Do college football fans — meaning you — really want two superconferences of 20-24 teams?
How is it good for the sport to have a lot of teams on the outside looking in? Does it make college football better to have a huge number of have-nots who fall further and further behind the SEC and Big Ten teams?
Does it help the sport to marginalize Oregon State and Washington State?
Yes, all that matters is USC, USC, USC. But the sport, which has seen declining attendance across the nation for several years, needs to do more than cater to the superpowers.
- Former USC QB Jack Sears still has a year of eligibility but chose not to play this season because he couldn’t find a suitable program. Sears transferred to Boise State after he left USC.
- L.A. gangster Mickey Cohen has been mentioned before in this column. Did you know that he grew up in Boyle Heights?
His mother opened a small grocery store in Boyle Heights and at age 3, little Mickey earned money sitting on stacks of newspapers and preventing them from the wind and thieves. He was paid with candy and hot dogs.
By age 9, he pulled his first heist when he held up the box office of the Columbia Theatre on Spring Street in downtown L.A.
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- It was only 10 minutes from USC and for $1.75, there was an all-you-can eat buffet with skirt steak, chicken, beef hash and meat balls. The side dishes were mashed potatoes, rice, potato salad and cole slaw. There were 13 different salads and three desserts
- And now for some history:
- I’ve written about how USC’s homecoming was so big that star musicians like Harry James (1944) and Jo Stafford (1947) performed the week of the game. By 1968, USC could still get Deep Purple to perform at The Troy Ball, where Helen of Troy was crowned. Deep Purple was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016.
- USC could still pull a celebrity like Danny Thomas at the opening ceremony for the bookstore circa 1967.
Of course there were USC ties. Here’s my best story on that:
One night after a USC basketball game in the early 1960’s, actress Marlo Thomas came in to Julie’s restaurant with her actor father, Danny Thomas. Marlo, who was known as Margie or Margo when she attended USC in the 1950’s, was dating Trojan basketball player Jim Pugh.
A friend who had not seen Marlo Thomas recently came up to their table and said, “I didn’t recognize you with your new nose.” The comment drew a big laugh from Danny Thomas. Not sure if Marlo had a similar reaction.
John McKay and Marv Goux showed up at the bookstore ceremony too!
- Howard Jones won four national titles and went 5-0 in the Rose Bowl at USC. Jones won 20 straight games at Iowa from 1920-23 but his wife hated living in Iowa City. So he asked Iowa if he could live somewhere else in the offseason. Iowa said no. Jones quit and eventually ended up at USC.
- This is a headline that needs explaining on the eve of the 1930 USC-Notre Dame game.
Knute Rockne kicked his star running back, Jumping Joe Savoldi, off the team after divorce papers had been filed and discovered by reporters.
It was against Notre Dame rules to be married, let alone be married and divorced. Not even Rockne could keep him on the team.
It didn’t affect the game as Notre Dame defeated USC, 27-0, and the 10-0 Irish were awarded the national championship as it returned to South Bend by train.
After the team returned to Chicago, a ticket-tape parade was held (pictured above).
That victory over USC turned out to be Rockne’s final game. Three months later, he was killed in a plane crash.
- In 1968, Ruth Buzzi showed up at Tommy Trojan as her popular Laugh-In character Gladys Ormphby after the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity nominated her to be Queen of the Tournament of Roses.
“My campaign is going to be clean,” Ormphby said. “In fact, I would like all of you men to join me for a bath rally at the downtown YWCA this afternoon!”
After being drafted by the fraternity, she extended her sympathies to the campus runner-up, O.J. Simpson.
“I can only say eat your heart out, O.J. Simpson, you’re just not sexy enough!” she said.
As Ormphby stepped away from her podium, the students chanted, “We want Gladys.”
- Fans and students were encouraged to greet the football team on their return from the Oregon game in 1968. Imagine. USC barely even let the football team interact with the public at the Salute to Troy in June.
- The 32nd Street Market had its special ad ready for the week of the USC-UCLA game in 1968.
Here’s another photo from the 1982 USC-Notre Dame game courtesy of the Tom LaBonge collection. No. 48 is USC inside linebacker Tim Sullivan. The Notre Dame QB is Blair Kiel. The tailback is Phil Carter.
- Remember how the Dodgers held a parade in 1958 down Broadway Street en route to their first game in Los Angeles, a 6-5 win over the San Francisco Giants before 78,672 fans at the Coliseum?
I thought that was unusual but it turns out in the Giants did the same thing before their first game in San Francisco in 1958, which just happened to be against the Dodgers. Parades the day of the game!