Play it forward: Nov. 25-Dec. 1 — Eat it up: It’s a week that rivals very few others during the year

Steve and Susan Clark sit in the stands at the Rose Bowl last year waiting for the USC-UCLA game to start in Pasadena.(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Steve and Susan Clark sit in the stands at the Rose Bowl last year waiting for the USC-UCLA game to start in Pasadena.(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The way it lays out for Thanksgiving week on the sports calendar:


COLLEGE FOOTBALL: UCLA at USC, Coliseum, 5 p.m., Channel 7:

Have the lines started yet at Costco for the USC and UCLA gear?

Have the lines started yet at Costco for the USC and UCLA gear?

Some of this stuff just doesn’t add upl. There’s the 8-3 Bruins, a pre-season favorite to get back to the Pac-12 championship game but mathematically eliminated now. And there’s the 9-3 Trojans, seemingly mathematically eliminated from anything two months ago but on a run to an improbable post-season bowl game, albeit one not on New Year’s Day, but one more beyond Saturday for sure:

3.5: The point spread favoring the Trojans to win by most early prognosticators.

UCLA quarterback Cade McNown hands off to Skip Hicks during the 1997 Bruins-Trojans game. AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian

UCLA quarterback Cade McNown hands off to Skip Hicks during the 1997 Bruins-Trojans game. AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian

1997: The last time UCLA won a game at the Coliseum against USC (as the No. 7 Bruins prevailed, 31-24, for the seventh straight year behind conference player of the year Cade McNown. That vaulted the Bruins to a 10-2 finish under Bob Toledo after winning the Cotton Bowl – and starting the season 0-2).

Jim Mora1-0: Jim Mora’s record in this series as a UCLA head coach (with the 38-28 win last year at the Rose Bowl).
0-0: Ed Orgeron’s record in this series as a USC head coach.

hi-res-184014276-interim-head-coach-ed-orgeron-of-the-usc-trojans-raises_crop_north8-2: Orgeron’s record in this series as a USC assistant coach.

6: Touchdowns in the last three games by Bruins freshman linebacker Myles Jack.
67: Tackles this season by Bruins freshman tailback Myles Jack.

brett-hundley-ucla-qb1155.6: QB efficiency by Bruins sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley, second best in the conference (22 TDs, 9 INTs).
145.3: QB efficiency by Trojans sophomore quarterback Cody Kessler, sixth best in the conference (15 TDs, 6 INTs).

USC UCLA Football2: TD receptions this year for USC All-American junior receiver Marqise  Lee (third best on the team)
57: Tackles made this year by UCLA All-American senior linebacker Anthony Barr (sixth best on the team)

14 of 20: Field goals made, attempted, by UCLA freshman Ka’imi Fairbairn (missing two of his four last week).
14 of 21: Field goals made, attempted, by USC junior Andre Heidari (making his last three in a row)

46: USC victories in the series
29: UCLA victories in the series
7: Tie games
2: Vacated USC victories because of, well, stuff happening. In 2004 and ’05. We won’t get into it again.

5774264150: Largest margin of victory (by USC, 50-0, in 2011, last time the game was at the Coliseum)

10 years ago: AP’s No. 2 USC wins 47-22 at the Coliseum to advance to the Rose Bowl with Pete Carroll (and that win over Michigan in the Jan. 1 game gave the Trojans’ the AP national championship, not the BCS title).
20 years ago: AP No. 16 UCLA’s 27-21 win over No. 22 USC at the Coliseum sends the Bruins to the Rose Bowl with Terry Donahue.
ask_tommy_dt_usc_ucla__full25 years ago: AP No. 2 USC pulls out a 31-22 win over No. 4 UCLA at the Rose Bowl and advance to the Rose Bowl again on New Year’s Day.
50 years ago: USC, the preseason No. 1 team, salvages a 7-3 season with a  26-6 win in 1963 over the 2-8 Bruins.
93,607: Expected announced crowd in attendance (a sellout).

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Weekly media column version 11.22.13 — JFK and the NFL, 50 years later, on how it was covered, and maybe misremembered

UPDATED: Friday, 10 a.m.:
What made it into this week’s media column:

Dignitaries unveil the John F. Kennedy plaque on the floor of the L.A. Coliseum in 1965, to commemorate his accepting the Democratic Party's presidental nomination in 1960. Attending the ceremony:  (Los Angeles Public Library/Herald Examiner Collection)

Dignitaries unveil the John F. Kennedy plaque on the floor of the L.A. Coliseum in May, 1965, to commemorate his accepting the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 1960. Attending the ceremony: Former JFK press secretary Pierre Salinger, L.A. County Board of Supervisors representative Kenneth Hahn, Harriet Dexter and A.E. England. The plaque is affixed to the Coliseum’s peristyle entrance today. (Los Angeles Public Library/Herald-Examiner Collection)

The John F. Kennedy assassination 50 years ago and the legend of why the NFL decided to play its slate of games just 48 hours later is definitely worth revisiting. with a couple of things in mind: Did the media really rail against commissioner Pete Rozelle’s decision to play on? Do those of you who were around back then even remember watching any of those games on TV? What’s real, and what’s held up as myth?

What wasn’t included in the column or notes, but could have:

nfl-jfk-motorcade-800== It must be noted that NFL Films, the NFL Network and did a remarkable job combining their efforts for this multifaceted series relating to JFK  stories posted this week online as well as incorporated into the network programming.
Carmen Dukes, the network’s director of digital features, said it “was very cool to gather together on a single vision and come up with something so compelling for the fans. It’s exciting to get this out there.”
Part of what makes this work as well are the succinctness of each segments presented. Not that any of them could have been expanded into their own half-hour special, but their ability to fit within the consumer’s time frame demands probably made them all more accessible.
Brian Lockhart, the coordinating producer for NFL Network Features, said this is “in some ways just sratching the surface in combining our resources without an agenda. It’s robust content out there that we think cuts through, giving us something that we couldn’t have arrived as working individually.”
Writers such as Judy Battista, Mark Kreigel and Steve Cyphers were also instrumental in pulling together themes and offering contextual opinions for the whole series.
Among the gems uncovered to be re-examined: How TV had a parallel influence on both the rise of JFK’s prominence as well as the NFL’s success, and the story about how the Kennedy family had once considered buying the Philadelphia Eagles when they were up for sale in 1962.
To find the series, go to, or click on the individual elements:
= The prologue: The day in Dallas
= An introduction to the series: “Jack would say we should play”
= The Dallas Cowboys component
= The Kennedys and their football tradition
= The voices of that time
= The games
= The impact
The NFL Network’s “NFL GameDay First” (starting at 4 a.m. Sunday) will include the Rozelle Decision piece, while “NFL GameDay Morning (6 a.m.) will have “The Kennedys: First Family of Football.”
== Also, our previous blog post this week on how Life magazine had to change on the fly — JFK cover in, Roger Staubach cover out.

9780810887008_p0_v2_s260x420== One of the things that  Michael H. Gavin, author of “Sports in the Aftermath of Tragedy: From Kennedy to Katrina”
discusses in his book is the concept of sports writers using the JFK assassination as a way to mourn — which could have led to taking out their grief on NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle and his decision to let the games go on.
The concept of an “elegy” (not to be confused with an eulogy) comes from literary terms, from the Greek word to lament. It is a poem done as a way of mourning, as a way to help a writer recover from the situation.
“In the book, there are many moments of tragedy where people are killed, and the writers provide to their readership some way of coping with it, providing a way of healing,” said Gavin. “In some ways, the writer feels he has a pulse on what he perceives that readers need to feel better about them themselves in these national moments.
“My perception of this is that when Kennedy was assassinated in this Cold War era, the president was a war hero. The Army-Navy game had all the pomp and circumstance as well as athletes associated with the military. So that game, and most games following a national tragedy, allow the media to have material to work with on that analogy. You could make the analogy that the idea comes from Freudian theory, where at a funeral, one takes a rose from a grave to replace the person’s body in memory. You can make that kind of case with sports in the events after Kennedy or 9/11. Sports is the replacement story that can divert our attention as we recover, not having to do with the tragedy itself.”
Continue reading “Weekly media column version 11.22.13 — JFK and the NFL, 50 years later, on how it was covered, and maybe misremembered” »

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The story behind Rick Neuheisel’s latest song, “Ed O”

Neuheisel-300x168Rick Neuheisel’s multi-media career as a Pac-12 Network college football analyst may play out as far as his acoustic guitar will take him.

The former UCLA head coach has already composed tribute songs this season for Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (to the Marty Robbins’ classic “El Paso”) and one heralding the Southeastern Conference (to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA”), debuting them on Dan Patrick’s syndicated radio show.

At the bequest of the Pac-12 Network, Neuheisel recorded his latest effort and had it posted Wednesday night, an ode to USC interim football coach Ed Orgeron called “Eddie O” (sung to the tune of the Harry Belafonte’s famous “Banana Boat Song,” highlighted by the “Day-O” lines).

Find it online at

“That was all in one take,” Neuheisel confirmed this afternoon.

The guitar strumming began mostly on Patrick’s show as a lark, but has evolved into something more of an expansion of the Weird Al Yankovic genre.

“I enjoy this role as a serious analyst in the studio, but it’s also a fun way to talk about what’s going on in another way,” said Neuheisel. “These songs just kind of happen. That USC victory over Stanford was one for the ages and the momentum following it was huge for that program.”

Meaning, if UCLA figures out a way to overcome Arizona State this weekend, USC next weekend and claim the Pac-12 championship in early December to clinch a Rose Bowl berth, it wouldn’t be below Neuheisel to create something as a tribute to his old team.

“Who knows what evil lurks,” he said. “This is what happens with idle hands. Myles Jack is worth a ditty, no question.”

Cue up the Ray Charles classic, “Hit the Road, Jack.”

Neuheisel is scheduled to appear on KSPN-AM (710) “Mason and Ireland” show Friday (at about 2:30 p.m.) and then go on KLAC-AM (570) for the “Petros and Money” show after that (3 to 7 p.m.)

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When Life throws you a issue, then doesn’t, how did Roger Staubach deal with it?

staubachOne of the several mini-documentaries that NFL Films has produced this week for the NFL Network and surrounding the story lines of the John F. Kennedy assassination 50 years ago surrounds a media angle that isn’t all that well known.

life112963Navy quarterback and eventual 1963 Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach was supposed to be on the cover of Life magazine for the Nov. 29, 1963 issue. After some 300,000 copies were printed on Friday, Nov. 22, the news came out about the tragedy in Dallas. The editors scrambled for a new cover memorializing Kennedy, and include a whole new array of photos inside.

So whatever happened to the Life issue dedicated to Staubach, who had already made the cover of Time magazine a month earlier?

It’s become one of the most-sought collectables, something you’re not even likely to find on eBay. Only a couple dozen may exist today. Their worth can be up to $1,800.

Paul Camarata of NFL Films was given the job of pulling together the seven-minute piece that aired as part of “NFL Films Presents” on ESPN as well as the NFL Network. It includes interviews with Staubach and former Life magazine exec Terry Murphy, as well as going to Dallas to interview the curator of The 6th Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, Gary Mack, and magazine historian Dr. Steven Lomazow.

“To me, in the baseball card world, everyone knows of the T206 (Honus Wagner) card, or to stamp collectors, there’s the iconic upside-down airplane, and here with Life magazine is a rare artifact and a story even rarer,” said Camarata, from the NFL Films offices in New Jersey. “It’s a story where football and Kennedy history meets, but we thought even Steve Sabol would have had copy of this one. We went through the personal library (of the late NFL Films president) and figured he’d have to have one of these. He’s got stuff of Thomas Edison shooting a college football game in the 1890s. But he didn’t have this magazine, and to me that makes it even more remarkable in the rareness of the story.”

From all the pieces done this week by various networks about the life and times of Kennedy and his connection to football, this Life magazine story may be the most divergent. But it still shows a point in media history where a news event resulted in a seemingly impossible change in direction of how such a popular magazine could react in such a short period of time — without the aid of computers or digital photography.

“I think this is really a reminder — and something we learn all the time at NFL Films because it’s in our DNA as documentarians and keepers of the flames — that history is always alive,” said Camarata. “The more time passes, it’s like the old saying that you never step in the same river twice. You have a different perspective all the time. This Kennedy anniversary is a great reminder that even after all these years, maybe with the most dissected event in American history, we’re still learning something new. It’s a cool testament to understanding history and the interesting layers it has. It’s how we capture news and tell the stories and preserve it — or, in some cases, even lose it.”

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Dierdorf decides this will be his last year in the TV booth

101312_NFL_TEN_SEA_Recap_thumb_640x360_54063171663Dan Dierdorf’s run after 30 years as an NFL broadcaster, including 12  on the storied “Monday Night Football” series, will come to an end after this season, CBS announced this morning.

danesThe Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive lineman for his 13 years with the St. Louis Cardinals was the 2008 recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award. Only three others have that Hall double honor: Frank Gifford, John Madden and Len Dawson.

“I have been blessed to spend my entire life in the game I love,” said Dierdorf, currently the longest-tenured analyst on NFL games.  “I had an opportunity to go from the field directly to the broadcast booth where I have had the privilege of working with the giants of our business including Ray Scott, Lindsey Nelson, Jack Buck, Dick Stockton, Al Michaels, Frank Gifford, Verne Lundquist, Dick Enberg and lastly, my partner, Greg Gumbel. It has become a challenge for me to travel to a different NFL city every week, so it’s time to step aside. This has been a wonderful ride as I really have lived the dream.”

CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus noted that Dierdorf “has been a consummate professional both on the field and in the broadcast booth. Very few people in any profession can boast a Hall of Fame playing career and Hall of Fame broadcasting career.  Dan, without question, is one of them.  His CBS Sports family will miss him on Sundays, but we wish him all the best in his retirement.”

Dierdorf began his broadcasting career in 1984 as a color analyst for KMOX’s Radio coverage of the Cardinals as well as doing NFL games for CBS Radio Network.

Dan-DierdorfHe did play-by-play for CBS in 1985 before switching to analyst. He went to ABC for “Monday Night Football” for 12 seasons starting 1987 before returning to CBS in 1999.

“A Hall of Fame player and a Hall of Fame broadcaster, a unique combination of knowledge and experience that few others can match,” said Gumbel.  “There has never been a day I’ve worked with Dan when I didn’t learn something about the game of football.  For that, and for so much more, I’m forever grateful. His departure is the fans’ loss.  Our loss.  My loss. We will all miss Dan Dierdorf.”

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