Remembering Booker Brown

As we continue to look back at some Trojans who passed away in 2022, here’s 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.

Sam Cunningham and Booker Brown during their NFL careers.

22 thoughts on “Remembering Booker Brown

  1. None of us have any idea whether Caleb is ready or not. But Lincoln Riley has obviously known all along exactly what shape Caleb’s in. If Caleb’s injury requires more time to heal I hope Coach Riley has used the majority of bowl practices to get Miller —and the rest of the offense—ready for the Cotton Bowl. Caleb is an extraordinary talent and it’s nice that he wants to be out there with his teammates ….but he’s not the coach and he shouldn’t call the shots.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. This is a pre Bozo U Football player. Back when the team worked as a team and not as entitled babies . Loyalty to a coach was very much a thing. If anyone was grifting at the school, they were quietly disposed of.
    Now if a literature professor drops the N word while reading Huckleberry Finn to the class, it makes front page news, protests spring up and three students sue.


  3. Scooter,

    This has not been brought up, but who will take over when you go to the great press box up in the sky? i enjoy this blog so much and u provide such great USC info. Please start training someone to be just as snarky as you and provide the same great quality information that you give to us. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Remember when somebody told Woody Allen that his films would make him immortal …and Woody replied that he’d prefer the kind of immortality that comes from not dying?


      1. As someone said once —“Woody himself is rather superficial —but his neuroses run rich and deep”……


      1. caveat emptor – last 2 years UT has not done well in OOC
        2022 lost to FL UT 26 FL 29
        2021 lost to BYU UT 17 BYU 26
        2021 lost to San Diego St UT 31 San Diego St 33
        2021 (Jan 22) Rose Bowl lost to OH St. UT 45 OH St. 48

        Liked by 1 person

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