If It’s Friday, It’s Time For A USC Notes Column

I want to say something about the USC/Coliseum naming rights controversy.

USC has saved a decaying landmark by taking it over and pouring more than $300 million into its renovation. The new tower on the pressbox side may ruin the character of the Coliseum but without USC the stadium didn’t have much hope for regaining its past glory.

That said, it is also true that USC’s arrogance is what created the bad optics on the naming rights situation. USC spin masters (in the athletic dept. and administration) always act like the university needs to squeeze every last dollar on every sponsorship deal.

The truth is USC’s always been able to raise enough money for its capital sports projects (Galen Center, McKay Center, Heritage Hall renovation, swim stadium, tennis stadium). So if it needed to raise another $20 million to keep the “Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum” name intact, it could have done it. Soldier Field and the Rose Bowl managed to survive without renaming itself.

But USC’s “greed is good” attitude under Max Nikias got it into trouble with the medical school dean scandal, where people looked the other way as long as millions were raised for the health science campus. This attitude led to tasteless buildings being constructed like the Al Cowlings Residential College for an anonymous $15 million donation.

There are countless other examples but sometimes dignity is worth more than unchecked greed in the name of sponsorship/endowment.

  • Did you go to the Honda Center in Anaheim for the NCAA West Regional games Thursday night? The USC men’s water polo team was honored at halftime of the Texas Tech-Michigan game. Lynn Swann was there too but Jovan Vavic was not.
  • USC defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast said defensive lineman Connor Murphy has improved this spring. That’s good because it was hard to tell if Murphy was even on the team the past two seasons. I expected more considering Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh spent the night at Murphy’s house during a recruiting visit.
  • When are Trevon Sidney, Josh Imatorbhebhe or Oluwole Betiku going to pick new schools? I didn’t include Velus Jones in that group because he might come back.
  • USC special teams coach John Baxter was talking about the Trojans’ new Australian punter, Ben Griffiths, and was asked how Griffiths got on his radar? “I have friends down there. I had an Australian at Michigan named Blake O’Neal.”
  • Michigan fans don’t want to reminded of that. You can watch the most infamous play of Baxter’s career here on YouTube. I can’t tell you how many USC players have mentioned the above play to me regarding Baxter.
  • Tailback Markese Stepp drew high praise after his last weekend’s scrimmage. He was not as popular with running backs coach Mike Jinks on Thursday for his pass protection.
  • The USC coaches’ clinic is today and Saturday. Rams coach Sean McVay speaks at 5 p.m. Clay Helton is at 7 p.m. San Diego State coach Rocky Long speaks at 8:15 a.m. Saturday and Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy is at 2 p.m.
  • Everyone knows now how Donna Heinel got fake athletes into USC. But maybe one day USC will explain the process by which it knows a trustee’s child or big-time donor’s kid has applied. Does a secret team go from Bovard to the Admissions building? Somehow it gets flagged and these people get into school. Remember, everyone is into transparency right now at USC.
  • USC basketball has never been a star-studded affair. But in the early 1960’s, actor David Niven called USC and asked for tickets to a game because his son was a fan. But Niven had a special request. He did not want to sit in one of the lower sections of the Sports Arena because he just wanted to enjoy the game as a normal fan. So he sat in a higher section. Can you imagine a celebrity today not wanting courtside seats?
  • Below is an envelope from a letter sent by USC athletic director Jess Hill in 1963. I’m including it to highlight the schedule. Can you imagine USC playing Oklahoma, Michigan State, Ohio State, Notre Dame in a single season? Colorado was also a non-conference game in 1963.
  • That schedule is quite different today’s philosophy that you must play a schedule that allows you to make the College Football Playoff. I don’t know if that schedule exists as long as Helton is coaching at USC.


17 thoughts on “If It’s Friday, It’s Time For A USC Notes Column

  1. Not bad Scott – the 1967 schedule wasn’t a cakewalk either:

    TX (# 5) , MI St., @ Notre Dame (# 5), ucla (# 1) and IN (# 4).

    As to how the kids got in via Heinel’s help and greenlighting said applicant to the admission office that is interesting considering the alleged number of kids that witch shoved through….betting she throws someone under the bus to do what Singer did … lower her sentencing

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Nice call, Brumby. Every season Sears hurts himself in practice. He’s a gamer, no question —but he sure doesn’t kill himself at practice. And USC needs a qb who takes the whole thing —–playbook, practice, film room and games —-seriously.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. gt —-It looks like it. He’s getting fewer (meaningful) reps than the frosh quarterback.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. interesting…sorta’
    SC was by then, in ’63 , in a smaller conference the AAWU, after the collapse of the PCC,around 1960. I think the PCC was a conf of 9 teams,and the AAWU a conf of 5. So, they probably had to work hard to get games scheduled. I don’t remember a lot of creampuffs in the 50’s,60’s and 70’s. …

    Liked by 3 people

  3. WolfinWolf’sClothing:

    You (not so) cleverly insinuate that USC has in the succeeding years failed to schedule, or attempt to schedule, comparably – even the Mules of the world wouldn’t want to touch this topic – how well known is it which schools have never pulled an SEC-IAA(FCS) picnic? Or manipulated conference HQ to avoid playing a habitually tough foe (anyone care go guess how many times Alabama has played Georgia in the regular season?)…and the Bruins are right there with us…for all of the other miserable crap swirling around the Coli-Rosy toilets, scheduling isn’t among our problems…did you miss that Texas game the past two seasons (I know you didn’t miss last season’s, and for good reason, given your otherwise astute characterization of the incumbent regime)? The Alabama game at Jerry World (know you didn’t miss that, for the same reason)? I’m doing this off the top of my head as an old bastage, mind you…Pete’s teams played home-and-home with Kansas State (and they were a Top 10 program then), Arkansas, Auburn, Nebraska, Ohio State, BYU…prior to that multiple matchups with Penn State when they were still a perennial powerhouse…Florida State…North and South Carolina…Oklahoma home-and-away twice…Ohio State again…Michigan State…South Carolina again…Tennessee…LSU…Alabama…Michigan State…Texas Tech (co-conference champion that season)…going further back…Nebraska home-and-away again (when they were starting their run as a juggernaut) and as pointed out above, Texas home-and-away…Miami…Michigan State…all those great Holtz, Devine, Ara Irish teams…all those Rose Bowls…all of the (once upon a time) conference matchups against great UCLA and Washington (and others) teams…

    Try again…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Nice job recapping Wolfs large mistake. USC has always played as tough a schedule as possible. Commitments are made years in advance but traditional powers ( Alabama, tOSU, Penn State etc. ) always represent challenges. You can fault a lot of things USC has done recently, but not their FB schedule over the years IMO. The Al Cowlings Residential building? Wow, I had no idea.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes. Notwithstanding recent travails, if anyone wants to point out another program that has won – let alone played – regular season games in:

        Birmingham, Baton Rouge, Norman, Lincoln, Columbus, Austin, Miami, Auburn, Little Rock, Provo, etc, etc…in addition to Los Angeles/Pasadena, Seattle, Eugene, Palo Alto, Tempe, Tucson, and of course, South Bend…

        Wolf has raised any number of valid issues, many still worth pursuing critically…but scheduling is not one of them.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Always? We didn’t from 2010 -2015. In 2010 we played Hawaii, Virginia and Minnesota, in 2011 we played Minnesota and Syracuse, in 2012 we played Hawaii and Syracuse, in 2013 we played Hawaii, Boston College and Utah State, in 2014 we played Fresno State and Boston College, in 2015 we played Arkansas State and Idaho. None of those schedules compare to the 1963 schedule.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. MG-It’s a book shelf visited too often of old sports (Illustrated, News, Sport, Inside) magazines and papers…but it cuts both ways…at times like this (or at Mule slopping time) it’s useful for STFU! But at other times, it’s a shoe full of pebbles (putting it mildly) when listening to the current regime make excuses or anyone trying to rationalize the situation…I know you know all of this stuff as well so will step back again…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. James —I remember certain moments (O. J. ‘s 64 yarder, for example) as though they were yesterday —but I could never give the kind of overviews you do….. (in an attempt to be funny, I was going to use my “memory” of Hayden’s 64 yard run as my example of clarity, instead of O. J.)…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. James —I think the reason for my continually adding that “y” to Pat Haden’s name is sorta like a Freudian slip…..
        #…”Why? Why, Pat?”

        Liked by 1 person

    1. The SEC is the worst: Bama, Georgia,, LSU ALWAYS have Bye weeks before or after their toughest games or play FCS teams before or after those games. In addition to this, SoCal is the recruiting base for the entire PAC 12 which makes all games, revenge games for ñocal recruits gone abroad to other colleges. I hate ND and UCLA, but respect them for their scheduling and willingness to play tough games.


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