If it’s Friday, it’s time for the Pac-12 championship game.
Fox and ESPN love having the game on Friday night, secluded from all those other conference championship contests.
But to me, it makes the game feel not ready for prime time, because it can’t make the Saturday stage. It’s also less convenient for fans, who could travel to Las Vegas on a Saturday and not worry about missing work.
The Pac-12 says the game will remain in Las Vegas through at least 2023, which is all USC needs to worry about.
- Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff said Thursday that procedural mistakes made by football referees were “unacceptable.” Where have we heard this before?
- How many Cal and Stanford football players have announced they entered the transfer portal this week?
- The last time USC played Utah in Las Vegas was at the 2001 Las Vegas Bowl. You might remember Utah won that game, 10-6.
But the part I always remember was near the end of the game, the USC and Utah coaches had an altercation in a pressbox elevator going down to the field. Lane Kiffin was one of the USC coaches in the elevator. The altercation started because some Utah coaches started celebrating the victory inside the cramped elevator.
- And now for some history:
- Since we talking 2001, here is Troy Polamalu blocking a punt by Stanford’s Eric Johnson.
- USC photos in the Big Ten are suddenly more poignant. Here’s QB Steve Sogge as the Trojans played at Minnesota in 1968. The No. 2-ranked Trojans defeated No. 16-ranked Minnesota, 29-20.
The Golden Gophers led 10-0 before USC fought back to tie the game, 13-13, at halftime. Minnesota took a 20-13 lead with eight minutes left but O.J. Simpson scored two TDs and Ron Ayala kicked a FG. Simpson finished with four TDs.
A week later, USC returned to the Big Ten with a game at Northwestern. History really does repeat itself.
Finally, look how the fans were right down on the field at Memorial Stadium.
- Just a note on Sogge. He set a then-national record of 2,361 passing yards as a senior at Gardena High School and led the Mohicans to the Los Angeles City Section championship. Sogge was named Los Angeles City Section Player of the Year and a Parade All-American.
- I like to think of the 1960 USC team as the happiest team in USC history, judging by the photos. Here’s Dave Morgan, Mike McKeever and Dennis Schmidt after a 28-10 victory over Cal.
And look how happy Jim Samuel is below after a victory over Georgia the same season. Note USC wore its white jerseys for that game at the Coliseum. USC had good reason to happy in that game after intercepting four passes from Georgia QB Fran Tarkenton in a 10-3 victory.
- The Trojans won only four games in 1960. The nonconference games were Ohio State, TCU, Georgia and Baylor. Imagine that schedule today.
- I’ve never met anyone who didn’t have a kind word for former USC football coach Don Clark. He resigned after the 1959 season and sent a telegram to John McKay and the team wishing them luck for the season-opener against Oregon State.
- In 1960, All-American Mike McKeever suffered a head injury against Stanford that led to emergency brain surgery for a blood clot at Cedars of Lebanon hospital. As the story mentions, there were multiple bulletins a day from the doctor updating McKeever’s condition.
It was such a big story that when USC president Norman Topping learned of the surgery, he contacted athletic director Jess Hill and sports information director Don Simonian and dispatched them to the hospital to comfort the family and handle any media duties. Hill and Simonian spent the night at the hospital with McKeever’s family.
- In the 1960’s, you didn’t have to go to the USC ticket office to buy football tickets. You could go to Silverwood’s men’s clothing stores; Wallich’s Music City record stores; Buffom’s dept. stores; Hinshaw’s dept. stores or even the John P. Evans shoe store in Pomona.
- The Trojan Huddle was the name of John McKay’s weekly TV show. Who could resist the “wit and wisdom” of McKay? Or the appearance of “winsome cheerleaders.”
- Here’s how the show looked in 1960 as McKay speaks to Lee Giroux, who was also an actor.
- Edgemar Farms was a dairy located in Santa Monica on 17th street and Santa Monica Blvd. And it’s milk was good enough for Marilyn Monroe.
- You might think the 1950’s were the dark ages when it came to keeping football stats. But USC used to track minutes played by each player and then release it to the media/public. Here are the minutes for the 1959 season.
Right guard Al Bansavage led the Trojans in minutes with 405 in 10 games. Bansavage was one of several players brought to USC from The Citadel by assistant coach Al Davis. Bansavage skipped his senior year to sign with the Baltimore Colts.
Still feeling a hangover from the USC-UCLA game? Here’s the 1987 game, where Rodney Peete famously hit Erik Affholter for the game-winning TD catch.
- Is there any doubt Sam Cunningham would have been able to play if he were in college today? I don’t care how high-scoring games are, who wouldn’t want a tailback like this?
- Look at all the Christmas shoppers on Seventh and Broadway streets in Los Angeles the day after Thanksgiving in 1953. It wasn’t Black Friday but the two days after Thanksgiving were known as “Christmas Value Days.”
- And finally, I’m going to indulge myself and run a photo of NFL tailback MacArthur Lane simply because I love the old-school face mask. And who can forget a name like MacArthur Lane?