David Bell interview

Bell talks about the 2000 USC vs UCLA game and his final kick "The best thing to do is get your head as clear as possible but you can't. When I went out there I expected Toledo to call a timeout, to try to freeze me, so I just kind of went out by myself and didn't really talk to anybody. I just tried to think about what I needed to do as a kicker to put it through the uprights"

David Bell became an instant Trojan hero when he kicked a 36 yard field goal with :09 left to beat UCLA last season. Bell, who graduated from USC with a degree in Public Policy and Management, now works for Pacific Bell and was a guest recently on the Fox Sports Net Southern California Sports Report to discuss the kick and his impact on the USC vs UCLA rivalry.

Todd Donoho: "David Bell, you are now forever etched into the lore of the big week rivalry game by making that field goal."

David Bell: "Yeah, it's amazing. You make one kick but you make the one that counts. The USC vs UCLA game, it's like a season within itself. One game can change a whole season."

Donoho: "You did make one kick, maybe people don't realize that but you made one kick your senior season and it was that one."

Bell: "That's right. I made the only one that counts."

Petros Papadakis: "We were calling for David to be the man. The team was screaming for him, especially the senior class, we all knew that David was a great competitor and could kick the ball but they went with this guy Newbury who missed a whole bunch of kicks and then they went with a freshman, John Wall, who had a hard time getting it over the centers head. Finally Hackett went with David for the last game and it seemed to count that day. It was a big day for us."

Donoho: "I'll be honest with you, because the field goal kicking situation at USC was so tenuous that year a lot of people didn't know who the guy was in the last game but it turned out to be David Bell. Now you missed one earlier in that game, too."

Bell: "Yeah, I missed one in the middle of the 4th quarter."

Donoho: "So now there's a minute left in the game and the Trojans are driving…."

Papadakis: "We still had faith."

Donoho: "driving the ball, your'e on the sidelines, what are you thinking?"

Bell: "I was just thinking I was going to get another chance. We were driving and I thought it was gonna be about a fifty yard field goal but Carson and Malaefou hooked up for a nice gain to make it closer. Even after I missed the first kick guys were coming up to me and telling me to forget about it. David Newbury, he was in the same situation earlier in the year coming down to a game winning kick against Colorado, and he told me to just think about something else. It helped to take my mind off of things and I just went out there with a clear head."

Papadakis: "Didn't Hackett say something inspiring to you?"

(Bell and Papadakis both start laughing)

Bell: "After the first miss he said something but it wasn't too inspiring. He kind of cursed me as I came to the sidelines but when I went out for the last kick he just told me to kick the ball."

Papadakis: "As an athlete you want the ball in a clutch situation and when you screw it up you always want another chance and Dave got another chance."

Donoho: "I always want to ask kickers, what's going through your head?"

Bell: "The best thing to do is get your head as clear as possible but you can't. When I went out there I expected Toledo to call a timeout, to try to freeze me, so I just kind of went out by myself and didn't really talk to anybody. I just tried to think about what I needed to do as a kicker to put it through the uprights."

Papadakis: "My favorite kicker from my entire career, David Bell. Two field goals in his whole career, God bless him."

Donoho: "That's two major accomplishments; Petros' favorite kicker and forever etched in Trojan history."

Papadakis: "Which one is more important to you?" (laughing)

Donoho: "What do you do for Pacific Bell?"

Bell: "I work in the hi cap department, providing high speed T1 lines and finding a way to get customers service."

Papadakis: "I have no idea what he's talking about."

Bell: "I work there and sometimes I don't know what I'm talking about but I get it done."

Papadakis: "Dave's a smart guy, one of the smartest guys we had on the team. He was a good kicker too."

Donoho: "How did you end up at USC? Were you recruited by other schools out of Anaheim Western HS?"

Bell: "I was mainly recruited by Arizona and USC. Doug Smith was the USC recruiting coordinator for Orange County, he was a former center for the Rams, and he came to a few of our practices but he came to a playoff game and I hit a 52 yard field goal. I started talking to USC a lot after that but when Adam Abrams made a big kick in the Rose Bowl I stopped hearing from them. I guess they weren't too happy after a while, though, with the kicking game and they started recruiting me again. My parents and I went down to his office and met with John Robinson, toured the school and I ended up being the last guy signed in my class."

Donoho: "In high school you were also a running back and linebacker in addition to kicking, right?"

Bell: "My junior year I went both ways and my senior year I only played offense. It kinda made it hard when I first got to USC because I was just standing around during practice. I wanted to run around and do something."

Papadakis: "He was a kicker who wanted to make the tackle. I was on kickoff coverage for three years and I think he had more tackles than me one year."

Bell: "I had eight tackles my junior year."

Donoho: "Western HS is also the home of Tiger Woods. You're 23, he's 25 so did you come across him at school?"

Bell: "He was two years ahead of me but I didn't know him too much. He's friends with some of my family, my cousin caddies for him in San Diego at the Buick Open."

Donoho: "Tiger Woods never beat UCLA with a field goal."

Bell: "That's right."

Donoho: "Do you get recognized as the guy who made the kick?"

Bell: "There are a couple guys at work who went to UCLA and when I started they were like "yeah, we know who you are" but it doesn't happen too much. I do get free drinks sometimes at the bar."

Donoho: "How do you see the game shaping up on Saturday?"

Bell: "I think USC's gonna come out on top.  Carson plays well against UCLA, he played well last year and I think he's gonna play well this year.  If it comes down to another field goal kick they've got a pretty solid kicker right now so we'll be all right."

Former Trojan WR Erik Affholter will appear on the Fox Sports Net Regional Sports Report on Wednesday, November 14th at 6:30 and 10:00 to discuss his performance in the 1987 USC vs UCLA game. 


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