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

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.”
  • 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.

Photos/Life magazine
Pat Cannamela (left) celebrates victory over No. 1 Cal with Frank Gifford
Frank Gifford (16) goes on a 69-yard TD run to lead USC comeback over Cal
USC offensive guard Al Sanbrano is groggy on sideline after a pile up.
Cal star tailback Johnny Olszewski leaves game in 1951
  • 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.”

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

  1. WOW! Not even a mention about the basketball win and signing the #5 class in nation. #1 in Pac12. Sorry Own’s. Scott is truly the McGruff of USC. THANKS ENFIELD!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Don’t under estimate the powers of Scott to dig to new lows to harp on the minutia. He’ll find something to dig at Enfield. USC wins but new socks are disaster. #bottomfeeder

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Rico me hardy, UCLA isn’t done recruiting players that have ZERO interest bozo bb. If Cronin scores, Andyain’twinning will be SUCCing hind titty as usual.

      #bozo BB 305 – Temple Owls 27…..mighty SUCC pounds another cup cake BB team.


    2. Luke Fickell’s #1 Fanboy Scott Wolf is having an anxiety attack thinking USC may not be able to hire his boy.

      Sorry Wolf, USC is not going to pay $7 million a year for some hick from Ohio to coach the Trojans…ain’t going to happen.


    3. Luke Fickle can have a under the table agreement with USC through his agent, so let’s not act like it’s never been done before. The new coaching staff isn’t going to flip too many 5 star players this late in the recruiting process anyway, so it makes no difference when they announce the hiring of a new head coach.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. MG you and 67 and Bourbon are older like me – Southern Cal was actually commonly used to refer to USC back in the Keith Jackson/70s-80s era (was the west coast equivalent to Bama or Mizzou or Pitt…similar to how Al MacGuire and Billy Packer referred to North Carolina as Carolina and UNLV as Vegas in college hoops). In those days, prior to the winning to the intellectual property suit with the not-so-Game-Cocks, newspapers would frequently use Southern Cal when publishing rankings (and back then, we were actually almost always at or near the top).

        Liked by 5 people

      2. James, exactly. If I had a nickel for every time I heard Keith Jackson call out “The Trojans of Southern Cal”. And he had great respect for the program. I’ll never forget Keith saying “Running against the Cornhuskers is like driving through a field of tree stumps.” For my money, he was the best.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. “……and he’s JUST a soph-a-MORE!”–cuz back in those days no one expected an “underclassman” to play

        “…..and we got us a doozy here!”

        After retiring, Jackson stated that his favorite CFB venue was actually Athens, Georgia. He loved calling games, “between the hedges,” out of reference to the privet hedges which line the field.

        I think he also is known for labeling the annual U Florida vs UGA FB game in Jacksonville as “the World’s largest cocktail party.”

        I’m OK if Keith Jackson called us “Southern Cal.”

        Liked by 1 person

  2. It seems that the sport of hoops is flying under the radar. Pac 12 could be really good this year, plenty of potential material there. Otherwise, fantastic column, love the history, and thinking back on the days when football really counted as part of the USC (and Cal). Now it is valued by the university only for the revenue it creates.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Worst case scenario [which, knowing Bohn, is a possibility]: Cincinnati makes it to the finals, USC holds off hiring our next coach until after national championship game, what looked like a sure thing with Fickell fizzles out due to a last minute misunderstanding —and, voila, USC is left without a new head coach.
    P. S.
    Thanks for the awesome USC/Cal football history, Scott. I’m sure Cal75 enjoyed it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Topping loved USC and football program…in fact ALL USC sports,folt doesn’t obviously. Toppings apology was a gracious move for the injury in a violent sport couched in a term of whatever part a violent sport had in injury sc is sorry…I don’t recall he ever pointed a direct finger at Mike for a dirty play…Mike and Marlin let you know you were in a violent sport,similar to boxing…smash mouth ruled sc sports back then like McKay years.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. So what happened after Clark resigned?
    Face guards on football helmets were much less refined than they are now, many players didn’t have them until the late 50s. I’m willing to bet the guy laid out in the picture above returned to the game after smelling salts were administered. I know the 1960s pop warner first aid kit had smelling salts in them.
    I once read that Cal and Stanford voted to keep USC out of the league. I miss the good old days when football was what a school was known for and all colleges were basically places of learning and not money making machines. I wonder if other countries have a system of tuition which costs about as much as a professor makes in one year?

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Yes, Goose! Oh, sure, there may have been the occasional exception where the government (us, actually) was charged $38,000 for “toilet seat replacement” by one of the five or six corporations doing humanitarian stuff in Iraq or Afghanistan —but such gouging is rare. Generally, the tens of trillions of dollars spent by the government are justified…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s true — local police, fire sheriff, city planning, parks, building & safety departments [and the buildings that house them] …are financed, maintained & protected by the federal government….and so are small businesses and mom & pop grocery stores….

        Liked by 1 person

      3. F.E.M.A. Socialism annually rebuilds the red state south whenever a hurricane, tornado, flood, oil spill or other natural disaster affects the region.

        Those trumplicans sure do love their government socialism down there.


    1. University is free in some Euro countries for their citizens. French medical school (at least in the past) was free for qualified candidates who were admitted.

      Not saying it is good or bad, just a couple of data points that indicate higher ed is more expensive in USA. Which is why more parents are going to push back on the crazy stuff on campus and will be pushing their kids into business, engineering, comp sci, coding, etc. where the kids will realize a high return on mom and dad’s investment. What parents are willing to pay $300,000 out the door for a degree in which the starting salary is $30K for answering phones at the desk of the diversity office?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The Economist–a liberal British newspaper–lauds the USA’s higher education system. Indeed, the last time they issued THEIR ranking of the top Universities in the World, I think 16 of their top 20 were in the USA. I recall that U of Tokyo, Oxford, and maybe Munich made the list.

        Their analysis of WHY the USA schools were so exceptional was that since higher education was so expensive for us Yanks, the students (and their parents) DEMANDED more from their University and their Professors, creating a more dynamic process.

        If you are getting a free education in France, how dare you criticize your professor for “mailing it in” and not keeping on the cutting edge.

        I NEVER had a lecture by anyone but a Professor during my 8 years at USC (including Med School)–including a Freshman survey class. My friends at UCLA NEVER saw a professor until their Junior year. Their lower division classes were all taught by TA’s.

        I sure got my money’s worth.


  5. I don’t think that Cincinnati should be in the top 4. They haven’t played anyone outside of a fairly good ND team. If they don’t make the playoffs, that will be incentive for Fickell to decide that he will never win a NC at Cincinnati and maybe he should go elsewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. If Oregon wins ugly somewhere along the line, maybe Cincinnati “leap frogs” the Ducks. I don’t see the Bearcats stumbling.

        Hell, what if UM beats tOSU in the Big House? Chaos!

        What if UGA loses to Bama in the SEC champ game?

        Anyway, I don’t give a damn as my team truly sucks.


  6. Uncle Ricky:

    Cronin: Gets to the Final Four in Second year a UCLA and receives a contract extension.

    Andyain’twinning: Gets blown out in an Elite Eight game by 19 points after 8 years at Clown U. Doesn’t get a contract extension, but receives a commemorative ring celebrating the Elite Eight, bozo, blow out debacle.


  7. “Southern Cal” is something that would come out of Digger Phelps’ pie hole.This is what happens (even on merchandise sold) when these goobers from the midwest come out here and run the show.McKay wouldn’t tolerate it but the progressives have the car keys now – therefore nothing is sacred.If OSU can anoint themselves “THE”, then it’s not too much for USC to demand that “Southern California” be their identity. Hey Folt – stop trying to reinvent the wheel and just let it roll.Maybe you and Mike can take a trip to “Vegas”and do your gambling there.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Who is the pansy ass administrator who wanted the Blue Lives Matter flag. As for these “students”…go fuck yourselves you bunch of overgrown children.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. From a USC student:

        “I want them to take it down, and I want them to do something about Professor Moore because this is not the first controversial thing he’s done,”

        So if a prof is “controversial”, then “something should be done”. Really? We’d still be in the stone age if this process had been implemented historically.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Hopefully they will higher Chucky John Gruden as the next head coach if they are going to wait pass the National Champion game to higher someone. He just sued the NFL today and Roger Goodell for wrongfully releasing e-mails forcing him to resign and lose his job with the Raiders! This is going to get really interesting now and hopefully the facts will all come out of this exposing
    Everyone involved in this fall out.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Nice to see the wolfman get a little Cal into the blog.
    He just glossed over some Cal players from that era
    Dean Witter
    Les Richter
    Jackie Jensen

    And for ‘S’- so named because mommy knew one letter would tax his brain- “Cal is irrelevant”

    1) Alabama 65 $1,181,597,199
    2) Louisiana State 51 $1,051,270,136
    3) Ohio State 57 $975,833,660
    4) California 21 $894,205,812
    Stanfurd —17
    SC —18
    Ruins –way down WHO CARES

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Don’t get me wrong —I’m happy that Cal players are making so much $$$…but $$$ isn’t everything. I wish USC got to play football tomorrow —like all the other PAC 12 teams…

      Liked by 3 people

  10. Michael: I believe you can watch USC Basketball vs. Temple on ESPN tomorrow night. I believe game time is around 4-5pm West Coast Time.

    New guard Boogie Ellis is the most exciting guard USC has had in a long time probably since Harold Miner. Might be the most explosive guard in the conference this year. A Tim Hardaway type player who can beat you in so many ways when he’s on his game.

    Temple plays tough East Coast basketball which should give a good SC team this year some problems.

    Usually the Maui Invitational is the week of Thanksgiving it used to be played at the Lahaina Civic Center just outside Lahaina. However, due to the pandemic it was moved this year I believe to Las Vegas. This is always a very exciting basketball tournament to open the season, and definitely brought alot of excitement to the island every year. Next year providing the pandemic is over it will return to Maui.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. “Tough” East Coast BB: The Temple Owls were 5 – 11 last year. The only problem the bozos will experience in this Andyain’twinning cupcake game, is staying awake.


    2. The three point shooting vs CSUN was deplorable, and the Matadors had no answer for the Trojan’s length and strength. Super glad I Mobley returned, along with a bunch of big guys.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I was there as a freshman player, watching the game. McKeever did not deliberately destroy Bate’s face. Both McKeevers were just sort of super strong. They both were on the Track Team as weight men.

    On Fri, Nov 12, 2021, 8:58 AM InsideUSC with Scott Wolf wrote:

    > scott wolf posted: ” 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 p” >

    Liked by 1 person

  12. the year I started watching/listening on radio to all sc games…and went to some home games.
    To this day I think Don Clark is correct,but Topping as Prez can issue any statement he wants, and all can be sorry for injuries in a violent sport which football is when played for real. AND, if SC football hit harder and played harder this is what happens…watch georgia vs Tenn game…which team physically dominated.
    great pix and appreciate wolfie remembering my favorite usc teams ’51 and ’52 which won ’53 rose bowl which I was fortunate to attend.


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