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

F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.”

Fitzgerald could have said the same thing about USC. There is an elitist strain that plagues the university and surfaced (again) this week.

  • You have Pat Haden drawing the interest of federal prosecutors in the College Admissions scandal, which reminds all of us how much damage he did to USC athletics.
  • Board of Trustee member Mark Stevens shoved Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, which reminds how often the board has embarrassed the university.
  • Lurking in the background this week is Lynn Swann, who won’t sign autographs unless he gets paid and never misses a chance to visit a golf course while supervising the first season in USC history where football, basketball and baseball had losing records.

These people have something in common besides being USC graduates: They think they can follow their own rules.

Why not? Haden made almost $3 million a year at USC. Swann is believed to make $3-4 million. Stevens is worth $2.3 billion and probably had Max Nikias whispering in his ear that he was a genius every time he set foot on campus.

You know why USC has more trustees than other universities? Because it is how they reward billionaires for donating to the university.

Long gone is the example of Rod Dedeaux, who coached for $1 a year because he owned DART enterprises in Commerce and didn’t need USC to pay him.

Haden also didn’t need the money when he was appointed athletic director but turned the athletic dept. into an elitist institution that increased his wealth.

One time I asked J.K. McKay why Haden always dressed like someone who was at a country club with his gaudy green or red pants and green shoes?

“I tell him, `Pat, what are you doing? You grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in Covina,’ ” McKay said.

Those days are long gone.

“I’ve had a lot of fortunate things happen to me in my life,” Haden said in a 1979 New York Times story. “I’ve thought about them a lot. Everything always seems to fall in place for me.”

I doubt Haden feels the same way now after his carefully cultivated, Oxford-educated reputation was permanently tarnished by bad coaching hires and controversy involving his foundation. Imagine the damage he did to football by keeping Lane Kiffin too long, hiring Steve Sarkisian and promoting Clay Helton.

Recovery remains a long way off.

  • USC is supposed to interview Andrew Checketts (UC Santa Barbara) and Eric Valenzuela (St. Mary’s) today in its seach for a baseball coach. USC assistant coaches Gabe Alvarez and Matt Curtis received courtesy interviews, I am told.  Jason Gill (Loyola Marymount) and Rich Hill (San Diego) are also candidates.

However, at this point, Andy Stankiewicz of Grand Canyon, who interviewed Thursday, appears to be the frontrunner. You might notice nearly every coach is from a private school. USC would like someone who has experience with the unique issues scholarship limitations provide a private school in baseball.

If I had to rank the candidates in terms of how USC views them, here are the top 3: 1. Stankiewicz; 2. Checketts; 3. Valenzuela.

  • And now let’s return to Julie’s restaurant for another story from the John McKay era.

This week a regular visitor who knew McKay told me that in the 1960’s, there was a night when a sports writer came in with poppers.

What are poppers? They are also referred to as amyl nitrate and are a liquid drug that provides an instant high when inhaled.

“You had McKay at his booth with (USC president Norman Topping) and then at the other surrounding tables everyone was doing poppers,” the regular visitor told me. “They had no idea what we were doing.”

Remember, it was the 1960’s.

  • Chris Steele might have set a record by committing to UCLA, USC, Florida, Oregon and then USC again. But he gets competition from wide receiver Jordan Payton, who committed to USC, Cal, Washington and signed with UCLA in 2012.
  • USC and Arkansas will go head-to-head for the NCAA women’s track title this weekend in Austin, Texas. The weather could play a factor as it will be in the high 90’s Friday and Saturday.
  • Next week I will finally reveal an inside story behind the infamous Lynn Swann-George Atkinson hit in 1976.
  • And finally . . . here is the headline at the top of the June 7, 1944 Daily Trojan

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

  1. The hitting Coach from TCU should be the 1st choice for baseball.
    UCSB eliminated early in playoffs, and a public university. Morgan
    Ensberg would be ideal if really interested. Played on the good teams
    during the good years who stole home in CWS in 1998 title run.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Haden’s coaching hire mistakes are dwarfed by his involvement in the charity scam that he pulled off for himself and family. No ethics, no integrity, should be in the slammer for that move. Yep, Dedeaux coached for one dollar a year! He had more integrity and honesty in his little toe than Haden had in his whole body. They don’t make em like Dedeaux anymore, not to mention 12 NCAA titles.

    Liked by 6 people

      1. I played with Steve Busby. He was great! Two no hitters in the bigs and was the color TV guy in Kansas City for years. Dedeaux could have coached the Dodgers after Walter Alston retired in about 1968 I think. He was the best situational baseball strategist I ever saw. Never made a mistake about what to do in any circumstance. Only thing I could fault was his talent assessment, after all, I did not play near enough. LMAO.

        Liked by 6 people

      2. **** previous typing deleted! Ok, will try again – That’s an awesome account…as a young, aspiring, not good enough (for beyond JC-ball) pitcher, “Buzz” was my first idol…got to see him in 1975 just before his arm injuries derailed what looked like a HOF career in the making…he beat Jim Palmer and the Orioles and Vida Blue and the A’s…don’t have your insight obviously into how those 12 titles were earned, but pretty clear that, other than his not evaluating you correctly! he knew his business…also brought to mind this week by the faux media-manufactured “controversy” over Brady’s supposed claim to the “Tom Terrific” moniker…

        Liked by 4 people

      3. James – Busby was a freshman when I was a Junior I believe. He had a great fastball and great over hand curve ball. At that time, he was just wild enough to make you not want to dig in as a batter. Also, at the same time, Dave Kingman came to USC as a pitcher. He threw BB’s but could not get ball anywhere near the plate. Dedeaux turned him into a hitter and the rest is history. I think Kingman hit over 300 home runs in the bigs. Don’t follow Tom Brady so I can’t comment on his remarks this week.

        Liked by 4 people

      4. Quick question if permissible: Did he throw with what was later termed “corkscrew” (3/4 arm slot delivered slightly across body – common with lefties at one time) mechanics when you were teammates? I had a coach who asserted that was maybe what contributed to his arm miseries…

        Yes, “Kong” hit a ton of homers (up to his final years in Oakland just prior to the Mac/Can/Stew mini-dynasty) – and they usually were sky high bombs as I recall…

        Your description of Busby accords with what I remember and have read – in 1973, his first full MLB season, he was on the verge of being sent back down to the minors due to wildness (he walked like 125 batters in 260 innings, a high ratio in any era) when he threw the first no-hitter against Detroit (defending AL West champs managed by Billy Martin) and got on track…he was a hard thrower and supposedly had the best slider in MLB (along with Steve Carlton from the Southpaw side)…after losing the A’s just prior to the Catfish/Reggie teams reaching fruition in Oakland, Buzz was what KC had to live on until Whitey Herzog and the rest reached the post-season…many of the now “old timers” in KC still imagine how many World Series banners might have been waving over Royals Stadium if Busby would have stayed healthy…

        Liked by 3 people

      5. James – if my memory serves me correctly, Busby did not throw with a “corkscrew” delivery in @ 1968. As I mentioned, he was a freshman and continued through to his senior year I believe at USC. He had a straight overhand 3/4 delivery and his breaking ball (curve in those days) broke straight down. That curve may have evolved in to a slider by the time he got to the big leagues. There are so many stories of pitchers going down with bad arms. There was a pitcher at USC at this same time by the name of Mike Adamson. He had the best stuff of anyone I saw at USC including Tom Seaver, Jim Barr, Brent Strom, Tom House and Busby. He threw so hard his arm blew up at the elbow after one year in the majors. What a talent he was!

        Liked by 3 people

      6. Michael:

        Yes, so many great pitchers of that era had careers ended, or altered, by arm injuries that are now all but routinely corrected with surgery, rehab, coaching (mechanics adjustments), and better practices (rest, training, stretching, long tossing)…Busby, Gary Nolan of the Reds, Frank Tanana of the Halos, Steve Rogers of Expos, Mike Norris of the A’s, et al…that’s interesting and appreciated insight on not only Busby but Mike Adamson (was unaware of him, but have heard similar stories about others)…that’s an amazing assortment of talent you got to be around or see up close! I was up close to a couple of big leaguers at my JC, and it always makes for good story-telling to relate recollections about them to those who are interested…none were on par with Seaver, but we did have Joe Carter (not a team member, but already an up and coming star by then with Cleveland I believe) show up to a practice during the winter one day…

        Liked by 3 people

      7. Yes incredible talent on USC baseball at that time. I also forgot Bill Lee who pitched at that time and went on to a great career with the Boston Red Sox in the 70’s. Actually, it was really the “golden” years for USC athletics as well. Great football and baseball teams winning national championships, but also, great track, tennis, and golf teams as well. Even basketball was good but was dwarfed by the Wooden/Gilbert teams of ucla. Before Title IX but don’t get me started on that.

        Liked by 4 people

      8. Bill Lee! Just read a story (actually a reprint of an interview conducted in ’78 – the year of the Sox collapse to the Yanks and his exile and subsequent sale north of the border) about him – apparently, to put it mildly, quite the character! Great point about a glorious period (as opposed to now, alas) – for instance, to think that Stan Smith, Jimbo, and Mac, were at USC, UCLA, and Stanford within a decade…

        Liked by 4 people

      1. I’d enjoy that as well…a lot of what was circulated was one-sided (reminiscent of what some contemporaries say of Dick Allen…or, in boxing MG, about Sonny Liston)…would love to hear from someone without the biases…

        Liked by 3 people

      2. At USC, he was a freshman and I was a junior if I remember correctly so he played on the freshman team then. We had intrasquad games and he came up to bat and hit a home run off me to left center that is still going. He had a big uppercut swing which either resulted in a swing and miss or a homerun. The ball he hit off of me had to be at least 475 feet long and a hundred feet in the air. Massive hit. No real stories at USC but I ran in to him later in the 70’s in a bar at a Houston hotel. I was working for Black & Decker at the time and he was a tool enthusiast, liked to do DIY projects. I arranged for about every tool B&D made to be sent to him. Lived at that time in the Lake Tahoe area. Nice man.

        Liked by 5 people

      3. Michael-excellent story…love the fact that he was a DIYer type…and above I mentioned that I recall that what you experienced was the memory many MLB pitchers have…I seem to recall his “This Week in Baseball” highlights depicted “moonshot” HRs…

        Liked by 3 people

      4. James –Astute remark about Sonny Liston —who was portrayed in the press as a bully. I will always remember a handwritten note (reprinted in Ring Magazine a long time ago) that Sonny wrote to a kid who expressed his sorrow over Sonny’s knockout loss to Leotis Martin: “I fought the best I could —stuff happens in fights. But don’t worry, I’m fine. Lots of guys better than me got knocked out in their careers. I’ll try to win the next one for you.” You could tell 2 things about Sonny from that note —(1) he wasn’t used to writing notes (every sentence was in a different size script—which made the note that much more touching) and (2) Sonny sincerely wanted to assure this kid not to worry, he would keep on trying.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. MG-superb story and exactly what I was getting at – I had read a similar story about Sonny around 1980 (in SI’s heyday and a time when shall we say journalism was exiting a better age) where the author was, and nowadays character rehabilitation is so pervasive in the faux media that it’s difficult not to be jaundiced, attempting to humanize Liston to a public that only saw him as a thug (by among other things talking about how his resting place proximate to McCarron International is tragically appropriate given how he was the classic case of a boxer who was hooked through indebtedness into becoming the tool of criminal forces)…

        Liked by 2 people

      6. James —I think a lot of us were so happy when Ali defied the odds and beat him that we forgot that Liston was a person…..
        Same thing happened to Foreman for a while…

        Liked by 2 people

      7. MG – yes…modern George came out of a process that as I recall was initiated by (was it CBS and 60 Minutes?) the media in the mid to late ’80s picking up on the fact that he was going to attempt a comeback after a period of having been a preacher for a time (I believe he said that resulted from his having had visions during his brutal fight with Jimmy Ellis) – that was were the world learned he named all of his children George! – and that he was eating nothing but chicken to lose weight (hence “Chicken George” and later the idea for the grill) since he had crested over 300 lbs at one point…but it did ultimately aid in humanizing him as well, as you adroitly noted…

        Liked by 1 person

      8. James — I remember the fight that caused the “visions.” Jimmy Young I think —a very tough & smart (horrible combination to face) Philadelphia fighter. Much later, it was a gentle & protective George Foreman who came between an angry Joe Frazier and a ill Muhammad Ali at a reunion dinner. At the dinner itself, Joe asked the waiter if they had any of that “green stuff” to go on his lamb. The waiter, in the most condescending tones possible, asked “Sir, could possibly be referring to mint jelly?” George cut him off and said “If you know what he’s talking about, go get it!”
        I saw Ali a couple of times—the last time he was coming out of Mayor Tom Bradley’s office with Veronica Porsche. Everyone was trying to get close and shake his hand —except for me who loved him most.


  3. “`Pat, what are you doing? You grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in Covina,’ ” McKay said”

    People who come from poverty tend to go to gaudy extremes if they obtain wealth. It’s called being a Parvenu, an Arriviste, or a Vulgarian.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I honestly don’t mind USC being elitist or arrogant.

    I just don’t want them fu***** up and embarrassing the university.


    Liked by 6 people

  5. virtuoso performance wolfman, you are in playoff form, and is isn’t even pre-season!!!

    can’t WAIT for the long awaited back story on the Stealers taking turns putting Swannie on queeer street!!!!


    Liked by 2 people

  6. Pat Haden, the ultimate hypocrite! Pretty Pat has always been a champion of political correctness. He feigns being for the little guy in front of the crowd. But behind the crowd, he champions the unethically sucks money away from people and organizations! Typical leftist hypocrite, saying one thing while doing the exact opposite.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Remember when Pat Haden’s affaire d’amour with roommate J.K. McKay was swept under the rug when they played for the Trojans?

    For those if you that say no…well, it was.


  8. Y’all all old as all get out and you’ve figured out how to post on this moderately intuitive web site. I’m kind of impressed in all truth.


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