23 min Read

IMHO Sunday: Trojans football heroes need to be bigger-than-life bronzed

In my humble opinion, cardinal and gold thoughts on what I see, what I hear, and what I think from Los Angeles.

Bronzing: It’s not like USC athletic director Mike Bohn doesn’t have enough crumbs on his plate with the upcoming 2021 football season. After all, there’s his head football coach who will once again be scrutinized again to the nth degree. Besides Helton, Bohn will also be monitoring USC’s home attendance numbers and the Coliseum’s vocal environment based on the team’s performance.  However, let’s take a timeout from all that for a moment because I’ve got an idea that “Coach” Bohn might find a worthy distraction for consideration.

Bronzing – Part 2:
Every time I walk in front of the John McKay Center and see that larger-than-life statue of the Trojans legendary head coach John McKay, I ask myself: Why USC – with so many football legends – doesn’t make more larger-than-life statues and place them around the John McKay Center, Heritage Hall, and/or the inner portions of the Coliseum?

In front of the John McKay Center is a larger-than-life statue of USC’s legendary coach John McKay (photo above).
There is plenty of space in front of the John McKay Center (photo above) or Heritage Hall to place some larger-than-life statues of the Trojans’ Heisman Trophy winners.

Bronzing – Part 3: Look, I know that there are USC football All-America player recognition plaques that line the ramp leading up from the basement floor of the locker room of the John McKay Center to the pedestrian sidewalk across the street from Troy’s football practice fields. It’s nice, but who sees it other than current players and recruits? Then there’s the USC Athletic Hall of Fame Walk, which has visible plaques that line the sidewalk adjacent to Loker Track Stadium. Both these recognitions are nice, but they are not remotely as imposing or impressive as would be larger-than-life statues.

The Trojans celebrate their All-Americans with plaques (photo above) along the ramp from the locker room under the John McKay Center to within steps of the Howard Jones/Howard Jones practice fields.

Bronzing – Part 4: Now, when I think about celebrated larger-than-life statues, I think of the rotunda inside the U.S. Capital Building, which houses two statues of importance that represent each state. Now, I know that other Trojans sports deserve statue recognition, but we’re talking just football here. To me, a perfect location spot initially would be alongside the John McKay statue or in the cement area between the JMC and Heritage Hall. I am sure people more imaginative than me could find even a better location. Just make sure, like the John McKay statue, the statues would be in full public view and look like the people they are honoring. Nothing worse than a statue that doesn’t look like that person.     

If the Trojans need a blueprint on statues, the US Capital’s Statuary Hall (photo above) would serve as a classic example.

Bronzing – Part 5: Now, could you imagine the fan and recruit photo frenzy to take pictures next to larger-than-life statues of USC’s Heisman Trophy winners? You don’t think recruits wouldn’t get into that on their official visit? Something tells me that Instagram would be a statue natural, and the Trojans own social media sites would have a field day. If competitors like Alabama, Ohio State, and Notre Dame can do it, why can’t USC? Now, we all know there are already statues in the middle of campus like Tommy Trojan and Traveler, but larger-than-life football statues of past legendary players would be must-viewing.

Bronzing – Part 6:
Now I must confess, there is one existing statue that really bugs me that resides outside Heritage Hall. It’s the embarrassingly undersized statue of the original Wild Bunch. Folks, when I saw them in pads at practice during their 1969 playing days, they were truly larger-than-life, so why make them part of Legoland miniatures? After seeing some of the recent Trojans defensive line recruits taking pictures next to the Wild Bunch statue, I don’t think it represents at all just how big physically and intimidating these guys were. I think an upgrade (replacement) would be a no-brainer, and maybe this time Charlie Weaver, Al Cowlings, Willard “Bubba” Scott, Tody Smith, and Jimmy Gunn will actually look like themselves.

The Wild Bunch Statue (photo above) needs to be dramatically enlarged to do justice to one of USC’s greatest defensive lines.

Bronzing – Part 7: So, who besides the Heisman Trophy winners statues would I recommend? I think it would also be a no-brainer to recognize in bronze national award winners like OT Ron Yary (Outland Trophy), OG Brad Budde (Lombardi Award), LB Chris Claiborne (Butkus Award), Ronnie Lott (just pick an award), Mark Carrier/Adoree’ Jackson (Thorpe), and additional coaching no-brainers like head coaches Howard Jones, John Robinson and Pete Carroll in recognition of their national championships. And guess what? I would put a larger-than-life statue of Marv Goux in front of the entrance to Howard Jones/Brian Kennedy Fields. After all, the entrance to the fields is called Goux Gate. Was there a more larger-than-life football personality than the legendary Goux? 

Bronzing – Part 8:
Traveling around the country with the Trojans, I have a pretty good idea how other legendary powers like Ohio State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, and Alabama treat their football legends. Notre Dame Stadium is well accounted for by statues of their Hall of Fame/national championship coaches and legendary players. As usual, the Irish did it right just like they did with their stadium expansion some years ago.

Notre Dame knows how to celebrate its national championship coaches like former head coach Dan Devine and his devoted players (photo above).
Here’s a statue of Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban (photo above) on campus before a game between the Crimson Tide and the Texas A&M Aggies at Bryant-Denny Stadium. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
A man looks at the statue of Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford (photo above) at Heisman Park before a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and Missouri State in Norman, Okla. (Photo by Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman)
The Florida Gators of the SEC celebrate its Heisman Trophy winners (photo above) with impressive statues.

Bronzing – Part 9: So, what do you say, Mike Bohn? You have expanded a number of areas in the football department. Either assign some current staff to look into adding statues or create an administrator of statues. I know it might not be a priority at the moment while the current football program is trying to return to glory, but why not line up some sponsors and celebrate those larger-than-life Trojans that embody the essence of one of college football’s most historic and successful programs?

From the press box…

Zeroing in: Obviously, the Trojans have picked up a boatload of portal transfers, but the one transfer I am intrigued about is wide receiver transfer Jake Smith. Maybe it’s the fact he was highly thought of coming out of high school in Arizona, or the fact at Texas he was pretty good when not hindered by injury. Either way I can’t wait to see him on the field.

The Trojans are excited about Texas wide receiver transfer Jake Smith (photo above) when training camp begins in August.

Georgia peaches: Class of 2022 Trojans offensive line 4-star recruit Addison Nichols (Norcross, Ga./Greater Atlanta Christian) has released his final three schools, leaving North Carolina, Ohio State and Tennessee still in the hunt for his services. The bad news, of course, is that the Trojans were eliminated in the Nichols’ sweepstakes, but the good news is that Nichols was a long shot in the big picture, and it’s still early in the recruiting game for other line possibilities. So, what did North Carolina, Ohio State, and Tennessee have in common? All three are east of the Mississippi and closer to home, and none run the Air Raid.

Loyola loyalty: The Trojans are hoping that Los Angeles Loyola 3-star offensive lineman Sam Yoon (6-4, 290) continues a tradition of Loyola offensive linemen coming to Troy. The last Cubs O-linemen to attend Troy was the late Chris Brown.

Loyola loyalty – Part 2: A question with past and current offensive line recruits revolves the Air Raid offense and its appeal to O-line recruits. In his story on Sam Yoon, WeAreSC publisher Erik McKinney wrote, “Yoon said Harrell wanted to debunk the common perception that USC is a throw-it-all-the-time offense without significant involvement from and development of the offensive line. He was able to watch some plays from last season to get an idea of USC’s offensive philosophy. That might have been big for Yoon, who said he’s looking at offensive styles and how they might factor into his decision in terms of his development. He said he feels a balanced offense would likely be a more attractive one for him.”

The Trojans are hoping to get the signature of L.A. Loyola offensive lineman Sam Yoon (photo above) as part of the recruiting class of 2022.

Concerning: When a local high profile offensive line recruit like 4-star Earnest Greene (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) says, after visiting other universities like Ohio State, that he “might” take an official visit to USC, it should be cause for some concern.

Honest reevaluation:
Former USC class of 2021 verbal, tight end Keyan Burnett (Anaheim, Calif./Servite), told recruiting guru Greg Biggins why he decided to open up his recruiting and back away from the Trojans. Burnett said, “No disrespect to USC at all but at the next level, I see myself as a tight end and I think playing in a pro-style offense is the best thing for me. I just didn’t think my skill set matched up with how USC wanted to use me.”

Former Trojans tight end verbal Keyan Burnett (photo above) of Anaheim (Calif.) Servite felt USC’s version of the Air Raid offense was not a good fit for his skill set.

Reggie the documentary: In making every effort to rehabilitate his image and marketing, which is his right, former Trojans’ All-America tailback Reggie Bush will serve as executive producer of a documentary on himself, which will discuss his career and his involvement in placing USC under horrendous NCAA sanctions. According to a story in Variety, Kirk Fraser (ESPN’s “30 for 30: Without Bias”) is set to direct the film, which will look at Bush’s role in helping lead USC to multiple national championships, as well as the scandal that overshadowed that legacy. CAA will be responsible for selling the worldwide rights to the film.

Reggie the documentary – Part 2: According to Variety, Reggie Bush is set to tell his side of the scandal story. Film director Kirk Frazer revealed to Variety that the upcoming documentary is “providing Reggie with the opportunity to tell his story, in his words and reclaim his legacy is a parable greater than this one man. The heart of this story will explore one of the most infamous controversies in college football history and reveal the ongoing contentious culture inside collegiate sports.”

Reggie Bush (photo above) is the executive producer of a documentary about himself and says he is ready to tell his side of the story, which means the NCAA sanctions of which he was the main focus.

Reggie the documentary – Part 3: According to Bush, “After all these years I’m finally ready to tell my story, I hope this can help drive change with the next generation of student athletes. We’re making some progress, but there’s still a long way to go.” Change? To message future athletes that they can break rules without any accountability or apology? And, BTW, will we hear a public apology from Mr. Bush in the documentary?

Reggie the documentary – Part 4: If Reggie Bush’s recent statements regarding getting back his records and his Heisman Trophy is a foreshadowing of his documentary, I can hardly wait. Here’s something that won’t change: No. 5 is accountable for his actions, and that means following the rules of the day no matter the attempt at revisionist history. That being said, Bush gets an “A” for effort, and I can’t wait to hear “his side of the story.”

The post-game show…

Media Day reminder: WeAreSC will have full coverage of Pac-12 Football Media Day on Tuesday, July 27.

Social media: So, what is your reaction to the USC social media videos that are periodically being released? Do they fire you up for the upcoming season? They are probably also intended for recruits to get them fired up, as well.

Roster question:
Do you find all these portal transfers a band-aid for larger roster issue or is it now just part of the game? Coaches across the country are now doing double recruiting duty from both the high schools/junior colleges and now the NCAA Transfer Portal. 

Trojans head coach Clay Helton (photo above) has had to enlarge recruiting efforts not only to include the high school ranks but the NCAA Transfer portal, as well.


Alternative uniforms:
So far, little talk about wearing alternative home uniforms at the Coliseum in 2021, and let’s keep it that way. College football is about tradition of school colors, and it ruins a game, IMHO, when a school wears colors and/or design that deviates from its tradition.

Internship hunting: Since we know that USC students read WeAreSC.com, as a job public service, the Trojans are looking for students that might have interest in graphic design or video work. If interested, student should email Marshall Cherrington at: [email protected]  

Lights, camera, action: Trojans video operations is also looking for interested  students. For those interested, contact Eric Espinoza: [email protected]

Fired up: The Trojans recently released a “hype” video showcasing their new director of football sports performance, coach Robert Stiner, and his off-season workouts. Does this make you want to climb the Coliseum stairs?
 

 The call-in show…

Caller No. 1: Mr. Katz, do you think that the USC Ticket Department by continuing to send out season ticket emails are admitting that season ticket sales are down?

Caller No. 1, I think most folks would think so, and that may be true. What is obvious is that since season ticket emails are still going out, it signals that the capacity for season tickets has not yet been achieved.     

Caller No. 2: Gregory, do you think that the reasons former tight end verbal Keyan Burnett gave for backing out of his USC commitment will have an effect on other potential tight end recruits?   

Caller No. 2, I think it’s reasonable that other tight end recruits will pay attention to the reasoning that Burnett believes his skill is geared for a traditional tight end and not a skill level of being converted into a Drake London clone. Then again, those tight end recruits that have always wanted to be Trojans and are okay with a conversion change will commit.    

Even with the potential the size of a tight end, the Trojans moved Drake London (photo above) to wide receiver, and he has been outstanding. (Photo by John McGillen via USC Athletics)

Caller No. 3: GK, is it possible the Trojans will be better coached this season?

Caller No. 3, having once been a varsity coach for 27 years, I came across a number of nice guy head coaches that weren’t very good head coaches, but they had an exceptional group of assistant coaches that overcame any head coaching deficiencies. I was once on a staff as an assistant that had a nice guy but poor tactical head coach and leader, but to his credit, assembled an excellent assistant group.

Most assistant coaches know if a head coach is a public perception of competency but in reality  way over their head and quite frankly a glorified figurehead. By and large, most assistant coaches are devoted to the team, the players they coach, and to winning. I remember there were a number of times when I was an assistant that we won the league and went deep into the CIF playoffs in spite of the supreme leader. This is not all that uncommon. In my experience, there were very few “real deal” head coaches given the number of schools out there.  

New coaches like CB coach Donte Williams (photo above) have made a dramatic difference on the Trojans coaching staff.

Caller No. 4: Gregster, do you believe everyone who comes to the Coliseum should be vaccinated? What is your stance on that?

Caller No. 4, wow, that’s a heavy topic, but I will answer it as I see it. I think that everybody should do with their own body what they wish in terms of being vaccinated. Who am I to tell somebody what to do with their body although I think you have to respect others seated around you. Now that being said, currently there is no way to monitor who is vaccinated and who isn’t in a Coliseum setting. Most health experts agree that being in an outdoor setting can make a big difference in transmission with proper distance and a mask.

It is my understanding that anybody who comes onto the USC campus has to be vaccinated, but I could be wrong. The question: Is the Coliseum an extension of campus? I don’t see it that way; it is a public facility run by USC. Anyway, the way things currently are today, there is no way to monitor folks going into the Coli to find out if they are vaccinated and that includes media. I know many are relying on the honor system, but we all know how that goes.

And let’s face it, people fake social security cards, driver licenses, CPR cards, etc so why not vaccination cards? My own stance is that unless there is a law, it’s a personal choice and if you go to the Coliseum unvaccinated, you are putting others and yourself at risk. At least wear a mask if you are going to outdoor games unvaccinated in respect to others and yourself.

How many fans attending USC home games in the Coliseum (photo above) will be vaccinated or unvaccinated?

Caller No. 5: G-Kat, what do you miss that is no longer in Los Angeles?

Caller No. 5, I think I miss the days when the freeways, Monday through Friday, were only crowded early in the morning and during rush hour going home. It seems to me there are no longer consistent open freeways unless it’s Sunday, and even then, people are returning from somewhere to clog things up in the late afternoon.

No, the days of a true “free” way is a thing of the past. Personally, I hate the traffic, I really do, and I have a responder in the car to drive in a FastTrack tollway or a paid lane. I don’t do it every day, so it isn’t overly costly, but I feel for people that have to do it on a daily basis.

It’s rare that L.A. freeways (photo above) aren’t crowded. During the week, it’s normally bumper to bumper.

The last word: It’s still early, but what former player or celebrity do you think should lead the Trojans out of the Coliseum tunnel for the first game against San Jose State on Saturday, Sept. 4?



Author
Greg Katz

Now entering his 59th season of either writing, broadcasting, or just plain watching USC football, WeAreSC columnist Greg Katz began his affiliation with the website back in 2001, introducing his well-received O/NSO (The Obvious/The Not So Obvious) column and later adding his respected IMHO Sunday opinion and tidbits column. Greg, a former ESPN.com college football columnist covering USC, is also a member of the Football Writer's Association of America. He is also known in Southern California as a professional public address announcer, having called the the 1996 Rose Bowl Game between USC and Northwestern. Greg also holds a master's degree in athletic administration and was a former varsity high school coach of 27 years.


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