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

 It’s time for USC notes and history during Clay Helton Birthday Week. Comments allowed at the bottom.

  • Some Arizona State fans will sweat until July 1, which is the deadline for players to transfer and retain their eligibility for 2021. After July 1, the fans can sweat whether there will be NCAA sanctions.
  • USC is obsessed with recruiting Texas football players. It’s worth noting, however, that Ohio State has offered scholarships to seven players at St. John Bosco.
  • USC forward Isaiah Mobley had 8 points, 4 rebounds and two steals in 22 minutes in a game Thursday at the NBA Combine.
  • Former USC football/baseball star Don Buford, ex-baseball player Bob Leach and former USC track coach Ron Allice were among those at Trani’s restaurant in Long Beach last week for a sports documentary being filmed about Los Angeles. Former UCLA basketball players Mike Warren and Kenny Booker were also there along with ex-Long Beach State star Ed Ratleff.

Buford was a tailback and had a successful baseball career, winning a College World Series, hit a home run off Tom Seaver in the 1969 World Series and won the 1970 World Series with the Baltimore Orioles.

  • Lars Nootbaar, who played at USC from 2016-18, made his major-league debut this week with the St. Louis Cardinals. He got his first hit, had a triple and threw out a runner at home from right field already. He became the 117th USC player to make it to the big leagues.
  • Former USC tennis player Robert Farah will represent Colombia at the Tokyo Olympics.
  • USC sprinter Nicole Yeargin is from Maryland but is half Scottish and will compete in the British Championships this weekend. She has the top 400-meter time in the UK (50.96) and if she finishes in the top 2, will make the Great Britain Olympic team and go to Tokyo.
  •  And now for some history:

Imagine in late 1969, if someone told a USC fan that this headline would be a silly question for a Trojan fan in 2021? “Will USC be No. 1 on Jan. 2, 2022?” LOL.

It is still less offensive than trying to describe to the 1969 fan who Clay Helton is or how he got named USC coach. Imagine trying to explain that. Or his contract.

Maybe worse would be telling the 1969 fan that a segment of 2021 USC fans are more worried about having a top 5 recruiting class than a top 5 team.

  • In 1952, USC lineman Elmer Willhoite was a consensus All-American. A year later, Willhoite had a second-round TKO victory over Clayton Mann at the Olympic Auditorium. The following year, Willhoite was trying out with the Toronto Argonauts and Baltimore Colts. He briefly was back in the boxing ring in 1958.

One of the All-American teams Willhoite made was the Collier’s magazine team:

Collier’s All-Americans


Ends —Ed Bell, Penn, and Buck Martin, Georgia Tech; Tackles—Ed Meadows, Duke, and Dick Modzelewski, Maryland: Guards—Elmer Willhoite, USC and Harley Sewell, Texas: Center —Donn Moomaw, UCLA:

Quarterback—Jack Scarbath, Maryland; Halfbacks—Don McAuliffe, Michigan State, and Johnny Lattner, Notre Dame; and Fullback—Buck McPhail, Oklahoma.

“Over the last two seasons, the rugged Willhoite averaged 45 minutes of playing time per game,” a Collier’s article said. “In addition to bolstering the middle of the Southern Cal’s defensive line, Willhoite was the Trojan’s best offensive blocker.”

The All-American team also featured running back Jim Sears for best all-around backfield play and defensive lineman Bob Van Doren as a specialist.

  • There was a left-handed track meet in Pasadena in 1953. What was a left-handed meet?

Well, Des Koch of USC had a right-handed discus throw of 166 feet, 10 5/8 inches and a left-handed effort of 116 ft. 2 inches. Olympic gold medalist Parry O’Brien had a left-handed shot put of 41 feet, 6 inches and then 53 feet, 8 inches with his right.

Koch won the bronze medal in the discus at the 1956 Olympics.

Some still consider him the best punter in USC history. He averaged 44.6 yards per punt in 1953. In the 1953 Rose Bowl, Koch set records for punting average (52.7 yards) and longest punt (72 yards).

  • I know some track alumni are breathing a sigh of relief because they were concerned about former coach Caryl Smith Gilbert’s attitude toward the program’s history. They feel new coach Quincy Watts will show more appreciation.
  • Does anyone remember USC QB Pat Mills?

He was named the starter for USC’s season-opener in 1965 vs. Minnesota. He completed 4 of 15 passes that season and was no longer on the team in 1966.

  • The Trojan Shop phone number is RI-7-1945 or RICHMOND-7-1945.

Of course, the most famous number in Los Angeles was the Olympic Auditorium’s RI-9-5171. Especially when Dick Lane was saying it.

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

  1. Scooter,

    In the famous Dick Lane’s most famous quote, “Whoa Nellie”, I salute you. You had John, “The Mad Greek” Tolos, Freddy Blasie, Mil Msacres, Tonly Atlas, Rocky Johnson, and others. Awesome wrastlin’.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. After a rough Friday night out on the town in LA…
        Pancakes (my homemade ones, of course) and wrestling on Saturday AM TV.
        Sergeant Slaughter vs Andre the Giant…
        Macho Man…
        Rowdy Roddy Piper…
        Mr Fuji…
        Jimmy “supafly” Snuka…

        Liked by 4 people

      2. GORGEOUS GEORGE, BARRON LEONI,ARGENTINA ROCCA, GARIBALDIS…could go on ,they were like movie stars in early 50’s TV

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Don’t forget The Destroyer, Bobo Brazil and Mr. Moto! Wednesday Nights on Channel 5 for Wrestling and Tuesday Nights for Roller Derby also on Channel 5. Go L.A. T-Birds! All from the Olympic Auditorium. And don’t forget the great sponsors Lou’s Garage and Felix Chevrolet!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Great column! And congrats to Isiah for his combine performance. So Cal was the place to be for college hoops back in the day, including LB State and Ed Ratleff.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. If there were an award for Best “If It’s Friday”, today’s would be in contention. The reminders on how much enthusiasm there was for USC football in 1969 and the sheer athleticism of Des Koch would probably clinch it. Good work, Scott. Nobody touches you.
    And what would any Scott piece be without at least one shot between the eyes? This time it’s, “Comments allowed.” Say what you want about Scott — like any REAL man he can dish it out and take it, too. An Athletic Department that knows it’s prudent to shut down remarks on it’s football coach is in serious trouble…

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Growing up, I was more of an LA Thunderbirds fan*, myself…
    And Dick Lane was the ever-present voice for the T-birds.
    Sadly, I didn’t get down to the Olympic for a match during my interment in South Central. Much regret.

    *If my homework was done and there was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING else to watch.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. They spent time at the OC fairgrounds and the Anaheim convention center too. And let’s not forget Jimmy Lemon the great announcer at the Olympic..

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I went to see the Mad Greek aka John Tolos vs. Classy Freddy Blasie at the Olympic Auditorium with my mom. We had a blast. It was a dump but still a place where you just had to be.

        BTW, Wrastlin’ is real. They get paid. Helton gets paid and they call him fake.

        Liked by 3 people

  5. The fine old Olympic Auditorium. Saw some memorable fights there [some even took place in the ring]. When I supervised attorneys at Hill Street Court House I used to take them over to see that wonderful building and try to explain (unsuccessfully) what it meant to us back in the day.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Good morning everyone. Even owns, Tbone and ‘S'(so named by mommy because she didn’t want to exhaust his memory).

    Good work B4M, you’re a good man for catching your boo-boo.

    OTOH, I can see that St. Guarino needs my attention. God is this painful.
    OK Guarino,
    1. Today’s? Geesh. You are the apostrophe king
    but this is over the line.
    2. “If it’s Friday”, or “comments allowed,”
    Inside the marks or outside? Come on lad.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Freshman Comp in high school…
      All commas and all periods (and thus, question marks, and exclamation points) always INSIDE the quotation marks.

      And, yes, I knew you were aware of this, CalSeventy-Five.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Not true. If, say a question mark or exclamation point isn’t part of the original quote, they go after the quotation marks.


      1. PT, four years… Catholic Military boarding school. You dang right I knew the ruler.
        However…however… The secret was Mrs Woodward in Comp in high school. I didn’t get that Nazi drill instructor in school but my four yr older sister did and sis tried to give me the basics. She tried. I’m not a good student. Later in life I was required to be able to write financial reports for an NYSE co and was OK. The line between ‘errors & ommissions’ and actually lying can be very thin.
        Progress reports, compliance reports, solicitation proposals, financial documentation…everyDAMNday for 45 years.

        I’ll let you alone because being a pest is not complimentary.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. I was the 1969 Trojan Team Co Captain along with the Great Jimmy Gunn. We beat Michigan in the 1970 Rose Bowl 10-3, (Michigan got in after beating the current National Champs, Ohio State) the last game of the regular season. We ended up being ranked #3 in the final standings. Our team expected to be ranked higher since we were undefeated 10-0-1, and beat the team who beat the current National Champions! Somewhere. I read or heard that President Nixon said before the bowl games started, “That Whoever won the Texas vs Penn State game would be the National Champs!” I couldn’t believe Nixon said that and of course, the sportswriters went along with his dumb ass statement. Our 1969 Team finished 10-0-1 (.955 winning percentage) 5th best in the 134 year history of USC Football! We were “The Cardiac Kids” on offense and “The Wild Bunch” on defense…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. As a wee lad of 8, I recall this Nixon kerfuffle, Doc.
      No doubt you and the Trojans deserved the Natty that year.

      From 1964 (or so) to 1982 (or so) USC was THE PRE-EMINENT CFB program in America.

      Neither Penn State, nor Bama could compete. Penn State was independent most of that time and Jo Pa would schedule a ton of patsies to pad his record. Once they entered the Big 10, the Nittany Lions would struggle.
      Most years, we got the best of ND during that stretch also.

      As scholarship restrictions hit (first 95 and then 85), talented young men from So Cal would leave the USC area for the rest of CFB. Most of our 1982 bench-warmers would have started at most of the Pac 10 schools (among others).

      Liked by 3 people

  8. Seems like the coaches are a bit “obsessed” with recruiting Georgia too… I wonder if that’ll be the next thing for scottie to harp on?

    Liked by 3 people

  9. The 1970 Rose Bowl was a great day for the Trojans. Jimmy Jones, and Bob Chandler were really clicking that day in the passing game in a very tough defensive battle. I was a high school recruit at that time, and watched the game from the sidelines, and if I can recall correctly Michigan Bo Schembecker had a heart attack before the game, and was not able to coach the Michigan team. I believe Larry Smith, was a Michigan Assistant Coach at that time also.

    Jimmy Jones, was one of my all favorites. He was very inconsistent at SC during his time there especially throwing the mid-range passes, but wow could he throw the deep ball as well as anyone. He did have a decent career in the Canadian Football League, but definitely had the talent to do much more in his pro career.

    Bob Jensen you had a wonderful game that day also as did Williard Scott, and Al Cowlings. Scott, was probably the best nose tackle USC has ever had along with Rich Dimler. Solid team defense with great fundamentals wins football games along with a consistent running game which we are lacking now due to this crazy air raid offense.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Seems like USC is competing for recruits against Ohio State and Oklahoma alot. That is pretty tough competition with the question marks still surrounding Clay Helton and also the question marks on Graham Harrell’s air raid offense. Just seems like with a head coach that was respected, USC would be winning the majority of these recruiting battles.

    Need to get either Gentry Williams or Christen Miller soon. Cant afford for the momentum to stop. Too many recruits look poised to pull the trigger on Ohio State or Oklahoma.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Please help me wish Clay Helton a Happy Birthday. We are meeting at Heritage Hall with cake and balloons tomorrow evening. We will have play pin the tail on the donkey and Yahtzee. Unfortunately, children under 17 are not welcome as it will be a crazy party.


  12. Great Friday notes column! Totally enjoyed it. I want USC to be obsessed with recruiting high school football players in their own Southern California backyard.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. From a coward to a really nice guy, Happy Birthday week Coach Helton!
    Let’s win 8 games this year and play in Holiday Bowl!


  14. ELMER WILLHOITE…I’ve stated here before his most famous play in ’52,and against an all american too,I was fortunate to be there and …well who knows what it was? and the result that followed later?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Who was the greatest USC football recruit that got away?

    In my opinion—

    Hershel Walker= USC had him just about all signed, sealed, and delivered until he stayed home, and signed with Georgia. Hershel, had it all, but people don’t remember he also had Olympic gold medal speed before he quit track to concentrate on football.

    Liked by 1 person

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