What made it into this week’s media column, posted here:
John Jackson will be on the sideline for Saturday’s USC-UCLA game at the Rose Bowl. Not the John Jackson who’ll be in the radio booth on the Trojans’ coverage for the rivalry game on KSPN-AM (710).
It’s his son, John III, a freshman at Mater Dei high school — who has accepted a recruiting invite from UCLA. Bruins baseball coach John Savage wants to gauge his interest in the program, even though the Class of 2018 member and starting quarterback on the freshman football team has yet to start his high school baseball career. The Jackson Family Values will be a topic of discussion here, as well as John II’s approach in covering this contest 25 years after he left the USC program.
Jackson’s week isn’t just focused on USC-UCLA — he also has to be in Valencia on Friday night to call the Upland-Hart CIF-SS high school football quarterfinal playoff game for Fox Sports West at 7:30 p.m.
What is best suited to be read in this spot:
== When John Jackson ran out of eligibility playing football at USC — he was a graduate student in 1989 — he was the school’s all-time leader in receptions (163), receiving yards (2,379), most catches in a game (11), longest TD reception (87 yards), set a Pac-10 record for catching passes in 37 consecutive games and set a Notre Dame opponent record with 14 catches for 200 yards.
In the 25 years since then, Robert Woods has nearly doubled Jackson’s career-reception mark. His career yards puts him 12th all time. Most catches in a USC game? Nelson Agholor had 13 in the first half last week against Cal.
All Jackson’s other records have been broken as well. And in Saturday’s USC-UCLA game, Agholor stands to pass Jackson on the career reception and yardage list.
Others like Keyshawn Johnson, Dwayne Jarrett, Johnny Morton and Marquis Lee have vaulted past Jackson in the last two-plus decades. It’s not as if Jackson played with quarterbacks who couldn’t throw — future NFL QBs Rodney Peete and Todd Marinovich were tossing the ball then — but it was a whole different game, and different USC philosophy of offense as well.
“I have a different appreciation for the players who have passed me, obviously because the game has changed so drastically with the numbers of balls thrown per game,” Jackson said. “I might have been the last person picked to be any kind of career stat leader at USC because of my size (5-foot-11, 185 pounds), but I pride myself on how I had my best games against the best opponents. When we were playing a school like Utah State in those days, I had little interest in being out there. We’d just run and I’d be blocking the whole game, then sit by halftime. Now those are the games when players seem to wrack up the most passing and receiving yards. I wish we had the bubble screen in our playbook back then. It was never a choice. I’d love to play in this style of offenses today.”
For what it’s worth, Jackson also set the school record for stolen bases on the baseball team with 52, playing his sophomore-to-senior year. That, too, has been erased since by Mark Smith and Seth Davidson.
== Jackson knows all about the two quarterbacks that he’ll be analyzing in FSW’s Hart-Upland playoff game Friday. In a FSW “Year of the Quarterback” feature program that has run this season, Jackson sat down, watched film and played catch, with Upland’s Tyler Hilinski and Hart’s Brady White. And here’s video proof:
== Saturday marks the 23th and final USC-UCLA football game that Bruins radio play-by-play man Chris Roberts is assigned to call — he’s retiring this spring after the basketball season ends.
The first one he did: John Barnes’ improbable performance in leading UCLA past USC at the Rose Bowl in 1992.
The first seven that he did — all UCLA wins.
The one he seems to remember most: The double-OT Bruins win in 1996, by a 48-41 count. But not for what you may remember.
“The Pac-12 Network featured that game the other night, and it was pretty cool to watch it again — but I made an horrendous mistake during that one,” Roberts remembered Thursday morning after attending UCLA’s practice, and nearly 12 hours before he’d be calling the Bruins’ basketball game at Pauley Pavilion against Nicholls State. “That was the first year of the overtime format. Skip Hicks scores a touchdown on UCLA’s first possession of the second overtime, and I start saying, ‘Bruins win! Bruins win!’ Nope, we had to led USC have a turn. I’m thinking it was sudden death.”
Another one etched in Roberts’ mind: USC’s 50-0 victory over UCLA in 2011.
“I was talking to (broadcast partner) Matt Stevens about this recently — you have the game, then the post-game, and as a professional broadcast, there’s the basic rule to go to every break giving the score,” said Roberts. “It’s 50-0 early in the fourth quarter. You already felt terrible for (UCLA coach Rick) Neuheisel and UCLA, but every time we had a break — ‘it’s 50-0.’ How many times can you keep repeating that score?”
Roberts says he isn’t looking at this game with any bittersweetness attached to it.
“There’s nothing nostalgic about this last one, because I’m thinking, ‘They need to win this, then next week (vs. Stanford), then if they play Oregon in the Pac-12 championship, then … I’m looking at it that way. And from there I’m looking forward to basketball as well. Maybe it’ll be different when we get through this whole season.”
Because UCLA has the Stanford contest on Nov. 29, Roberts won’t be traveling to the Bahamas for the Bruins basketball team participating in a three-appearance tournament during the Thanksgiving holiday. Dave Marcus and Tracy Murray will call those games for KLAC-AM (570) starting with UCLA-Oklahoma on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. (also on ESPN2)
== The ABC crew of Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe has drawn the assignment for USC-UCLA from the Rose Bowl (Saturday, 5 p.m., Channel 7). Continue reading