USC is already a third of the way through spring practice.
So let’s get some impressions of the workouts, which are considered more intense than under the previous administration.
You know who I hear has stood out in practices? The transfers.
Not suprisingly, the first three names I heard from coaches were wide receiver Mario Williams (Oklahoma), defensive end Romello Height (Auburn) and linebacker Shane Lee (Alabama). Lee was the only player to stay on campus and work out over spring break.
- Now I didn’t include Caleb Williams above because it’s just a given he’s standing out. Observers tell me his legs are making as much an impact as his arm.
- Williams and wide receiver Michael Jackson are both wearing No. 13, which is not allowed during the season because they play on offense. A player on the team tells me that Lincoln Riley has left it to Williams to get Jackson to agree to relinquish the number. So far, Jackson has refused all offers from Williams.
With all of his Williams’ NIL deals, Jackson probably feels he should hold out for the moon.
- Lincoln Riley is awarding the Trojan helmet logo to players who earn it during spring practice. So as spring goes on, you might see a number of players with the helmet logo and others with just a plain cardinal helmet.
- This has been incorrectly by some as an additional helmet decal like Ohio State awards. USC is not doing that.
- One other change is the Trojans are wearing gold pants instead of white pants during practices. This makes the quarterbacks look a bit garish in yellow pants and yellow jerseys.
- The NIT is expected to play its semifinals and final away from Madison Square Garden for at least the next two years. The NIT has been a New York City staple since 1938.
USC played Notre Dame in the 1973 NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden on . . . St. Patrick’s Day.
“Can you imagine?” USC coach Bob Boyd said. “The Pac-8 finally gets a team in the NIT and we draw Notre Dame on St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe we shouldn’t show up.” The Trojans had 28 fouls called against them, Notre Dame had 10. USC made 32 field goals and one free throw. Notre Dame made 23 field goals and 23 free throws. The Irish won, 69-65. Boyd kicked a chair into the stands at Madison Square Garden.
- Former USC tailback Brandon Campbell visits Houston this weekend. He is also looking at Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Former USC offensive lineman Ty Buchanan visits Texas Tech this weekend.
- Lincoln Riley and Graham Harrell are actually good friends. Their wives are reportedly best friends.
- USC ends “Trojan Check” beginning Monday, the system by which you needed to answer questions every day before you came on campus to say you didn’t have COVID-19.
- “Saturday Night Live” cast member and USC alumna Ego Nwodim will deliver the commencement speech at the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences satellite ceremony. Nwodim graduated in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences.
- Former Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman will be the keynote speaker at the commencement ceremony for the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, which is for more than 6,000 undergraduate, masters, and doctoral students and their families at the Shrine Auditorium.
- And now for some history:
I love color photos from the past and this is the 1973 USC-Notre Dame game. That is USC linebacker Ray Rodriguez (52) chasing down Notre Dame QB Tom Clements.
Who is on the sideline? No. 75 is defensive tackle Tim Rhames. No. 22 is Lynn Swann.
You see No. 42 on the sideline? It’s then-linebacker Ricky Bell. No. 54 is Melvin Jackson. No. 50 is Kevin Bruce. No. 44 is Manfred Moore. No. 89 is Jim Obradovich and No. 26 is Shelton Diggs.
How about the USC coaches in yellow pants and the way many players took a knee on the sideline?
- USC has called itself different things on the cover of game programs.
In 1966, it was Southern California.
- In 1978, it was Southern Cal, which is taboo today.
- And in 1963, we have Southern Calif.
- I’ve run some famous USC illustrations by Art Brewster. But this illustration is by award-winning author/cartoonist Murray Olderman in 1963. Olderman’s sports caricatures were syndicated in more than 750 newspapers from the 1950’s-1980’s and he wrote several books.
And since I mentioned Brewster, here’s one of his from 1963.
Did any of you go to see Chuck Arrobio when he had a dental office in Pasadena?
- How is this for a gift? A 1975 USC football record album. Side 1 is John McKay giving talks at his kickoff banquets throughout Southern California. Side 2 is Tom Kelly’s play-by-play of the second half of the 1974 USC-Notre Dame game along with some music from the band. You probably had to lower the sound on the record player when Kelly’s booming voice came on.
- A reader passed along a photo of these footballs from 1962 that belong to Ron Heller, a halfback-fullback on that team.
Note: I’ll be posting restaurants of the week separately.