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

Velltray Jefferson, a three-star wide receiver from Edison High School in Fresno, decommitted from USC on Thursday night.

He hasn’t exactly been inundated with offers since he originally committed to USC so maybe he got dropped. Perhaps superhuman assistant coach Donte Williams, creator of recruiting, made the call.

But Jefferson is 6-foot-4 and USC loves wide receivers, so maybe he just decided to look elsewhere.

  • USC patted itself on the back on social media for the long line of students to get into the Galen Center on Thursday night. But it neglected to mention most were there because USC gave the first 1,000 a free DeMar DeRozan jersey. A lot of students bailed after the halftime ceremony honoring DeRozan.
  • USC actually called it a “”jersey honoring” instead of a “jersey retirement,” for DeRozan. The other USC (South Carolina) actually has a policy on this: “I’m in favor of retiring jerseys, where the number can still be used,” athletic director Ray Tanner said. “I think we’re way behind across the board in all sports in retiring jerseys. Not numbers, because we still got to keep numbers.”
  • New USC baseball coach Jason Gill makes his debut tonight vs. Western Michigan at Dedeaux Field. The buzz I hear is that Gill’s made a lot of improvements since he replaced Dan Hubbs. But the proof will come with performances.
  • Former USC QB Jack Sears is no longer going to San Diego State and is looking for a new school. Boston College might be a possibility.

And now, a lot of history:

  • Before Heritage Hall opened in 1971, the athletic dept. squeezed into offices on the second floor in the Student Union, which is directly across from Tommy Trojan.
Image result for usc student union building
USC’s Student Union building

There was an office for the football coach. An office for his assistant coaches. An office for the athletic director. A track office. An office shared by baseball and basketball. Peter Daland, the swim coach, and Charlie Graves, the gymnastics coach, had offices in the P.E. Building. Graves was gymnastics coach and a P.E. professor from 1928-57.

Why did marquee sports basketball and baseball share an office? Rod Dedeaux worked at his successful business and was only around during baseball season, plus he was good friends with basketball coach Forrest Twogood. Their office would include Bob Kolf, a basketball assistant and one of the baseball assistant coaches. They had one phone with a long cord to to share among themselves.

There would also be children running around the offices, like Mark Davis, the current Raiders owner, whose father, Al Davis, was a USC assistant coach, in the 1950’s. John McKay had his sons running around too in the 1960’s.

When Al Davis was at USC, he brought in his confidant, Al LoCasale, to be USC coach Don Clark’s personal assistant.

“I never saw him with Don Clark, he was always with Al Davis,” said a USC athletic dept. employee who worked with them.

Keep in mind USC was often the No. 1 athletic program in the nation and amassed 50 NCAA titles during the period the athletic dept. was shoe-horned into the Student Union building.

USC athletic director Jess Hill shows the small room overwhelmed by trophies at the Student Union building as the $1.5 million Heritage Hall was proposed to be built. Photo courtesy USC.
  • One day, I will tell some of the horror stories of discarded trophies/historical items when Heritage Hall also became overwhelmed.
  • Here’s a game program from the 1953 “Los Angeles Basketball Week” Tournament at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium. USC, UCLA, Michigan State and Iowa were the participants.

The cover photo features Michigan State players (from front to rear) Keith Stackhouse, Rickey Ayala, Julius McCoy, Bob Armstrong and Al Ferrari. Ayala was the first African-American basketball player at Michigan State. McCoy was also African-American.

So that means in 1953, Michigan State had two African-American players; UCLA had three (Willie Naulls, Johnny Moore, Morris Taft) and Iowa had one (McKinley “Deacon” Davis). USC had none

When USC played No. 1-ranked San Francisco with Bill Russell and K.C. Jones in 1955, the Dons had five African-American players. USC had none.

USC would not have an African-American player on its varsity basketball team until 1959 (Verne Ashby).

Here’s two questions:

1.) Why did USC coach Forrest Twogood wait so long to integrate his basketball teams? The answer seems obvious. Especially when you consider the USC football team had tailback Addison Hawthorne in 1952, the first African-American football player in 27 years.

Tailback Addison Hawthorne (23) was the first African-American football player
at USC since All-American Brice Taylor in 1925.

Twogood was inducted into the USC Hall of Fame in 2012 and I guarantee you no one thought of this shameful aspect of his program. In Twogood’s last season, 1965-66, there were only two African-American players on the USC team. It is appalling to write about this even 60-70 years later.

Now for the second question:

2.) Did USC’s segregation policies contribute at all to UCLA’s dynasty? I can’t imagine there was much good word-of-mouth among African-American high school players regarding USC during the Twogood era.

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

  1. Just curious, but was Michigan State’s Rickey Ayala related to USC’s own Ron Ayala, best known for a kick to beat Stanford?

    And, great photo of the players playing without facemasks. Makes for a different style of play knowing your face is wide open to being smashed.


    Liked by 3 people

  2. One of the most obvious glaring and whatever other words you can find for faults that Helton has is missing the potential of a player. Jack Sears came into games and really fired up the team. Many thought he was the right guy for the job. Helton on the other hand, prefers to look at press clippings and pedigree. What a waste of time this coach has been

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jack Sears had one good half of football for us. We have no idea if he is any good or not. From most accounts, he was just as good as any of the others on the roster during spring and fall camps but not the clear starter. I hope he goes out and plays like crazy for whichever school he ends up at. But I would certainly rather have Slovis, we know what he can do.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Tuman, Gomer has zero eye for talent, none, just remember that he thought Browne was better than Darnold, Tua could snap the ball and Pittman’s dad had to take to Twitter to get Claydough to play his kid, who Gomer had on the pine.

      USC football is dead, get used to it.


  3. Scooter,

    Why do you think Twogood nor Usc did not recruit black ball players?

    I’m just asking but do you think he was a racist or just felt that the players he recruited would win?


      1. He did not. Rip lost to Texas El Paso in 1966. Most of TEP were black. Floyd was on the team. Pat Riley played for Rupp.


  4. Scooter,

    Why do u think Twogood or the other coaches didn’t recruit black players? Did you think that the coaches felt that the players that they recruited were good enough, didn’t really look into another venue of recruiting, or racism?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This will make Wolf’s ass pucker

    After stepping down from coaching in 1966, Twogood was an assistant athletic director at USC. The auditorium at the university’s Heritage Hall is named in his honor, its bronze plaque reads:

    “Athlete and coach, able administrator, dedicated sportsman, man of courage, honor and compassion, Forrest Twogood is synonymous with the athletic heritage of the University of Southern California. He served USC and intercollegiate athletics with brilliance and devotion. The university is proud to express its love and esteem for Twogie by designating this hall forever in his name.”


  6. Slovis isn’t a good QB. Take a look at the last game tape. What he did do was to throw the ball a lot in a pass happy offense to probably the best receiving corp in CFB in a bs conference, at the cost of actually winning games where USC extremely over-matched opponents in raw talent. This is the m.o. of this offense, and opposing coaches know it. Ironically, a QB like Sam Darnold, who just improvised and ran the ball as he saw fit as plays broke down could have won games for Helton and Harrell, and at least from a physical stand point, Sears would have been more capable.

    In a way that was Browne’s issue. Browne by all accounts stuck to the script, didn’t take the chances at freewheeling and scrambling, which made it natural to call for him over Browne. Browne didn’t fail for talent, he failed for choosing the wrong school and doing what he was told. He went to a struggling program where he won the starting job and was immediately made captain of the team coming out of camp. At Pitt he moderately successful crash dummy (threw for 410 yards, 4tds 88% completion rate in his last game), then in his 3rd game, and then got his shoulder crushed in a career ending injury.

    Only an idiot would think Browne wasn’t extremely talented, and in another system, without crushing his shoulder, his prospects were bright.


    1. PS, no knock on Slovis– he does what he’s asked to do, passes moderately well and plays within his physical limitations. Can’t blame a kid for that.


      1. Consultant,

        I disagree. Slovis is good. However he looks irrational because of his o line. If he has time Slovis can be deadly. My opinion.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Bad take on Slovis. The kid is flat out good and a gamer. He would have thrown for 400+ yards against Iowa if we could block long enough to keep him upright.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s not how any of this works Mrs Helton. If you send out 5 WRs and eschew blocking TEs, no FB or H/Y hybrids, and you don’t have any real play action, and you throw +55%, you get 3 things: big QB passing numbers, Losses, and a QB that is injured or fails against defenses that realize they are playing vs a shit offense where they don’t have to respect the run and that all they have to do is occasionally send pressure to rattle and pulverize your unprotected QB. I’m actually being kind to Slovis because he’s a student athlete and he does what he can, but the kid has zero athleticism and when there’s any pressure he can’t run. And when the defense drops back extra coverage he resorts to really bad jump balls and prays for 5 star WRs to win. He couldn’t throw on a rope if his life depended on it, another physical limitation that isn’t his fault. He gets confused easily too by smarter defenses, thus his interception issues, which isn’t his fault because the offense is made to be extremely simple. I think in that area if he were in a system where he was asked or taught to do more he would but he’s not.


  7. I remember going into that office to talk with Rod Dedeaux and sign papers for my scholarship. Small office, three desk and a view over Tommy Trojan. Lots of stuff on the wall. I was in awe of it all. Still am of those days. The 60’s were glory days for USC athletics.


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