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

I caught Clay Helton in a truth this week. That’s almost better than catching him in a lie.

  • Helton said this week that defensive lineman Maninoa Tufono was “back home taking care of some personal business.” That part is true because one of my spies spotted Tufono in Honolulu on Thursday. The better question is whether this is any kind of disciplinary action?

Helton won’t divulge that, of course.

  • Freshman offensive lineman Casey Collier is also back home per a source. With 20 guys out of Thursday’s practice, who would notice?
  • I know people who got three emails Thursday for different ticket packages. Someone is desperate!
  • Former USC linebacker Palaie Gaoteote is at Ohio State but still waiting the resolution of his NCAA transfer eligibility.
  • USC forward Isaiah Mobley has signed with Wasserman Basketball for “NIL representation.”
  • USC track coach Quincy Watts has added University of Arizona twin transfers Johnnie and Alyssa Blockburger to the Trojans’ track team. Johnnie was the Pac-12 men’s freshman of the year and a top 400-meter runner and can do several events while Alyssa is a distance runner.

Here is the funny part: Their father, Sheldon Blockburger, was one of the many USC track assistant coaches fired by Caryl Smith Gilbert during her tenure, often for no reason. Do you think the kids would be at USC now if Smith Gilbert were still the coach?

  • And now for some history:
  • Here’s an athletic accomplishment I’m pretty certain no one talks about or remembers.

In 1939, the USC basketball team went 5-0 on an “Eastern trip” that made the Trojans a national power.

It started with a 44-42 OT victory over DePaul in Chicago on Dec. 18. Then came a 38-34 victory on Dec. 20 at Purdue. USC routed Notre Dame, 55-38, two days later in South Bend.

Now the highlight: On Dec. 26, 1939, USC played Long Island at Madison Square Garden. Long Island had won 42 straight games and was the defending NIT champions, which was like the national champion in those days.

The Trojans won, 57-49, and ended Long Island’s 42-game winning streak. The next night USC went to Philadelphia and beat Temple 46-30. Temple was the 1938 NIT champs.

Ralph Vaughn, who was the Trojans’ leading scorer, averaged 14 points per game on the trip. Here is the team led by Coach Sam Barry.

  • I’m not entirely sure what Trojan Family means today but here are two examples of what it used to mean.

In 1983, several hundred people showed up at the University Hilton to celebrate Julie Kohl’s 80th birthday party. Kohn owned the legendary Julie’s Restaurant and then Julie’s Trojan Barrel.

Here’s John McKay presenting Kohl with a No. 80 USC jersey at her party. I wonder how many people would show up for a similar event today?

  • Did you know actor Jack Oakie (above) used to have a regular award named after him at the USC football banquet? He was friends with USC presidents since the 1930’s when he filmed movies at USC.

When I first started going to USC football banquets, his wife, actress Victoria Horne (above), would attend. Two years before Horne died in 2003, she bequeathed their ranch, Oakridge, to USC. It was previously owned by actress Barbara Stanwyck.

Naturally in 2007, USC sold the ranch to a developer. But in 1990, Horne had the house designated a historic-cultural monument and USC gave it to the City of Los Angeles, which has preserved it.

Never donate a house to USC if you don’t want them to sell it! Oh, and USC has not given out the Oakie Award three of the past four seasons. Out of sight, out of mind.

  • Speaking of Stanwyck, here’s a newspaper item where she and actor Robert Taylor missed the 1938 USC-Notre Dame game because she had to shoot scenes on a Saturday for the film, “Union Pacific.” No. 8-ranked USC upset No. 1-ranked Notre Dame, 13-0, at the Coliseum.
  • There was a time when USC produced high school and junior-college coaches all over Southern California because it offered P.E. as a major.

In the below picture from a 1954 Trojan Coaches Club meeting, USC football coach Jess Hill congratulates Coach Bob Stillwell, who led the Santa Monica High School football team to the CIF championship, while athletic director Willis O. Hunter shakes hands with Marvin Schmidt, coach of the San Fernando High School’s L.A. city championship football team.

Homer Beatty, another Trojan coach-alumnus, was also honored at this meeting for guiding Bakersfield Junior College to a victory in the little Rose Bowl. This was an era when USC sprinter Mel Patton won two Olympic gold medals in London in 1948 and then became a student teacher at Dorsey High School as he completed his P.E. degree.

That’s Mel “cover of Time magazine” Patton, by the way.

From left: Jess Hill, Bob Stillwell, Marvin Schmidt and Willis O. Hunter at 1954 Trojan Coaches Club meeting.


I think I’ve run this before but it’s good not to run it again. Bob Dylan in 1965 for as little as $2.75. And don’t forget to enclose the self-addressed stamped envelope!


It’s Grand Funk at the Forum in 1972.

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

      1. Did you see Colbert when he sorta tried to address a congressional subcommittee? He was so nervous each of his pals backed away cuz they thought he was gonna throw up on somebody.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Hung out and attended events at Julie’s Trojan Barrel back in the day. Fans of opposing teams used to come by all the time as they heard that it was a place to see if they were coming to L.A. for a game. The place was packed with great Auburn fans in 2002 who made the trek that weekend. A great, great place that never disappointed for USC and opposing fans.


    Liked by 4 people

  2. Best “Friday” yet. Minimum of cheap shots and a ton of great memories.
    Owns needs to read & memorize every word of the salute to the 1939 USC basketball team.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This should brighten your day…???

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Maybe this means Clay Helton as the next head coach of the Detroit Lions when he gets fired from USC?


        Liked by 3 people

    2. MG, that 1939-40, Clown U team lost to Kansas in the tournament Final Four. Then as now, SUCC BB works best with marginal (i.e. ‘cupcake’) competition.

      Not much to memorize.

      #”Facts matter.” ~ Dear Pisley

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think the game was a ONE point loss for USC….


  3. I saw the Basketball scores of yore and wondered why so low? Then I remembered sometime in my lifetime the rules of basketball changed and you couldn’t beat a team by holding the ball for minutes on end. So I can assume the stall was a regular part of USC basketball. Either that or the underwater basket weaving team made the peach baskets for the basketball games and they were tight?
    PS sorry about the pads thing… our sewer backed up and you can guess why, so I was sitting my fence watching money go down the drain to a rooter service. Definitely not my best work

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Michael, 4 victories over the baby bears? In a single year? Don’t we have 4 victories in the last 2 years over them? Including a couple of buzzer daggers? Can owns confirm this stat?

        Liked by 5 people

  4. As always great history, nobody comes close to Scottie on that dimension. As always, cheap shots about the university, though as BK7 noted, not the baker’s dozen Scottie usually presents.


    Liked by 5 people

  5. You can add my grandfather to the list of great coaches to come out of the department. After being at all-American catcher at SC and a short stint in with the Red Sox farm system went to Dunsmer to teach and coach. A few years later moved to Burbank and took over an abysmal baseball program. Coached baseball, football, basketball for stints, and was the AD for along time. Won multiple CIF titles in baseball. My dad (his son in law) also an all-American at SC, went on to be the head track coach at Cal State LA for decades and won DII titles there. Too bad these thing arn’t important to the University any more. The amazing influences and factors in young impressionable lives doesn’t seem to be as important as securing grant money, raising tuition or trying to show the rest of the world how socially aware you are. Last time i checked, people who coach and mentor have a much greater effect on kids from communities and walks of life that need the direction. You could fill 10 books with the stories of boys and girls who’s lives took a positive change in direction due to the work my grandfather, father and I have done in working with these kids. Uncountable numbers, from delinquency in some cases to successful lives. To me that is what it is all about and should be with these institutions. But that seems to have gone the way of the dinosaur.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Seems like one of the most productive public expenditures would be to substantially expand after school kid activities and opportunities for kids on weekends. When was the last time a Boys and Girls Club opened up in a community that really needs it?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Damn MG, you failed to mention the UCLA BB defeated Clown U BB, 52 straight times. It’s a NCAA record for consecutive rivalry BB futility.

        #Oh well!
        #”Facts matter.” ~Dear Pisley
        #And SUCC is still proud they’re (not their or there) OOOOOOOOferever.
        #Even subpar Attorneys get laid once in while.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Take Bohn, Helton and Folt with you. They will be a perfect fit for the Detroit Lions. They’ve been use to mediocrity since before the Super Bowl era even existed. That can’t do any worse than Matt Millen or William clay Ford in the 70s. Yikes!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Definition of a loser Trojan stalker; Bruin Rob, owns/rents when he looks in the dictionary and sees his picture next to it. You earned it man.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. owns, come on, man, you know what this is about, this reasonable thing…You just can’t go along with organized crime playing a role in college athletics, fixing all the player’s problems. A line has to be drawn there, son. Even so, Wooden still may have won 1 or 2 on the up and up.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. These Friday lookin back conversations (post & replies) definitely add fuel to the post-work happy hour bonfire. Can you go home again? Suppose it depends on one’s definition of home…

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Strange you’d say that, boxisbento. I mean, strange you’d say the words “depends on your definition of home.” I used those words last night when talking to my son. I don’t agree with Captain Willard from Apocalypse Now about “home isn’t there anymore.” But I do acknowledge it’s only to be found in new ways & forms.
        btw, my son pointed out that the hero in the Coen Brothers’ Miller’s Crossing and the villain in No Country for Old Men (both masterpieces) are reciprocals. Neither can be destroyed no matter how many catastrophic things happen to him — but one is a force of good and one is a force for bad….

        Liked by 3 people

      3. I’d like to believe going home is still possible. However, it’s only possible if men & women are still willing, still strong enough to brave a dark world to fix a fire, provide a beacon, light a path, etc for others to follow. That light can be in the form of what Vault91s grandfather did, or something as simple as a nod of approval to a kid you witness doing the right thing. In the dark even the smallest flame can guide you home. Perhaps, with this in mind, it’s why I take extreme exception to what’s become of our once proud University, and a football program that used to shine symbolically in representation of all that was right… that flame we light in the Coliseum is much more than just a throwaway line for Helton, Folt, etc to spew when the cameras are on. Ask anyone, from any walk, who’s ever aspired to be a Trojan what it means to them, and you’ll quickly see why tolerance with the current regime is not something we should be practicing. Sometimes you have to embrace the smell of napalm in the morn.

        Liked by 4 people

      4. No joke. Enough is enough. Time to say goodbye to these pretenders.
        They cheapen everything they touch.
        btw, a lot of people think that last scene is the key to No Country for Old Men. I disagree. I think the key scene is when the Sheriff tells his uncle he thinks God’s disappointed in him…and his uncle sez “you don’t know what God thinks.”

        Liked by 2 people

  6. There’s a country song that says “weekends don’t mean as much now that I’m unemployed”. Makes me wonder the same about closing time once we’re no longer allowed to gather…

    Liked by 4 people

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