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

Last week I mentioned how linebacker Shane Lee was the only player to stay at USC and work out over spring break. On Thursday, in the searing heat, Lee practiced with a hoodie under his pads.

“I got a hoodie on, I tried to make it even harder myself. That’s the mentality that we’re trying to create here. We know it’s gonna be hard. Let’s make it even harder,” Lee said.

He feels like a throwback to the 1970’s.

USC linebacker Shane Lee
  • A Pac-12 coach texted me Wednesday night and inquired about the impact USC cornerback Ceyair Wright has made during spring practice? “Not much,” I replied.

Lo and behold, cornerbacks coach Donte Williams said this Thursday: “Ceyair’s biggest problem is Ceyair. He has a lot of things going on. For all I know, he may be in Space Jam 3.”

  • I’m not sure why some of the media are swallowing the term “gold-plated” when USC players earn in a helmet decal. The media aren’t part of the team. So they don’t need to parrot the terms used by the program. Just say a player earned a helmet decal.
  • Rick Caruso has already spent $8.95 million on advertising for his mayoral campaign. He has loaned himself $10 million.
  • USC has raised undergraduate tuition 5 percent for the 2022-23 school year, bringing the total cost to approximately $63,468 for one year. This is the highest tuition increase since the start of the pandemic.
  • USC women’s basketball coach Lindsay Gottleib announced to her team this week that she is pregnant.
  • Booker Turner, maybe the best-known Pac-12 basketball referee ever, died this week. He was 90. Turner officiated in five Final Fours and two championship games (1981- Indiana vs North Carolina; 1984- Georgetown vs Houston). Turner went to Roosevelt High School in East Los Angeles.

“Booker meant as much to college basketball officiating as Jackie Robinson did to baseball,” George Raveling said.

  • And now for some history:
  • They don’t make USC game-program covers like this anymore. It’s a work of art, a collection of Art Brewster illustrations from the 1970 USC-Oregon State game program.
  • OK, I’m now in Brewster mode. Here’s another 1970 illustration. These used to be a staple of the game programs.
  • And here’s a Brewster illustration for Jon Arnett.
  • Here’s a photo of the 1969 USC-UCLA game featuring No. 28, Clarence Davis, a truly underrated tailback. No. 64 is Fred Khasigian. It looks like on the far left is tight end Gerry Mullins. That might be left tackle Marv Montgomery on the ground next to Davis.
  • No. 5-ranked USC defeated No. 6 UCLA, 14-12.
  • I had two Ted Williams’ gloves as a kid. Who else remembers having one?
  • Here’s the 1964 USC highlights album featuring Tom Kelly.

The interesting part is the commentary was supplied by Frank C. Baxter. Who?

Baxter was a popular English professor at USC who also was a TV personality. He taught at USC from 1930-61.

I don’t even know if I can properly explain how well known he was. He won seven Emmys, including Outstanding Male Performer (1954) and Outstanding Male Personality (1960). He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!

Baxter had so many TV shows, I can’t list them all. He literally brought literature, science and the arts to millions via his TV shows and films.

Baxter gave annual Christmas readings at Bovard Auditorium that were events in themselves. One year, students clustered around loudspeakers outside in the rain, clutching their umbrellas as they listened intently.

He might be best known to you as Dr. Research in The Bell System Science Series, which was distributed to schools from the 1960’s-1980’s. Baxter also played himself in the 1956 science-fiction film, “The Mole People.” (pictured below)

Can you imagine a USC professor today being a commentator on a football highlight film? I know a few that have egos big enough to think they could it off but they couldn’t come close to Baxter’s prolific career.

  • How did USC upset UCLA at Pauley Pavilion in 1969? Look at the rosters!

The Bruins had Lew Alcindor, Curtis Rowe, Sidney Wicks, John Vallely, Lynn Shackelford, Kenny Heitz and Steve Patterson.

The Trojans had Ernie Powell, Ron Taylor, Mack Calvin, Steve Jennings and Don Crenshaw.

USC won, 46-44, on on a jump shot by Ernie Powell with six seconds left to hand UCLA its first-ever loss at Pauley Pavilion after a 51-0 start in the new arena. Some say announcer Mike Walden jumped up on the announcer’s table when he yelled “The Trojans win, The Trojans win, The Trojans win.”

UCLA went on to win the national title, just to reiterate the magnitude of the victory.

You can hear Walden’s call below.

Mike Walden

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

  1. I bet Mike Bohn would love to fire Lindsay Gottlieb, the programs in shambles, top players entered the portal, and now she’s pregnant 😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mike Walden’s call of that game is very nostalgic. Hadn’t UCLA won the preceding night at the Sports Arena? Those were the days when the teams met back to back at the end of the season.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Will never forget that Mike Walden call as a kid when “Cool Ernie Powell” hit that last second jumper to beat that loaded UCLA team in 1969.!!

    Don Crenshaw, on that team was an exceptional athlete not a great basketball player, but was so talented athletically he made the NFL as a defensive back, and actually played a few years in the league as a non-drafted player. Steve Jennings, and Mack Calvin were NBA type guards, but the Trojans were very lacking on the front line with guys like Ron “Mechanical Man” Taylor, and Bob Clemo playing against Alcindor, Wicks, and Rowe. USC use to play UCLA on back to back nights in those days, and I recall going to the game with my father the night before the Pauley Pavilion upset at the Sports Arena. USC had UCLA beat in that game also until Lynn Shackelford hit close to a half court shot at the buzzer which took the game to overtime, and then UCLA won easily. Nice to see the USC basketball program is very close in talent level to UCLA these days which was not the case in 1969.

    In my opinion Mike Walden was a very good USC football and basketball announcer. The guy really got excited and brought alot of enthusiasm for USC on the radio broadcasts. Tom Kelly, was the best, but Walden who filled in for Kelly later had a different, but very appealing style to the broadcasts. OJ…………Simpson to the 10 to the 5 …..Touchdown USC was a frequent call on many of his football broadcasts.

    Great job Scott Wolf on the game programs, and especially Professor Frank Baxter. My mother was an English major at USC (Class of 41), and she always would say what a great man and teacher Frank was.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Tommyd–
      You need to see the Science Fiction Theater comedy version of The Mole People… the spaceman and the robot have a lot of fun with the admittedly great Dr. Baxter.
      btw, Scott tops himself again. I don’t think there’s a blog anywhere that’s more fun than this one on Friday mornings.
      [And, yes, the go-along-get-along L. A. press needs to stop parroting the “gold plated” pitch]…
      Double thanks to Scott for the fantastic Brewster illustrations of Jon Arnett….

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Bill Hewitt and Mack Calvin were great basketball players at USC, and they are hardly every mentioned in USC basketball history. Calvin, had a wonderful career in the ABA, and NBA, and I think one year he led the ABA in scoring, or came close to it. He later became a coach in the NBA and I always thought USC should have hired him instead of George Raveling.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Charles.
      Everybody: check out this article & read between the lines —Shane Lee is upping everybody’s game. He’s helping change the fucked up culture Helton left behind…..

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Hate to throw water on SC football’s momentum train, but Josh Conerly paid a second visit to Oregon last weekend. Why?–

    Obviously subject to speculation, but it seems he wanted to be sure it was either SC or Oregon.

    If Troy doesn’t get him it is a major loss of course, but it should not derail SC’s train of improvement.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Scottie, you always set a high bar for the Friday column, and this one may have broken your own world record. Really good. The Brewster stuff is a magnificent throwback, a much simpler time, and in some ways, IMHO, a better time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 67,
      Now I’m waiting for FU to make an appearance & say “it wasn’t a better time!”…..

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Before I say anything about the illustrations from the programs I have to ask, What will Scott be calling Riley by the end of the year? He calls Pete Carroll Caesar but that’s a title so maybe Shogun? (show gun as in passing) I cannot wait. Helton would most likely have been Nero because he fiddled while Troy burned. (provides own rimshot).
    Across town we could have Vitellius (fattest Roman Emperor)
    Anyway I remember those illustrations, my brother has a scrapbook of them. I seem to remember them being in the Herald Examiner as well, although I might have them mixed up with the comic drawings that showed up in the paper’s sport pages. Either way still good memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Check out Nero’s story on Wikipedia. His rule was such a disaster and he did so much harm to ordinary Roman citizens that he earned the deep hatred of his own people. He spent his last days trying to find someone to put him out of his misery…as painlessly as possible. He couldn’t find any takers.
      I’m not sure why this story keeps popping into my head every time I read today’s headlines.


      1. Because you’re much smarter than the people who put our “Nero” into office.

        Those who did are in complete denial about his incompetence and their culpability.


      2. Now they’re saying …”well, Trump was bad too…”


      3. Yes, the morons will try to make that claim about Trump. They can’t be honest with themselves. Based on results alone, he was far better than this joke of an administration. The country and the world were safer with him as President.

        Nearly 600,000 people have now died from COVID during Biden’s time in office and he’s had the vaccines the entire time. Is anyone calling him a murderer the way they did with Trump? Of course not.

        Amazing that anyone would be dumb enough approve of his performance thus far. Supposedly 25-30% do. That alone tells you it’s nothing but their hatred of Trump driving it.


  8. Rick Caruso has already spent $8.95 million on advertising for his mayoral campaign. He has loaned himself $10 million.

    Good to know that Rick as good friends like himself to loan him money.


  9. Scooter,

    I remember Booker Turner as a ref. he hated the Trojans. I saw him too many times reffing a game where he would just blow the whistle against Sc for the sake of doing it. may God have mercy on his soul along with Johnny Cheetin Wooden.


    1. They should insert some new ones drawn in the same style as an homage to Brewster. Add a few in the programs or even some in the media guide.



  10. Anyone remember the short white bearded professor who used to wear a white Gilligan hat and light blue pants who was a huge Trojan football fan? That guy was probably the biggest Trojan football fan faculty guy. His name escapes me but I bet he would be up to narrating anything related to Trojan football.



  11. I was in the old PE/training room/ lockers
    For my 1969 football season. The mens basketball team had different lockers in some dungeon of the building. We never saw or interacted with the basketball team, but I remember the buzz of the Pauley Pavilion USC win of John Wooden’s UClA team with my football teammates … It was a Big Deal!


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