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

I asked a prominent former USC player Thursday who still visits Heritage Hall what he thought would happen with Clay Helton?

“If he beats UCLA, he is safe,” the player said.

Imagine only needing to beat a 4-6 team to keep your job? Not bad work if you can get it.

I’m repeating this story just to show there are some who believe Helton can save is job. I told the ex-player if this happens, athletic director Mike Bohn and president Carol Folt will really see what fan unrest looks like.

  • Bohn will also get to check out what fan apathy looks like Saturday. Will USC need to add 10,000 to the attendance figure? Yes.
  • The USC-UCLA game outcome has impacted past coaches’ futures. Don Clark started 8-0 in 1959 and USC ascended to No. 4 in the national rankings. But the Trojans lost, 10-3, to unranked UCLA to spoil their perfect season and lost the following week to Notre Dame. Clark resigned and joined his family’s industrial laundry company.

“Poor Don Clark was attacked by everyone,” legendary USC coach John McKay said in his biography. McKay was a USC assistant that season and considered quitting following the negative reaction.

He told his wife, “This is a horse—- town. The man won eight games and lost two. Now everybody’s complaining. Let’s get the hell out of here.”

McKay stayed and replaced Clark on a one-year contract. The Trojans struggled in 1960 with a 3-5 record when USC upset No. 11 UCLA, 17-6.

“It saved my job,” McKay said.

USC president Norman Topping (left) and athletic director Jess Hill are all smiles after the Trojans upset UCLA in 1960, which likely saved McKay’s job.
  • After No. 1-ranked USC defeated UCLA in 1962, John McKay saw his mother-in-law.

“Whew, I’m glad that’s over,” she said after the game. “I couldn’t sleep all week worrying about UCLA.”

“But why,” McKay said. “I didn’t plan to use you.”

  • Mike Scarpace, an all-Pac-8 offensive lineman who played at USC from 1965-67, died Nov. 11. He was 74.

Scarpace started at right guard for the 1967 national championship team, where he blocked for Heisman Trophy winner O.J. Simpson.

McKay used to say fumbles went to the “more alert team.” As an example, McKay cited the 1967 USC-UCLA game when split end Earl McCullough broke a long run but fumbled when he was tackled. The ball was recovered by Scarpace who followed McCullough downfield.

“Sixty yards downfield Scarpace recovered,” McKay said. “Here’s a guy who ran the 40 in about 5.2, but he was always down there. That’s the difference.”

You can watch the play below at the 1:47 mark.

  • Former USC All-American pitcher Vic Lapiner died this week. He was 85. Lapiner led the Trojans to the 1955 College World Series. Lapiner was was 7-0 with a 2.99 ERA in 1955. For years, Lapiner and Pete Rose were close friends.
  • The Pac-12 Network is supposed to cover the Blood Bowl on Friday at UCLA, which is the annual flag football game between the Daily Trojan and Daily Bruin.
  • For the first time, the Daily Trojan and Daily Bruin joined forces to produce a combined football issue that was distributed at both schools Friday.

This is a far cry from when each staff used to print a “bogus” edition of the other paper on the Friday before the USC-UCLA game. I remember driving to Westwood around 6 a.m. with other Daily Trojan staff members and scooping up all the copies of the Daily Bruin and replacing them with the fake paper (example below).

And finally . . . did you know Boston College coach Steve Addazio has beaten just one team ranked by the Associated Press in seven years? That one victory would be a 37-31 upset of No. 9-ranked USC in 2014. Thanks, Sarkisian!

26 thoughts on “If It’s Friday, It Must Be Time For A USC Notes Column

  1. Once again, the fact is Don Clarke’s Dad died .He ran the largest uniform/overall supply company for businesses all over S.Calif. Don Clarke was needed to run the family operated business,he left to do so. He was not fired.
    It is true the ’59 team was highly ranked #2 behind Syracuse, and undefeated going into ucla game.I was at every home game incl that ucla game. If I recall correctly SC q/b Willie Wood could not play, he was as important as Bama’s injured q/b to the team and their best defensive back…I sat there and watched the disappointing loss. ND was in the frozen snow filled tundra ,which is why the SC ND game there is now in Oct.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I met him in 1982. It was the custom back then that the EOY FB banquet would be attended by a 25 year reunion, so the coach and some players from 1957 attended and were recognized. At the podium, he very humbly accepted that his 1957 team was one of the few losing USC FB teams for decades (before or since). Obviously, he turned it around by 1959. He was a great guy. GRHS.

      Not to be outdone, the next Fall we turned the 1983 season into a true $#itshow and went 4-6-1 to relieve Coach Clark of his ignominious title of being the last USC HC to have a losing season. Below is his wiki post:

      “was an American football player and coach who was perhaps best known as the head coach of the USC Trojans football team from 1957 to 1959. He compiled a 13–16–1 record while coaching at USC, going 0–5–1 against rivals UCLA and Notre Dame.”


      1. from the LA times
        After playing for USC in 1942, he enlisted in the Army and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He reportedly spent 18 months in the combat zone and won a battlefield commission.

        Clark was distinguished by his crew cut, a rugged build and a zest for athletic competition even in his later years.


      2. I sat through the ’57 team games 1-9,new gold helmets with the cardinal stripe…the smallest amount of scholarship players due to PCC actions. Jess Hill became AD and Clarke took over…I don’t know why it is still stated he was fired,that is not what any article ever printed back then stated…Examiner and Times reported he needed to leave for the family business…an 8-2 season after the previous 2 was a great yr and SC was recruiting again. SC beat ucla in’52 but not again in 50’s,under UCLA’s Red Sanders…


      3. I think either they couldnt raise the number Urban wanted or he didnt want the scrutiny. One thing Helton has done is even with under his extreme pressure heput his players first when it comes to injury and not force them to come back before they are ready just to keep his job. This has allowed players to get their chance to show what they got which reflects well on Helton since he recruited them. We also had some leaders show up in the crunch.


  2. – Mike Scarpace, an all-Pac-8 offensive lineman who played at USC from 1965-67, died Nov. 11.-

    – Former USC All-American pitcher Vic Lapiner died this week.
    For years, Lapiner and Pete Rose were close friends. –

    Did they jump or pop some opioids like the other dozen or so trOJans that have jumped off buildings or overdosed on drugs? I think in the case of Vic Lapiner, he probably got popped by the gambling criminal underground being that he was a known associate of Pete Rose.

    But then again there is no use crying over “spilled trOJies!” “Don’t laugh!! this ain’t reality TV!”



      1. Yuge! Pinkywood celebrates a single bozo bb slowdown win vs UCLA.

        When Pinkywood SUCCX, he really SUCCs.

        Peckerwood: 10 BB NC’s

        Pinkywood: 1000’s of empty pint vodka bottles.


    1. I just somehow came upon this. They were friends, my dad was never popped by any criminal underground you piece of shit.


  3. Scottie, one of your best posts in a long time.

    Not that long ago, this was one of the top 3 or 4 games in the country. The city essentially shut down. Seemed like everybody cared. Now it has become an afterthought.

    Mike Bohn, you will be given the keys to the city if you replace Helton.

    Mr. Scarpace and Mr. Lapiner, RIP.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hope you are right BK. But I sense that those keep Gomer rumors have a basis of fact. A few months ago rumors were going around that SC might schedule a non-FBS school and a few weeks later we have UC Davis on our schedule. You know the old saying that where this smoke, there is fire. Furthermore, when has SC gotten anything right in the last 10 years?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ll give you your due, Scott. I found that to be an interesting, enjoyable article. As far as Helton being safe if he beats UCLA … I don’t buy it. Bohn has already said that recruiting, attendance, and general fan excitement are all important factors. I think Helton is gone (yes, even if USC backs into the Pac-12 championship game … and wins).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. LAT today quotes Carol Burnett as saying about the HC: ““Whoever it is …will have impeccable integrity.”

    That ends any chances of Durty Urban!!

    and lets face it, if Hell-TON has ANYTHING, it’s integrity!



  6. To paraphrase a Christmas special I am showing over and over today; “Of all the Clay Heltons of this world, you are the Clay Heltonist.”
    Scott forgot to mention that USC UCLA game killed Giles Pellren. In 1998 after 797 consecutive games attended, he died of a heart attack at the Rose Bowl. Paul Hackett lead to the Trojans to a 17- 34 loss. The only team that looked remotely worse is last year’s team.


  7. 1. Teams Helton lost to in 2018 he beat in 2019: Utah, Stanford, Cal, Arizona State and possibly UCLA.

    2. Teams Helton beat in 2018 he lost to in 2019: None

    3. Teams he lost to in 2018 that he lost to by a closer margin in 2019: Notre Dame

    The Cup is Half Full folks might call this improvement…….


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