Some of the know-nothings decried the position of Cincinnati in the initial College Football Playoff rankings and said it was good news for USC’s pursuit of Luke Fickell.
But the Bearcats are No. 5 in the latest rankings and that looks like a decent position. Do you think Oregon will beat Utah twice, Oregon State and Washington State? Will Ohio State win out? If the Ducks or Buckeyes lose, Cincy could be in the top four.
That is a dilemma for USC athletic director Mike Bohn. The semifinal games are Dec. 31.
Could Bohn wait until Jan. 1 or later to hire a coach?
Is there any way Fickell would leave Cincinnati with the Bearcats playing in the biggest game in school history? I can’t see that happening.
It could put USC under pressure to hire someone else and get a new coach installed. What if Cincinnati somehow won a semifinal game? The CFP title game is Jan. 10. Fickell wouldn’t leave before then and it feels too long for USC to wait to make a hire. Decisions, decisions.
- What is it with USC and five-star recruits lately? Korey Foreman has had a disappointing freshman season. And it’s been a down year for the secondary despite having two five-star cornerbacks (Chris Steele, Isaac Taylor-Stuart). For that matter, when has Bru McCoy looked like a five star? When did JT Daniels? Or Palaie Gaoteote? About the only one who delivered recently was Amon-Ra St. Brown.
- Not only did USC players get rings for last season’s Elite Eight, a banner was raised in the Galen Center on Tuesday. Is there a banner for the 2001 Elite Eight? Or the 1954 Final Four? Or does it only count if it happened in the Bohn era?
- The Pac-12 had a great signing date . . . for women’s basketball. ESPN had the Pac-12 with 5 of the nation’s top 6 classes: Oregon (No. 1), UCLA (No. 2), Oregon State (No. 3), UConn (No. 4), Stanford (No. 5) and Arizona (No. 6). Washington was 10th.
You’ll notice USC is not on the list. But women’s basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb has enough talent to win this year.
It will be better than the women’s volleyball apologists who claim the past two seasons of losing don’t count because of future recruiting classes.
- Since when does USC use “Southern Cal.”
Ronald Dalmacio is staying in Southern Cal!! ✍️— USC Swim & Dive (@USCswim) November 11, 2021
The ✌️ time 2021 CA CIF Southern Division 1 Champion (50y free, 100y back) is staying local and joining the Trojan Fam! pic.twitter.com/1AAWAcHBlx
- And now for some history:
With the USC-Cal game postponed, it’s a good time to remember that Cal used to care about sports.
The Golden Bears were ranked No. 1 in the nation when they hosted No. 11-ranked USC in 1951 before 81,490 at Memorial Stadium. Imagine that.
The game was physically brutal, as games between these two schools tended to be in those days, and no one was tougher than USC linebacker/All-American Pat Cannamela, who knocked Cal star tailback Johnny Olszewski out of the game with a twisted knee. His USC teammates congratulated Cannamela after Olszewski left the game and Olszewski hinted he was hurt on purpose. Cannamela also had three “roughness penalties” according to Life magazine.
Although he was a fierce player, Cannamela was actually shy and quiet off the field. Opposing fans used to chant, “Back to the zoo with 42,” a cruel comment meant to make fun of his looks.
The Golden Bears led 14-0 at halftime but Frank Gifford had a 69-yard TD run and USC added two more touchdowns to pull off a 21-14 upset. The Trojans rose to No. 6 in the rankings and two weeks later, USC beat Army at Yankee Stadium, 28-6.
- As brutal as the 1951 game was, things got worse in 1959. Relations between USC and Cal got so bad for a few days, there were newspaper reports the Berkeley school might sever all ties with the Trojans. It started on October 31, when USC defeated Cal, 14-7, at Memorial Stadium.
USC All-American Mike McKeever controversially hit Cal’s Steve Bates and left the halfback with a “broken nose, multiple fractures of the bones that make up the right side of the face. The plate of bone that holds upper teeth was fractured. The right side of the face was distorted, flattened and twisted by the fractured parts that hold the face in contour,” according to a physician at Cowell Memorial Hospital.
Cal charged McKeever intentionally hit Bates late with his elbow.
“‘It was one of the most flagrant violations I have ever seen in football,” Cal coach Pete Elliott said.
USC coach Don Clark said, “A review of the films with university administrators indicates no misconduct on the part of Mike McKeever. He played one of the greatest offensive and defensive games of football that I personally have ever seen.”
“In my mind there’s no doubt that there was no malicious intent to hurt Bates or any Cal player,” McKeever said in a statement. “I have always tried to play hard, aggressive and clean football. It’s unfortunate that this accident happened.”
Cal president Clark Kerr said, “McKeever was ejected the week before from the Stanford game. Films of last year’s University of California game with the University of Southern California show McKeever undertaking the same tactics against Joe Kapp as were used against Steve Bates.”
- Cal athletic director Greg Engelhard even flew to Los Angeles four days after the game to show game films to the media in a downtown hotel. The films were shown at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. for maximum exposure.
While tensions rose during the week, USC president Norman Topping issued an apology without consulting Clark.
“(USC) is truly sorry for this most regrettable incident,” Topping said. “This, as well as other incidents in the game, we feel, could have been avoided. To the extent we are responsible, we apologize.”
The apology infuriated Clark, according to a friend, who told me he always thought Topping’s statement played a part in Clark’s resignation after the season.
The day after Topping’s apology, Clark said, “I, personally, don’t feel I must apologize for our team in Berkeley.”