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

Let’s start off with an appreciation for a great Trojan who played during perhaps its greatest era.

All-American offensive lineman Booker Brown died July 18. He was 69.

Brown was born in Mississippi before his family moved west when he was 10.

“Hey, I grew up in Mississippi,” he said when he was inducted into the Santa Barbara City College Hall of Fame in 2019. “My family were sharecroppers, and we didn’t have running water in the house. But we had food on the table . . . And we had love.”

Brown’s first memory of USC was the 42-37 victory over Wisconsin in the 1963 Rose Bowl.

Brown and Sam Cunningham were teammates at Santa Barbara High School. After Booker went to Santa Barbara City College for two years, he rejoined Cunningham at USC.

USC went 20-1-1 during his two seasons and won the national title in 1972. He was a consensus All-American and the Trojans’ lineman of the year in 1973. He was blocking for Cunningham when the fullback scored four TD’s and was MVP of the 1973 Rose Bowl.

Brown would be an anomaly today: At Santa Barbara High School, he was a big, strong lineman, a basketball player with a soft-touch on his jumper and a powerful first baseman.

Booker Brown (left) with his USC and Santa Barbara High School teammates Russ Carter and Sam Cunningham. Assistant coach Marv Goux also graduated from Santa Barbara High.

Brown was a JC All-American and then recruited to USC as an offensive guard. But his first start came at offensive tackle in the fifth game of the season vs. Stanford because the Trojans were hit by injuries.

“Well, we’ve got this guard named Booker Brown,” John McKay said. “He’s the widest athlete I’ve ever seen. We’ll put a helmet on each of his shoulders and have him play both tackle and guard.”

His best game turned out to be a loss to Ohio State in the 1974 Rose Bowl. Brown said he graded out 100 percent on the game film.

Arnie Jones was the first defensive tackle that went against me,” he told journalist Mark Patton. “I beat him into a bloody pulp. He came to the sideline, and Woody Hayes broke a clipboard over his helmet.

Pete Cusick came into the game. He was scared to death. ‘What’s this guy have, a razor blade out here?’ His arms were shaking. I was a violent, vicious guy. I liked to talk on the field. I told him, ‘This is gonna hurt, but it’ll be quick.’ ”

Off the field, Brown was known for his smile, his ability to make people laugh and his gentle demeanor.

Brown was the highest-paid offensive lineman in pro football when he signed a contract with the Southern California Sun in 1974. The league folded in 1975 and Brown played three seasons with the San Diego Chargers.

He later coached football at Mojave High School in Hesperia and served as an ordained minister for the last 23 years of his life.

Brown had seven sons. He is also survived by his wife Jacqueline, two brothers and a sister. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Booker T. Brown Foundation.

Sam Cunningham and Booker Brown during their NFL careers.
  • And now for some history:

It’s hard to say who was the biggest performer to entertain USC students at Bovard Auditorium.

But band leader/trumpet player Harry James has to rank up there. James was so popular at one point Columbia records could not produce enough records to meet demand.

He performed at USC on August 17, 1944. From 6:30-7 p.m., James’ performance was broadcast coast-to-coast on the radio. The second 30 minutes was for the USC students only.

James also allowed USC students to attend his rehearsal for free from 3:30-5 p.m. before the show.

If James wasn’t popular enough, at the time of the USC show, he was married to actress Betty Grable, whose movies in the 1930’s-40’s grossed more than $100 million. She was the No. 1 pin-up girl during World War II and her legs were insured by Paramount Studios for $1 million.

Harry James and Betty Grable in 1943
  • Last week I wrote about how it was a different world in 1965. Well, look at this ad in 1944:
  • USC swimmer Buster Crabbe had his first starring (and credited) role in the 1933 film, “King of the Jungle.” What gets me is Crabbe actually appeared in person at the Paramount theater in Times Square for all performances on Feb. 22, 1933. That doesn’t happen anymore.

Here is a useful card stunt from 1975.

John Robinson and his offensive coordinator Paul Hackett on the sideline in 1979.


I finally found proof of the existence of the Night Hawk or “Chad’s Night Hawk,” which was across the street from the Coliseum on Vermont Ave. Some old-time USC graduates tell me it had the best chili in L.A. and that you walked in and sat down at a U-shaped counter.

The above ad is from 1944. I always think of the Nite Owl coffee shop in L.A. Confidential when USC alumni mention the Night Hawk.

And right nearby the Night Hawk, you could get a steak at Chris’ 39’er Steaks.


In memory of USC offensive lineman Booker T. Brown, it’s Booker T. and the MG’s with “Green Onions.”

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

  1. What a beautiful tribute to Booker Brown.
    Scott brings it again. A gritty clip from L. A. Confidential and Green Onions too!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Agreed a great write up by Scott Wolf on Booker Brown. Booker Brown, and Sam Cunningham will always remain legends in the City of Santa Barbara along with Marv Goux. Booker, only played two years at USC but was a tremendous offensive lineman who should have had a longer career in the NFL he certainly had the talent. At one point Santa Barbara High School had Basketball greats Don Ford, Keith Wilkes (now Jamal), QB Grady Hurst (ASU), Sam Cunningham, and Booker Brown all in school at that same time so they had some great teams.

    RIP- Booker Brown

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hey tommydumbass
      You missed taking your daily shot at CAL. There’s still a whole day ahead.

      Nothing like living 50yrs in the past to forget the pain of 4-8.
      Live in the present. Malachi Nelson strolling down to A&M to check out their NIL offer. Now There’s a wake up call. Caruso running out of money?


      1. NCAA sports is changing radically and rapidly, Cal75.
        Not “our” fault, Cal. My Trojans are “Marshalling*” such change.
        I don’t like it one bit, but “it is what it is.**”

        I blame Ed O’Bannon (UCLA MBB player) and Gavin Newsom (Santa Clara lefty pitcher……in more ways than one!!!!!).

        As a Pac-8 aficionado, I hated to see two institutions of lower learning (UA, ASU) join the Pac-8. Likewise with CU Boulder and UU in 2011/2.
        At least UA brought some basketball gravitas to the Conference.

        The October/November Trojan weekenders in San Francisco were always epic, then the conference set up the bogus September 10 game in Stanford every other year and bollocksed up that great tradition.

        Real collegiate sport fans who embraced tradition are the big losers here. ESPN–the anti-christ IMHO–will be the winner. A few NIL winners too. The average student-athlete will be losers, IMHO

        *Pun intended.
        **CEO speak for, “well, Fu¢k it.”

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Youz guyz better start passing the hat if you want to keep your alledged QB of the future.

        Riley pooped his pants.

        Exxon racked up 20 babababillion dollars in PROFIT this last quarter in Texas oil money. Justin Martin turned down $12 million to sign for less at Miami and he’s not half as good as Nelson.
        I figure the aTm cash machine tossed out a $15 large offer for Nelson.

        Welcome to the NFL farm system.


      2. No offense, Cal75 —but maybe stop worrying about USC…


    1. Hey Ed
      2 out of the last 3 and your big 5* QB thinking about aTm. Money talks and Texas has oil money and California has shrinking RE value money. Gonna be tough to hang on to that lad. Unless you can match or beat $15+ large.
      But Ed, you do a good job with your spanglish.


      1. Cal75 is probably right about California EVENTUALLY being overtaken by Texas ….but I figure my old home state has several good years left before it flushes itself….so let’s enjoy them & watch USC flourish in the meantime…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Gents, you will have to forgive Cal75, he is not himself. After he sleeps it off today, I suspect he will send a very humble, sincere apology tomorrow.


  3. Some folks think football should be outlawed, and this is a case in point:

    Booker Brown– “I was a violent, vicious guy….I beat him into a bloody pulp….(and the next guy up) He was scared to death.”

    Brown’s beating up on opposing Buckeyes did not do SC any good that day, as they themselves got beat up 42-21. I was in the end zone when Lynn Swann dropped a sure touchdown pass. It was Swann’s last drop on an SC field, but alas not his last dropped ball for SC.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. The GOP won the Congressional Baseball game last night 10-0. A good time was had by all and the only low point was Rep. Linda Sanchez showing a complete lack of class & sportsmanship when she flipped off the GOP team.

    UPDATE: This just in! There was a bag of runs found in the outfield. The Dems won the game by 6 runs. Final score has now been adjusted to 16-10!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. “The called strikes were bullshit and none of our runners were actually thrown out —which means they would have scored multiple times if they had been left on base…”

        Liked by 1 person

    1. She was steamed because her team knows she doesn’t have wheels and she got pulled for a pinch runner. Took it out on the opposition. No leadership qualities there. She’ll be gone after the midterms.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Linda (and Loretta’s) brother & his gf pulled some shenanigans on a real estate deal with me several years ago. Karma caught up to them a few weeks later.

        May they RIP. 😛


  5. Cal 75 ………..No class…….No brains……..must be something to do with the acid you took on Telegraph ave. with Angela, Davis, Chuck Muncie, and Patty Hearst. The tie-dye t-shirts you wear are really a picture of what’s going on in your brains what’s left of them. The reason you hate the past is because your brains are so far gone you can’t remember anything.


      1. I like CalSeventyFive, Michael.

        …A gun-toting, Republican Frat boy from Cal- Berkeley.
        Can’t be too many of them around, no?

        Liked by 2 people

      2. No hugs at the Maui airport.

        But we’ll be coming soon. Once the cluster***** with the airlines get back to their normal level. Normal was bad enough. But right now, it’s still a shit storm

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Not sure why Cal75 is getting so mad at Tommyd. Cal gave up football a long time ago.. he is just reporting the facts. Luckily, Cal fans still have their grandpappy around to reminisce about their last Rose Bowl Game appearance, a loss to Iowa (38-12). Come to think of it, their last four appearances in the Rose Bowl were all losses. But to be fair, they did recently win the Redbox Bowl in 2019 against the Fighting Illini. Also, a somewhat belated shout out to Stub Allison for his Rose Bowl victory over Alabama in 1938, their last Rose Bowl victory. Stub was followed a couple of coaches later by Pappy Waldorf, leading to three Rose Bowl appearances (all losses, 49-51) and it has not been the same since Stub and Pappy. So Cal75 you should be happy that Tommyd does want to got back into the past. That is all Cal has. (And lest you bring up 4-8 again, I have no recollection of that season).

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Tommydumbass
      You seem to be very familiar with Telegraph Ave and lsd.

      I guess it’s called projection. I’m so sorry.


  6. Mikey
    No worries for Cal75
    Be more concerned about CAL FB. If the MTN West beckons, I’m going to throw up.

    STAY DOUBTED Mikey. You sure the guy who came up with that name didn’t get his MBA from ruinville?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bourbon. You forgot national championship rugby 7/8 years, Old Blues. Owns wouldn’t forget it.
      It’s rained here for ten days with another ten forecasted— I’ve got cabin fever. Just taking it out on my second or maybe third favorite enemy.

      Imagine being #1.

      Liked by 1 person

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