace was a great lineman, too.

The 1967 team was special. Mike Battle was not a stupid guy, but what happens to some football players is that some get trapped in this childhood being for life. It's a kid's game and some don’t mature and become fully adult for some time. You don't study, you're not mature, and you form bad personal habits off the field. Mike just took longer to adjust to life, that's all. He needed everything he had on the field to be great.

            Blocking for O.J. Simpson was something you don't appreciate until you play against him. I didn't get a chance to watch him run when I was blocking. You don't keep your eyes on him, and of course my job was pretty much, in that era, making the holes for him to run through. We lived and died in a seven-hole system, not like runners today where the hole develops as the line explodes. The running back runs to daylight. When we played the one hole to the right of the center; 10 people were in there and you had to dig 'em out. In the new era if a guy's in the center he'll be slanted, the guard stays with him.

The direction of the line was designed for O.J. Simpson. He was the type of runner; he was restricted in his day by the holes in the blocking scheme. A five- or seven-hole run outside of it. He was a runner with great athletic ability, but in his day he didn't gain as many yards as he'd gain in a more wide-open modern offense. He'd pick up more yards than he did, but he was an incredible running back and once he was in the secondary, you knew he was gonna get more than the average running back. It would take the defensive backs to chase him down.

             In the 1977 Super Bowl, there were seven Trojans playing for the Oakland Raiders. Steve Riley and I were with Minnesota. The 1967 and 1972 Trojan national champions were almost the junior varsity squad for the 1976 world champion Raiders and NFC champion Vikings.

That said, I had no time to reminisce or look back at my college days, I was captured by that moment. I'd already lost three Super Bowls. In 1970 we'd lost to my teammate, Mike Garrett and Kansas City, and damned if we're gonna lose another one. It was the hardest game I ever lost in my life. Losing to the Raiders really bothered me. It never stuck with me to lose most of the time because I played up to my ability, but that day I was bothered because I was a four-time time Super Bowl loser (1970, Chiefs; 1974, Dolphins; 1975, Steelers; 1977, Raiders). I didn't have time to look and reminisce, it was too intense a game, but in retrospect I became proud that so many USC players were Super Bowl champions.

 

Ron Yary is one of the greatest football players in American history. A two-time consensus All-American (1966-67), he became Troy's (and the West Coast's) only recipient of the Outland Trophy in 1967, the year USC won John McKay's second national championship. He was a Playboy Pre-season All-American in 1967 and was a three-time all-conference first teamer. He is a member of both the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame and the USC Athletic Hall of Fame. In 1968 Yary was the number pick in the entire NFL draft, selected by Minnesota. USC's five first rounders set the record for most first round selections from one school in a single draft. He played for the Vikings (1968-82) and the Rams (1982), participating in Super Bowls IV, XIII, IV and XI. In the 1977 Super Bowl at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, won by Oakland over Minnesota, seven Trojans played for the Raiders and two (Yary and Steve Riley) for the Vikings. A perennial All-Pro tackle in Minnesota, Yary is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. His brother, Wayne played football at USC from 1969-70.

 

ADRIAN YOUNG

Linebacker

1965 - 1967

 

I was born in Dublin, Ireland. My parents are both full Irish. My father was a soccer fan. He worked for a paper mill in Ireland, where all the factories had mill teams. I rode a bike in Ireland and was 10 years old when I came to America.

            My father came to America in 1953 and moved to Baltimore, where he lived with relatives and saved money. Then he sent money for my mom, my brother, and I. We came on a boat to New York, not unlike my ancestors who came to Ellis Island around the turn of the century. We stayed in Baltimore where we had relatives, but my father recognized that there was opportunity in California. The defense industry was booming and there were many small machine shops that serviced the industry.

            My father opened a machine business in the Norwalk area, but then we moved to La Puente, where I entered Bishop Amat High School. My freshman year they moved back to the Norwalk area, to La Mirada, but I stayed at Bishop Amat as they had a great football program and excellent academics. Every day I hitchhiked from La Mirada to La Puente. I'd hitchhike at Highway 39 and Whittier Boulevard, then hitchhike back. The whole time I played sports. My freshman year I played basketball and ran track as well as football, plus I had an academic scholarship, so it was very difficult but I was determined to stay at Bishop Amat.

            I fell in love with football and decided after my first year that it was my main interest. Oh boy, was I happy when I was finally old enough to get a car to drive to school and back. I graduated from Bishop Amat in 1964. My coach was Phil Cantwell. Later Marv Marinovich's brother, Gary, became the coach there, and he coached J.K. McKay, Pat Haden and Paul McDonald.

            Even though I was Irish, my family had never really heard of Notre Dame. I had no frame of reference on the difference between Notre Dame and USC, and I didn't even know what football was at first. But I became well acquainted with the game at Bishop Amat, plus I had good grades and could go anywhere I wanted.

            I understood discipline. Catholic schools would pit ethnics vs. each other, like Italians vs. Irish. At St. Canisius in Dublin, where I'd gone before coming to America, the priests wore a leather belt as part of their wardrobes, and they'd take that belt out and whack you with it for talking. They were tough guys and you grew up a tough guy in that environment.

            Our uniforms at Bishop Amat were based on the Notre Dame style, and Coach Cantwell had played for Frank Leahy at Notre Dame. It's been asked of me many times, why would I pick USC despite so many things in my life pushing me to Notre Dame? It wasn't really the sunny climate that I had gotten used to in Southern California. Rather, I just remember going to the Coliseum, and the horse was circling the field, and my brother at the time was at UCLA, and I'd been there, but I was attracted to SC's style, the projection of their image.

            As a kid from a poor background you learned so much at USC, because across the hall from you might be the son of a famous Hollywood entrepreneur, but we were all in it together, we all belonged. It was USC. Sometimes only people who have been through it can relate to it.

            At USC, you are comfortable around wealth, and you are in an arena where expectations are tremendous. People you live with expect big things from you. You have peers who you went through this experience with, and they all have high expectations, so during that time, when many are grasping for what they will be in life, at a place like USC you gain a sense of confidence in yourself. It was a nice setting. People have always said it's a bad neighborhood, but living in a gritty urban setting, and it was more so then than today, this was part of the overall education experience. It made for a more well-rounded life experience than if you attended college in a rural farm setting.

            The football team had really impressed me. They had guys like Damon Bame, Pete Beathard, Hal Bedsole, Ben Wilson; those guys were incredible. Your dream is some day to participate at that level. USC had won the national championship in 1962, so there was an expectation coming in that we would do something like that, but we met with some disappointment and when my senior year (1967) rolled round, it was the last chance for a lot of us.

            O.J. Simpson had transferred in from City College of San Francisco, and when the season started it was immediately obvious that we were a definite contender for the title. When we traveled to Notre Dame in October the game had every possible ramification attached to it.

            This is the game that everybody associates me with, on many levels, not the least of which was my Irish ancestry, and I've been asked many times what we did on defense that week. I was a linebacker. That week I think what we did was Tim Rossovich and Jimmy Gunn, who were defensive ends, brought additional pressure from outside, similar to what the modern New England Patriots do with their 3-4 defense, so we ended up having an outside linebacker become a stand-up linebacker, and this placed more pressure on their quarterback, Terry Hanretty.

            He was obviously confused and we dropped one weak end, Gunn, so my drop went to the center of the field and they tried to hit crossing patterns and I had quick feet and could really run backward. I was deeper than he was used to seeing and he saw receivers crossing because Rossovich was on him and I was there. I was like a rover. This was a hybrid cross between a linebacker and safety and it was only then becoming common in football. You saw it with George Webster at Michigan State and a guy like Rossovich, despite being 6-5, 235 pounds, was fast and agile enough to cross over and handle some of those hybrid responsibilities. We did this, it wreaked havoc on offenses and had Hanretty utterly confused.

            We had big guys as strong safeties and defensive ends who became rover backs. The athleticism of the game was changing. My great strength was speed and good hands. I was a student of the game and took a liking to the chess aspect of football.

            Coach McKay gave me lot of latitude, so I could audible, I could call blitzes if we went to the strong side but they went to the sideline, and I could go the opposite way. Instead of the weak side we could go to the opposite side of the field if the opponent went from one side to the strong side. That was the joy of football for me.

            If you look at that game, Hanretty was constantly coming off the field shaking his head, waving his hands at Coach Ara Parseghian, asking for help because he did not know how to handle our defense.

            In 1967 we really kind of put USC on the path to what they became, what they are now. We brought in some great assistant coaches around that time. Mike Giddings left to go to Utah or Utah State, then Dick Coury came in from Mater Dei, and with him started that Mater Dei connection. We already had a Bishop Amat connection. It was important for McKay to get the best players from Catholic programs in Southern California, to deny Notre Dame this talent pipeline.

            Coach Coury had a sharp eye and noticed that UCLA's Zenon Andrusyshyn was a soccer-style place-kicker and he kept putting Bill Hayhoe in front of him, and Zenon's kicks kept getting blocked, and that was the difference in a 21-20 win for us.

            That Bruin game of 1967, the backdrop was that it was a great opportunity for us, because we had lost at Corvallis, in the rain and mud, the previous week, 3-0. We had landed in Corvallis on a Thursday or Friday and went straight to the field. It was raining "cats and dogs," and you could tell McKay knew we were in trouble. Our strength was our ground game. O.J. was incredible, but they responded with a fullback named Bill Enyart who pounded away at us all day long. They kicked a field goal and beat us 3-0. To this day I dispute that field goal. It was raining hard and not easy to see, and that referee put his hands up early. The NBC announcers all had angles questioning it but it counted.

            I don't believe we lost to Oregon State because we were looking ahead to UCLA. They were just a good team that beat us on a muddy day. O.J. had a good day but we just could not score. But I said after that game that we get to play UCLA, we got to play a team that was ranked number one and if we win we could win we could get to number one against them. It was almost a relief to have our destiny still in our hands, plus so much else was riding on that game: the conference title, the Rose Bowl, the Heisman Trophy between O.J. and Gary Beban, and the usual bragging rights in Los Angeles.

            This is one of those games, like the 1966 "Game of the Century" between Notre Dame and Michigan State, or the 1969 Texas-Arkansas game, that re-defined college football. Color television was becoming pretty regular, and this made the games a brilliant kaleidoscope, a pageant. Old school announcers like Bud Wilkinson were fading out and being replaced by guys who would become synonymous as the "voices" of college football, guys like Chris Schenkel who'd say ". . . and here come the Trojans," or Keith Jackson.

            The country got a full dose of California sunshine and the USC-UCLA game had the added attraction of both teams wearing home colors, which made it brighter, and that was the first year we had song girls because a wealthy donor had refused to give to the school so long as we had females on the field other than in the marching band, but I guess that guy died that year.  

            I think that game was pretty even. Some have said UCLA out-played us but we benefited from Beban not being 100 percent. He had sore ribs and had to leave after I tackled him, he came off the field and after O.J.'s touchdown put us ahead he was not at 100 percent to lead a comeback drive.

            To this day I'm a hated guy over in Westwood because I tackled Beban and he was hurt. Once I was introduced to a woman and when she heard my name she just turned away from me and called me a dirty SOB, but like the tackle made by one of the McKeever twins against Mike Bates of Cal back in 1959 - McKeever was exonerated when Cal sued, if you can believe it, but the tape showed it was legit - mine was a clean hit, it was just part of the game, and that's the truth.

            We won and that was what propelled us to the national title, but Beban was voted the Heisman. At the time I thought it was wrong, politics plays a part in what happens Frankly I was an All-American but others were as good, but I was on the right team with good PR. My focus was always on enjoyment of game, playing the game for the thrill of it.

            What It Means to Be a Trojan? Well, Marv Goux is as good an example of what this means as anybody. I don't recall all the specifics but the thing he excelled at was after the final practice of the week we'd gather in the old physical education building. This place would have an echo, the ceiling was no more than eight feet tall, and the band would be crowded down there, and it was an electric feeling in the old "dungeon." Marv would give his pep talk, and he'd say that we'll rape, pillage, take no prisoners, steal their confidence, don't let them in our territory.

            Yet Marv was a sweetheart, the real deal, and very emotional. There were these racquetball courts, and I recall that I tried to play for my footwork. Marv would play, I can't recall against who, maybe Jess Hill? Maybe an assistant coach or former coach? If you were one of Marv's guys he'd invite you in and Marv had this rubber suit, but after playing him I knew it was not to sweat in but rather to withstand the power of the balls these guys would drive against each other. He was friendly but when business was at hand and the battle was to be won, there was no messing around with Marv Goux, but away from that he was a real nice guy.

            The period I was at USC, the mid-1960s, this is considered a golden era in so many ways. First of all, it was the middle of the greatest period of athletic dominance, under two athletic directors - Jess Hill and later John McKay - in the history of college sports. The football team was the best in the nation. The Trojans dominated everything; baseball, tennis, track, swimming, you name it. This was the era of the Bruin-Trojan basketball rivalry when Lew Alcindor was at UCLA. UCLA was at its peak in football, so the rivalry between the two schools has never been more intense. It was a time when USC and UCLA represented social progress during a time when much of America was still segregated.

            The 1960s saw the rise of California as an electoral juggernaut, the rise of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. A lot of USC guys were with Nixon and many of them later went down with Watergate. There was a huge Military Industrial Complex in Los Angeles and a population explosion that made L.A. bigger than Chicago.  It was the '60s, the politics of the era, the "Summer of Love," rock music, and a big decade for Hollywood. USC's film school got hot, and I was there with George Lucas, John Milius and Tom Selleck, among many others.

            Tom Seaver was a baseball player at USC at the time. He was a Sigma Chi and I spent a lot time over there. I knew him socially. He was friendly, a little cocky, plus he was a baseball player who was as tough as a football player. He had great big legs and the body of a running back or tight end, and he liked to project himself as a tough guy. There were a lot of baseball-football guys, like Mike Garrett, who was good friends with Seaver. They'd hang out together, and with Justin Dedeaux.

            His dad, Rod Dedeaux, was the baseball coach and I thought he was a motivator, a guy with many cliches. While I knew him, I knew his daughter better, she married my agent who was also my business law proctor, which tells you a lot about how the agent's profession has changed. Dedeaux had a winning persona. He and McKay were drinking buddies.

            McKay was a wit but kept his distance. He had his reasons. I remember driving from someplace on a Sunday after a game on a Saturday and McKay had a sports show on Sunday and I recall being on the freeway with McKay in traffic. I looked over and I know he saw me but he didn't acknowledge me, not because he was unfriendly but he just wanted to be guy who was not emotionally involved. He hired Goux to get involved with guys. He was like the CEO of a corporation, looking at the macro not the micro.

            My nickname was Ado and he called me that. It's hard to explain, but when we played Notre Dame, he had a way of gauging our intensity and preparation. McKay picked captains. The players voted on captains but each week McKay picked captains for that week, and he chose me before the Notre Dame game, and during pre-game warm-ups he was watching us closely. Back in the locker room he quietly approached me and said, "Ado, we're beaten already." I was the quasi-leader already and he said, "I want the two captains, you and other guy, to speak to the team because this locker room is dead."

            It's a challenging environment in South Bend and we had not beaten them there since 1939, plus we'd lost 51-0 in 1966. I gave a talk. I sensed that McKay wanted something extra from me, and I really focused on his sensitivities, and could see this was a game he really and truly wanted, above all others. He stood back and I spoke, and I had tears on my face. We had played there two years before in 1965 and they beat us, and towards the end their fans waved handkerchiefs, waving them at us, mocking us as we left the field in defeat. I said this time it would be different, and I had to wipe tears out of my eyes, and it was emotional and apparently set just the right tone for that team, but it was McKay's intuitive ability to sense when something like that was needed that made him a special coach, because he did not usually call for that sort of thing.

            What I liked about McKay was that he did not go in and just think hard work all week would get us in, but he was sensitive to the team's emotions. What I remember about that 51-0 game was McKay went for it on fourth down and did not make it even with the game gone. McKay created an environment where winning was the only option. We lost 51-0 because he never stopped trying to win, you never killed him. He never admitted he'd lost. It was like Braveheart, like some Gaelic fighter, noble in a lost cause, fighting like Trojans, and this was What It Means to Be a Trojan. After we lost after missing a two-point conversion, 14-13 to Purdue in the 1967 Rose Bowl, he said when asked upset about going for two that we'd not shown up to lose. When we beat Indiana, 14-3 a year later in the Rose Bowl to capture the national championship, he said, "The point of the game's to win, isn't it?"

             The losses to Notre Dame and Purdue sowed the seeds for the greatness of 1967. I distinctly recall McKay never played for ratings. Ara Parseghian was running draws in the fourth quarter to kill the clock and protect his ratings, but not McKay.

            O.J. Simpson had the most incredible ability to change gears and his work ethic was excellent, on par with Garrett's. Garrett was a hard worker at practice, he was inspirational. I was a freshman and Garrett was the running back on the varsity, and every time he took handoffs he would run 45 yards extra, and this became a tradition. You said, "Do that, no excuses," and O.J. followed that.

            O.J. was strong, with strong hips and legs more so than a really big upper body. He could turn and go any direction and knock over a defender, or glance off them like Jim Brown, whose ability he had. The '67 team had swagger all around because we worked every practice as hard as we could. When I was a sophomore, that team was as good but lacked the work ethic of my senior year. That team worked as hard as Coach Goux would push them, and it was most inspiring.

            Regarding this whole Shakespearean tragedy that O.J.'s life became, I always thought that as he got really big time, in the NFL but more so as a Hollywood celebrity because that world is not real, that he had no real friend to tell him what was up. On a sports team there's usually somebody to keep you in line, but not in that show biz world. I was not really sociable with O.J., and it's hard to make comments about what happened much beyond what I've said.

            But that 1967 team was inspired. An example was Pat Cashman. At the end of the year he was hurt and told not to run sprints, but he said, "I want to run." He then intercepted an important pass against Beban. That spirit was why that team excelled. We had the proper chemistry and the whole team had respect for each other.

            Over the years, What it Means to Be a Trojan put an indelible mark on you, to have been willing to take on the challenge of going to USC, being first rate enough to differentiate myself in some respect gives me confidence that it if you put yourself in the right place with the right people you will have success.

            Finally, having come here from Ireland, I have a special understanding of what it means to be an American. I came here with my folks when I was in the fifth or sixth grade, my brother has a Ph.D. now, I became an All-American and an entrepreneur, and I wore shorts when I got here. The opportunities in the United States are great for those willing to take on the challenge to be great. I owe so much to this country, and to my alma mater.

 

Adrian Young was a consensus All-American, all-conference linebacker, and member of the 1967 national champion Trojans. His four interceptions in the 24-7 victory over Notre Dame made him a bona fide legend and spurred Troy to its first victory in South Bend since 1939. He was team captain and voted the Davis-Teschke Award for Most Inspirational Player as a senior, playing in the 1968 Coaches All-America Game, College All-Star Game and Hula Bowl. Drafted by the Eagles, Young played for Philadelphia, Detroit, and Chicago in the NFL from 1968-73.

 

MIKE "RAZOR" BATTLE

Defensive Halfback

1966 - 1968

 

My Uncle Art played for the Trojans. He was from Huntington Park, where Craig Fertig's dad was chief of police. I grew up in El Segundo, where the Obradovich's and the Brett's - Ken and George - lived, then moved to Lawndale where I was pals with Fred Dryer. He graduated the year I came in but I played against him in junior college when I was at Long Beach City and he was at El Camino. He's a crazy guy, too. Once in New York we both got in a mess a trouble that can't be re-told. He hung out at the Playboy mansion with Hugh Hefner and that Hollywood crowd.

            Back then Lawndale was thought of as near the beach, the south bay. It was next to Hawthorne where The Beach Boys grew up. Mike Gillespie, later the baseball coach at USC, went to Hawthorne High with those guys.

            I played in 1966, 1967 and 1968. O.J. Simpson was my teammate for the last two years. His athletic talents were unreal. He was the first back who was that big and that fast, and moved like that with power and speed. He could run 9.7 in tennis shows, plus he possessed the wisdom of the game when he was a player.

Tim Rossovich and I roomed together. We had a house off frat row, 32nd Street or some place. We'd go to the beach or to the Colorado River all the time. We'd go with these groups, and these people owned places at Tahoe. I'd go up there. These kids all came from wealthy families. Tim's family had a little money. I didn't have a pot to piss in but I'd go along for the ride.

It's hard to talk about John McKay. He was really funny when he did interviews, but he was deadly serious when he talked to you. He hardly said a word to me in three years. He wanted to know if you were hurt or not. I was only out a couple plays in three years. I had a bad bruise on my thigh, and when it happened I came out and he asked me when I could come back in. I only missed two plays and was back in. That was the only time I missed in three years.

 Marv Goux was something else, man. We played in all the Rose Bowl games and his birthday was always that week. He'd do one-arm push-ups for every year of his life on his birthday. When we played for the national title for the second straight time in 1969 he did one for each of his 36 years.

Goux was a tough guy but I wouldn't be scared to fight him, but he had the respect. Some guys didn't like his kind of BS. There's the story of that guy Greg Slough who'd been in the Special Forces in 'Nam or something before SC, and he just looked at Goux like, "I killed V.C., don't touch me." Things have changed. Now if you bruise your pinkie you're out two weeks.

 Tony Page was a good quarterback, but like everybody he was always getting hurt. We had to switch around all the time and nobody got too much time. It was Steve Sogge and Page but neither established full control.

Mike Holmgren was a sophomore and a great guy upcoming. He knew what he was doing, and you knew he'd do something with football. At scrimmages or team meetings, he'd be the other team's first team QB, so the defense would go against him. He always had a clipboard in his right hand and was writing things down, studying the game. Mike was a great guy but he didn’t wanna be hit too much. He was perfectly suited for coaching and won a Super Bowl at Green Bay.

Coach Rod Dedeaux called me Tiger. He wanted me to play center field. It was no big deal to me. I'd played some baseball in high school but I loved football too much.

We lost in the mud at Oregon, 3-0 in 1967. Oregon slowed it down but I didn't think their field goal was good, but anyway "Earthquake Bill" Enyart had a good game, and the grass was six inches tall, and we slipped and slid and lost, but we beat UCLA, 21-20 to propel us to the national championship. They were really good! That George Farmer kid got behind me for six. I couldn't believe he could run that fast. Gary Beban was great. We were lucky to get out of their alive.

If O.J. had not had a bad game we'd have won a second straight national title in 1968, but he lost three fumbles I think in the loss to Ohio State at the Rose Bowl. The 1968 team had a lot of people talking dynasty and "all-time this" and "best ever" that, at least until the Rose Bowl defeat, but I think the '67 team was better. I was on the defense and we only allowed 87 points all season.

The social scene at USC was great. I had the best time of my life going to parties, hanging out at the beach. It was during a time when everybody was part of this revolution at the time. We didn't have any hippies on our team, or all that crap you know, but we did a lot of beach stuff, partied and had a great time. It was the most fun I ever had. I'd rather play 30 years of college than one year of pro football.

I played with Joe Willie Namath and the New York Jets. He was a good guy and the smartest quarterback I've ever been around. He studied and knew defenses and could read the second, third and fourth man as well as any quarterback I've ever seen. The man was good, and his legend off the field is real. I hung out with him at Bachelor's III in Manhattan and it was a wild scene, man.

Tom Seaver was a Trojan who was a big New York icon, too, but he wasn't part of that Big Apple party scene. I played golf with his Seaver's dad once at La Costa. He was a great guy and a world class golfer. Frank Gifford was a man about town in New York, as well.

Craig Fertig's a great guy and he tells all these stories, but I would not want 'em printed. Hid dad, the chief of police, got me out of jail one time. I live in Virginia and I'm looking forward to USC's 2008 opener at Virginia. I'll be there with bells on.

 

The appropriately named Mike Battle may be the ultimate epitome of the Marv Goux-type of hard-nosed Trojan football player. At 6-1, 175 pounds, he attacked football and life with ferocity. Battle set numerous records for interceptions and punt returns, made All-AAWU, and earned 1968 All-American honors. He was a member of the 1967 national champions and played in three straight Rose Bowls before spending two seasons for the New York Jets. His uncle, Art Battle lettered from 1946-48.

 

STEVE SOGGE

Quarterback

1967 - 1968

 

I came to USC from Gardena High School. Toby Page and I played together. When he was a senior I was a junior. I started most of 1967. Toby got hurt in the first game of the year. It was unfortunate for him but fortunate for me that I had a chance to play.

O.J. Simpson was our star tailback both years. At times I thought they should charge me admission just for the pleasure of having him in the backfield to hand off to, or pitch or throw to him. He was a phenomenal athlete and the hardest-working player I ever played with. He certainly made my job easier than it would have been without him.

We played Ohio State in the 1969 Rose Bowl with a chance to get back-to-back national championships. It was one of the most ballyhooed games in college football history, and is still shown regularly on the classic college football station. It's one of the all-time most famous games ever.

 They were outstanding and we were not overconfident. Most of our games were not outright blowouts. We went down to the wire in most of our games. Anybody who played for John McKay played their hardest all the time. It was not a letdown scenario. One team has the edge, then the other team adjusts and counters the initial advantages, and realistically at the end of the game the best team usually wins. They had a great team and played better than we did, winning 27-16 to finish number one.

I never watched Woody Hayes on their sideline. I didn't know him at all. My only memory of him was at the kickoff dinner, and he spoke at it. I'd describe him as a unique personality and quite a history buff, a real World War II guy who coached football like George Patton directed military tactics. He had interesting stories and would have been an interesting guy to play for. McKay was a great football coach who got the best out of his players. He was extremely disciplined and knew what he wanted. He expected everybody to do their best at all times.

McKay and Woody were similarly conservative, although McKay was a little less rigid in terms of off-field behavior; haircuts, opinions and the like. Woody used the regional dissimilarities between Ohio and California as a motivational tool. He built California, and us I guess, as a symbol of New Age laxness, anti-war unpatriotism, "softness" and such, but in truth USC was not a hotbed of protest over Vietnam and we were every bit as tough in football.

I had a good baseball career at Southern Cal and played with fantastic players. In 1968 we won the College World Series. We lost the College World Series final to Ohio State, 1-0 in 1966. Tom Seaver signed with the Mets and was not with us, so that might have made a difference.

I caught Bill "Spaceman" Lee. What can I say about Spaceman? In summary there wasn't anything he'd do that would surprise anybody. At one point I think he disappeared a couple days and showed back up. He was a unique individual with great confidence in his pitching ability. He had absolute faith that any pitch he'd throw on any given count, any given pitch to any given hitter, would be a strike and would get the batter out.

 People talk of Spaceman as this crazy character, but he was very disciplined and knew what pitches he wanted to throw. Nothing I recall ever bothered him because of his confidence, his belief in his ability to pitch no matter how tight the situation.

He had the ability not to be too tense. He was never overstressed on the mound, which is a true advantage. He had the stuff to get anybody out at any given time. He'd throw a three-two curveball and not worry about it being a ball. He'd throw it for a strike.

He once said, "The three best teams I've ever seen were the 1975 Cincinnati Reds, the 1968 USC Trojans, and any Taiwan little league team." This was a testament to Rod Dedeaux, because our teams had talent but we had the discipline of those Taiwan teams. That's how we played the game.

We were always in the College World Series finals with great teams. It leads off with Rod, of course. He was probably the best psychological manager or coach I ever had the opportunity to play for. His ability to convince you no one would ever beat you was such that all we had to do was go out and play the game. Until the final pitch was thrown, we believed we'd win any game. There'd be two outs in the bottom of the ninth, and he'd say, "We're still in this thing." He was the leader of our team and had all of us convinced that nobody could beat us. We had some really good athletes, but I would not say we were so much better athletically than everybody, but we had a stronger belief that we'd find a way, somehow, to win the game.

Tom Seaver was my teammate but not for a full season. I was a freshman in 1965 when he was a sophomore. He was 10-2 with a 2.47 earned run average and established himself as one of the best prospects in the nation. I caught him with the Alaska Goldpanners, where he had the reputation of being an elite pitcher.

When I was a sophomore I caught him in the early part of the season. It was the first or second year of the winter draft and the rules were different. Milwaukee drafted him and he decided to sign in January or February, and forego the college season, but it violated NCAA rules and the signing was disallowed. He was no longer considered an amateur and was unable to come back and play for us, so he ended up going to the Mets and the rest is history, but had he been with us it might have made the difference since we lost the national title by one run.

Tom was different than Lee, who was more a finesse pitcher. Seaver was more overpowering, with great stuff. He threw what we call a "heavy ball" that had great movement on his fastball with control, but it beat my hand to death. He had phenomenal stuff. I was almost glad he'd signed because it was so hard to catch him.

After USC I signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers and I was in the minor leagues with that group of guys Tommy Lasorda nurtured from Ogden to Spokane to L.A. I was with Lasorda in Spokane. There's only so much I can say on the record about Tommy. I played with Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Bill Russell, Davey Lopes, Steve Yeager, Joe Ferguson, Bobby Valentine, Bill Buckner; all those guys were similar. Some of the farm clubs Tommy managed with that group are among the best teams in the history of minor league baseball, and formed the core of Dodgers teams that won four National League pennants and a World Series.

Rod was close friends with Tommy. They hung out together a lot. Tommy had a great personality, he was funny and knew the game. He'd keep you loose in the dugout as well. Practicing, he'd say, "You guys make good money but not much of it, but it's all good."

I can't overstate the role of USC in my life. That experience in school, opportunities I had, winning two national championships, in baseball and football . . . I was on a team and I have lifelong memories that you carry with you for all time. I learned a work ethic, I learned confidence; my confidence grew. I grew up in an athletic environment where you learn that just because it's tough, it doesn't mean you won't win. It's not just the memories, it's my self-worth, my ethics, my confidence and belief in yourself. These are the intangibles of a college education. It's great, but in true life scenarios, there are plusses you pick up from the experience.

I was fortunate to play for two outstanding coaches, Rod Dedeaux and John McKay. I learned different things from both of them, and these are lifelong lessons.

 

Quarterback Steve Sogge played for the 1967 national champions and was the team captain in his senior year (1968).  He was all-conference, won the Trojan Club award (for most improved player), the Davis-Teschke award (for most inspirational), the Howard Jones/Football Alumni Club award (for the senior player with the highest grade point average), and was a two-time Academic All-American. He was also selected to the Hula Bowl. A star for Coach Rod Dedeaux's baseball team, Sogge caught two future big leaguers, Tom Seaver and Bill "Spaceman" Lee, and was a member of the 1968 College World Series winners. Spaceman once said, "The three greatest baseball teams I ever saw were the 1975 Cincinnati Reds, the 1968 USC Trojans, and any Taiwanese little league team." Sogge played in the Los Angeles Dodgers' organization.

 

JOHN MCKAY

Head Coach

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."

 

The

SEVENTIES

 

JOHN VELLA

Offensive Tackle

1969 - 1971

 

I graduated from Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks. My sophomore year I played offensive tackle. That was 1969 and we were the Rose Bowl champions. We had an unbeaten season. Bob Chandler was my teammate. He was just a great guy and a great player who had a great career with the Bills and the Raiders.

            However, we had one tie and it cost us the national championship. Notre Dame picked up on something that helped them at Notre Dame. We tied them, 14-14 and beat them my junior and senior years. The reason they tied us in 1969 was they had Chandler as an upback blocking back, and they would put him to the left or right of center, two feet back. They'd put him in as an upback blocking back, put Chandler there, and Notre Dame saw that and put Mike McCoy in that gap, between the center and the guard. McCoy was one of the biggest, strongest men in the nation, and Chandler is 175, and McCoy ran over him and blocked a punt, which led to a score.

       The first game of that season was at Nebraska, a capacity crowd plus they started sophomore Johnny Rodgers. We won, 31-21. Talk about being excited, afterwards I was completely drained. In the first quarter I needed a "second wind." That was one of the top five places to play, there's a sea of red, with great, enthusiastic fans. They have a big home field advantage but we had a good day. One thing I remember about that game was my teammate, Fred Khasigian, who was a bright, great player and leader. He went on to become a dentist. Many times I would come to the line, and I was too fired up, I wasn't thinking straight. He'd remind me what I was supposed to do on this play and that play. He straightened me out, and this happened at Nebraska. I'm blanking out and Fred knew what to do. He'd give me a short description and set me straight on what the play was, and I'd not screw up, and he helped me a handful of times in that Nebraska game a few times. It's like a good baseball catcher or manager coming out to the mound to settle down a pitcher. I was drawing a blank, I didn't know, what's the snap count?

       Another great game in 1969 was a night game at the Coliseum vs. Stanford and Jim Plunkett. What I remember is the last drive, Gerry Mullins catches a pass for a first down and he gets out of bounds. He probably didn't catch 10 balls all season, but he made a key play or two before. He seemed awful good that season. Ron Ayala was one of the best field goal kickers we ever had, and there's no more a clutch kick than to drive it through for the game-winner with zeros on the clock. That was for the Rose Bowl, and in those days it's the Rose Bowl or no bowl.

       UCLA a couple or three years before that had been the Gary Beban-O.J. Simpson game. All those games were big games, and that continued into 1969. This was John McKay vs. Tommy Prothro. UCLA was at the heights of their football and athletic history. John Wooden was winning basketball championships every year and their football team has never been stronger. It was a period of huge growth in California, so West Coast sports was at a dominant peak.

       If I remember our quarterback, Jimmy Jones, was 0-for-12 or something for 59 minutes, then finally he completed some passes on that final drive. Mike Rae was a freshman and ineligible. I think we had Jim Fassel and Mike Holmgren backing him up, and we weren't gonna go to either of those guys. Well Jones threw an incomplete pass on fourth down and the game was over, but they called pass interference on UCLA and gave us life. Jones then hit Sam Dickerson deep in a shadowy corner of the end zone to win, 14-12 and send us to the Rose Bowl. Pete Carroll was a teenager sitting in the stands that night.

       People remember me as an offensive tackle at USC and with the Oakland Raiders, but for one year - my junior year of 1970 - I played defense. I got a call from John McKay's secretary in the summer, that he wanted a meeting. I thought, "What is this?" He tells me he wanted to know what I thought about going to defense in my junior year. Prior to the 1970 season, Tody Smith was getting hurt all the time, some of the older veterans were not coming back, Tody was always hurt, so my junior year I played defense. My senior year I played both in summer practices. McKay didn't make up his mind until after one week of practice in 1970. I went to the defense, but the funny thing was, I was on the pre-season All-American team as an offensive tackle, so the switch was confusing. Sid Smith had gone in the first round to the Kansas City Chiefs so I filled in and found myself up against Alabama's John Hannah in the 1970 season opener. Our defense would switch and he'd face Tody Smith, too, so when he's asked about it he has memory problems, but I was up against him. Later with the Raiders, he remembers me on offense.

The opener in 1970 was at Birmingham and some of our black players brought guns. It wasn’t until we got to Alabama that these kinds of things came up, and it caught me by surprise. Tody Smith, my roommate, had brought a gun. I questioned Tody at the airport, or maybe on the plane. He had a briefcase, I think, which was not like him. I just thought it was odd, so I asked him, . . . “What is that? What have you got?”

He just played it off, but in the room at the hotel, I asked him again. The briefcase was on the bed, so he finally admitted that he’d brought a gun, which really took me aback. I asked him to show it to me. I just asked him, “What do you need that for?”

I guess at the hotel there’d been some words exchanged. Tody had heard it and just felt really defensive. Now I became more aware of the catcalls after seeing Tody with that gun in his room. I became aware of the interaction between the black players. Everything just became clear; it opened my eyes.

Regarding the whole issue of whites and blacks, as I said, at USC it just wasn’t an issue. We’d all pretty much played integrated football all through high school in California. I think Marv Goux might have been dealing with our black players in anticipation of the Alabama trip, but the whole thing kind of caught me by surprise because, from my angle, we were so far from any of that. I’d been recruited with, played against, black players; I’d been with and next to black players. It was accepted, so I have a hard time really remembering any racial incidents on our team. We were about competition, and if you were good enough you were accepted.

I do remember the crowd at Legion Field. Crowds in the South can make a decisive difference. They had a national reputation, the place was all red, there were 70,000-plus, and the place was packed. You knew you were the visitor. What I also remember was that it was a one-sided, easy victory. Sam Cunningham was playing his first game, and he rumbled for more than one hundred yards and two touchdowns, but lots of our best players dominated.

We won that game, 42-21, but we had a disappointing season at 6-4-1.

So my junior year I played on the defense and in my senior year I moved back to the offense. I speak to groups and always joke that the only touchdown I ever scored was against Notre Dame and Joe Theismann, when he got trapped in the end zone and I recovered and scored. They were unbeaten and ranked number one when they came to the Coliseum. We were just trying to salvage our season. It was pouring rain but it was an offensive shootout. We won 38-28 and intercepted Theismann about five times. It cost the Irish the national championship and Theismann lost the Heisman Trophy to Jim Plunkett.

We started 2-4 my senior year. I look back and we had no Clarence Davis or O.J. or Reggie Bush. We had Lou Harris or a guy nicknamed "Sugar Bear." Those guys fumbled a lot. For some reason we didn't give it to Cunningham like we should have. But give credit to that team, because we went into South Bend and beat Notre Dame, 28-14. What it Means to Be a Trojan? We had coaches and leaders like me, John Papadakis and John Grant, leaders who weren't intimidated despite being 2-4, and the Fighting Irish were unbeaten and vying for the national title, but we played like Trojans and won in their stadium.

Papadakis was brilliant. John knew the press would come to us, and he told me to tell the reporters when they asked me, "How did you beat Notre Dame?" to answer, "With the glory of Greece, the grandeur that was Rome, and the undying pride of the Trojans!"

As for me it was that game, it didn't matter the record, and it was no surprise to us that I could block Walt Patulski, and we could run, and we had a few plays for Edesel Garrison, and he'd gotten a tough deal, and he out-ran 'em. We practiced it and it worked. Garrison had a good week at practice. He'd had a lot of drops, but that week he caught the ball and he was featured, and we got it deep to him, and sure enough we ran the ball, and won the game. So to me that's What it Means to Be a Trojan.

That was when the whole Jimmy Jones-Mike Rae question came to a head, and it had a racial edge to it; Jones being black and Rae being white, but we overcame it like Trojans.

John McKay and Pete Carroll are no comparison in personality. Carroll's more outgoing. McKay was the head coach. Assistant coaches were hired to communicate with the players, and for the most part that's how he communicated. Both were able to recruit good players, and both won. Shoot, USC football was the power I. We were bigger and stronger. McKay made us believe that and so it was like, "Let's go now, we're gonna run the I back at 'em, let 'em know its coming, they can't stop us." They taught us that, then we'd a mix in pass, and that's What it Means to Be a Trojan.

 

John Vella played for the unbeaten 1969 Trojans who beat Michigan, 10-3 in the Rose Bowl and played in the 1970 game at Birmingham, Alabama. He was an All-American and All-Pac-8 lineman in 1971, when he was team captain, was voted USC's best lineman, and played in the 1972 Hula Bowl. His brother, Chris played for USC. Vella was drafted by Oakland and starred as a lineman for some of John Madden’s greatest Raiders teams, including the 1976 Super Bowl champions (who beat the Vikings at Pasadena's Rose Bowl). Today, Vella is a successful entrepreneur, the owner of a chain of San Francisco Bay Area sporting goods stores called Vella’s Locker Room.

 

SAM "BAM" CUNNINGHAM

Fullback

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.

 

ALLAN GRAF

Offensive Guard

1970 - 1972

 

I grew up in Sylmar. I had an older brother who graduated from San Fernando High and they wanted me there also. So after the 10th grade I transferred to San Fernando, so I went from a predominantly white school to one of the most integrated schools in the L.A. City Section. I came in and fit right in. I had to prove myself to the minorities, but they made me the captain of the team, so I guess I did that. San Fernando was the best program in the state in the 1970s. In the 1960s it had been Bishop Amat, and in recent years it's been De La Salle, Long Beach Poly and Mater Dei, but in that era San Fernando was second to none.

       They'd won the 1966 City title but lost to Carson the following year. Carson and Banning, and also Granada Hills, were great programs but we were the best. We went undefeated and beat Westchester. In the early 1970s they won with Anthony Davis and Manfred Moore. Later Charlie White starred there, as did Manfred's brother Anthony. Manfred played with me with and I was the first f