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.
CONCERT OF THE WEEK NO. 1
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!
CONCERT OF THE WEEK NO. 2
It’s Grand Funk at the Forum in 1972.