Marcus Allen dinner recap

It was a spectacular evening for the members of the San Fernando Valley and Ventura County Trojan Clubs as they were provided the pleasure of sharing dinner with a who's who of former Trojan athletes, that included Kennedy Pola, John Mazur, Michael Hayes and two of USC's five Heisman winners in Charles White and keynote speaker, Marcus Allen.

Kennedy Pola began the night by talking about the return to glory USC is experiencing and then set a precedent for the speakers to follow by sharing a "Marcus Allen" story.  Each man that followed shared a specific moment in their time with the great SC tailback that they felt defined him as a person.  John Mazur, Marcus' quarterback during his 1981 Heisman year told how Marcus, just prior to the team taking the field to play Notre Dame, stood up on and asked his teammates to wish their young quarterback a happy 19th birthday.  What was great about that moment was that it immediately followed one of Marv Goux's famed Notre Dame speeches.  Bringing everyone back down to earth with a reminder that life goes on, even during a major football game, also brought the team closer as a family.  SC won that game and Marcus, after carrying the ball an amazing 435 times that season, captured the Heisman. 

 

Some quick stats on this Trojan legend to make note of:  Marcus came to SC and was moved to cornerback.  He was so talented that the coaches wanted to get him on the field.  They already had Charles White playing tailback, but they needed a fullback.  Marcus volunteered.  He helped Charles earn his own Heisman with a punishing blocking style that is still talked about amongst Trojan football players today.  When Marcus did finally get put into the key ball carrying position his junior year, he broke every record imaginable.  In his senior season he amassed over 2400 yards on the ground and another few hundred in all purpose yards.  By carrying the ball 435 times that season, he averaged an amazing 37 carries per game.  Once in the NFL, Marcus had a career that few could match.  He was a league leading rusher nearly a half-dozen times and played longer than any back in the history of the game.  Charles White said that in playing with and even watching Marcus, it was amazing how his teammate always managed to get "one more yard."  Charles, as great a player as he was, holds Marcus in the highest regard, as do all Trojans.  It means even more, however, coming from the men who went to battle with you.  When you consider that Charles White, weighing a mighty 168lbs, was able to win a Heisman, electrify an audience and go on to also lead the NFL in rushing for a single season... you know his praise of Marcus is genuine.

 

Marcus took the podium the way he took the field, with quiet confidence.  He shared his own stories about his fellow teammates and made each realize they were as important in molding him as a player and person, as any he encountered.  He talked about the coaches who truly set the standard for greatness to him - John Jackson, Hudson Hauck, Marv Goux and John Robinson.  He told a quick story about how, after volunteering to give fullback a try and breaking his nose on the first play in practice while blocking someone, that he felt he had earned his way out of this physically demanding position.  Instead, John Jackson embraced his toughness and sent Marcus right back in for the next series.  There would be no taking plays off on that Trojan squad.  It was about dominance.  Marcus shared that upon the arrival of Pete Carroll that he as seen that level of commitment returning in the team.  It has been exciting enough to entice him back to the Coliseum for every game he can watch. 

 

Marcus feels that SC is back and the key moment he felt confident enough to say that aloud, was when this year's Heisman trophy was awarded to Carson Palmer.  As most of you know, Marcus spoke to Carson just prior to the ceremony via cellphone.  He let Carson know that he already saw Carson as the embodiment of a champion and that, win or lose this award, Carson was already a winner.  When the award was given to Carson, Marcus was so joyous for the young man, but also USC because it was at that moment, that USC football was reintroduced to the nation.  Carson's Heisman contemporized all the others won before him by Trojan greats and let the college football world know that SC truly was back.

 

Marcus and the other athletes posed for pictures and answered questions, all embracing their role as Trojan emissaries.  These men, each one of them, are Trojans for life and we are lucky, not to have them in our family but for them to have us in theirs.  They are men of dignity, integrity who live their lives as though every season of life offers the promise of yet another National Championship and Heisman trophy.

 

A quick note:  Marcus and Ronnie Lott were roommates in college.  Marcus said nobody, to this day, has displayed the sort of dedication to all aspects of life that Ronnie has.  He used this as an example:  W


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