Today’s column has a Hollywood flavor.
But first, some football.
- Did you catch this comment regarding USC coach Lincoln Riley’s tenure at Oklahoma that was made on the Paul Finebaum show?
“Every year that Lincoln Riley was the head coach, Oklahoma got just a little worse,” Oklahoma beat writer Jason Kersey of the Athletic told Finebaum.
What’s funny is Riley probably agrees. And it’s a reason he is at USC.
- If USC doesn’t meet fans’ expectations next season, I think one reason will be the defensive coaching staff, which is not extraordinary by any measure.
- I spoke to a Pac-12 coach this week who said many coaches throughout the league believe Oregon will bend recruiting rules and new commissioner George Kliavkoff will tolerate it.
“He’s going to let it happen and it’s going to happen,” the coach said.
- No endorsement deals for Caleb Williams this week?
- Whatever happened to that Detroit Lions job that Brandon Sosna supposedly interviewed for last summer?
- USC clinched a top-four seed and first-round bye for the Pac-12 Tournament with its double-overtime victory over Oregon State on Thursday night.
- I heard from several former USC basketball players this week after I wrote about Andy Enfield calling me an obscenity after the Washington State. They thought it was awesome I irritated him enough to draw a reaction.
- I’m old enough to remember when UCLA was considered perhaps the best basketball team in the nation.
- The level of service at some restaurants around USC is atrocious. At Rock and Reilly’s in the USC Village, you don’t even get a waiter or waitress. You must order your meal on your phone. Someone then brings you the food from the kitchen. Good luck getting a refill, condiments, extra napkins. The Lab, which is next to the Galen Center, also has no servers.
- So Ken Norton decided to take the linebackers job at UCLA. I hope he does a better job than he did coaching linebackers at USC, where he wasn’t much of a presence.
- Former USC defensive tackle Bernard Riley has been named head football coach at Austin High School in Austin, Texas.
- Natalia Bryant, the daughter of Kobe Bryant, and actress Storm Reid (Euphoria) are roommates at USC.
- San Jose State’s legendary sports information director Lawrence Fan passed away this week. He worked 501 consecutive San Jose State games from 1980-2021. And he was universally respected/beloved by the media.
- USC band director Jacob Vogel will speak about “Life After Art Bartner … the future of the Trojan Marching Band” to the USC Trojan Affiliates on March 3, at a private home in San Marino. Information: 818-790-1970.
- The L.A. Times Festival of Books is returning to USC on April 23-24 following a COVID-19 break.
- Here is some good news: Actor James Hong is part of the Hollywood Walk of Fame Class of 2022.
- Hong, who has appeared in more than 600 TV and film roles, turned 93 this week. He studied civil engineering at USC and worked for L.A. County as a road engineer for seven years before becoming a full-time actor.
- The rapper Saweetie, who graduated from USC in 2016, spoke in the business class of one of her former professors on Wednesday.
FREEZING COLD TAKES
Hey @USC_Athletics, I can save your search committee a lot of time. Give the AD job to Steve Lopes the way the school should have done three years ago. You’re welcome.— Ivan Maisel (@Ivan_Maisel) September 9, 2019
And now for some history:
- This really caught my eye this week. In 1958, you could go to a local restaurant and take a chartered bus to the Rams games at the Coliseum. Some of these establishments are/were landmarks: Tom Bergin’s in West L.A.; the Old Virginia steak house in South Pasadena; the Blarney Stone cafe in Burbank; the Covina Bowl; Pasta House in East L.A.
The Dal Rae in Pico Rivera opened in 1951 and is still going strong.
But I’m going to focus on the House of Serfas, which was open from around 1955-65 and located near Baldwin Hills. Ernie Serfas was a distance runner at USC in 1947 and graduated in 1948 before he opened the sports bar with his brother, Nick.
The bar became a hangout for Rams, Dodgers and Angels players, including Rams tailback Jon Arnett, Dodgers pitcher Don Drysdale, Rams defensive lineman Lamar Lundy, Rams coach Harland Svare and wrestler Gorgeous George.
Many athletes, including Arnett, lived in the motel that Serfas ran behind the sports bar. It also became the home for a weekly basketball press conference where John Wooden, Forrest Twogood and other local college coaches would show up and meet the media.
Serfas claimed he sent 548 people in 11 buses to one Rams game.
If you look at the ad in the program above, House of Serfas offers “50-yard-line seats.” One can only imagine how much more affordable tickets and a bus ride cost for a Rams game than today.
- This is a picture of Wrigley Field in Los Angeles in 1961. And that is Casey Stengel standing with his back to the camera. Stengel lived in Glendale his entire life and Stengel Field in Glendale is named after him.
- In 1991, USC did a Star Trek-themed halftime show and managed to get the cast of the original Star Trek (minus William Shatner). From left, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, DeForest Kelly and Leonard Nimoy.
- Actress Sally Kellerman died Thursday at age 84. Here she is at the 1970 Academy Awards presenting USC student John Longenecker with an Oscar for Best Live-Action Short Subject.
- Did you know that legendary visual artist Ray Harryhausen took night classes at USC while still in high school? Harryhausen took classes in art direction, photography and editing under the newly formed Department of Cinematography.
His movie credits include Mighty Joe Young (1949); Earth vs. The Flying Saucers (1957); Jason and the Argonauts (1963), Clash of the Titans (1981) and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), which is pictured above.
- This is what USC looked like in 1940 when streets went through the campus. This is Trousdale Parkway (now University Avenue) viewed from Exposition Blvd. It’s the route many fans and the band take to the Coliseum for football games.
- And here’s a busy intersection in 1949 with Tommy Trojan in the center.
- Finally, here’s a photo from the 1982 USC-UCLA game. For years, this game was significant because it was the last time the teams both wore their home uniforms until 2008.
USC running back Todd Spencer is tackled by UCLA’s Kenny Page in the 1982 Crosstown Rivalry.