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

I spend a lot of time analyzing USC.

And I still can’t figure out what exactly is the philosophy of the football program.

Right now, the Trojans are a three-headed monster. Graham Harrell has his philosophy. Todd Orlando has his philosophy. Clay Helton, the figurehead, has his philosophy.

How do you establish a culture and discipline with Helton still in charge? He lets players do almost what they want. Meanwhile, assistant coaches do their own thing.

The best coaches at USC (Pete Carroll, John McKay) had strong personalities on the coaching staff, but at the end of the day, those fiery personalities (Ed Orgeron, Marv Goux) were extensions of the head coach and on the same page.

I don’t think you can say that now. I think some of the assistants think they have more answers than the head coach and will defy him if necessary. Imagine saying that about Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State or even Notre Dame. Whether you like it or not, you know those schools have a philosophy.

  • Big week for Utah: The Utes landed former Washington linebacker Josh Calvert and former UCLA/Oklahoavma wide receiver Theo Howard.
  • Former USC swimmer Katinka Hosszu became the most decorated swimmer in history at the European championships this. She was won 23 European Aquatic Championship medals.
  • My first reaction when I saw USC was playing in the Wooden Legacy event at the Anaheim Convention Center on Thanksgiving weekend? I just hope USC doesn’t play Saint Joseph’s in the first round. Hopefully, Andy Enfield wouldn’t object to playing Georgetown and San Diego State but I wouldn’t bet on it.
  • Women’s basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb has to be happy with the recruits she is inheriting: Rayah Marshall scored 32 points to lead Lynwood past Sierra Canyon Thursday night while Clarice Akunwafo had 34 points and 19 rebounds for Rolling Hills Prep vs. Chaminade.
  • Oregon and Ohio State have scheduled a home-and-home series in 2032-33. What is USC doing? Coach Bohn?
  • No. 12-ranked USC men’s tennis suffered a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to No. 4-ranked Texas in the NCAA quarterfinals on Thursday. Texas is 8-1 in matches this season that came down to the final singles contest.
  • USC completed 14 graduation ceremonies in seven days on Thursday. It might have been the best thing USC’s done in years in terms of optics/positive publicity. I wonder if Carol Folt thinks it will be worth to stage future ceremonies at the Coliseum?
  • And now for some history:

After last week’s item on Stubby’s Trojan Barrel, a reader asked me to write about Carl’s Restaurant.

Carl’s was located near Figueroa and Flower Streets, across from Julie’s. Some of you might instead remember Margarita Jones at that location.

If Julie’s was more of a place to drink and hang out, Carl’s was known for being a quality restaurant with good food, not be confused with Carl’s Jr.

Here is a picture of Carl’s in 1941.

The look of the restaurant changed in future decades.

In 1978, the Daily Trojan wrote, “Carl’s (at Figueroa and Flower Streets, just south of Exposition Boulevard) is a decent, average-priced family-style restaurant. It’s good enough to take your parents to, if necessary. The food is probably the best in the neighborhood.”

Carl’s ceased doing business in 1979.

  • Remember the hoopla in 2019 when USC had a female drum major “for the first time in its over 100-year history.”
  • Well look at this picture from 1948: It’s Janie Evans, billed then as the “first campus drum majorette” leading the USC College of Commerce band. The Marshall School of Business was originally known as the College of Commerce and Business Administration. And apparently had a band!

Now I’m not saying that is the USC band. But you would have thought Evans could have gotten at least a mention two years ago when USC went to every media outlet in L.A. and the nation to plug its female drum major. It is interesting how we tend to forget so much of USC’s history. All hail Evans!

  • I feel like I could tell a McKeever story every week. In 1966, Marlin McKeever was playing with the Rams. One day, quarterback Roman Gabriel was driving a Chevrolet Corvair and McKeever was a passenger with this hand out the window.

Gabriel reportedly crashed into another car and McKeever told Gabriel that he lost a finger. McKeever actually went and found the finger but they were unable to save it.

  • Did you know when O.J. Simpson played at USC, he wore a Rawlings helmet while his teammates wore a Riddell helmet? Simpson’s head was so big only Rawlings made one that fit him. I’ve been told the Buffalo Bills initially had to borrow a helmet from USC when they drafted Simpson because they didn’t have the proper size.

Legendary USC assistant coach Marv Goux used to seek acting jobs in the offseason. Here he is in a 1972 episode of “Columbo” playing a . . . pro football assistant coach for a team called the Los Angeles Rockets. Character actor James Gregory is playing the head coach. Goux even had a line of dialogue in the episode.

That same year Goux also did an episode of “Medical Center” and “Banacek.” He also played a coach in those episodes.

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

  1. I remember back in the day the popular La Barca restaurant up on Vermont before you hit the 10 Freeway. Cool place with good food and some pretty big margaritas, which was why it became popular with the sorority girls.

    Maybe not as old as some of the restaurants on the Blogger’s site, but would love to hear some of its background if he can dig it up.


    Liked by 3 people

  2. If Gottlieb can keep the 2 women in the transfer portal from bailing she’ll have a good foundation to build off of.

    Sadly, the coach that takes over for Gomer won’t have such luck.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. True, karma. Coaches will be dealing with the “Helton Effect” long after Helton’s gone — which is why Bohn’s plan (hire good assistants) is so Bohn-Headed.
      I know where Scott is headed by mentioning the Oregon/Ohio State hookup— it’s an implicit endorsement of scheduling Big Games —the kind of games that fans & recruits look forward to, the kind of games that generate enthusiasm for the program. In the abstract it’s a great idea. But as long as Helton’s around it’s an idea we need to avoid….

      Liked by 3 people

  3. My bet is that Utah will be real tough to beat this year and both SC and Utah will enter that game undefeated. I think Utah beats SC and then Notre Dame beats us the following week. That might just be enough to get Bohn to take action and fire Helton. If not, then ASU beating SC two weeks later might do the trick.

    The question is not whether Helton will be fired, but when and how he will be fired. Bohn will need to make sure it has the least possible impact on recruiting, we cant afford another horrible year of recruiting and have so many good players teed up to commit to SC.

    If you look ahead a couple years, it looks like SC athletics is getting on the right track. New head coaches for mens football and basketball will seal the deal. I think with Enfield we wont pay the buy-out, so hopefully, he gets the message and seeks out another HC job. If we dont get rid of Enfield, we will never be able to beat UCLA again. Mick Cronin is a good head coach and Enfield only beat him with the Mobley brothers.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. How many times has Wittingham beaten the Trojans in LA?
      (Or more correctly, how many times has Kylie found a way to lose in LA?)
      His arrogance vs Fink on a Friday night two years ago was on full display.
      BYU had already shown him how to beat Harrell’s offense, yet Kylie refused to
      follow the script.

      He coaches tough, run oriented football which is so beloved…by the old school.
      With his top WR, RB, and QB all gone, his offense should struggle–though Brittain Covey (who is supplementing his scholarship with his social security check) will present problems for us.

      Kylie’s record in big games vs quality teams is not laudable. I’ll be rooting for our
      team on a toasty warm, Santa Ana wind-blown, smoggy September eve.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. The Witter is 0 for LA, and he’s come in with some good teams only to shoot himself in the foot.

        Utah got 7 transfers, 2 from UDUB, 2 from Oklahoma and 1 each from Baylor, Texas and LSU.

        The kid from Baylor is a QB, looks like he was a 3 year starter. Two of the transfers are RB’s who were 4 star recruits.

        Utah recruits so so but they get a lot of transfers to fill holes. Will they be any good, who knows. Thy have Weber St, BYU and SDST before USC.

        Wittingham made his bones with Meyer’s recruits and he hasn’t done much since. Utah is very happy to beat BYU, win 8 games and go to a bowl, KW is probably set at Utah for life.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Not sure why everyone says how these coaches are so good. Both had substantial leads vs Helton and couldn’t seal the deal. Especially Herm, giving up 2 TDs and an onside kick, but chocolate chippie’s meltdown was one for the ages.
        Whitt’s a good coach who just can’t get over the hump and banks on home field advantage when teams find themselves oxygen depleted in Provo… I’d like to see him win some big road games.
        If these guys are SO much better than Clay you’d figure they’d be beating him like a cheap tin drum.

        Liked by 3 people

    2. But yes, gamer, USC athletics is on a good trajectory.
      Enfield has had a great run with recruits, though the 2021 class is not so sporty.
      Cronin and the Bruins will be a force over the next 5-10 years.
      (Maybe Bohn has some dirt on Cronin and can get him canned.*)

      *That’s a joke, Owns

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Bourbon —
        I like the “dirt” approach. Last year it was reported (well, not actually—but does it matter?) Cronin exited a public bathroom in Westwood saying, “let’s get outta here in a hurry —there was a big misunderstanding in there.”

        Liked by 3 people

    3. “The question is HOW will Helton be fired?” May I give you my take? After the Notre Dame game Helton will not appear at his presser. He won’t be seated on the return flight. He won’t be at practice the following week. He won’t be seen at games for the rest of the season. In fact, he won’t be seen anywhere ever again…..

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you! Scott Wolf- good stuff on Carl’s Restaurant. I remember going there in the mid to late 60’s as a kid with my parents, and how packed the outdoor/bar patio area was before the big games especially Notre Dame and UCLA. The food was average, as was the service but the atmosphere on game day was tremendous. Margarita Jones, opened there in the early 80’s but the food was below average. However, it was very popular during the 84 Olympics with few other choices elsewhere. I am not sure if is still there today, but the location of the property was outstanding.

    Little Joe’s Italian Restaurant near Chinatown was the place to hang out after the USC games. That place had sawdust on the floors which made it unique, and would surly always be packed with people making the waiting time to be seated quite long.. El Cholo, on Western was another popular place after games as was my favorite Tommy’s on Beverly.

    USC should return to more Saturday day games with 1 or two night games early in the season like it use to be.

    Your doing a tremendous job with your blog Scott. The history of the area, and USC quite interesting.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. USC has enough talent to certainly be quite competitive this year in the Pac 12 South, but the head coach is a key ingredient to a successful season. Utah Kyle Willingham is probably the best coach in the Pac 12, and should be a strong candidate to replace Clay Helton but probably won’t be interested. His teams are very well coached, and always competitive.

    I still believe Arizona State is the team to beat in the Pac 12 South with Utah, followed by UCLA, and then USC somewhere in the middle of the pac.. I hear Chip Kelly is very excited about his team this year, and knows it is a must win season or he is gone so he is quite motivated. We must all admit UCLA has been getting better each season, and with an experience mobile qb returning they will be dangerous this season. Let’s all Hope this is Clay Helton’s last season.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. …because Herm and Chip are REAL coaches both are threats to USC —but Helton still has a huge player advantage over both those teams. If Harrell and Orlando do their jobs, USC wins those games. Our problem is Notre Dame. And Oregon…..

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Michael, well said, I agree with almost everything, except Chip as a real coach. Worst 3-year record in Power 5, and before that, 2-14 with the 49ers. He benefitted from Phil Knight’s largesse at Oregon, including $$ for shady recruiting (Show Cause Chip). I believe that both the game and its’ culture have passed Chip by. The last time he was successful, today’s recruits were 8 or 9 years old, they don’t even know who he was.

        Regarding Herm, let’s give him a pass on last year with Covid, but the previous two years were nothing great. We’ll see if he can put together a strong program.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. And…. whether Herm and/or Chip have the goods or not (and I admit you make a very good case against Chip)…. a healthy Slovis and London are enough to beat both those guys.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Agree on KW. He’d get his clock cleaned every year by Notre Dame …and whichever bowl game we got sent to….

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hope the floating ‘t’ in hashtag doesn’t cause a certain someone concern….


    1. Hell, yes. There is lots of gold in these “If It’s Friday” pieces (and nobody can scoop Scott on them — although next week I’m putting out my own on Thursday).
      Seriously, nobody doing USC sports does a better job on this stuff than Scott does. And he’s been doing it forever. It’s nice to acknowledge that every once in awhile…..

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I disagree with you guys on USC’s talent level. Utah, Oregon, Arizona State, and Washington have closed the previous recruiting gaps. USC still has good players, but not like in past years. We have a good defensive end coming in who is a high school all-american, and some good wide receivers, but that does not make a complete football team. There is parity as far as talent level now in the Pac 12 that is part of the problem everyone can beat anyone on a given Saturday. USC is way below the others in head coach talent that is the other problem we are out coached on most Saturdays even if we still have decent talent.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Recruiting – Oregon (#7) yes – the others not so much, their recruiting classes are in the 30s or worse. But there is the issue of developing the talent, which is certainly there for the Trojans.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Who in the Pac12 had a better draft day? Oregon? Not even close. For all the boasting they do, where are their developmental results.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Gotta agree, 67. When you look at the national high school rankings of the individual players at Arizona State or Utah you’re forced to admit Herm and Kyle are simply doing more with less. There is NO reason why these teams (throw in Arizona last year) should be challenging USC.


  7. Recruiting is just 1 piece of the puzzle. USC is still getting the wide receivers, safeties, and qb’s, but lacking on the offensive and defensive lines, linebackers, and RUNNING BACKS. You guys really think Corey Foreman and Drake London can take us to a national championship. It takes 11 guys on both sides of the ball, and the offensive line, running back and linebacker play has been subpar for quite a number of years now. We use to recruit size and speed, but we have been really lacking in recruiting speed in recent years. Defense wins championships the air raid does not.

    USC should beat Utah at Home, but I don’t see them beating Arizona State in Tempe, and having 4-5 losses by the end of Helton’s last season’s. If SC drops a game in the early part of the season then the dam will break, and he could be gone before the end of the season

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not a CFB playoff calibre program at this stage, but still an 11-1 season is the expectation for 2021. This is the most favorable schedule for the Trojans EVER.
      Many of our tougher opponents will be bringing on new QB’s (Utah, BYU, ND, Stanford?, AZ–not tough). We play CU in boulder in early October instead of on a cold November Evening (which Larry Scott did routinely).

      While this team is not stellar by any means, the talent and the Asst Coaches should take them to 11-1.

      Come September, lets talk about what to do with a 9-3 or 10-2 season.
      8-4? Easy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “What to do with 8-4 season? Easy.”


  8. Scooter,

    You should have have mentioned that when Medical Center came one, the intro showed USC in a huddle with the linemen in front. They would break. It was awesome seeing SC continually on TV.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Scooter, Humptiy dumpity Helton hasw no thought of how he wants a team or to image his team after SC teams. He wants to his image to be protrayed in and on the team. His image, personality, and drive is grabbing for straws. He is lost and confused. His team protrays his image, lost and confused. Now you understand why the aissitants go by their own philosophy. Some know what they are doing, some don’t. And then Helton does not have the respect of the coaches or else they would follow his idea/phylispy, but he dosent have one. He just goes out there and see if something works.

    Fire Humpity Dumpity Helton.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It might happen, PT! Helton announced on November 4th, 2020, “From now on I want to play schools in states using Dominion voting machines”……


    2. cuz we routinely get Michigan or tOSU in the RB.
      No reason to book ’em in September.

      Now I like booking ACC and SEC teams in September.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not sure Helton wants to start off the season with another SEC team ever again….


  10. Whether we all like it or not USC football is no longer the superpower we all use to remember. Every year there is more and more parity within the Pac 12- USC has some great players, but not as many as they use to, and the other programs are catching up while we are sleeping.

    With so much balance in the Pac 12 the difference comes down to which team has the best coaching staff not the color of the uniform any longer. The winner of the Pac 12 is no longer or rarely a contender for the national championship yet alone the playoffs.

    There is balance in the Pac 12 due to the fact USC has gone to sleep on their football program. For national recognition to be brought back to the Pac 12 USC must once again become the national power every year that we are all use to seeing. Recruiting 2 blue chip quarterbacks,3 wide receivers, 1 terrific lineman will help get it done in the Pac 12, but you need 22 top recruits at every position to get back to national championship level, and that includes hiring a coach who has won a national championship, and knows what it takes to get there.

    Clay Helton comes from smaller losing programs like Houston, and Memphis where the winning expectations are runner up or higher in the respective conferences each year. USC hired and way overpaid for a Ford Pinto as their head coach what’s needed is a Ferrari that will consistently perform at a high level.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry, tommyd. Dr. Folt has asked me to inform you that, from here out, all metaphors & similes need be restricted to ELECTRIC cars…..


    2. Much to agree on.
      I have another talking point for the Pac-12 parity issue, tommyd.

      My theory is that the 12 pac schools all feverishly recruit the fertile Southern California talent, do poorly recruiting in the rest of the country, and thus dilute the talent on the West Coast. With the SEC, ACC, Big 12, and Big 10 taking So Cal recruits, there is even less for the Pac 12 to stock up on. I see it as death by a million cuts. Oregon High Schools contribute nothing to the talent pool, yet take talent out of So Cal. Washington HS produce some talent, but not nearly the talent that they take out of So Cal.

      Adding CU and Utah a while back only added cred to those Mountain West schools* and helped CU and Utah recruit in So Cal. Utah HS do produce some talented FB players and “we” have taken a bunch out of the Beehive state. Beyond the McCaffrey brothers (mostly Christian), Colorado has produced no talent.

      Larry Scott’s schedule also produced several ambush losses for premier teams, leading further to the “parity” issue. Lousy coaching at USC also has contribute.

      *CU always belonged in the MW. Few good years in the Big 8, Big 12.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Comment removed without warning or explanation.
    I posted this morning and even saw it on the site. Later checking to see if anyone had responded, I cannot find it.
    I scrolled to the bottom and found “terms and conditions” and “posting guidelines “ both are linked to a ladies undergarment advertising for bare necessities.
    Really hate this blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dude –weird shit is happening all over ALL blogs today….what’s up?
      [At least your “new guidelines” came with ladies’ underwear]…..


  12. Bourbon4me. I agree with you 100%. All the Pac 12 schools are draining S. California talent, and the great ones are going to the national power programs such as Clemson, Alabama, etc.

    USC has the resources to become a national power in football once again the others in the Pac 12 do not other than Phil Knight’s Oregon Duckies.
    Once we hire a coach that can take us back where we belong we will dominate Southern California recruiting once again with the great ones staying home, and the other top tier players saying no to the other Pac 12 teams. Winning the Pac 12 South will give you a Top 20 Class probably, but competing in the College Playoffs year after year will produce Top 5 Recruiting Classes. Sure, we got Corey Foreman a Top National Player this year, but 1 top recruit is not enough.

    We are competing now to just win the Pac 12 South which is not enough for the Top recruits in the country who want to play in the playoffs. We need a top tier national coach who knows how to compete for a national championship, and will not be satisfied just winning the Pac 12 South. The Pac 12 will not receive the national exposure until USC makes that committment to once again become a national power in football. Only USC can bring attention back to the Pac 12. While USC waits to find the correct direction in football the others in the Pac 12 will take full advantage of our mistakes inside the conference by building up their programs with players that USC use to get automatically.

    Liked by 1 person

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