Did you know USC tried to hire legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant?
After USC fired Jeff Cravath in 1950, athletic director Willis O. Hunter contacted Bryant but he turned the Trojans down.
“I had just signed a new contract at Kentucky,” Bryant told the Daily Trojan.
Kentucky, you say? Bryant had just gone 11-1 and defeated No. 1-ranked Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. The final polls in those days came out before the bowl games but some still recognized Kentucky as national champions.
USC hired Jess Hill instead, which was more typical.
In 1954, Bryant left Kentucky for Texas A&M, replacing former USC player Ray George, who was also a Trojans’ assistant coach from 1946-50, 1958-64 and 1972-74. George later became an assistant athletic director.
— Bryant became good friends with USC coach John McKay and in 1969, Bryant was offered the Miami Dolphins job. He wanted to take it but Alabama told him to get someone “as good as you” to replace him.
Bryant offered the job to McKay the next day at the Senior Bowl. McKay said he wasn’t interested, which caused Bryant to change his mind and remain at Alabama.
— USC announced a home-and-home basketball series with Kansas. The Trojans will go Allen Fieldhouse in 2020 and the Jayhawks will play at the Galen Center in 2021.
But I’ve heard the schools might do a four-year deal with two games at each site through 2023.
— Stadium.com asked nearly every Division I men’s basketball coach their favorite movies/TV shows. These are usually the kind of things coaches pass off to staff members to fill out.
Andy Enfield said his favorite TV show was “NCIS: Los Angeles.” Say what? I’m sure people like this show but is it really anyone’s favorite? Or did Enfield mention it because it has “Los Angeles” in the title.
Some coaches listed long-gone shows like “Sanford and Son,” “Gunsmoke” or “The Andy Griffith Show.” At least that sounds plausible. But :NCIS: Los Angeles?” C’mon.
— And now for some more history:
For decades, there was a school of thought that any football player could get into USC, no matter the grades.
Let’s go way back . . . to 1948 when the great running back Hugh McElhenny graduated from Washington High School in Los Angeles. If you talk to anyone who was around in those days, they can tell you about McElhenny’s exploits in football and track.
McElhenny wanted to go to USC but did not have the grades. So he went to Compton College, coached by former USC player Tay Brown. But after just one season, he learned the University of Washington could accept him immediately. USC needed him to go another year to Compton.
McElhenny went to Washington, became an All-American, rushed for 296 yards and 5 TD’s vs. Washington State and returned a punt 100 yards for a TD vs. USC. He then became the ninth player selected overall in the 1952 NFL Draft and was selected for the Pro Bowl six times.
— In 1973, USC was interested in JC tailback Chuck Muncie of Arizona Western. When the USC coaches saw his transcripts, they knew it would be impossible to get him eligible and basically gave up.
To their amazement, Muncie became eligible at Cal. Muncie finished No. 2 in the Heisman Trophy results in 1975 and was Pac-8 Player of the Year.
— Last month, I mentioned USC had its first African-American Helen of Troy in 1968. Just two years later, in 1970, USC had its first African-American song girl: Linda Murray.
And quite possibly, it’s first Asian-American song girl: Nancy Kamei.
— Marv Marinovich, a two-way lineman at USC, got ejected in the first quarter of the 1963 Rose Bowl for fighting. That reminded me around 20 years ago, I asked a John McKay era assistant coach which player was known for getting into the most fights.
“Marinovich would be at the top of the list,” the assistant coach said. “That’s the way he was. He’d get into a fight on campus in a dorm whether big or small.”