Since we started the day talking about 1972, here’s a picture of the offense by legendary Sports Illustrated photographer Neil Leifer.
(clockwise from bottom) Pete Adams (77), Charles Young (89), Lynn Swann (22), Mike Rae (6), Sam Cunningham (39), Anthony Davis (28), Booker Brown (63), Mike Ryan (68), Edesel Garrison (19), Dave Brown (57), and Allan Graf (61).
These are the starting lineups from the program of the 1972 USC-UCLA game at the Coliseum. There are so many stories, led by the McNeil brothers going against each other as USC tailback Rod McNeil faced his brother, UCLA right end Fred McNeil. And they were big-time players. Fred played 12 years with the Minnesota Vikings and in two Super Bowls. USC’s safety, Artimus Parker, still holds the school record for career interceptions (20).
The UCLA backfield of Kermit Johnson and James McAlister were both All-Americans and also starred at Blair High School in Pasadena, where they defeated Bishop Amat (Pat Haden and J.K. McKay), 28-27, in the Southern Section 4-A title game at the Coliseum.
USC linebacker Richard “Batman” Wood was the Trojans’ first three-time All-American. UCLA QB Mark Harmon became a successful actor. You all know about USC fullback Sam Cunningham and the next athletic director, Lynn Swann. UCLA left tackle Bruce Walton is the brother of Bill Walton. USC wide receiver Edesel Garrison was also a talented sprinter. Not even starting is USC sophomore tailback Anthony Davis.
Five USC players were All-Americans in 1972 (Wood, Cunningham, offensive tackle Pete Adams, defensive tackle John Grant, and tight end Charles Young). Three became first-round draft picks that year (Adams, Cunningham, Young). Ten seniors were drafted. Many consider the 1972 team the greatest in college football history. I could keep going but I’ll stop.
USC defeated UCLA, 24-7, and finished 12-0 that season.
In 2003, USC received a commitment from highly regarded center Robert Swift. He never went to college and turned pro straight out of high school. Swift’s now 30 and played just 97 NBA games. He’s had a turbulent life and said he took heroin until he quit last year. This story in the Japan Times talks about Swift’s career and how he is trying to make a comeback.
It’s been a week since USC’s spring football game and here’s something I’ve meant to highlight. The 84-play scrimmage had only one penalty. In the past two seasons, penalties were often a problem. One spring game does not mean a problem is solved but this was an encouraging sign. Let’s see how it goes in the training camp scrimmages.
Former USC All-American offensive tackle Tony Boselli was inducted into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame today. USC defeated Texas Tech in the 1995 Cotton Bowl. I thought assistant band director Tony Fox pulling the mustache off the Texas Tech mascot, Raider Red, should be a Hall of Fame moment too.