With the Rose Bowl today, it’s appropriate to remember USC fullback Sam Cunningham, who died in September at age 71.
Cunningham scored a record four touchdowns on goal-line TD dives against Ohio State in the 1973 Rose Bowl and was named the game’s MVP.
He earned All-American honors in 1972 and was captain of the undefeated national championship team that was considered by many to be the greatest in college football history.
He was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1992.
Cunningham rushed 1,579 yards and 23 touchdowns in his career, including 13 in 1972. He gained the moniker “Bam” for his crunching goal line dives.
As a sophomore in 1970 under coach John McKay, Cunningham was part of USC’s all-African-American backfield, along with quarterback Jimmy Jones and running back Clarence Davis, the first of its kind in Division I.
He then enjoyed a successful career in the NFL with the New England Patriots, rushing for 5,453 yards in nine seasons to become the Patriots’ all-time leading rusher. He scored 49 TDs and was a Pro Bowl pick in 1978.
When he died, I wrote about USC’s woeful obituary on him.