The Spelling Bee

Loel Schrader covered the Trojans for the Long Beach Press-Telegram for 25 years and a total of 40. He also co-authored with Steve Bisheff of the Orange County Register, "Fight On! The Colorful Story of USC Football." Throughout the years he's remembered many humorous moments, but this one still stands out.

The years had not been kind to Notre Dame in its football series with USC.

After a 51-0 victory over the Trojans at the Coliseum in 1966, the Fighting Irish won only one of the next 10 games.

So, it wasn't surprising that there would be an explosion of joy when the Fighting Irish, wearing those awful green jerseys, achieved a 49-19 triumph over the Trojans at South Bend in 1977.

Those of us in the press corps, notebooks in hand, were standing outside the locker rooms, waiting to be admitted for interviews, when a young man rushed up and shouted, ``Retribution! Retribution! Retribution! That's what this is!''

He started to leave, but I chased after him and shouted, ``Kid, kid, wait a minute.''

He stopped and I said, ``Are you a Notre Dame student?''

He nodded in the affirmative and I said, ``I want to write about this. How do you spell the word you yelled.''

``You want me to spell the word?'' he said, a look of disbelief on his face.

``Yes, spell it.''

``Ummm, let's see. It's R-e-t-r . . .R-e-t-r . . . R-e-t-r-o-b-u-t-i-o-n.''

``Is that your final answer?'' I asked.

The kid hesitated a moment, then said, ``Yeah, that's it.''

What I was doing was rather cruel, but Notre Dame Stadium brings out the worst in me.

``Well, kid, you just flunked spelling. It's r-e-t-r-i-b-u-t-i-o-n. I'll repeat, r-e-t-r-i-b-u-t-i-o-n.''

The kid blushed, hesitated, then replied, ``Well, just say we kicked USC's ass.'' ``Great, kid,'' I said. ``Ass I can spell without any help.''


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