The other day I told a story about USC fullback Lloyd Winston getting into a fight with lineman Marv Marinovich on campus.
Since I knew little about Winston, I decided to look him up. Unfortunately, he did earn a letter even though he spent two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers.
But more research revealed in 1959, Winston played 10 games and rushed for 70 yards in 18 carries. He caught one seven-yard pass.
Wouldn’t you think someone would earn a letter gaining 70 yards?
It just shows the standards were different in 1959 than today. Players earn a letter now with far less participation. I won’t even name some examples to avoid embarrassment.
I would be in favor of awarding letters retroactively to players like Winston. He certainly contributed.
Here is an official explanation in the USC media guide.
“Various standards have been used to determine USC letterwinners over the years, but since 1976, squad members who have played at least 30 minutes have been listed here as lettermen. There have been many exceptions to that rule, including kickers and others who contributed significantly to the team’s success without playing 30 minutes.”