I hung out below HH today as usual, but something UN-usual happened. Earlier in the afternoon, I saw Willie Brown a couple of times, but sort of refused to make eye contact with him, even though I did see him wave to me as he walked by. But later, he was not in his office, and did not come over for our Tuesday chat, and it makes me VERY uncomfortable when my cheese is moved like that. I ALWAYS see him Tuesday's when he comes and sits down next to me and we discuss last week's game and this week's game. Protocol not being followed, I poked my head in his office just before heading out to practice, but he was nowhere to be found. I hope this is not a portent of things to come this Saturday.
My takes on the week gone by: Notre Dame is better than their first game, but they beat a Big 11 team, so what does that really mean, other than Ohio State, which I think is legit, and maybe run the table all the way until they get to Glendale. Texas is not nearly what they were, even without taking into account the loss of Vince.
Lotsa luck running the table in the SEC. If anyone does that, it will be tough to keep them out of the title tilt, even if the SC-ND winner is unbeaten, and West VA or Louisville. Right now I'd say SC-Ohio State in the big game.
Polls at this point are not very meaningful. Next week's might show us more, as there are so many games involving top 25's playing each other on this "Separation Saturday".
I remember the Nebraska series. In 1969, we did not lose a game with the Cardiac Kids. It wasn't easy. However, in the case of Nebraska we won at their place pretty handily.
The following year, in the first of two down years for McKay coached teams, at least in terms of won-lost records, SC and the Cornheads tied 21-21. I was a junior in high school at the time, and as was my custom, would by a general admission ticket, and hustle in early with the SC students and sit in the scramble seating in rows 1-9 next to the band. I did this even when I was a student (commuter—living in Los Feliz at the time, no reason to waste money living on campus or even near it when I could stay at home), and was captured in my favorite seats on the cover of the 1976 El Rodeo doing the victory sign to Conquest during a sunny afternoon game that year. My hair was pretty long as I look at the photo today.
Anyway, it was a night game, Nebraska was highly regarded, a year away from their very outstanding 1971 National Championship team, perhaps the second best team ever after our 1972 team. Then again 2004 and 2005 weren't bad. Going into the game, it was the Trojans who were ranked #3, and NU was #9.
Good ball game, two good teams (at least at that moment in history). SC tied it mid way through he 4th quarter, and got the ball back for a desperation try late. Jimmy Jones threw long up the field towards to Trojan bench on the game's final play into the peristyle end of the Coliseum. Sam Dickerson jumped early, and the Nebraska defenders hit him well before the ball arrived. Memory tells me it was a full second before the ball got there. It might have been more! It was clearly pass interference, and the students celebrated, knowing we would have a first down on about the Nebraska 20 yard line with no time left; time to kick a game winning field goal. Then, just like that we realized the official on the scene decided to look the other way, no call was made, and the game ended. We felt cheated, and the ref lives with that decision to this day. I am sure he saw the play dozens of times on the news like all of us that night, and then Sunday, McKay ripped into the guy on his weekly show with his usual caustic wit. It felt like a loss.
Nebraska never did lose that year, it was their only blemish en route to the National title, one they probably would not have had, had it not been for that non-call. SC lost to Jim Plunkett's Indians on the farm a couple of weeks later, and were never heard from again, losing three pointers to Cal and Oregon, but coming back from the dead to score a really fun 38-28 win in the rain at the Coliseum against the Domers.
That day, my stats guy Mark Hoppe and I had taken the bus all the way down Vermont Avenue from Griffith Park to see the game. It was customary in those days that Bill Volkel would drive us and his sons and wife and Andy Reid (yeah, the Eagles head coach) to the games, but because it was ND, the space was limited, and we were the odd men out. The weather forecasters called for rain on and off; a cold winter storm.
We had no raincoats, being good little Angelinos. Hop and I took big brown plastic trash bags with us to the game, and if it started to rain, we planned to stick our heads through a hole in the top, and our arms through holes in the sides that we would poke through. We'd put another bag on our legs, stick our feet through, tie ‘em up at the waist and we were good to go!
At half time, it had not rained, and the sky was only partly cloudy with lots of blue. We had grown tied of carrying these silly trash bags, so, sitting in the top row of the Coliseum, maybe section 19 or so, we tossed them over the side.
It started to pour within five minutes. Pour like you've never seen it in L.A. Like standing in your shower pouring. Like midwestern thunderstorm rain. Monsoonal, The field was a quagmire. Mud everywhere, you could not see a guy's uniform number. I think we recovered a TD in the end zone twice, once on offense and once on defense for TD's and upset the #4 ranked Irish, ripping their hearts out.
We were absolutely drenched…sopping, dripping wet. After the game, we went on the field to celebrate, and trudged back to the bus stop and got on the bus, still dripping with heavy squeaky shoes full of mud and water. But we were filled with the joy two boys can only know after that kind of day with that kind of win.
For those interested in such things, Dr. Art's band is planning some sort of musical tribute to the rock band Chicago for Saturday in the park
I will miss practice Wednesday as I am speaking to our great West LA Trojans Club at McCormick and Schmick's in Beverly Hills at 6 pm. All are welcome.