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

Imagine next season USC president Carol Folt apologizing to a school the Trojans just defeated over the objections of Clay Helton?

These circumstances existed in 1959, when relations between USC and Cal got so bad for a few days, there were newspaper reports the Berkeley school might sever all ties with the Trojans. It started on October 31, when USC defeated Cal, 14-7, at Memorial Stadium.

USC All-American Mike McKeever controversially hit Cal’s Steve Bates and left the halfback with a “broken nose, multiple fractures of the bones that make up the right side of the face. The plate of bone that holds upper teeth was fractured. The right side of the face was distorted, flattened and twisted by the fractured parts that hold the face in contour,” according to a physician at Cowell Memorial Hospital.

Cal charged McKeever intentionally hit Bates late with his elbow.

“‘It was one of the most flagrant violations I have ever seen in football,” Cal coach Pete Elliott said.

USC coach Don Clark said, “A review of the films with university administrators indicates no misconduct on the part of Mike McKeever. He played one of the greatest offensive and defensive games of football that I personally have ever seen.”

“In my mind there’s no doubt that there was no malicious intent to hurt Bates or any Cal player,” McKeever said in a statement. “I have always tried to play hard, aggressive and clean football. It’s unfortunate that this accident happened.”

Cal president Clark Kerr said, “McKeever was ejected the week before from the Stanford game. Films of last year’s University of California game with the University of Southern California show McKeever undertaking the same tactics against Joe Kapp as were used against Steve Bates.”

Cal athletic director Greg Engelhard even flew to Los Angeles four days after the game to show game films to the media in a downtown hotel. The films were showed at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. for maximum exposure.

While tensions rose during the week, USC president Norman Topping issued an apology without consulting Clark.

“(USC) is truly sorry for this most regrettable incident,” Topping said. “This, as well as other incidents in the game, we feel, could have been avoided. To the extent we are responsible, we apologize.”

The apology infuriated Clark, according to a friend, who told me he always thought Topping’s statement played a part in Clark’s resignation after the season.

The day after Topping’s apology, Clark said, “I, personally, don’t feel I must apologize for our team in Berkeley.”

NOTE: The picture above is the 1960 Playboy All-American team. Mike McKeever is No. 68 and his twin brother, Marlin, is No. 86.

  • Why didn’t USC include the salary of Lynn Swann on its federal tax returns? A former USC teammate believes Swann’s salary is paid for by a USC donor.
  • The USC men’s track team finished fifth at the Pac-12 track championships. That is the men’s team’s worst finish in the conference since it was seventh in 2012. Remember that when people say what an “amazing” job track coach Caryl Smith Gilbert has done.
  • Last week I listed as the celebrity speakers USC had at commencement. One I didn’t know about until later was cable-TV host Ali Velshi speaking at the School of Engineering. “We need you more than ever,” Velshi told the engineers.
  • USC guard Kevin Porter spoke at the NBA combine Thursday: “A lot of people say I’m one of the most talented in the draft but I have a lot of red flags in my character. I’ve just been working on that and trying to prove that they can trust in me.”
  • I.M. Pei, the world-famous architect, died this week at age 102. Did you know he designed Hoffman Hall at USC? Here’s a picture below.

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

  1. Mike and Marlon McKeever – the twins from Mt. Carmel HS down at 70th St. and Hoover south of Gage.

    That quote attributed to Mike and NOT composed by Mike ““In my mind there’s no doubt that there was no malicious intent to hurt Bates or any Cal player,” McKeever said in a statement. “I have always tried to play hard, aggressive and clean football. It’s unfortunate that this accident happened.” that is the standard template of apologies by sports personnel everywhere when they’ve truly stepped in it.

    As to Clark – bravo to Topping to making Clark say that – the film showed it graphically. Clark and you’d had done the same as that Cal AD and head coach did if the shoe was on the other foot.

    The McKeevers were thugs.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Some say that linebackers back then were all looked upon as thugs. They said you never wanted to leave your hand exposed or else Butkus would step on it. The famous Ray Nitschke poster of him playing with bloody uniform, GREAT stuff.


      1. Butkus & his brothers WERE thugs. A friend of mine went to high school in Chicago with the Butkus boys & confirms that they terrorized the neighborhood.
        I love Dick Butkus. He had a very unorthodox way to tackle. He would wrap you up high & immobilize your arms. When you were going down, you had to make a decision…do I protect the ball or protect myself? That’s one way Butkus caused so much mayhem. Watching his isolation film makes my eyes roll backwards.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. The McKeevers played tough football. Mike was always on the edge but Marlin was tough but clean. Football is a much different game now then it was in the early sixties. As Pudly mentioned, Nitschke and Butkus are spinning their heads at the contact rules now. I met Nitschke once about 30 years ago. The man could barely walk and had umpteen operations on his knees, legs, hips, missing teeth etc. I saw him again the same day at O’Hare in Chicago and he was fall down drunk. A couple of us helped him to his gate and he mentioned to someone that liquor was the only thing that could help with the pain. Today, they would not have allowed him on the plane. Sad…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The way I remember it back then, it was the offensive guards who you had to really watch out for…Conrad Dobler was long considered the dirtiest play in football and guards quite regularly went at knees and lower legs..but I guess punching someone could be considered worse??


      2. No denying that Mike and yes you and Pud are absolutely 100% correct, it most certainly was a different era but man those two were known in the old Catholic/Del Rey League for their ‘after the whistle’ hits….voila I give you that game against Cal and the ‘boys will be boys’.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Scott , agree Track Coach Gilbert has no business leading the Men.
    She showed her incompetence at last year’s NCAA meet under
    using both Norman & Benjamin who were the class athletes on
    the track. Another way over rated Coach is Dan Lange in the throws!


  3. SCooter,

    So with Topping apoligizing, this is the begging of the Political Correctness Crowd at SC. The coincidence is that the long haired hippies just played in the Rose Bowl game on Jan. 1of that year and that is the last time they have played.

    SCooter, this is kind of obivious, but all donors pay for Swann’s salary as well as the other administration in the athletic department. The revenue from football tickets and forced donations such as Cardinal and Gold pay for that idiot.

    I will say this about Haden though, he used to show up to baseball games at SC. I haven’t seen Mr. Golfer, Swann at one of them. I hope he stays away. I would have to charge him $200 for my autograph since I pay for his salary.


    1. puh-saw-duh-nah agree save for that ‘going female’ act mack brown did way back in 2004 to knock Cal out of the Rose Bowl…he cried for other coaches to vote his sorry back end above Cal one of the voters was his own brother who, at the time, was the head coach at AL-Birmingham…..I always like Cal regardless of what an ass Cal75 is, I saw them as the old classic line ‘the enemy of your enemy is your friend’….both stanford and ble-air tech are to us as they are to Cal….

      Liked by 1 person

  4. No ruins? What’s up with that??

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The donor who’s paying Lynn Swann’s salary must be a UCLA alum , because that’s the best way to keep Trojan athletics down . Swann will keep Bozo Helton employed with mediocre records, and Helton will keep the football program with his ignorance, and poor recruiting


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