When Charles White was a freshmen at USC, he walked into Heritage Hall and saw the two Heisman Trophies on display.
“I’m going to get two or three of those,” White said.
If someone says White was the greatest back in USC history, it’s hard to argue. He certainly had the stats and still holds the USC record for yards rushing (6,245 yards). More importantly, he was a unique tailback because he loved to punish the defense physically but also could break runs.
That set him apart from someone like Reggie Bush, who could not run between the tackles like White.
“Charles had an incredibly strong and durable body,” said Gil Haskell, who coached at USC from 1978-82 and the Rams from 1983-91. “It was the best of any player we had.”
When tests were performed to determine the body-fat percentage of USC players, White measured 1.94 percent of fat.
- I still remember the first time I saw White in person. USC was practicing at Texas Stadium for the 1995 Cotton Bowl. White was 36 years old and even though he was a USC assistant, he looked like he was in better shape than any of the players at the practice.
- During its third and fourth seasons, the TV show, “American Gladiators” held special “Pro Football Challenge of Champions” shows. White won both times.
“Growing up (in the San Fernando Valley), you either had to be tough or pretend that you were tough,” White said in a 1985 interview with the Los Angeles Times. “I guess I pretended I was tough. Nah, I wasn’t tough. The type of people you were associated with, they were the type that if they wanted you to get into something, you couldn’t back down.”
Several times at USC, White was knocked unconscious in games and returned.
- White was drafted in the first round by the Cleveland Browns in 1980. It was in Cleveland where owner Art Modell and Coach Sam Rutigliano urged White to seek help for drug problems.
The day after White was released from the Browns in 1984, Modell’s office got a phone call. The secretary said it was White on the line and it was urgent. Modell said White called to thank him and several days later, White and his wife sent Modell roses.
“I called because I wanted to thank you for saving my life,” White told him. “I’ll always be thankful for that.”
- White’s San Fernando teams were supremely talented. Here is wide receiver Kevin Williams (32), White (12) and quarterback Kenny Moore (22). All three went to USC.
- In 1979, USC had six players from San Fernando High School! Tailback Anthony Gibson (24), fullback Bob McClanahan (31), wide receiver Malcolm Moore (22), defensive back Kenny Moore (not pictured), wide receiver Kevin Williams (8) and tailback Charles White (12).
- Washington State coach Jake Dickert was the only coach to rank USC ahead of Utah in the USA Today coaches’ Top 25 poll. He had USC 10th and Utah 11th.
RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK
Look at this amazing menu from the Warner Bros. Studio Cafe on February 17, 1941.
The sheer volume and variety of dishes is fantastic. My tastes are simple, so I’d be happy with a 75-cent T-bone steak. That works out to $14.82 in today’s dollars. You can get a half-lobster for 55 cents.
What’s a chop suey sundae? Recipes vary but on top of ice cream, “chop suey” was often a topping of dried and preserved fruit, nuts, and syrup, mixed together by the pound.
And now for some history:
- Ballard’s Do-Nut Shop definitely sounds like a place worth visiting in 1947. You could get hamburgers, donuts and malts. And convenitently located at the “Trojan Triangle Corner.”
- Charles White gains a first down vs. Stanford on Oct. 13, 1979.
- Charles White rushed for 247 yards in the 1980 Rose Bowl, which is still the record.
PICTURE OF THE WEEK
Here is some UCLA history.
UCLA football players Woody Strode (left) and Kenny Washington celebrate New Year’s Eve in 1938 with their dates, Dr. Lois J. Evans and June Bradley. Strode and Washington were the first African-Americans to play for UCLA. The following year they would be joined at UCLA by Ray Bartlett and Jackie Robinson.
Washington attended Lincoln High School in Lincoln Heights while Strode went to Jefferson in Los Angeles.
Washington’s son, Kenny Jr., played on USC’s 1961 and 1963 NCAA champion baseball teams. He was captain of the 1963 team and a member of the All-College World Series team and All-District team that season. Kenny Washington’s grandson, Kraig, played on the 1987 USC baseball team.
VIDEO OF THE WEEK
Jeff Beck, the legendary guitarist, died this week. So let’s appreciate him and another legend, Jimmy Page, when they were with the Yardbirds in the 1966 classic movie, “Blow Up.” Beck is the one destroying the guitar.