Player Spotlight: Jim Vellone

VELLONEJim Vellone (63) was a USC offensive linemen in 1964-65. He then played five years with the Minnesota Vikings, where he started Super Bowl IV and helped win the 1969 NFL championship. Vellone retired from the NFL in 1971 when he discovered he had Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was only 33 when he died in 1977 and it is definitely worthwhile to remember him.

No NCAA Sanctions On Staff Size

USC might have 67 healthy scholarship players but the Trojans are hardly lean-and-mean when it comes to the football staff. The current staff boasts four defensive administrative assistants plus a graduate-assistant coach. The offense includes two administrative assistants plus a graudate-assistant coach.

There are four assistant strength coaches not including the head strength coach, Ivan Lewis. And then there are the director of player personnel, director of football operations, director of football scouting, assistant director of football operations and recruiting analyst.

It might be the biggest staff in the nation. If you don’t believe it, check out the football media guide page 18.

Basketball Offers 6-11 Center

USC offered a scholarship to 6-11 center Djery Baptiste of Dallas, Texas. Baptiste has been offered by Iowa, UConn and Oklahoma. Meanwhile, Mater Dei guard Rex Pflueger narrowed his list to five schools: California, Notre Dame, San Diego State, Texas A&M and Washington State. Pflueger’s brother, Devon, is a walk-on at USC.

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USC Morning Buzz: Christmas Bulb Helmet Update

HELMET

Several players tell me USC’s new helmets look even more reflective in person than in this picture. “Like a red mirror,” one player said.

The grey face masks are like a chrome car bumper, the players said. The new helmets will not be used in training camp and worn first for the season-opener against Fresno State. Below is an example of a chrome face mask.

CHROME.FACE

Aca’Cedric Ware Commits To USC, Now About That Recruiting Ranking

Tailback Aca’Cedric Ware of Cedar Hill, Texas, committed to USC on Monday night, selecting the Trojans over Iowa, Notre Dame and Ohio State. So far, so good. But Ware is only a three-star prospect and rated the No. 35 prospect in the nation by Rivals.com.

And why didn’t Texas offer a tailback from just outside Dallas? Or LSU and Alabama? It just demonstrates there can still be a difference of opinion these days despite the tendency of everyone to follow each other recruiting the same  prospects.

Player Spotlight: Luther Hayes

LUTHER.HAYES

USC defensive end Luther Hayes played from 1958-60 and was all-conference in 1959. He also was the NCAA triple jump champion in 1960 and 1961. A defensive end winning the NCAA triple jump would be unheard of today. But Hayes (6-3, 202) excelled at both sports.

Money Talks

USC announced today invited guests could attend Tuesday/Wednesday practices at Howard Jones Field. That will undoubtedly mean donors. For the right price, you can experience almost anything now. Running out of the tunnel. Getting Steve Sarkisian’s autograph before the game. Choice seats. Field-level suites. Soon, alcohol is expected to be available at the Coliseum. And donors will no doubt get that first.

There is nothing wrong with maximizing income opportunities. The problem is when you create a perception that the regular fan is shut out. It’s not there yet for USC but it definitely is something that requires keeping an eye on.

Coach Spotlight: Mel Hein

If Mel Hein coached at USC today, chances are he would far overshadow Coach O, Steve Sarkisian, Lane Kiffin or anyone else that figured prominently as an assistant coach. Hein was an assistant coach at USC from 1951-65. And no coach around USC boasted his background.

He played for the New York Giants from 1931-45 and was the NFL’s MVP in 1938 despite playing center. Hein was a member of the NFL’s 50th and 75th anniversary all-time teams. He was an all-pro five times and led Washington State to an undefeated regular season and Rose Bowl berth in 1931. Hein coached the defensive line, linebacker and offensive line at USC.

CLARK.STAFF

Mel Hein (third from left) was part of an all-star coaching staff in 1959 that featured USC coach John McKay (second from right), legendary USC assistant Marv Goux (third from right), Raiders owner Al Davis (second from left), Texas A&M coach and former USC player Ray George (far left) and former USC and NFL player Jim Sears (far right). The least prominent figure is the head coach, Don Clark.