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

This did not seem possible a month ago, but it’s become even harder to listen to Clay Helton.

I’m glad Mike Bohn forced him to fire John Baxter and Clancy Pendergast. But the fact Helton is regularly butchering facts about a major-college football program after he fired 13 assistant coaches makes him even more insufferable.

I don’t know how anyone on campus respects Helton after watching him throw everyone under the bus to save himself. What does he believe in? How does he have any moral authority? How does he lead?

It’s too bad USC president Carol Folt turned down a donor’s offer to pay off his contract after last season.

  • USC has hired former Kansas State assistant coach Sean Snyder as its special teams coordinator. This would have been considered a huge addition a few years ago.

But Kansas State’s special teams slumped in 2018 and Snyder was demoted to an off-field role last season. Also, his father, former Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, apparently tried to make the university hire his son as the Wildcats’ head coach. It didn’t work.

First-year Kansas State coach Chris Klieman didn’t want Sean Snyder in an on-field role and he took a job as an analyst.

I’m curious how much of Sean Snyder’s prowess was due to his father?

Botton line: Sean Snyder has to be better than Baxter. And USC should be better on special teams next season. But if it is, then it’s another reason to think USC could do just well enough to save Helton’s job. Ugh.

Fast fact: Bill Snyder was a USC graduate assistant in 1966.

  • I can’t remember a previous Signing Day where walk-ons became such a focus: USC got Oaks Christian wide receiver Ty Shamblin, St. John Bosco linebacker Danny Lockhart and St. John Bosco tailback Matt Colombo.

This is what happens when you don’t sign a good recruiting class. You need to start looking at the walk-ons.

  • USC basketball coach Andy Enfield is now 14-33 in the month of February through six seasons after the Trojans lost to Arizona, 85-80, on Thursday night. Anyone surprised?
  • One reason for the currrent basketball struggles is the shooting of senior guard Jonah Mathews, who is 12-for-36 on 3-pointers in the past six games.
  • New USC tight ends coach John David Baker defended the role of the tight end in the Trojans’ offense. “The big misconception of our offense is we don’t use the tight end but we actually do,” Baker said Wednesday. Baker then made references how North Texas used the tight end but not USC, because the Trojans didn’t last season.
  • And now for some USC history.
Pat Cannamela (left) and USC coach Jess Hill in 1951
  • I’m always happy to spotlight linebacker Pat Cannamela, an All-American in 1951.

Opposing fans used to chant, “Back to the zoo with 42,” a cruel comment meant to make fun his looks.

Although he was a fierce player, Cannamela was actually shy and quiet off the field. He was nicknamed the Pocket Battleship because of his size (5-11, 210) and physical style of play. Life magazine wrote after USC played Cal in 1951 that, “Cannamela helped USC incur three roughness penalties (and) was congratulated by teammates when he disabled California star Johnny Olszewski.”

His life ended tragically in 1973 when he walked into a robbery at the dept. store where he worked and was shot. He was 43.

USC quarterback Willie Wood runs for yardage vs. Stanford in 1959. USC won the game, 30-28.
  • Willie Wood, who died earlier this week, was known for playing quarterback at USC but also played safety. That was the position where he had a stellar career with the Green Bay Packers and became an NFL Hall of Famer. But you rarely hear he played defense at USC too, which shoots down the myth Vince Lombardi was the first to make Wood a safety when he joined the Packers.

Wood, who was from Washington D.C., was recruited by USC assistant coach Al Davis. The future Raiders owner brought in several East Coast players during his time at USC like defensive lineman Dan Ficca and tailback Angelo Coia.

Although he was only 5-foot-10, Wood could dunk a basketball. So why didn’t he also play basketball for USC?

I suspect you could trace that to Coach Forrest Twogood. USC basketball had an awful history when it came to having African-American players.

  • Verne Ashby, a 6-3 forward who played from 1960-62, is believed to be the second African-American basketball player at USC following Herman Hill (1929).

Ashby, who graduated from Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles, was the only African-American on the team during his three seasons under Twogood. And in Twogood’s last season, 1965-66, there were only two African-American players on the USC team.

Verne Ashby

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

    1. 67 —I think I’ve figured out what Bohn’s strategy might be. Bohn can’t be so dumb that he wants Helton in his future. He must be planning to cut Helton lose at the first opportunity —whether he wins 10 games or not. He knows this has to be done to save recruiting. In the meantime, he ‘s putting together a staff that has NO loyalty to Helton —Helton won’t have anybody on staff to say “Oh, Clay —you’re right again!” at meetings. The brow beating is over. All the assistants know they’re reporting to Bohn —and that Clay doesn’t matter….

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Michael, that makes sense, and I hope you are right. I agree that Bohn didn’t move to SC to be neutered and have Folt do his job for him, and do a horrible job at that.

        Hopefully Bohn sees that Clay is not only the wrong guy for the job, but has become delusional, with his “This may not be the highest rated recruiting class, but it is one that wins championships.”

        Liked by 2 people

      2. 67 — You know what else? I hope Bohn communicates these facts of life to Clay ASAP. Clay needs to be as far from practice as possible. Let the Coordinators run the show. I guess Helton has to stand on the sidelines during games —- but keep him outta play calling. He should never be allowed to change plays in the Red Zone again. And it’s totally up to the D-Coordinator who plays and what defense we play….

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Michael, yes indeed. I still have no idea how we lost out on the opening kickoff TD against Fresno St. by Velus because we had 2 players wearing number 7.

        I mean, that just shouldn’t happen. Shouldn’t even be possible.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. OK MG, I’ll say it….

        You’re right Clay- you’ve kept the team off NCAA sanctions.


        Liked by 2 people

      5. Cal75 —The NCAA’s wet dream is to clone Helton and give one of him to every college team in the country……

        Liked by 2 people

      6. 67 — Remember Baxter reluctantly taking semi-responsibility: “I don’t know these players by number —I know them as people!”

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Another crappy coaching job by Enfield. This was supposed to be a
    top 5 recruiting class which is pitiful except for the “Big O”. Their only
    good win was against Villanova in an exhibition game here.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Liked by 3 people

  3. ” USC basketball had an awful history when it came to having African-American players. ”

    Gee Scott, name a school not named UTEP, aka Texas Western, that had a ” good ” history of having black players in the early 60’s ?

    Liked by 1 person

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