USC landed a commitment Thursday from Sam Greene, a three-star defensive lineman from Baltimore, Md.
- A friend who bought tickets to the Fresno State game said they got a free upgrade this week. That means tickets are readily available.
- Lane Kiffin’s daughter has transferred to Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana.
- UCLA basketball will host USC on Thursday, Jan. 5, at Pauley Pavilion when students are on winter break. When are UCLA students not on break? The second game between USC and UCLA will be Thursday, Jan. 26, at the Galen Center.
And now for some history:
- Phil Hoover was not recruited by USC when he graduated from Pasadena High School. He later played at Pasadena City College. One night, John McKay took him to Julie’s for a beer and Hoover turned down offers from Cal and Fresno State.
Hoover played left end (receiver) at USC but during the 1963 Rose Bowl, USC ran out of defensive linemen. Gary Kirner sat on a luggage rack that collapsed and the fall cut his finger to the bone. He tried to play in the game but collapsed from the pain. Marv Marinovich got thrown out of the game.
So late in the fourth quarter, Hoover was sent in to play defensive end. He covered Wisconsin star tight end Pat Richter so well that QB Ron Vander Kelen stopped throwing to his favorite target and instead threw a pass that was intercepted by Willie Brown in the end zone and sealed the Trojans’ 42-37 victory and national title.
- About eight years later, Hoover decided to become an actor and usually played bad guys on TV shows like The Rockford Files, Barnaby Jones, Cannon, The Bionic Woman, The Incredible Hulk and T.J. Hooker.
- Imagine in 1956 an article with the headlines “FOR WOMEN ONLY” and “Watching Football.” Oh that illustration is for a 5-4-2 formation defense.
- If you walk by Mudd Hall of Philosphy on Saturday before the game, check out “the reader” sitting above the main entrance. USC’s oldest buildings have plenty of these gargoyles on campus.
- Of course Bridge Hall has the football gargoyles.
- Here’s one of my favorite USC players that I ever covered, R. Jay Soward, vs. UCLA in 1998. He was fun, unpredictable and electric on the field.
- Did you get flashbacks Monday night watching Denver Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett mismanage the end of the game vs. Seattle? Like father, like son, as Nathaniel is the son of Paul Hackett.
- Speaking of Hackett, the 2000 season got off to a great start as USC defeated Penn State, 29-5, before 78,902 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
- The opening success didn’t last, however, and the Trojans lost five-straight games. They finished the year with a 38-21 loss to Notre Dame and Hackett was fired on Nov. 27. The highlight of the season was 38-35 victory over UCLA as David Bell kicked a field goal to win the game.
- USC actually had security guards at this Heritage Hall press conference to introduce Pete Carroll. It also shut down the phones because of angry fan reaction to the news.
Here is a 1964 Art Brewster illustration featuring fullback Ron Heller and kicker Dick Brownell.
- Some notes on Heller: He started playing football as a 12 year-old on the lawn outside of the Coliseum and sold programs before USC and UCLA home games. He bought his first car at age 14, when he had a bum sign the paperwork for him.
Heller served in the U.S. Army in Korea and Japan from the age of 18-20. He was given the choice by a Los Angeles County superior court judge to enlist in the Army or go to jail, after he and a few friends smashed a jewelry store window in a Fairfax neighborhood and stole a few watches.
He then played at Santa Monica City College before transferring to USC.
On his second carry as a USC player, he ran 19 yards for a touchdown in USC’s 7-0 upset victory at No. 6-ranked Iowa.
Heller was an extra in movies while he played at USC, including a scene in the 1965 Stanley Kubrick film, “Ship of Fools” with Lee Marvin and Vivien Leigh.
- This 1935 photo has an interesting caption: “In their pursuit of Mrs. Celia L. Holme’s murderer, Detectives Miles Ledbetter and Joe Filkas question Ernest LaValle, the winter sports coach at USC and a friend of Mrs. Holmes. From left to right, Ernest LaValle, Joe Filkas, and Miles Ledbetter.”
Holme was found shot and bruised in a ravine on Mulholland Way.
I’ve done some initial research but haven’t found out yet exactly what a “winter sports coach” meant? And so far, I haven’t seen anything that said LaValle was officially a suspect. We’ll see.