Can you name the USC linebacker in the photo without cheating? I doubt many who read this will guess correctly.
So USC plays Drake on Saturday? I think the Trojans can just about beat anyone and just about lose to anyone in the NCAA Tournament. It will be all about their shooting because they won’t get any bench help from Andy Whinefield.
- The NCAA Tournament can be extremely cruel. In 1985, USC was Pac-10 champions and then had to play Illinois State in the first round of the NCAA’s. The Trojans were overachievers and only the No. 8 seed. The game was played at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla.
There was a good crowd because Oklahoma, the No. 1 seed and led by Wayman Tisdale, played that night too and would play the winner of USC-Illinois State in the next round.
USC lost to Illinois State, 58-55, and didn’t play well. It was a late Thursday night game and all of a sudden the Trojans were booked on an early Friday morning flight back to Los Angeles, ending their tournament just as it started.
I was at the game and I can’t really remember much about it now other than USC losing. What I remember vividly, however, is going back to the hotel after the game. Ed Arnold, the former KTLA sportscaster, hopped behind the bar and started making everyone drinks. And most of the USC team spent stayed up the whole night in the bar/restaurant area playing cards and tried to forget what had happened vs. Illinois State.
Just like that, a successful season that included double OT and quadruple OT victories over UCLA, was over.
- These were the days when USC could lose to Illinois State on Thursday and a fair number of fans were still excited on Friday night to go to the Sports Arena and watch the Cheryl Miller-led Trojans play in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Tournament.
- Evan Mobley was named a second-team All-American on the U.S. Basketball Writers’ Assn. team on Thursday.
- I’m told a couple members of the USC track team were suspended for attending a party in violation of COVID-19 protocols. Earlier, I reported the baseball team had seven players suspended for going to a casino. And I hear another sport (not football) has had similar violations.
- It will be interesting to see where former USC wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe gets drafted because it will show how much NFL teams place value on measureables. He had a 46.5 vertical leap and 11-foot, 2-inch broad jump.
- I heard again this week from an NFL scout that USC coaches are downplaying defensive tackle Jay Tufele, who some project as high as a second-round pick. Those coaches never actually coached Tufele in a game and should tell NFL teams to contact the 2019 coaches.
- No. 12 USC tied No. 3 UCLA, 2-2, in women’s soccer Thursday night. Tara McKeown scored two goals and hit the crossbar with a free kick in the 100th minute of OT.
- USC is hosting the NCAA men’s water polo championships this weekend. The Trojans defeated Bucknell, 18-9, on Thursday and advanced to the semifinals for the 16th straight season.
- Douglas Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, has USC going to the Elite Eight in his NCAA bracket. Not surprising since Emhoff attended USC law school.
- Andy Katz has USC losing to Iowa in the Sweet 16 but also says USC is one of his five darkhorses to make the Final Four.
- And now for some history:
It’s not often you can say an All-American is overlooked. But linebacker Willie Hall has hardly received the credit he deserves from USC.
Hall was the team MVP in 1971, quite an accomplishment for a defensive player. He was all-Pac-8 when there was only one team and just three linebackers selected. Hall was on five All-American teams (AP, UPI, Sporting News, Time, Football News) and led the team in minutes played in 1971. He was a team captain. He was player of the game vs. Notre Dame in 1970.
He was a second-round pick in the 1972 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints. Hall joined the Oakland Raiders in 1974, where he played in 46 games, made 39 starts and intercepted 5 passes. In 1977, Hall started at middle linebacker on the Raiders’ team that beat Minnesota in the Super Bowl. Hall intercepted a pass (stepping in front of Ahmad Rashad) and recovered a fumble at the 1-yard line.
Hall came to USC from Arizona Western College, meaning he was another key junior-college player the Trojans relied on in those days.
- It’s too bad the tradition of wearing No. 83 died out. You had Jimmy Gunn, Willie Hall and Richard Wood all wear it consecutively.
- In 1972, USC won the national championship with a 12-0 record and is considered one of the greatest teams in college football history.
But the Trojans’ travel plans would never be allowed today.
When USC played at Oregon the Trojans took a late-night flight Friday and arrived in Eugene at 2:45 a.m. on Saturday. This was for a game that kicked off in the early afternoon because the Trojans flew home at 6 p.m. on Saturday night.
The sports science experts would freak out today with that itinerary. How did USC play? The Trojans fumbled nine times but that was because of the heavy rain. USC defeated Oregon, 18-0.
- Be sure to sign up for the USC newsletter, where today I will show the formation used by the 1972 Trojans.