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:
FIRST TEAM OFFENSE
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.