This week, the WeAreSC staff answers the question: What three events in USC Athletics history do you wish you could have witnessed in person?”
1) I didn’t want to include the 1974 USC – Notre Dame game because I thought it would be too obvious. And yet, here we are. Nothing makes me more jealous as a USC fan than hearing stories from people who were there. I want those stories to be mine. I want to make people jealous.
2) There are few championship performances more clutch or impressive than what USC’s Kendall Ellis did at the end of the 4 X 400 relay at the NCAA Track and Field Championships back in 2018. No, it’s not football, or basketball, or baseball, but the scenario delivered everything that makes Alabama’s overtime touchdown, or Villanova’s buzzer-beater, or LSU’s walk-off homerun all-time college sports moments. Ellis took the baton, after a clunky exchange, in fifth place and a full two seconds behind the leader. All she needed to do was make four passes, chase down both the Oregon and Purdue runners–the latter is barely sharing the screen with her as they pan the camera down the backstretch–in one lap. Oh, and with the National Championship hanging in the balance. Watching it in person wouldn’t have delivered the crowd experience of some of USC’s biggest football games, as it was held in Oregon, but it’s an achievement that ranks right up there with some of USC’s great athletic performances and I don’t think watching it on TV or video does justice to it.
3) I was living in Chicago during the 2005 college football season. I made it to two games that year–against Notre Dame and the Rose Bowl against Texas. Not a bad duo to get to. But I missed the game against Fresno State, and it still bothers me. With Fresno State fans helping to pack the Coliseum, a high-scoring and entertaining game, and Reggie Bush turning in one of the all-time performances in college football history–including the signature play of his USC career–it’s a game I’d love to go back and witness in person.
1) Although I watched it on TV, I would wish I could have been at Notre Dame Stadium in 1967 when the Trojans beat the Irish, 24-7, in South Bend. It was the first time the Trojans had beaten ND in South Bend in 28 years, and the win propelled the Men of Troy towards John McKay’s second national championship. Notre Dame was an all-boys school back then, and the brick stadium was in its original attendance capacity of 59,075. It was a breakout game for junior tailback O.J. Simpson (160 yards rushing and three TDs), and the Trojans’ defense recorded seven interceptions, four by linebacker Adrian Young.
2) Although I was there in person, I wish I could have been standing next to legendary Ohio State coach Woody Hayes when Trojans’ fullback Sam “Bam” Cunningham dove over the pile to score his fourth touchdown against the Buckeyes in the 1973 Rose Bowl Game, which gave John McKay his third national title. McKay had signaled to Hayes right before the fourth Cunningham TD dive that “Bam” was going to carry the ball and basically non-verbally said, “Try and stop this, Coach Hayes!”
3) Although I was also there in person, I wish I could have been in the Trojans’ locker room at halftime of the storied 1974 USC/Notre Dame in the Coliseum. The Trojans were down 24-6 at the half before the incredible second half USC comeback. I’ve heard stories from players about the halftime talk from John McKay, but it would have been cool to experience the moment and then walk down the tunnel with the team prior to the legendary second half kickoff return by AD.
1) Watch the 4 X 110 relay team set the world record in 1967.
2) Jake Olsen’s first PAT snap
3) Sit next to Chris Arledge, Garry Paskwietz and Greg Katz at Notre Dame for the Bush Push
1) The Tarmac Incident
2) Kevin Bruce getting puked on by a drunk Irish fan on his first visit to South Bend
3) The signing of Charlie Weis’ 37-gazillion-dollar contract extension right after his inspiring moral victory over the Trojans in 2005
1) 1997 Florida State vs USC, Brian Kelly drops the game-winning interception. I watched from home wishing I was there on the field because the energy was electric.
2) I wish I was on the team plane when Lane Kiffin was let go at the airport.
3) Watched Junior Seau in his prime at the Coliseum.
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