It’s tempting to say the rivalry is at a low point this week.
But is it any worse than any of the recent games?
How many people really cared in 2016, 2017 or 2018? Both programs have provided plenty of reasons to ignore them and this year is no different.
The disappointment for some fans is that even after Clay Helton got fired, the coaches couldn’t change the course of direction with this team. That might be a blow to the egos of Donte Williams and Graham Harrell, but it squares with what they have produced as coaches at USC.
- Now that Carol Folt has completed the renaming of VKC to the Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow Center for International and Public Affairs, when is she going to work on renaming Cromwell Field?
- The annual “Blood Bowl” between the Daily Trojan and Daily Bruin student newspapers takes place today at 5 p.m. The USC IM-Rec dept. has refused to let the game take place on campus in 2019 and this year, so I’m told the game will take place on a grass field at the USC Village, across the street from campus.
Why can’t Cromwell Field be used? Just another thing where USC is becoming unbearable.
- And now for a lot of history:
This is the Crosstown Rivalry in 1977 and it will take quite a game Saturday for 2021 to top this one.
The Trojans trailed 10-0 but scored 26 straight points to take a 26-10 lead in the third quarter. UCLA QB Rick Bashore, playing with a broken rib and collapsed lung, then led three scoring drives to give UCLA a 27-26 lead with 2:51 to play.
Trojans quarterback Rob Hertel drove the Trojans to the UCLA 21-yard line and Frank Jordan kicked a 38-yard field goal with two seconds left, which prevented the Bruins, who had won five straight, from going to the Rose Bowl.
Less remembered than the field goal is a controversial pass interference penalty that kept the winning drive alive. On third-and-10 at midfield with a minute left, Hertel threw a pass to WR Kevin Williams.
UCLA safety Johnny Lynn touched the ball but head linesman F.E. Conley ruled Lynn interfered with Williams.
“I was coming across the field and a guy was holding the back of the pads,” Williams said. “I didn’t think the referee saw it but fortunately he did. It was definitely pass interference.”
Lynn disagreed: “I didn’t think I touched him. I drove out in front of the ball and my right hand hit it. Then I hit the ground.”
USC coach Jeff Cravath talks to star QB Jim Hardy during the 1944 USC-UCLA game. Hardy was an amazing Trojan. He lead to two shutout Rose Bowl victories, with three touchdown passes against Washington in a 29-0 victory in the 1944 Rose Bowl and then passed for two TDs and ran for a third to earn MVP honors in a 25-0 win over Tennessee in the 1945 Rose Bowl.
Hardy led the Trojans in passing, total offense and punting both of those seasons. He was the No. 8 pick in the first round of the 1945 NFL Draft. Up until age 94, he would drive himself from his home in La Quinta to USC football practice once a week. His eyesight was good enough that he didn’t need to wear glasses even in his 90’s.
Hardy was the general manager of the Coliseum from 1973-86. He died in 2019 at age 96.
- USC kicker David Bell celebrates with teammates after kicking a field goal to give the Trojans a 38-35 victory in 2000. You know what is amazing? That game drew 80,227 to the Rose Bowl even though USC was 4-6 and UCLA was 6-4. Almost the same records as 2021 but it won’t be even close to the same crowd this year.
In 2018, the announced crowd at the Rose Bowl was 57,116. In 2019, USC claimed there were 64,156. This year could be worse. Give credit to the fans in 2000.
- In 1957, UCLA beat USC, 20-9. It was the last game at UCLA for coach Red Sanders, who famously said: “Beating SC is not a matter of life or death, it’s more important than that.”
USC wore gold helmets this season so both teams had gold helmets for the game.
- USC coach Jess Hill resented Sanders because he was good with the press and popular with the fans.
A former UCLA assistant coach told me that back in the 1950’s, newspaper reporters would meet Sanders at Scandia, a landmark restaurant on Sunset Blvd. On some of those days, Sanders would skip practice presumably because he had a bit too much to drink. It was no big deal to the coaching staff, which knew he might not make it back for practice.
And look at this lavish birthday party for Sanders circa 1956-57.
It was held at Frank Sennes’ Moulin Rouge in Hollywood, which at the time was the biggest nightclub, restaurant and showroom in America. Sanders received a Cadillac as a birthday present. More than 1,000 people attended the party.
Since it will come up in the comments section, you can read about the scandalous circumstances of his death in 1958 here.
- It seems like there were more things going on during the Crosstown Rivalry in 1981.
You had the arm wrestling finals between USC and UCLA. You could watch game highlights at Taper Hall. There was a bonfire rally. I think the “bonfire” no longer exists. A post-rally dance at VKC. Plus a “Halt Tuition Increase” Rally at Tommy Trojan and Ray Bradbury at Bovard Auditorium.
- I ran this picture once before but it’s worth another viewing. USC football players Hoby Brenner, James Hunter, Ronnie Lott, Keith Van Horne, Dennis Smith and Speedy Hart at the UCLA game bonfire rally in 1980.
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