As Yogi Berra would say, “it’s deja vu all over again” this week with the USC song girls in the news for all the wrong reasons.
I spoke to countless song girls over the years who were miserable under the reign of former coach Lori Nelson and terrified to say anything publicly because they knew there would be retribution.
You might remember the weekly “Song Girls Forum” on my original USC blog or the case of song girl Keli Snyder.
It’s hard to emphasize how big a deal it was that Nelson resigned last fall because for years she definitely was protected by long-time employees. And they all were part of the South Bay mafia that made so many key decisions in the USC athletic dept.
You would have thought I asked USC about George Tyndall in 2007 from the reaction I got when I noted all the song girls who attended Peninsula High and other South Bay schools. Nelson lived in Palos Verdes and her daughters were song girls.
It wasn an often toxic atmosphere but many song girls felt powerless. There really wasn’t any recourse back then. You think Mike Garrett wanted to hear complaints? (He didn’t).
It was so bad that Petros Papadakis said he was once got chastised by Nelson at a basketball game because he complimented the Trojan Dance Force. A lot of these things were written about on my blog, which drew the ire of Nelson, who even asked a parent of a football player to speak to me.
If you want to read the definitive song girls article, here is the 1991 story by Celeste Fremon, who was one of the original song girls.
- I hear a current frontrunner for the USC women’s basketball job is Shannon Perry-LeBeauf, who is associate head coach at UCLA. Perry-LeBeauf was an assistant at USC under Chris Gobrecht.
Athletic director Mike Bohn is meeting with the USC players today. Could a new coach be hired by the end of the weekend?
USC has already apparently lost one player as 6-foot-5 center Angel Jackson entered the transfer portal. Jackson averaged 7.6 points, 4.3 boards, and 1.9 blocks per game for the Trojans.
- By the way, a quick note on former USC coach Mark Trakh. It’s a crime none of the stories in the local papers on his departure from USC mentioned his greatest achievement, turning Brea-Olinda High School into a national powerhouse. Trakh won four state championships (1989, 91-93) at Brea.
- Sierra Canyon guard Ryan Grande made six 3-point shots Thursday night against Culver City. He is the son of former USC guard Rich Grande. Ryan was at La Canada for three years but transferred to Sierra Canyon this season.
- USC track-and-field coach Caryl Smith-Gilbert is being mentioned as a candidate for the soon-to-be-vacant job at Georgia. But track sources believe she would be more interested in using Georgia as leverage for a raise from USC than seriously thinking about moving to Athens, Ga.
- Clay Helton attended several Palos Verdes High School games this spring to watch his son, Turner, play QB for the Sea Kings. Turner Helton completed 39 of 72 passes for 626 yards with 10 TDs and 1 interception.
- If USC offensive lineman Andrew Milek turns out to have suffered a torn ACL this week, it would mean USC has three torn ACL’s and a torn Achilles during spring practice.
- And now for some history:
- Remember a couple weeks ago I wrote about Nick Pappas, who was the legendary leader of USC booster groups.
Here’s a story I forgot on Pappas: One day, the USC All-Americans Mike and Marlin McKeever t went to Pappas’ office at the Alumni House on campus. Pappas was not there but the McKeever twins saw his pipe collection on a rack.
The twins didn’t know much about pipes but they noticed they looked dirty. So they cleaned all the tar out of the pipes. The McKeevers didn’t realize Pappas had purposely allowed the tar to build up to add to the flavor. When Pappas returned, he was stunned to see his pipes cleaned out after his hard work.
- With so much awfulness regarding the song girls, let appreciate the past.
Here is USC’s first African-American song girl, Linda Murray, in 1970.
And possibly the first Asian-American song girl, Nancy Kamei, circa 1970.
And here is song girl Roberta Crescenti circa 1969.
And, of course, Tricia Pillsbury, in 1983.
And here’s the original song girls in 1968.