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

Let’s take a look at what’s going on with USC as it reels from the Notre Dame loss and welcomes 0-19 Arizona to the Coliseum.

  • This was a good note from Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated: “One school has fired three coaches before November in the last 10 years.” (Lane Kiffin, Steve Sarkisian, Clay Helton).”
  • If Mike Bohn was going to fire Helton after two games, why didn’t he just fire him after last season? The fans weren’t placated by the 4-1 record in 2020 and he didn’t save any money.
  • Nearly 900 alumni band members will perform with the USC band on Saturday at the Coliseum and former band director Art Bartner will conduct the group when it performs the alma mater.

The halftime show will also honor Bartner. When do they play Frankenstein? If nothing else, the 900 band alumni will boost the attendance figure for this week.

At least I think the countermarch got retired for this year’s Stanford game.

  • Iga Świątek, the 2020 French Open champion, worked out at USC this week. Does she have eligibility left?
  • Should USC’s new moniker be University of Scandals and Corruption?
  • Several USC alums who went to the Notre Dame game last weekend said it was the tamest atmosphere they ever experienced in South Bend. That’s an indictment of the rivalry.
  • Anthony Munoz told the NFL Network he is one of 24 former USC players advising the athletic dept. on the coaching search. Munoz probably holds more influence because he is a hero in Cincinnati and still lives there, so he already knew Mike Bohn (and Brandon Sosna). Munoz praised Luke Fickell and also complimented James Franklin and David Shaw, who makes around $9 million per year at Stanford.
  • I wonder if Frostee Rucker (another former Bengal) is among the players advising USC since Sosna is a big Bengals fan. Former Bengals QB Carson Palmer is also part of the group, which he admitted during his infamous Dan Patrick interview.
  • Former USC kicker Chase McGrath has made 8 of 10 field goals this season for Tennessee. His longest kick is 48 yards.
  • Former USC water polo coach Jovan Vavic will have a jury trial in March, a judge ruled this week.
  • One reason you can’t trust the fanboy media is the way Tahj Washington got pumped up in training camp. Because of the hype, Washington and Korey Foreman are probably the two biggest disappointments this season.
  • When Drake London said he was committed to playing in a bowl game, it’s a good reminder that the team wanted to play in one last season but Clay Helton and Bohn declined because Kedon Slovis, Amon-Ra St. Brown and Alijah Vera-Tucker were injured and then claimed the team did not want to play.
  • When linebacker Ty Kana decommitted this week, a few USC fans told me he was going to be dropped anyways. Maybe but USC needs linebackers and I remember when Ed Orgeron took some commitments in 2013 it was because he was worried the recruiting class would not have enough players with a new coach coming in. One of those players he took was Uchenna Nwosu, who turned out pretty good.
  • And now for some history:
You can see props for the Rolling Stones concert in the background for the 1981 USC-Arizona game.

One of the weirdest USC-Arizona games was at the Coliseum in 1981.

USC was ranked No. 1 when it was upset by Arizona, 13-10. Perhaps USC was distracted because there was a stage for the Rolling Stones concert in the background. The Rolling Stones performed the day before and the day after the game.

The field had been convered with a tarp for the Friday night concert and was in poor condition for the game.

“It was just awful, filthy. The last thing you wanted was for some Trojan to knock you on your ass and rub your face in the dirt,” linebacker Ricky Hunley told the Arizona Daily Star.

The Trojans took a 10-0 lead as Marcus Allen ran 74 yards for a TD and then added a field goal.

“Maybe they thought it was going to be easy,” Arizona coach Larry Smith said.

But the Trojans didn’t do much after that and were held to 297 yards while Arizona had 402.

After the game, USC coach John Robinson entered the Arizona locker room and went to each player and shook their hands.

“I still remember him telling me, ‘You should be proud of yourself; you outplayed us in every way.’ It’s the classiest move I had ever seen to that point in my life,” Arizona offensive lineman Jeff Kiewel told the Daily Star.

Photo/Tucson Citizen
  • This week’s angry answer from Mike Tomlin about the USC job reminds me of some comments made by John McKay in 1976 when he took the Tampa Bay job.

Lou Saban coached in the pros, then figured he’d retire to a college job and coast. At Maryland, he went 4-6. After that, he went back to the pros. I’m not trying to establish myself as a pro coach. I would rather the pro coaches go out and establish themselves as college coaches.”

  • It’s been a few years since the big USC-Notre Dame luncheon was discontinued. It was held downtown the day before the game when it was in Los Angeles, but McKay attended the 1999 edition. It lasted three hours before he spoke.

“Congratulations, this is the longest meal since the last supper,” he said.

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

  1. Hoping for an epic tribute to Mr Bartner on homecoming weekend.
    And yes, the Spirit of Troy performing Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein” would be memorable.

    No one has been more loyal to USC over the past 50 years than he.
    The embodiment of Fight On! Here’s to another decade with Art, even if he is just a member of crowd.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Great history!

    I am glad that Bohn is receiving input from lots of people in the industry, but the biggest challenge to hiring a great coach is getting Folt to sign off on $10 mill a year and giving the new HC a big budget to hire top assistants. Folt should look at the expenses as an investment that could massively increase football-related revenue and bring back the spirit to the university. How many people currently at USC actually were part of that great football tradition?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’m thinking that the CEO of this Multi-talented corporation does not have an appreciation for the Football brand–which is one of the more important brands in the stable. USC FB is not the only marketable brand, though.

      A smart CEO would let a more knowledgeable VP repair the brand.
      This is Bohn’s job, and with the above 24 members of the search committee, they’ll get it done right. I’m confident. We may not get our #1 choice, but we’ll get a top candidate. If this is a $10million+ commitment, then we better get 10 victories immediately.

      At 10 wins per year, the brand will be healthy and return dividends.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Money doesn’t come from SC’s general fund. I don’t think people unfamiliar with administration understand how much money is floating around Heritage Hall– it’s more than most universities’ academic endowment. And SC generates more than 130 million a year as it’s athletic budget. Just a year and a half ago, ‘SC got another $750 million dumped into into it’s Heritage Initiative, adding to a previous few hundred million added, on top of what already was a 9 figure athletic endowment. The Wayne Hughes, just as a single donor was dropping 9 figures, into SC in general but also athletics in particular, even as Folt was turning down his offers to pay for Urban Meyer. USC may have problems these days, but money isn’t SC’s problem in hiring a coach.


      Liked by 3 people

      1. *The late Wayne Hughes and family… Y’all know what I mean… With Bohn’s history of incompetence at fundraising at Colorado it’s hilarious that he’s walked into a school where money isn’t an issue and still is struggling.


  3. trojan1967 it turns my stomach knowing people who have not loved SC football over the years are making decisions about its future. I doubt they could recognize many of the Trojan greats and know its history and traditions. Their support of helton, a lying, pandering failure, instead of replacing him last season aided it the continued fall of SC football. I just saw a newly released list of the top 10 programs in the West……SC was not included! Folt should be charged with murder for killing the football program with her arrogance, stupidity and feminist leanings. Fire her and Bohn and have Bohn take his boy toy Sosna with him.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Any Athletic Director who couldn’t see Helton lost the team LAST year (after scraping by crap teams like Arizona and UCLA, getting manhandled by Oregon…and having the games against Alabama and Notre Dame mercifully cancelled) can’t be expected to get anything right.
      Special Note to Scott: No more photos of Jack Del Rio! You’re tearing old blog friends apart!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. The Arizona loss in 1981–the one year we were NOT on bowl probation in the 1980-3 stretch–cost us the RB berth. Epic W’s vs Tennessee and vs Oklahoma (#1vs#2–beat ’em in 1982 also) to start the year, a tidy W in ND.

    The loss at UW was as inexplicable as the loss to UofA.

    Irrespective, had the Trojans just found a way to fight through vs the Mildcats, then Marcus and Chip et al would have been Pasadena bound.

    Lefty John Mazur was marginally effective in1981 as the first year QB–though he did throw the clutch winning toss to Fast Freddie Cornwell for the win vs Okie. Ineffective QB play from the mid/late 70’s–1981 (excluding one good year by Paul MacDonald, and poor use of Hertel) lead to the hiring of Ted Tollner as OC and a change in USC’s style of play. The rest, as they say, is history.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Levy was long gone … after not getting the gig over Robo. He figured it out. They simply didn’t think he had the charisma that the talkative Robo had. Though he would had been a better coach.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I have no answer, ghost.
        I took a fun class in 1981 with AD Levy re: Football Strategy, which he taught for the SIDs. He was charismatic in the classroom for sure. I only took it for a few weeks, and dropped it as it really wasn’t a smart elective for a pre-med student.

        My guess (and my recollection) is that JR wanted to go in a different direction on offense than McKay/Levy had gone over THEIR 16 YEARS TOGETHER. As the 70’s ended, teams were stacking the box against the run, and the Trojans were losing some winnable games due to poor pass game mechanics. Hackett came first and did a pretty good job. Then Tollner came in 1982 (from SDSU, I think) to groom Salisbury and other future QBs and “bring the Trojans’ offense into the new era.” IMHO, the Tollner pick was a default pick. There was no real effort at a nationwide search. As the AD, JR just kinda’ kicked Dave to the curb.

        Great guy and a great Trojan. Rightfully inducted into the USC HOF.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. Don’t believe Levy was passed over for Tollner (he as passed over for JRob based on charisma/affability with media). Levy went on to be a great assistant with Air Coryell during the final years of JRob I…Tollner: Not same as Bourbon’s first-hand insight, but I read below linked book, and it spends a fair amount of time talking about the end of JRob I into Tollner (presents him in a slightly better light and seems to insinuate that the 1983 disaster was due to staff turnover – with as Bourbon explained JRob taking Goux and Houck to the Rams – and that he was fired just before having remade the program, with Smith benefitting from his recruiting…which rings true, given the quick rise and then quick falloff during Smith’s tenure).

        Liked by 3 people

      4. Larry Smith was a great coach —with other coaches’ recruits. That formula worked for him at Arizona, USC and Missouri. Always came on like gangbusters and, then, faded.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. Who had a better overall coaching career–Norv Turner* (Tollner’s OC/QB coach for a few years) or Ted Tollner?

        Both were super nice guys and great offensive FB minds.

        *Admittedly, Turner has an overall losing record in the NFL as a head coach, but he did end up with some of the worst franchises during his HC stints.


    1. That 81 loss to Zona was inexcuseable … loss at Udub, in that miserable weather, can be excused. The schedules in those days were really tough wow

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Vince Evans was an excellent q/b on ’76 team then Hertel, and Paul followed for 2-3 yrs…Tollner was a good asst coach, just not ‘the’ head coach type

      Liked by 2 people

      1. If memory serves me correctly (IMSMC)….
        Back in the late 60’s and in the 70’s, the media would blame every Trojan loss on the lack of good QB play. The Cal or Stanford QB was the job every kid wanted. Indeed, I recall as a youngster reading how two kids from Bishop Amat–Haden and McKay–were gonna bring USC football into the new age of passing the football. I’m not sure Haden really fulfilled the prophesy, though JK was pretty clutch.

        Vince had one good year at USC, then a credible career in the NFL.
        Again (IMSMC), Hackett was brought in to develop Evans and was responsible for the one good year Vince put up. I always thought Hertel was a better QB than Haden: better in the pocket, taller and more athletic, better on the run. Maybe Hertel was hampered by his baseball career with Dedeaux and not playing much Spring Ball? I think Hertel bridged the McKay-to-J Rob transition also.

        Anyway, it was all about bringing USC out of the “4 yards and a cloud of dust” CFB and into the “modern era.” Hackett, Tollner, and Norv Turner get a ton of credit for the contribution.

        …and then came Rodney Peete and Marinovich and Carson Palmer….


    3. I remember that game as a fan – shocking, miserable (I always figured it’s what got Smith the USC gig and was the nail in the coffin for JRob’s motivation?)…same for UW game (Tom Flick? guess Jacque Robinson was a good back, and they hammered Iowa in the Rose Bowl…but that is what stood between a lesser USC team and a national title…blowing a10-0 lead at home to Mildcats, Fred Crutcher fumble on miserable rainy day in Seattle…and not getting an easy day with the Hawkeyes, as opposed to running into what was probably the best team in the country that year in Penn. State).

      Liked by 3 people

      1. That 1981 Penn State loss was telling. Jo Pa finally had the program humming, with 3 victories vs ranked teams that year. In the prior decade, no one believed in Penn State as they had a cupcake independent schedule, and the voters rightfully punished PS.

        Blackledge and Curt Warner and the Jerry Sandusky (DC) defense spanked the Trojans all day long. Tough game to watch.

        I didn’t realize it at the time, but USC “dominance” in CFB was waning.

        Being on probation in 1980, 1982, 1983 probably did not help J Rob’s motivation. Maybe J Rob knew his time in CFB was coming to a close?


  5. Here we go again, former USC players advising Bohn on who to select, talk about a recipe for disaster.

    And for shits sake, don’t hire JDR.

    London may not have to worry about playing in a bowl game the way things are going.

    I love how Tebow has thrown out Moore’s name, hilarious. The guy is in line for an NFL gig, why would he go to a college team ? You don’t think Boise St approached him when their coach left for Auburn ?

    I was at the 81 Arizona game, horrible, almost as bad as the Stanford tie a few years earlier

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Talk about disappointments Clay Helton is the biggest disappointment of a lifetime. When Bohn fired him, he should have said, “No you’re fired ! I make the big bucks here not you, and I have more years on campus than you, you’re not the boss of me!”
    But, Nooo he had to whimp out and take his buyout like the true loser we knew he was.
    Another disappointment has been Donte, although some may say he has emulated his mentor the great Clay, I thought he might rise above the mediocrity and become the next head coach. Sadly he hasn’t proven to even be a good recruiter judging by the way his recruits have responded.
    I say lets be rid of the entire staff and bring on the next scandal ridden coach. James Franklin and the Vanderbilt sex scandal is waiting in the wings. He has said he won’t hire an assistant until he see the man’s wife, because if he’s any kind of man he should have the guts to ask the most beautiful woman around. (no scandal there) He has the potential to bring years of disappointment and scandal to a clown college like ours.
    As for Art Bartner that’s the guy you want writing traditions (except for the band rape scandals)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Slovis can’t punch the ball in once he gets to the red zone. Might as well start Dart and

    Deonte Ingram may be a track star, but he can not take it to the house as have many great SC running backs. And he is a one-cut runner.

    Oddly, Kenan Christon can take it to the house x 2 but was sidelined with some issue of an alleged student violation that put him at the mercy of the infamous USC student kangaroo court. Hopefully, Christon will stick around for new coach where he can be placed into a meaningful role.

    And Moss has the touch for long pass completions. A rolling stone (football) apparently does gather moss.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Slovis is a big girl, she can choose to audible out of crap plays that she knows aren’t going anywhere and yet she chooses to do as that idiot Harrell says, so yeah, Slovis is just as much at fault as the idiot with the headset.


    1. Keontay Ingraham runs hard. Be nice to see him get a 1000 yards this season. He took a chance on this team (though he would have never played at UTexas this year), and has been a splendid surprise.

      Be nice to have Christon back.
      Be nice to have Bru back.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Re last paragraph:
        Don’t let Student Judicial Court hear you say that, Bourbon…..


  8. Watching clips of the SC/Notre Dame game, no one on SC defense wants to tackle. It would benefit both the players and team to also show lowlights (instead of just highlights) to point out the poor tackling play (which is a unit thing as much as an individual thing). This might motivate players better and motivate the defensive units to improve performance.


  9. With the talent that is here now, if any competent OC with the typical West Coast/BYU offense that SC has run for so long with great success, and run first mentality and utilizing more 21 and 12 personnel groups, with Dart under center, SC would have run through the PAC 12. This is a weak year for traditional powers so SC would have had a shot in the playoffs.

    I’m not ignoring Orlando’s failings. But Orlando’s defense’s lapse of discipline and inability to adjust, while blitzing a lot would have not been so exposed– those lapses show more, and over aggressive play-calling on defense get exposed the more a defense is on the field and the more there are sudden changes of possession and bad field position all of which happen under Harrell.

    A few talented players like Bru McCoy and Kenan Christon that have been eaten up by the system because the coaches don’t advocate for them, and several other talented players transferring out would still be around as well.

    That’s what makes it so frustrating. SC is losing opportunity after opportunity, and it’s all so close you can almost taste it, but then you look at whose been running the show. Thanks “Coach Bohn”.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mostly agree. Bohn is a joke. But Orlando is a joke too. Even though we can’t score, our time of possession is better than the opposition’s (even in the Notre Dame game). Our defense isn’t being run ragged by 3 and outs by the offense….it’s just a plain, old bad defense.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. TOP by itself is blah vs TOP, sustained drives (vs quick change of possession/ less possessions and conversion to points.


      2. Also ND had more TOP, and I think that’s been the case most of the year. Oregon State, I know was a big lapse. Even when we had even yardage and TOP Harrell’s offense is good for useless yard and no conversion to points, TOs, lack of sustained drives.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. At one point I though TO was a decent coach, but those days are gone. I think he runs a defense that he really doesnt understand. When you run a 3-4 defense, your linebackers had better be very good at alot of things, but out linebackers are horrible. The secondary was also exposed once Hufanga left.


  10. If the coaches are so “all in” for the jump ball, why not double down and get Kyle Ford out there with London? Heck, nobody else is getting open.Tell these defenders to get off their ego trip and quit trying to power tackle up high.Most of the time they whiff and look stupid.Tackle lower and wrap up Geez…play the odds and stop goin’ for the show tackle.Maybe they WOULD get on Sportscenter if they won some games.It’s “How’s my Instagram account and my NIL doing? – wait – let me take this selfie.”No time for fundamentals.None of these guys are very good considering the assumption that they’re gifted athletes.You’d think for all the time they spend in front of the mirror, that they would know that.Helton calls them “kids” – they’re YOUNG MEN.I don’t think Nick Saban calls his players “kids”. That culture is for Tee ball.I still remember Olaijah Griffin getting close to a Ref and humping his package at him – disgraceful.What a rudderless ship it is.To the team : I stick with the Trojans regardless, but be aware – you guys suck.Have some pride.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I was at The Stones concert on October 9th.
    Prince was the first opening act. He got booed off the stage. I remember seeing someone throw an empty fifth bootle that just missed him.


    1. I lived on 37th place–quite a few blocks from the Coli.
      We could HEAR THE BOOING of Prince at our apartment.
      Couldn’t quite hear the Stones set–at least not clearly.


    1. Coach Shaw has run into tough times lately but he gave Stanford plenty of thrills & excitement in his heyday ….and he never makes a jackass out of himself in press conferences….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The two Stanford games I’ve attended recently–both Pac 12 Champ games at Levi Stadium–showed me how blase (blah-zay) are the Cardinal fans. No tailgating of note. No fan appreciation in the stadium.
        Late arrival: Most could not arrive by 7PM despite the 101 fwy being wide open on a Friday afternoon with a 10 mile commute from the campus.

        Dave really knows how to excite a fan base.

        They still recruit good QB and TE talent, but I sense that their brand attraction has deteriorated with the young HS FB player.

        Liked by 1 person

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