The Agony and the Ecstasy Part 1 1950-1960’s
It was somewhere between the age of eight and ten, sometime between the years l954 to l956, I am just not exactly sure, that my father took me to my first college football game. It was USC –UCLA, Powder Blue vs. Cardinal and Gold. The pageantry was overwhelming. Outside the gates The Trojan band marched and played, “Fight on.” It was so exciting. Inside, my eyes diameter doubled at the sight of the Trojans roaring out of the Tunnel. The “V” hand signs in the air. The beauty of the White horse Traveler on who road a man dressed as a Trojan of golden olden days long gone. Together they galloped around the Coliseum along the track that circled the field, rising up before the cheering section, the rider gallantly pointing his Excalibur-like sword to the sky. And the sounds– “Charge, Trojans, charge,” the song “Fight On” and the greatest band football sound ever to be—“Conquest.” I would search my television for showings of Tyrone Power and Caesar Romero in the 1947 film “Captain from Castile” just to hear “Conquest” play in the closing scene over marching soldiers conquering the new world. My first dog was named “Troy.”
The Bruins added color too, and a pretty good band. Because the cheering sections were opposite each other in those days you felt like right in the middle of this greatest rivalry, hearing the panther of puns echoing from each side. I didn’t entirely understand the game much that first time but when my Dad asked which team I was rooting for my reply was not a difficult one: “ The Red one.” Thus, started the love affair of my life.
I don’t remember a whole lot from that time, just images of Jaguar Jon Arnett returning a kickoff for a touchdown that was called back, and runs where he reversed field and had amazing balance; C.R Roberts breaking tackles and Luther Brown going all the way with a kick off. I discovered other sports to. All I had to do to pick a pro team to root for, was find a Trojan alumni. I followed Ron Fairly with the Dodgers, Bill Sharman with the Celtics and Arnett with the Rams. As to USC basketball I would take buses to the old Pan Pacific Auditorium to see John Wearhouse, John Rudometkin and Chris Appell. What a thrill when they beat the Great Cal Bears. Still nothing compared to college football. Not even Elvis, the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean or Davy Crockett.
The problem, however, for this small boy was that 50’s football belonged to the Bruins coach Red Saunders and I lived close to UCLA. As a result, most of my elementary school friends whenever USC lost teased me and I would not want to go to school. Sometimes it seems I rooted hard just not to be made fun of. I learned to be a sports fan was to adjust to both Agony and Ecstasy. It would become a lesson of life, too. At least as a Trojan I can say the thrills far outdid the chills.
In 1959 I was 14 years old and in junior high. USC football opened the season going 😯 behind quarterback Willie Wood and led up front by the McKeever twins and Ron Mix. They were number two in the country and looking to move up. So happy I was that my school book covers were from the Trojan bookstore and in wood shop I sanded and stained wood plaques to be adorned with decals of Tommy Trojan. A bulletin board went up in my room where I tacked clippings and tickets. But in the ninth game a not -so good UCLA team led by Redskin quarter back-to-be Billy Kilmer upset USC 10 to 3. I was teased by all my friends that USC could not even score a touchdown. So at age 14 I first learned what a major depression was.
The next year most of that team was back and the Rally cry was “All the Way with John McKay” who had replaced departed Don Clark as Coach. But McKay lost the first three games before a win over scrambling Fran Tarkenton, later a pro Hall of Famer. Still the word was McKay would be fired. The Bruins were having a great year and the announcement was to be made after that sure defeat. Injuries forced a third string quarterback to play for USC in the Bruin game as well as a fourth string tailback. But from game film McKay was able to tell which way the UCLA single wing was going to run and from the key he flip flopped the great Marlin McKeever to that side. Privately McKay told people USC was going to win and they did. The new Trojan quarterback was named Bill Nelson who became an instant star and would later lead the Cleveland Browns of the NFL. When Kilmer went down, the head cheerleader would yell, “who killed Kilmer?” and students responded “McKeever killed Kilmer.” At 15 I experienced my first reversal of fortune. I was on top of the world and the early losses didn’t matter. And, of course, I did not even know yet how important it was that McKay’s job had been saved. Today he is known to Troy alumni as “Saint John” who produced 4 national titles.
When I was 16 and got a car—a black l957 Chevy– I could go to the games myself. Somewhere in time I took a gamble and moved aside the road stands blocking the entrance to the on-going construction of the new Santa Monica Freeway. We were the only car in sight as my classmate and I drove on not knowing if we would go off some unfinished edge, let alone find a Vermont exit. I like to think we were the first to take the ride from West L.A. to downtown on the 10.
USC didn’t beat UCLA in l961, but in a televised game the world saw the start of McKay’s coming innovative offense that would change college football. A running back deep in an “I” that sometimes ran in motion to become a receiver. Down by 21 points, and giving up another score during its comeback, at the end USC and McKay went for 2 and lost 35-34 to No.1 ranked Iowa. In explaining his decision not to tie after such a gallant fight, McKay stated, “A tie is like kissing your sister.” The slogan has lived on.
After turning 17 I had the greatest then experience in my young life. USC—led by Pete Beathard, Willie Brown, Hal Bedsole and Damon Bame — went undefeated and won a national championship in 1962, the first for USC in the “modern” era. Players still played both ways in college so USC had a great edge because QB Beathard and TB Brown were stars in the secondary and Bedsole could be a defensive end as well as catch touchdowns. McKay had so many players that he rested the first team (red) under a then rule that allowed a certain number of entire team substitutions at once. McKay had a special offensive team (green) led by Bill Nelson and Ron “The Horse” Heller (who knew my brother and visited the house) and a special defensive squad (Gold). Other teams could not rest their players like this and you could not substitute in and out like today.
In 1962 I was playing basketball on my high school B-team, driving my Chevy, but at home I was still being a little kid every Thursday night by imitating the next upcoming USC game on an electric football game. My routine each week was the same so I felt I contributed to each win. And I waited each day for my brother Lewis to come home from USC so I could read the Daily Trojan. Then UCLA almost repeated l959 as the Bruins were up 3-0 late in the fourth quarter threatening to end Troy’s title hopes. On fourth down McKay sent in Bill Nelson to throw the pass. To everyone it was high and un-catchable. Somehow Brown went skyward ala a not yet born Michael Jordan and got it, came down hard on a Bruin back, but held on at the two; first down. On the next play Big Ben Wilson scored. Beathard then intercepted a pass and Wilson was unstoppable, scoring again.
In the Rose Bowl Beathard threw four touchdown passes and Willie Brown did everything else. No.1 USC led No. 2 Wisconsin 42-14 starting the 4th quarter, when Badger QB Ron VanderKelen went crazy making it 42-37 as time ran out. Only an end zone interception by Brown on an earlier Badger drive saved it. I learned what it was to celebrate too soon, stare in disbelief, chant “go clock go” and experience the wonderment of a simple sigh of relief. The Beatles had arrived; I went on the first Dick Clark American Bandstand televised from Los Angeles and had discovered girls. But none of it matched a national championship. This was as good as it gets.
When I graduated high school at 17 I went into the Army for six months as a reservist to avoid the draft and Vietnam. To get through basic training I dreamed of the 1963 season with all the B-Boys back. And a bunk mate named Don Clark, Jr. ( the son of the USC coach prior to McKay) told me a sophomore would be joining the team who was a better runner than Willie Brown. His name was Mike Garrett. I turned 18 and on a weekend pass I rented a room in Monterey to watch No. 1 USC vs. No. 2 Oklahoma on TV. Joe Don Looney ran wild for the Sooners but USC was down just 17-13 and had the ball in OU territory with time for one more drive. On fourth down Beathard put it in Bedsole’s hands but he dropped it. Fort Ord was awful difficult after that. Still some weekends my Dad flew me home and from the airport and we went to the Coliseum.
Occasionally stories appeared about old time Trojans who had not missed a game in 30 years or so. But I knew by then the truth. Not only was I USC’s all time No.1 fan, but no sports team in history will ever be so beloved by a fan.
When I returned from the Army I enrolled in Santa Monica City College. A counselor asked what my goals were. I didn’t really have any idea. Then I said, “I want to go to USC.” She replied given my transcript that I should pick something more “realistic.” I fumed and then got all A’s. In a hallway I grabbed the same counselor, pushed him forward and pressed his face against the glass to make sure he got a real good look at my name on the Dean’s list.
In the fall of 1964 Craig Fertig completed a pass on 4th down to Rod Sherman to beat No I and undefeated Notre Dame, led by Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte, on the last game of ND coach Ara Parseghian’s first year. USC had been down 17-0 at halftime. The Irish defender (Tony Carey) on Sherman wore No.1 and was photographed on his head as Sherman scored. The caption: “Fall of No.1.” USC was supposed to go to the Rose Bowl but the league voted Oregon State as “most representative.” Back then they voted to decide who goes to the Rose Bowl. The Beavers were then slaughtered by Michigan New Year’s Day and another clipping went up on my board.
At the end of the spring semester I hand carried my postcard grades to the USC administration office; all A’s and a B+. A woman said I was in and I danced in the Trojan streets ala Gene Kelley. That summer as the Watts Riots burned downtown I fantasized about going to the campus at night to help protect it. In the Fall, at the age of 20, I entered USC. As my love for Troy alone had gotten me to college, I knew I could not be just another student. I had to be part of the school. So I applied as a sports writer at the Daily Trojan and became a journalist major. I would soon be friends with Craig Fertig, Rod Sherman, Garrett and other heroes.
Most of all I would get to know and have daily access to John McKay. It was a little boy’s dream. The older part of me didn’t mind all the co-eds either. After all, this was the 60’s, the time of mini-skirts and hot pants, and they were everywhere on bicycles. I wrote in a column “Girls who stop pedaling their bicycles when boys pass by make poor dates.” My philosophy professor read it to the class as the day’s topic for discussion.
We had a great team in 65 and played UCLA for the Rose Bowl rights. On the first series Bruin Mel Farr (Detroit Lions fame) broke a long TD run. After that UCLA was stuffed. I don’t remember another Bruin first down. Garrett ran wild but his fumbles cost scores. Still USC led 16-6 with little time left and had the ball. Then Troy Winslow fumbled the snap. Gary Beban threw his first TD bomb and the Bruins then recovered an onside kick. On 3rd down and 25 Beban hit his second bomb, this one to Kurt Altenberg, and my heart sank. I learned it is never over until the Fat Lady sings. And it happened in my first year at the school.
When the team opened fall practice next season it found “Beat the Bruins” and “Revenge” banners put up on Bovard field walls by me and Lance Spiegel, another DT writer, and an ex- high school classmate. Now in my second year on the paper I interviewed Coach John McKay weekly. He was funny but moody. But from him I learned a lot. When the UCLA game approached Gary Beban got hurt so revenge seemed a shoe-in. But this one went down as the (QB back-up) Norman Dow game and the Bruins won 14-7. When I met with McKay later that week he could hear my despair in questions and snapped at me, reminding me that I was not a player or a coach and I had no right to walk in and slump in his office. Several million people in China, he pointed out, did not even know the game was played. What he was saying was “grow up” and I did that day. Or at least I thought so.
USC’s ironic gift for being massacred 51-0 in the last game by the Irish was the Rose Bowl. USC played gallantly against Purdue and Bob Griese and could have left the game in a tie. But McKay as always went for 2-point conversion and the win, rather than tie. Leroy Kelly batted down Troy Winslow’s pass giving Boilermakers a 14-13 win. McKay’s refusal to play for a tie, in defeats, broadened his growing legend.
During the 66 season when the defense needed a 3rd down stop a drunken Frat student, named Rusty Jordan, arose in the cheering section to lead “K-i-l-l” spellouts that sent the crowd into a frenzy and amazingly fired up the defense. I wrote a story on him, “The Cheerleader in the Stands”. So next year they made him the real thing—head cheerleader.
I interviewed our new Safety Mike Battle, infamous for leaping over tacklers on punt returns, and put his quote in the headline that he predicted next Saturday we win by 21 points over Oregon State, with editor Steve Harvey’s blessings (also a high school classmate). I was summoned to McKay’s office who told me Battle had been punished and might not be on the plane for the next game. He asked who’s side I was on as these stories make opposing locker room’s pin up boards. In the back a snarling Marv Goux kept asking to have me for 5 minutes wherein he promised McKay to “knock some sense” into me. It was a beginning of a love-hatred relationship with Goux. He was a great coach but I felt safer when he was on the field.
I wrote a lot of Werewolf jokes about Eddie King who after Goux commented about his hairy back was dubbed The Wolfman. I pointed out the irony King played the “Rover” position (now called Strong Safety) and afterwards I got the campus nickname “Wolf.” Jokes soon appeared in the Daily Trojan that in this persona I prowled Doheny Library in pursuit of coeds.
In the spring of I967 I overheard coaches Dave Levy and Marv Goux talking about whether a JC transfer was going to play flanker or running back in the pros. Since he had not played a down yet I thought this was odd. So I arranged an interview with the newcomer. The story was entitled: “O.J is Here.” It was O.J. Simpson’s first Los Angeles interview. What I remember is his talking about leading gangs in high school and when they were caught he always talked his way out of it while his followers did not. He also asked I not write he was engaged as his fiancé was up north and there was no need the girls in L.A. know until his betrothed arrived in the fall. O.J. called me to say how great the story was and how pleased the coaches were with his first interview. In the fall of l967 Spiegel and I became co-sports editors.
The University never paid for an airline ticket for the DT to cover a road game. After the first season road game at Michigan State in l967 Lance and I ran a copy of the Sunday Los Angeles Times story with a kicker saying “We were not there.” Across from it was a story on a fraternity football game with a kicker saying “We were there.” Sandwiched in between was a photo of Lance and I listening to a radio (games were rarely televised in those days) with a title, “DT Press Box.” The plan had the approval of our editor and my life Long friend Hal Lancaster (later became bureau chief for Washington Times). I was called in to a VP’s office and chastised for the ploy. Then I was told I was going to South Bend. DT’s sport writers have traveled ever since. Before the game I found out a staff writer was corresponding with love letters to Irish All American end Jim Seymour. I wrote a story about it wherein I suggested McKay send her to South Bend to try to keep him off the field.
South Bend was great; Marching bands in the morning; toilet paper in trees. But the Trojans were the highlight. Having lost 51-0 the prior year at the Coliseum USC beat No.1 Irish 24-7 and the game was not that close. MLB Adrian Young doubled as Irish All American QB Terry Hanratty’s No. 1 receiver, picking off 4 of his passes, aided by Tim Rossivich’s ferocious rush and O.J. let the nation know who he was. On Sunday I learned USC would be No.1 in the polls on Monday. I called Coach McKay at home with the news and for a quote for the Monday edition. “Well,” he quipped, “that beats being No. 25.”
Unfortunately the trip to Corvallis was not as good. Lance and I, in coat and ties, were in a pool hall Friday night when a group of lumberjacks tried to take us outside for a fight. Wisely we declined. Our challengers were tiny, but we knew monsters were waiting beyond. Saturday was no better. While USC moved the ball the Beavers made dams near their end zone and won 3-0 on a questionable kick. Down went USC’s No.1 rating. Worse, the top spot was taken by the Bruins. But then we realized this was the silver lining. The Bruins were next.
Some say it was the greatest game ever played; A game no team should have lost. Beban played with painful taped up ribs and OJ on an injured foot. All game OJ could not get lose and Beban drove his team at will only to have USC stop him with a great defensive play or UCLA missed a field goal. Pat Cashman intercepted a Beban pass to tie the game 7-7. Earl McCulloch in the second quarter ran a reverse for over 50 yards for USC’s first first down. Then he caught the only Trojan completed pass of the game for 13 yards. From there O.J. broke six or more tackles in a 13-yard TD run up the middle for a 14-7 lead. Beban took over in the 2nd half and half-way into the 4th quarter UCLA led 20-14. After O.J.’s famous 64 yard run for the 21-20 lead, Beban came right back completing 3-straight passes and crossing mid-field.
What then followed was one of the great individual feats in college football history. Sophomore defensive end Jimmy Gunn had been out since the first quarter with torn ligaments. Now he tugged at McKay’s sleeve. “Put me in coach,” he said and “I will stop him.” McKay did and Gunn kept his word, sacking Beban 5 times, the last one for a big loss on UCLA’s last play as time ran out and Mckay had his second NC . Gunn was operated on the next day and missed the Rose Bowl. There is a reason Gunn is bronzed on campus.
I was proud how even handed my story was on the game, giving so much praise for the Bruins. Ultimately I praised Beban’s selection for Heisman Trophy as back then it was generally a career choice. My backing The Great One was noted in the L.A. Times. I wrote in my Wednesday Column I would never forget the day of that game all my life or that night celebrating on the row; “Especially the girl I was with” (Donna Maltes had, too, gone to high school with me and later became Ms. LA County. We have remained life long friends).
This was also the start of our first brave song girls—Celeste Fremon, Suzanne Knoll, Claudia Pawlan– who all were my friends. There was a lot of campus and alumni pressure to dismiss them as they were against the male only tradition and not as good as UCLA’s song girls. So I wrote in my column UCLA lost to USC 71-0 first time the two played and 56-0 the second time. But in the third game UCLA tied Troy. “So give the girls a chance.” The rest they say is history, despite current complainers.
Indiana was the Cinderella team of college football winning the big ten and coming to the Rose Bowl. This was event long in coming and may never be repeated. As the Hoosiers ran onto the field, Rusty Jordan led us in cheers of “Rape Cinderella.” OJ scored twice and the defense did the rest, 14-3, leaving no doubt on the title. To some l967 is remembered for man’s first walk on the moon, but to me it was OJ who was making all the small and big steps for mankind.
My battle with Goux continued in 67. The USC locker then was nothing more than old dark lockers under the ground across from Bovard field. It rocked, however, after practice on Thursday afternoons as Goux led private football rallies. I quoted Goux as saying USC would leave Strawberry Canyon as it had never been left below. “We are going to burn their barns and rape their women.”
The day the story came out I tried to tip toe past Goux’s office. The football staff was then housed on the second floor of the Student Union and the Daily Trojan on the fourth. I was on the stairs heading to third floor when Goux pulled me into office and threatened all sorts of horrific things that would be done to my body if I ever quoted him again. I questioned his sincerity as to most of it but I was sure I would not be let in the locker room again. But later at Christmas time when my column handed out joke awards I could not resist. “For Marv Goux,” I wrote, “An inflammable barn and a virgin song girl.”
As to my friend Steve Grady, the perennial halfback backup, I gave as a Xmas prize– a letter acknowledging his great Trojan career, signed “Mike Garrett, Don Hall and O.J. Simpson.”
Somewhere in all this I met John Wooden on a plane. I introduced myself as DT sports editor. He sat me down, treated me as if I was part of the same family. The 5 hours we spent talking affected my life.
The Agony and the Ecstasy Part 2 1968-1980
The LA Times asked to hire me a as a sportswriter. My girl friend, Sharon Gribow, a UCLA grad, said go to law school but then left me for a lawyer. You might say law and I were not yet good bedfellows. I still decided to go to Law School. Even though I wanted to be a writer the fact is, I thought, who in their right mind would forgo a chance to stay another 3 years at USC. That summer, however, I was hit by the first of a life-long odyssey of uncanny coincidences.
Answering a newspaper ad I took a job selling woman’s hair pieces at a place called Contessa Creations near La Cienega and Melrose. It was a great summer school job. We were allowed to date the customers as soon as we sold them using a fraudulent sale’s pitch. There were four salesmen their putting on rather a fraudulent sales pitch. But I got to meet and date girls like Barbie Benton (then Barbara Klein), get invited to Hollywood parties and get paid for having fun, so the crime of deceit didn’t matter to a 23-year old. One of the other three salesmen turned out to be the irony…a young man my age from a small Texas town (Copeville) named Charles Watson. He became my closest friend that summer. He was so conservative, always wearing suits with thin ties, it seemed we all had a goal to awaken him to Hollywood vices and teach him the 60’s mantra of Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll.
When the fall came I left for Law school from which by the late seventies I would become a public expert on cults and violence, possibly the top expert ever on a small group that lived on the that would adopt a strange philosophy known as Helter Skelter.. But it wouldn’t be until the mid-1980s that I discovered that Charles Watson after we departed became a member of this “family” living at the Spahn Ranch in the desert. The head of that family– Charles Manson– renamed him “Tex,”– as most cults rename as part of establishing new identities–and in the summer of love, 1969, he taught his followers the Beatle’s White Album carried messages of starting a “Revolution.” Other songs were “Happiness is a Warm gun,” “Arise” “Black Bird”.
Manson taught that one day blacks would defeat whites in a civil war but realizing they couldn’t rule themselves they would turn to Manson for leadership. Manson said the Beatles album was a message the time was now. They needed to jump start the civil war by doing crimes that whites would blame on “blackie.” Manson didn’t believe any of what he preached. He was torn because he thought the Beach Boys would get him a singing contract and he would finally become a part of society that had rejected him all his life. When it became clear that no contract was coming he used to fake philosophy to move brainwashed followers to carry out hits on a home he believed Terry Melcher (son of Doris Day), a music producer who had turned him down, lived in.
Watson was ordered to accomplish Manson’s revenge and he led female followers into the former Melcher house on Ciela Dr. off Beverly Glen to kill all occupants, which included 60’s icon actress Sharon Tate and several famous friends, then perhaps the most notorious cult crime of the 20th century. Another home was hit the next day; and Watson and Manson led the killing ot the La Biancas. Manson in fact had attended a party at the house next door some time earlier and most certainly was jealous of the middle class life he was witnessing. Now his memory just selected the wrong house.
I had never recognized Watson when he was arrested because of the new beard and name change. I never knew him as “Tex” and Watson was a common name…
We were the first class in the now USC Law school building. The first-year of Law school is hard. There is little feedback before finals and you are constantly reminded that many Law students will fail and be gone. But who cared when you could walk across that campus and/or sit in front of Tommy Trojan and watch your friends, players and beautiful girls walk by. I sat there a lot with my good friend Terrel Ray, now a football coach at USC. I got a fall job writing for the Pigskin Review which kept me around the football team.
Led by Simpson Troy made numerous fourth quarter comebacks—“The Cardiac Kids”– and was ranked number one until the final game where Notre Dame stopped O J. and took a 21 to 7 lead into the second half. USC battled back and late in the fourth quarter Sam Dickerson ran into the northeast corner of the Coliseum, a place that would become quite familiar to him, to catch the long tying pass from quarterback Steve Sogge. But ties still hurt. Ohio State was now No.1 and it seemed unfair that the final voting for National Title was before the bowl games since the Trojans were going to face the Buckeye’s on New Year’s Day. But OSU, woken up by a great Simpson 80- yard touchdown run, won convincingly ending the controversy.
1969 was marked by by the descried Manson’s Helter Skelter and the hippie love-fest climaxing in Woodstock. And for the third straight year Troy was in the national title hunt. O.J. was gone but his replacement Clarence Davis was himself a future pro. And the defense had a line that would become immortalized as the Wild Bunch– Jimmy Gunn, Charlie Weaver, Bubba Scott, Al Cowlings, and sub Tony Terry. The Trojans continued the fourth-quarter comebacks.
Unfortunately Notre Dame made a comeback of its own in South Bend and tied USC 14-14, costing a national championship for what was clearly the number one team. And stupidly it was after that game I ran by Mckay my great idea—take a photo for Pigskin Review of the Wild Bunch in the Coliseum wearing cowboy outfits with guns drawn. McKay nixed it saying, “They are football players not cowboys.” I mentioned the turn down to my friend Hal Lancaster who told it to sportswriter Steve Harvey who relayed it to Herald Examiner Sports Editior Bud Furillo. Bud liked the idea and asked McKay for permission for the same photo after a USC win and McKay, in a more jovial mood and forgetting I asked first, gave it. So I picked up the Examiner one day to see my idea and the now famous Wild Bunch cowboy photo. Every time it is shown on TV I cringe as it is credited to Furillo.
USC and UCLA played a classic for the Rose Bowl. Late in 4th quarter Dennis Dummit, despite an earlier near death blow by Charlie Weaver (some claim it was hardest tackle ever) passed the Bruins into a lead. There was just time left for one Trojan drive against the clock, one saved by a UCLA 4th down pass interference. On the next play, Jimmy Jones, who had been so inaccurate one wondered if he could complete a hand-off, threw it in the direction of that N.E corner that belonged to Dickerson. Sam, in fact, was running along the back line when the ball came downwards and somehow he made the catch while dragging a foot in bounds. USC won 14-12 and the Wild Bunch snuffed Michigan, 10-3, in the Rose Bowl as Bob Chandler provided the only touchdown needed on a nifty catch and run. Undefeated, but tied, College Footballs’s best team finished No.2….
1970 marked the entry of some great sophomores but the team played under their potential the next 2 years with Jimmy Jones at QB. Still, l970 produced the infamous Alabama game where Davis came home to Alabama and Southern blacks came to Legion Field to cheer the men of Troy against an all white Southern team. It was truly the Day Old Dixie died. Not only did USC romp 42-21 but Tide Coach Paul Bear Byrant, legend has it, brought Sam Cunningham into the Bama dressing room afterwards to show what a real football player looked like. This game integrated southern football from that day forward. Arguably one of the most significant civil right events of the 20th century…
Law school was easy now and I opted for hanging in the grill more than going to class. I also wised up in l970 and did not ask McKay for permission for my next photo idea for Pigskin Review. Rather than risking finding him in a bad mood (which was not often but did happen) I took Sam Dickerson in street clothes to the N.E. end zone corner and sat him in a rocking chair reading a book. Next to him I placed a floor Lamp and other home furniture. The title of the pix: “Sam’s Corner.” But it never obtained the fame the “Wild Bunch” photo did.
I and nine other law classmates entered the USC basketball intramural league. We played against each other hard a lot up in the gym and came together as late bloomers. We beat the dental school, the business school and some frat teams. I fronted former all pro tight end Bob Klein in a zone and guarded All American safety Sandy Durko. In the finals, down by one, I charged the boards thinking our best player, Wally Rosevall, was taking the shot. Instead he hit me with a perfect bounce pass and for one moment I knew what it was like to be a Trojan and see my name in the Daily Trojan.
1970 was the year of Kent State tragedy (national guard opened fire on college student protesters of the Vietnam War killing and wounding many) and my law school class marched to City Hall in protest. I spent the summer hitching in Europe and attended the Ilse of White Rock Festival, the son of Woodstock and the site of Jimmy Hendrix last performance…
Still it was good to see Tommy Trojan for one last year. My best friend in law, Steve Brandt, took me to a UCLA volleyball match. I was awed seeing Bruin star Kirk Kilgore play and I took up beach volleyball. I was never a gifted athlete but I like to think I played like a Trojan. Eventually I won a couple of tournaments (B class). Ironically, much later Kilgore became my friend. He was then a paraplegic from a summersault accident. He would sit by the court and watch us play.
I became a public defender in l971. My father died in l972 at work. When the fall came I regretted that he—the man who introduced me to the passion—did not share with me the l972 Trojans. USC became again my solace as I watched the greatest college football team of all time: Mike Rae, Sam Bam, AD, Lynn Swann, Charles Young, an all-pro to be offensive line and the fastest defense (until maybe this year) let by Richard Batman Wood, Dale Mitchell, James Simms, Artimus Parker, Charlie Philips. They had more turnovers as a team in USC history. Only Stanford came within 10 points. After the opening upset wipeout at Arkansas, Sports Illustrated wrote that a “Sleeping Giant had awoken.” The Bruins Blair Pair were shut down. ND started a comeback in the second half but Anthony Davis squelched it with his second kickoff TD run and six TD’s.
On New Year’s day, OSU’s Woody Hayes had to avoid eye contact with McKay during the Rose Bowl as Saint John kept trying to warn him that the next play Sam was going over the top. USC’s 42-14 blow out was similar to rout over OU in Orange Bowl. It had been 7-7 at halftime. Undefeated and Crowned.
In Europe I had seen my first Border Collie and my classmate Kimie Moore got me one in l972. I have not been without one since. A battle I had with a particular judge led me to being locked me up for the day (see Pink Justice). I didn’t mind so much until she did the same without cause to a client. I ended up later testifying at her removal hearing. I sold my first article to a magazine, LA Times’West, about a murder of a public defender during a robbery at a Valley pub called Lola’s. My boss said I was history if I did not let PD’s office edit it first. I said, “sure” while thinking first time he reads the story is over Sunday coffee. West did a column on me for writing the story. A film option was sold but it was never made. But ask me what I remember about ’72 and I will say the same every time…the excitement of the team that never left any doubt each Saturday afternoon. 1972 was USC football. Total domination. Total Ecstasy.
I left the public defender’s in l973 not liking getting off guys I would rather put away in jail for a long time. I worked part time with my brother doing law and starting working on a story about beach singers Jan and Dean. Their career had ended when Jan Berry became crippled and suffered aphasia from an automobile accident. The story was about his road back. Dean Torrence, a Trojan alumni and equal USC fanatic, became a life long friend and we played a lot of volleyball together. I wrote a story for Los Angeles Magazine called “Anthony Davis, Superstar, Are you what they say you are?” The Trojans reached the Rose Bowl that year but did not win.
At age 29, in l974, I still didn’t know what I was going to do in life. But things were happening. Rolling Stone Magazine published my Jan and Dean Story and invited me to their San Francisco office for a party celebration. The story would have made the cover but President Nixon replaced it when Tricky Dick announced his resignation. A not yet 20 Patty Hearst was kidnapped in Berkeley by a bunch of brainwashed revolutionists left over from the 60’s; their leader Cinque DeFreeze being another version of Charles Manson, who liked to use women as his soldiers and said he would never be taken alive. On May 17, l974, DeFreeze got his martyr’s wish as more than 100 Los Angeles police officers surrounded an SLA safe house. He died in a hail of gunfire and tear gas. There would be no prisoners. As the house burned, SLA members chose to remain, and burned to death; only Defreeze shot himself in the head. The impact of this event on my life was still years away. I just read the news like everyone else and wondered if she was brainwashed or had voluntarily joined.
My life did have its changing moment in l974, however, in a phone call to my brother from a liquor store operator at Fifth and Main downtown that was forwarded to me. A skid row alcoholic named T.J. Renfroe was claiming he was being held prisoner is a mental ward nursing home in Burbank called Golden State Manor. A nurse there, Mary Williams, was giving credence to his claim. I didn’t take it seriously until the next day I read in the Times a pharmacist was arrested for hiring a hitman to knock off the administrator of Rancho Los Amigo Hospital because he was going to testify the pharmacist had tried to bribe him to refer long term patients to certain nursing homes. If that could happen, I decided to give nurse Mary Williams a call.
For a month I investigated, including going undercover to speak to one of the bad guys. The case I put together was that skid row alcoholics after being released from jail were being kidnapped and sold for $125 to a chain of nursing homes who would control them on thorzine while billing the state. Pharmacists and X-ray technicians were assigned to treat, bill the state, and kick back to the homes. When I went to the authorities by then I had copies of the checks to the caper. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors launched the largest investigation of its time into the nursing home industry and I began my 15 minutes of fame. But also I received my first telephone threats on my life. Rumors had it at least one bad guy was connected to a Philippine Mafia.
But these were not the biggest stories to me of l974. The Seniors on the USC football team and games they played held that honor in my eyes. The Seniors became the first players in USC modern history to win two national championships. 1974 was done the hard way, losing an opener to Arkansas and latter being tied. But USC built momentum and then played back to back two of the greatest games in USC history. In the season final l974 against Norte Dame USC was down 24-6 at halftime. And the Irish had the No.1 defense in the country. At halftime I told my brother the only way USC wins is if Anthony Davis returns 2nd half kickoff for Touchdown (he had returned two against Irish 2 years earlier) and the Irish fumble the ensuing kickoff. As the world then knew and still does, Anthony Davis in the Coliseum’s most memorial moment did return the kick-off all-the-way. ND did not fumble the next kickoff but the runner was cut in half by Davis Lewis’s emotional special team hit on the 7 yard line. The crowd went crazy. Adrenalin was pumping. And I turned to my brother with a smile and said, “that’s close enough.” From that point USC’s defense, overwhelmed the Irish, special teams came alive, and every pass Pat Haden threw J.K. McKay caught and seemingly every other AD run ended in a score. Charles Phillips interception-touchdown run made it 49 points in a little over 15 second half minutes against the nation’s top rated defense. I became so hoarse from cheering my voice did not return for 3 weeks.
Like in the BCS Oklahoma game, USC had time to score and then score still more but McKay took out the starters. When Haden, J.K. and Davis left the Coliseum field for their last time they were hugged by McKay in a rare show of on field emotion, the coach saying, “No guys ever played greater here than you.” The agony of 55-24 caused legendary Irish coach Ara Parseghian to announce his retirement from ND or he might have continued to coach forever ala Joe Paterno. On the way out, Parseghian left USC a going away gift, upsetting No.1 Alabama in its bowl game. That left the NC title up for grabs in the Rose Bowl.
Sports Illustrated later listed the 1975 Rose Bowl as USC’s No. 2 greatest game (67 Bruin game was first). This was clearly dramatic. Davis was out playing OSU’s two time Heisman winner Archie Griffen until Anthony got hurt. Allen Carter came off the Trojan bench and he, too, ran better than Archie. But mistakes had USC down 17-10 with time left for just one drive. Using consistent 5-to 7 yard running plays USC crossed midfield and then Haden crossed the Buckeyes on first down launching his last pass to his best friend J.K. It was also, some say, the most accurate pass in Trojan Lore. McKay hauled it in in the end zone and fans mobbed him. Once more his father declined a tie and gambled on the win (there were no overtimes then)—this time the stakes of one 3-yard play being a national title. Haden rolled to his right looking for McKay and then was rushed. Pat jumped to get the pass away and in the end zone Shelton Diggs grabbed it just before it hit the grass.
With this kind of excitement it was hard to get real excited over a few death threats in my personal life.
In l975 I was occupied with my lawsuit representing 9 skid row alcoholics and published another magazine article, this one about a police lab technician who manufactured evidence against those he believed were guilty. Again I sold a film option. On the field McKay proved genius again moving Ricky Bell from fullback to tailback and USC was 7-0 before St. John announced he was departing for Tampa Bay and pro football. The team, heartbroken, as was I and the fans, lost the next five games.
In September of 1975, Patty Hearst, having been chauffeured for awhile by Bill Walton, was arrested by the FBI, defiantly giving a clenched-fist salute to the media and describing herself on the booking report as an “urban guerrilla.” 68% of those surveyed about Hearst believed she should be sent to prison; two-thirds thought she joined the SLA voluntarily and half thought the kidnapping was a fake. A jury would eventually find her guilty. Few understood brainwashing, especially its ability to create a “crusading terrorist.” I was two years away from having that expertise.
1976 held change for me. After a month of trial the nursing home cases settled and I purchased my first home in Pacific Palisades. T.J. Renfroe died and his picture appeared on the front page of the L.A. Times as the skid row alcoholic who launched the largest investigation every into nursing homes. I helped the District Attorney’s office start a nursing home task force. On television I heard Olivia Newton John sing “I honestly love you” and in return I became “Hopelessly Devoted” to her, naming a border collie after her. On the field this was another year of near miss. John Robinson lost his first game in the opener to Missouri. But led by Bell and QB Vince Evans the best team in the country never lost again, but finished only No. 2. The seventies would bring 3 NCs and two runner-up teams that should have been NC. Also the 69 Wild Bunch (a No. 2) was the best team. But voters look at undefeateds first, rather than schedule or team play. Two USC teams were marred by a tie. USC should have had 6 NC titles in 11 years.
In 1977 CBS bought Jan and Dean story and I got to write story and first treatment. I met a woman, Trudy McLean, and it seemed I would turn into a family man with her two kids in the package. But then a man’s wife who was having mental problems was steered into Synanon which shaved her long hair bald, locked her in room, sent her to their Marin County facility and would not let her husband speak to her. About a week later someone told the husband, “I had a guy living next to me who got all these skid row alcoholics out of nursing homes…he ought to be able to get your wife out of Synanon.”
I did get her out and she was so messed up from attempted brainwashing that she became psychotic and hospitalized. Other Synanon cases quickly followed. People had been afraid to speak out but now had found someone who would listen. I had thought the nursing home case and been my aberration and gift to legal profession; that now I would write and practice normal law. Crusading was over. But before this year ended, I made a different choice. Cults had become a major problem in the 70’s post revolutionary 60’s. Only a few were trying to do anything about it or explain what brainwashing was and how it leads to terrorism. I left writing and normal law. I committed to fighting cults. And it would be 22 years before I came back from the wars.
To explain Synanon in a few paragraphs is impossible. Think of the book “Animal Farm.” It grew out of founder Charles E. Dederich’s alcoholism. Dederich became a fanatical believer in Alcoholics Anonymous. The insights he believed he gained during a 1956 UCLA experiment on the effects of LSD on alcoholics transformed his AA sermons into intricate psychological and philosophical analysis. He developed his own following and started a storefront club in seedy Ocean Park. Early on, the process fascinated the media and politicians. It was the first ever successful self-help drug rehab. One congressman called Synanon the “Miracle on the Beach.” Synanon grew in wealth and political influence. But after Dederich moved his operations to Northern California building two Synanon cities, he began subjecting followers to 48-hour “training sessions” designed to make the participants break emotionally and see Synanon and Dederich as their savior. Some experts warned Synanon’s brainwashing techniques only traded one addiction for another and something scary would emerge. Dederich ultimately experimented with his followers, ordering abortions, mass vasectomies and marital changing partners after his own wife died and he interviewed for her replacement.
As the group grew more insular, it grew more violent. Dederich converted his best men into “Imperial Marines” at an Al Qaeda-like training camp hidden away in Depot Flats, Visalia, eventually dispatching them on coast-to-coast “missions” against perceived enemies to teach them and everyone else not to “Mess with Synanon.” Before the year was out I knew all this and that I had unwittingly entered this world, became enemy No.1 and passed the point of no return.
The football field was a year away from providing the relief I needed. 1977 was another under achieving season. Down by 15 to Alabama USC’s Rob Hertel drove the Trojans twice to scores in final minutes but converted only the first 2-point conversion. But relief from Synanon for me did come when George Achica blocked UCLA’s final field goal attempt giving Troy the win.
But there was more cult evil in the wind. James (Jim) Warren Jones, born in 1931, started his church, The Wings of Deliverance in l955 in Indianapolis, later changing the name to the more descriptive People’s Temple. He preached a combination of theology, socialism and communism. In l965, convinced a thermonuclear war was inevitable, Jones brought his racially mixed flock of the poor and working class by bus to Ukiah, California, believing it to be safe from fallout. Once on the west coast, where new religions flourished, he was able to recruit more affluent professionals as followers. Rich and poor alike, they all called him “Father.”
A master manipulator, he raised an average of $250,000 a month, including $60,000 from social security checks and members’ cashed-in estates, using a variety of means to tap people’s emotions and their pocketbooks.
In 1977 Jim Jones moved his followers from San Francisco to a 27,000 acre commune in the South American jungles of Guyana. Jones was copulating with many women and claimed the son of his personal lawyer, Tim Stoen, was his. Stoen left as his did his wife Grace and sued and won custody of 5 year old John Victor; but Jones took the boy to Guyana. In the Jungle Jones practiced “White Nights” a group suicide by taking cyanide in cool aids. He warned Guyana if officials came after the boy all would die. Stories began to filter back to the United States that Jones had become a dictator brainwashing his followers and treating them like slaves. Stoen and I became friends, comparing Dederich and Jones and vowing to help each other. Stoen would find his son dead in the jungle. I ended up representing families of victims against the estate of the People’s Temple.
1978 was a capsule of my life. My 15 minutes of fame gained 356 more days. “Dead Man’s Curve” appeared on TV as the CBS Friday Movie of the week and the Jan and Dean story was a much considered success. Trudy held a big dinner to honor its debut and it appeared I was getting married. When I got access I tried to convince producers to do a story on cults but few paid attention to what I was saying, wondering if I had been playing to much volleyball in the sun.
Werner Erhard and est descended up on a small hispanic town named Parlier, near Fresno, to “train” all for free. The local mayor had “got it” in San Francisco and invited Erhard and trainers to “free” the community. But this was a religious farming town, not into head trips. The “underground” invited me and another expert to Parlier to explain brainwashing and give Erhard’s background as a con. Before est was driven out, I heard a trainer mention a contract to do the Los Angeles Police Department for free. I came back and contacted Police Chief Bill Gates who issued a disclaimer after I spoke, noting the police union was doing this not the department. I went after the union, backed by PDID (Police Department Intelligence Division) and convinced them to stop the free est training after one program got through. To many Police Officers I was now a hero.
Synanon, now with 30 million in assets, went deeper into the abyss. A man would not apologize for an almost car accident so they came to him home and gun-whipped him in front of his family frozen by rifles in their faces. A former member visited with his new wife but had no invite. He was tied to a pole and beaten; accused of being a spy. Two surfer kids woke up in Synanon parking lot in their van and were beaten. The same day a group of blacks driving around the area were attacked by a Synanon mob. Children ran away into the night and a farmer who helped get them home had his vehicle, with he and family in it, smashed into a ravine by a Synanon truck and the rancher was beaten. At what is now the Del Mar Club in Santa Monica trespassers were taken to the basement and beat up. All this was on orders from the leaders. Particularly the Founder, Charles Dederich. And in l978 Synanon purchased $307,000 worth of weapons, including armor piercing bullets.
In September members of the Synanon Imperial Marines attacked Phil Ritter with clubs in Berkeley. Ritter was trying to get his child away and had gone to the police about forced vasectomies. Only the screaming of a passer-by saved Ritter’s life. Next I received inside information that Dederich was on the “wire—Big Brother like—24 hour broadcasting system demanding I be next and giving out my address. That summer I had gotten 3 minors out of Synanon in an operation that had their San Francisco house surrounded by 17 police cars and officers with guns drawn. By the end of summer I lobbied to defeat a bill that would free Synanon from licensing laws. “When is someone going to be brave enough to get Morantz” was the wire call. And at one point a hit man was priced at $10,000. Fortunately Dederich decided they should save the money and do it themselves, proclaiming that’s what the Imperial Marines were trained for.
I purchased a shotgun to lie by my bed and searched under my car at all times. PDID told me to get a gun for my car even though that is against the law. I didn’t want something resembling an accident. I wanted to face it. If I went down I wanted to take a few with me…sort of the Trojan way.
I escaped to Hawaii for some fun and met lifelong friends Shawn DeMille (another volleyball player) and a co-ed tennis player from WSU, Anne Southerend. Coming home my mind was not so much watching for gun shots through the window as my eyes were glued to USC facing No. 1 Alabama, everyone’s favorite. But USC’s defense, with Ronnie Lott, didn’t let the Tide out and Charlie White ran for l99 yards and Paul McDonald ran a complicated offense without error. Final was 24-17 and but the game not that close. I celebrated very much unlike a person supposedly fearing for his life. This was truly great.
On October 10 I left a meeting with LAPD and AG threat analysis asking for bodyguards. When I returned home all I could think about was watching Dodgers-Yankees World Series. This was the real Dodgers—Lopes, Garvey, Russell, Penguin, Baker, et.al. But I never saw the opening pitch. I reached for my mail inside my wall mail shute and felt something scaly and as I pulled it out I felt something sharp go into my left wrist.
I dropped the item to the floor– A four and ½ foot rattlesnake with its rattles removed so I could not hear it. I had screamed and my border collies outside, Tommy and Devon, were heading full steam back to the house. The snake recoiled between me and the front door. I approached it slowly, reached over and slammed the front door before the dogs entered and engaged it.
When I awoke the next day in the hospital after many vials of anti-venom I found my whole left hand and arm swollen and blistered. A PDID officer was by my bed side, as well as Trudy, and he promised me they would get them. I was shown the newspaper headlines, such as “Rattler Death Trap” and I knew my 15 minutes received another extension.
But worse came. The next Saturday from my hospital bed I watched USC vs. Arizona State. The Wildcats played good, but USC was down to 3rd string center and he kept losing the snap. After the third fumble and defeat inevitable I called out only half-jokingly to the nurse for some morphine.
When I came home, Connie Chung came out of my house to greet me. Channel 7 filmed me for what would be broadcast as a 5 night special interview on Cults and terrorism. I explained brainwashing, how polarization breeds crusading terrorists, and argued there was no reason to keep Patty Hearst or Leslie Van Houton in jail further. It was a coup for ABC because it was shown just after the November mass suicide and murder of 950 People Temples members at direction of Jim Jones.
Arrests were made of Lance Kenton (son of famed band leader Stan Kenton, and Joe Musico, both Synanon Marines, and a police raid on Synanon (with warrant) turned up evidence that led to arrest of Charles Dederich.
Twice I lived under protection of LA Sheriffs. But I believed Synanon took its shot, failed and as now it was all over the media a return performance was not likely. The District Attorney office was on them, the Attorney General office got a State-wide task Synanon task force formed. But at a New Year’s party I walked outside and thought how many years more will I have to fight them? Will we get evidence to prove who in Synanon did it? I cried for myself. Then I shrugged. This is who I am. I went back inside the party.
What I needed was something to lift my spirits, to make me smile and fight on. And as usually in my life, USC answered the call. Fellow Trojan Dean Torrence presented me with art of his as I left the hospital: A giant snake asking me how my day was and did I want to see my mail. But a better gift from Dean were good tickets to the season finale against Notre Dame. I attended with my arm still in a sling.
When it comes to the great games, this one somehow gets missed in Trojan lore. Arguably it was the Greatest USC game of all time. Since all the best programs managed one loss this game was for the title. The Trojans led by White and McDonald cruised to a 17 point lead in the 4th quarter. But then it happened. I was glad to be there and actually see it live; a Joe Montana comeback is more wondrous when you are there than watching on TV. In these magical games Joe is so-so until his team is far behind and a light pops up in Joe telling him if he completes all his remaining passes there is just enough time to take the lead as time runs out. The team understands that look on his face and rallies. A couple blinks of the eyes and Notre Dame scored 18 straight points and were celebrating as the clock showed just 55 seconds left. Paul McDonald took the field, now obligated to imitate Joe and he did, guiding the Trojans down field; hitting one beautiful long pass to Irish 30. Two running plays and two time outs set up Frank Jordan. As the gun sounds it is USC 27, ND 25. Synanon seemed a long ways away.
The National Champion was well needed. Not only did I have to deal with Synanon, but on November of l978 Congressman Leo Ryan came to Jonestown with an entourage to inspect the treatment of People Temple followers. Not understanding the psychopathic nature of Jim Jones he made two mistakes. First, he brought the media with him. Second he agreed to take some members out. Jones knew the deserters would tell all to the press so Jones mounted an assault on the departing plane, killing Ryan and three newsmen and wounding six others. But for my arm in a sling I might have been there. Two newsman at my hospital press conference who had listened to my speech that more cult violence was coming died there.
That night, Jones urged his flock, as they had practiced, to drink cyanide-laced cool-aid rather than be “herded into prison camps by the government forces that would surely follow.” He taped the grisly mass suicide that followed convinced history would support him. .
On one tape, a father says “no” to ending his daughter’s life. But when it is recounted the terrible things the enemy would do to her, the man acquiesces, as the flock applauds. “Mothers, you must keep your children under control,” Jones later shouts, amid a tumult of shrieks and gun shots, as the unwilling die with the willing. “They must die with dignity.”
I went to Hawaii in Decemeber of l978 to get away from it all, relax and see USC play the Rainbows. McDonald was out of the game and the local refs tried to give Hawaii the game, but USC prevailed. There, I saw on TV there the arrest of Dederich. I returned to protection of the Sheriffs. But relief came New Year’s day.
USC solidified its title with a 17-10 win in the Rose Bowl over Michigan. Forget the complaints over Charles White’s “Phantom touchdown.” Troy was in control of this game and had it needed more points it would have got them. USC’s D-line was faster than Wolverine running backs and USC played conservatively. It was the Trojans 5th title since l962 with many runner-ups. What I never would have then guessed, however, was how long it would take before another title was won.
The Agony and the Ecstasy Part 3 1979-1990
The acts of Synanon and the People’s Temple woke up the press to the issue of brainwashing. By 1979 the climate had now changed and on February 1 Patty Hearst was released from prison by Jimmy Carter. No other than John Wayne, himself, busted her out. “If the public can accept that one man brainwashed nine hundred people to kill themselves in Jonestown,” said the Duke, “then it should be able to accept that the SLA could brainwash one little girl.”
My legal matters with Synanon, however, dragged on for years. I was put on a lecture tour around the United States. I always pointed out that I, too, belonged to a cult. Every Saturday, I said, we dressed in Cardinal and Gold and went to our cathedral (Coliseum) to chant “stop them” “fumble.” When asked how to know when you are in a cult I said count the number of Hollywood stars in it. If you get past 5 you are in one. And this was before Tom Cruise.
Several times I went to Sacramento in support of or against bills involving liability or government action involving religions and charities. I helped write a bill requiring a showing of good cause to sue same for punitive damages. I also became a pioneer in establishing right to sue psychotherapist who had sex with patients.
For fun, however it was watching the quest for back-to-back titles. USC had an unstoppable offense with McDonald, White, Garcia, but defense not quite as good as in l978. Still they were No. 1 until Stanford. The Trojans built a commanding, 21-0 halftime lead against Stanford and a freshman quarterback named Elway. At half-time I ran into Lance Spiegel who said he was still worried about this game. I was not. But in second half Elway was unceremoniously replaced by a senior benchwarmer. Their defense rose up to stop White, the sub caught fire and Stanford salvaged an unlikely tie, 21-21. On Stanford’s last drive it had a fourth and one and a pinned for a loss back escaped to make the first by an inch or two, the distance that prevented back-to-back in an era that had no overtimes and some coaches played for a tie. 28 years later Stanford would stop another title run.
Alabama—who Troy demolished the prior season—went undefeated. The tie was what counted to pollsters, despite Troy’s come-from-behind 1980 Rose Bowl win over Woody Hayes’ Ohio State Buckeyes in one of all-time great games. Trailing 16-10 and with time for only one last drive, USC marched from its own 17 yard line down with two long Charles White runs behind an offensive line led by future all-pros Brad Budde and Anthony Munoz into Buckeye territory. After a short breather, and Marcus Allen moving the chains, White came back on the field, waving his finger in the air a la Joe Namath . First an incredible twisting and charging run of about 7 yards to the one. From there he leaped the final yard for the winning score.
The US would pull off Miracle on Ice in l980 which was too be matched by sadness over John Lennon assassination. But as far as I was concerned the best thing that happened that year was on it’s first day.
In two years, the McDonald-led Trojans had suffered just one loss and a tie, the latter being all that separated it from USC’s recent accomplishment. Ironically, despite USC’s rolling over the Tide in front of a national TV audience the prior year, Alabama got a back-to-back title, sharing 78 with USC. Troy was clearly the best team both years.
Fortunately for me justice was more kind in l980 then it was to USC players who spirit had kept me going the last two years while I had faced such an overwhelming fight to stay alive and prove Synanon guilty. Synanon members were trying to intimidate me by parking a vehicle outside my home, sending followers to homes of my friends, and brother—sticking microphones up to his kids faces. The wife of Imperial Marine leader, Dr. Doug Robson (now practicing in Seattle), went to a neighbor of my mother and asked questions in order to let me know the marines knew where my mother lived. But by summer Synanon knew we had them. The Founder, Dederich, and his two marines pled to charges. Not long after the Foundation settled with me out of court. I didn’t stop there and continued right on after Synanon taking on a rancher’s family case in Visalia. The good Dr. Robson it seems had sent a Synanon group to beat a man, Ron Eidson, with gun butts while his family was held at gun point. He was hospitalized. I also took a case of Dan Ross who Synanon took his home for promise of permanent care and then physically tossed him on the street for not paying more. Trudy, sadly departed. She said she loved me but could not live this way.
The 1980’s are often seen by historians as a down time for USC. But it was not so. While they won no NC titles they dominated Pac-10 and they were in the hunt. Three times they finished in the top ten and six times in the top 20. They went to Rose Bowl 3 straight years with a total of 4 appearances.
1980, however, was not a good start. It came down to one last pass play by the Bruins and Jeff Fisher had an easy pass deflection. But he tipped the pass up and it was caught for a Bruin 20 -17 victory. In 1981 USC blazed in September, making a great late pair of TD’s to defeat No. 2 Oklahoma 28-24 before upset itself by Arizona. UCLA fail short 22-21 highlighting perhaps the greatest season any running back ever had in college football. Heisman winner, Marcus Allen set 14 NCAA records and tied two others, including most yards rushing in a single season (2,432), highest per-game average (212.9), most 200-yard games in a career (11), most 200-yard games in a season (8) and most 200-yard games in a row (5). He was the first in college ball to gain more than 2,000 yards in a season. Allen also led the Trojans in receiving with 30 and 34 catches in each of his last two seasons. His all-purpose yards total in 1981 of 2,550 is still a Pac 10 record.
In l982 my last two cases with Synanon ended. Then I was asked to help victims of an unlawful detainer action—Synanon style—they were evicted by being thrown off the balcony with their clothes.
Around that time I took on a new cult case against a Hollywood commune predicated on it seemed Synanon’s brainwashing techniques, the Center For Feeling Therapy. While it never developed Synanon’s hit force, it internally applied “sluggo” on its members. The “Founders,” who broke away from Art Janov’s Primal Scream promised a six to eight months cure, but many of those at the end had been there for 8 to 9 years. Like Synanon, leaving was discouraged because for the therapy to be successful they had to live with people practicing the therapy. And like Synanon, it used horrible punishments and humiliations to control behavior. Verbally a woman was made to moo like a cow in group, a man to sleep in a crib and in a diaper, and a woman resisting an ordered abortion to carry a doll with weights around its legs. Some patients who tried to leave were tackled and brought back. Therapist routinely struck patients, and patients were then taught to strike other patients who were suspected of having negative thoughts. Verbally berating a person in front of others, called a “haircut” in Synanon was called a “bust” at the center. All therapists intermarried, but no patient married or had a child. Therapist routinely had sex with patients.
The “Doctors” (which included not properly licensed individuals) lived in a row of houses with fences removed called the “compound” while patients were ordered to live in surrounding apartment units. Eventually Patients could date only other patients, and even then, their mates often selected by the therapists. Permission was needed to break up. The center taught that all people were harmed by not being able to live by their true feelings, starting with being told “no” as children by their parents.
The two leaders, Richard “Riggs” Corriere and Joe Hart called themselves the Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid of psychotherapy and appeared on Giraldo Rivera and Johnny Carson. Their poster, ala Wild Bunch photo, had them in Western gear jumping over a tombstone of Freud. They told the world that their system could make their patients believe anything, including that Atlantis was rising from the sea. Further, their system in the wrong hands would be like a buzz saw cutting off hands and feet, only the damage would be mental. The center created businesses that employed patients at cheap wages. Other patients ran businesses, were paid consulting fees to a center aided business Patients were required to refer new patients and to hand out cards in the street promoting blocks written by the leaders.
The Center presumed the living from feelings would always lead to the proper act, as did Maslow’s Human Potential Movement which presumed all humans were at the inner core good anchor death self actualize to better person by a search for their true selfs. Thus is explained an audio tape wherein a therapists strikes a patient across the face. The therapists did not like the responses and believed to not show his true feelings (striking) would disorder himself. This Therapist was also on staff at USC at the time. The Center plan was to gross $1 billion a year by making therapists out of patients and opening clinics across the country. The patient – therapists were paid low wages, forced to donate long hours and could be punished or fined for losing a patient or not reaching recruitment quotas. Patients in therapy were convinced to enhance their lives to bring their friends to therapy when in reality the delay was to convince the friends to join. Those clinic patients most suitable would be funneled to the Center.
I represented approximately 40 patients and litigation and also voluntarily assisted the Attorney General’s office in the longest license removal proceedings in history of California. I reviewed over 200 Banker boxes of documents, speeches, therapist written articles and books, and listened to over 100 Center related tape recordings. The case extended 5 years and I appeared at around 200 days of deposition, preparing by night. Ultimately many called the Center the worst therapy scandal in United States history.
ABC had commissioned a two part TV mini-series on my fight against Synanon. After the script was finished, citing fear of the organization, the project now halted after over a year of work. ABC actually made a secret pay-off to Synanon to avoid legal defense costs. The discovery ABC could do that to an organization that engaged in around 40 violent encounters and almost killed 3 (myself included) was beyond belief. I could understand Synanon, but not ABC. An irony was that two ABC lawyers, Bob Fremlin and Chris Brown, in other litigation, had done at least as much as me to uncover evidence that revealed the conspiracy behind those Santa Monica brick walls.
It had seemed the ABC payoff and refueled Synanon and all were now back in danger. In l982 I got a call from the Justice Department. Two attorneys were now assigned to investigate bringing an action against Synanon for back taxes based on charitable trust assets being distributed to the leaders. They knew little else but someone suggested they call me. My response typified my 5-years of waiting for just such a call: “Where the F…, have you guys been?”
Soon I was on a plane to Virginia, hired on what was to be a landmark case in the history of United States tax law. The government took the position that Synanon’s reign of terror was violation of public policy and therefore it was not entitled to tax free status. The case was won on summary judgment, and like Al Capone, Synanon was taxed retroactively with interest and penalties. Synanon fought the decision and the assessment in the appellate courts for most of the decade.
l984 brought the best relief from the Feeling Therapy litigation. Led by All American offensive line members Don Mosebar, Bruce Mathews, Tony Slaton , QB Tim Green and linebackers Jack Del Rio and Duane Bickett USC returned to the Rose Bowl and stopped OSU and Keith Byers, 20-17. 1985 brought delight when freshman Rodney Peete made his first start and led the upset over the Bruins, 17-13.
I married in l984 and had a son, Chaz, in l985. The book l984 was noted by the media which announced the year had passed and all was safe. I was a dissenter. I knew I had already seen it on the beaches of Santa Monica. Also, I had been litigating with Bagwhan Rajneesh and his orange follwers. Based on listening to public relation speeches of Ma Anan Sheela in l984, I warned authorities and the media that Rajneesh had entered the “we vs. them” phase and that violence was coming. Two weeks later it was discovered Rajneesh had spiked salad bars at 10 restaurants in Oregon with Salmonella Typhimurium.
Five years of working around the clock on the Center of Feeling Therapy came to end in 1986. I then assisted pro bono several of the Attorney general’s proceedings to remove the licenses of the therapists who participated. I also became involved with new cases with Krishna, Scientology, another “Center” using unlicensed and licensed therapists that “brainwashed” to take advantage of its patients as well as various cases against the Gurus of the moment. I also started pro bono the most important case of my career against the Unification Church (Moonies).
Two college graduates each separately had arrived in San Francisco by bus.
They claimed they had been lied to in order to encourage their going to Boonsville where they unwittingly participated in confession groups. Among the lies was the representation that the solicitors were not Moonies and that the Boonsville camp was not religiously based. The concept of lying was called by the Moonies “Heavenly Deception” which meant it was approved to lie in furtherance of God. The students ended up on the street selling flowers and were kidnapped and deprogrammed by their parents. Eventually they sued the Moonies but the lower courts dismissed claiming a charge of “brainwashing” violated first amendment protection. Seeing my career at possible end I voluntarily joined the plaintiffs and sought a hearing in the California Supreme Court.
As always, the best way to handle this stress, of course, was to watch USC football. In1987 Peete again led an upset over what might have been UCLA’s all time team: Troy Aikman, Gaston Green, Flipper Anderson, and current USC coach Ken Norton who would go on to lead Dallas Cowboys, etc. Despite outplaying the Bruins the first half, USC blew scoring opportunities and suffered turnovers and penalties, frustrating enough that I finally threw the remote at the TV screen. USC was down 10-0 as the half was ending but again on the edge of the Bruin goal line with time for one more play. Only Peete’s pass was intercepted. Worse it appeared the Bruin was on the way to score when Rodney, in one of USC’s all time great plays ran him down from behind on about the Trojan 20. Fortunately this chase had left the referees far behind and they did not see that Rodney made the tackle by grabbing the face mask which would have given UCLA one play from inside 10 yard line. Inspired, and led by acrobatic catches by Jeff Afholter USC triumphed on Afholter’s famous circus catch in back of Bruin end zone. The upset put USC in the Rose Bowl. I felt like a kid again.
1988 for me had highs and lows. I participated in arguments in Molko, my only time in front of the Supreme Court and the high court issued a landmark decision against the Moonies ruling brainwashing existed, had no first amendment protection and a victim could sue for compensatory and punitive damages. This was the highlight moment of my career and my true legacy. From that day forward it seemed less such cases occurred. Deterrence can work.
In l988 I took on Christian sect run by Dr. John Gottuso who’s theory– Psytheosynthesis (“PTS”) was a merger of therapy and Christianity. Gottuso taught women they were sick and not good Christians because Christ did not allow them the sex they lusted. He preached that sex was really no big deal, you could have it with anyone, including males other than spouse, as long as you did not turn sex into idolatry (as in worshipping an idol before Christ). Of course, John would help them with this. He also taught women to be servants of their mates and that males should exercise this dominance. I represented six women who sued him. 13 testified at his therapy license removal.
My marriage ended in l988. The best way I can describe it is the last words she said going out the door was “I hope USC loses every game this year.” Never marry a Bruin. Unless she was Sharon Gribow.
USC responded to my ex by going undefeated after 9 games. The last being a mugging at the Rose Bowl of another great Bruin team. Aikman returned along with Matt Darby, Charles Arbuckle, Carnell Lake and the infamous Daryl Henley. During the week a Trojan victory didn’t seem likely as Peete spent his days and nights in the hospital treated for the measles. But the first time the offense took the field the Trojan fans roared as Peete took the field. His passing and leadership led the way. And on a crucial 4th and one he was stopped only to spin away, get to the outside, dive for it and just make it. Aikman has Super Bowl rings, but he never beat Peete and USC.
But the dream of another NC faded away in the season’s final, No.1 vs. No. 2, USC vs. Notre Dame at the Coliseum. USC outplayed the Irish on both offense and defense, but lost on critical turnovers. The worst came at the end of second half. Having scored to cut a 14-0 deficit to 14-7, USC was moving to tie when Peete through to a wide open John Jackson who then slipped and fell. The ball became a gift to a ND d-back who took it to the house. Troy never recovered. USC lost to Michigan in the Rose Bowl, after being up 13-0 at half. If USC had beaten ND it does not lose this game. The NC was lost against the Irish, one of the most agonizing losses in USC history.
1989 hopes of NC got hit in the opener. USC playing conservatively in Tod Marinovich’s first game led 10-0 late only for Jeff George lead Illinois back to win 14-13. USC led ND by 10 at halftime in South Bend, but a bad spot on a Marinovich pass completion on 3rd down in opening 2d half drive changed the game’s momentum. Todd had USC knocking on door in game’s end for winning TD but failed to bring it off. A miserable game against a poor Bruin team ended in a 10-10 tie. Still Todd’s 18-17 comeback against WSU in Spokane garnered a post game congratulations call from President Reagan and Marinovich took USC to a 17-10 Rose Bowl win over Michigan.
The Agony and the Ecstasy Part 4 1990-2007
In 1991 all appeals lost, all efforts to regain tax-free status or pay tax liens exhausted, the doors of Synanon finally closed forever, ending one of the unique historical chapters in United States history. Destroyed by arrogance, the grand daddy of all drug rehabs legacy still exists today as its brainwashing treatment discoveries are still applied in what is now the big and rich business of drug rehab. Six years later, Dederich, a dethroned king living alone with his prior appointed wife, died. A few years after that one of the two who had put the snake in my mailbox was murdered in a pimp-dope turf war. He was thrown off a roof top. The old Synanon building on the beach is now the Del Mar Bar and Hotel. It has a great pick up bar.
In 1993 the Federal siege of Branch Davidans ended up in death of around 80 including women and children lost in a fire. But my 15 minutes was officially over. For the first time no media or anyone else called for advice.
The Aum Shinrikyo sect in Japan in l995 released sarin nerve gas in Tokyo’s subway pursuant to a Manson-like con of bringing on a needed Armageddon, killing 12 and injuring thousands. An attorney investigating the group disappeared
In l996 new charges were made again against Gottuso, his school and followers. This time children claimed to have been touched as well as adults. Again I represented his victims. The case ended in a $3,250,000 settlement. I got an additional 5 minutes of Warhol’s fame.
In 1997 another cult mass suicide occurred. Followers of Heaven’s Gate’s founder Marshall Applewhite, were cajoled into drinking phenobarbitol-and-vodka cocktails per a sales pitch to “shed their containers” and rendezvous with UFOs. I heard of this group for the first time when a journalist called to advise and get my opinion. Profiling Applewhite was not difficult. When I was told male followers had castrated themselves I said to look for a sex-related event in Applewhite’s life that caused him trauma and from which the group came into existence. It turned out Applewhite had been a college professor but a homosexual affair got him fired and cost him his wife and children. From there he became a mental patient, met a nurse with whom he would form a sexless relationship and start Heaven’s Gate, claiming they (now called Do and Ti) came originally from another universe. Thus to follow his choice and rationalize it, followers renounced sex and 39 males submitted to castration. I told the journalist Appelwhite was not castrated and he was not.
As to the mass suicide, I said the space ship story was the sales pitch and Appelwhite did not believe it. I said he either had a life threatening illness or believed he had one. He wanted to go, so all must prove that this is right decision and follow. His believing he had a terminal illness turned out to be correct.
In l999 I filed a case against a self help guru who after sessions picked out female followers to be sent to his room to learn to be worthy of a man like him. Each victim did not know of his sexual use of the others.
I had gone now from a sightable celebrity, to “I have heard your name before,” to silence. But one day at a party I was sent on a liquor run. The man in the small store on Lincoln Blvd near Pico handed me back my credit card. “Your money is no good here, Paul,” the merchant said as he shoved across the counter my purchase into my hands and then pointed out the window at the tall red brick building on the street. It was the Del Mar hotel that in a previous life had a huge black and white Synanon sign on its roof. “You can come back and it will always be no charge…It was hell all those years,” the store operator said, “with those guys marching along the beach. You drove them off. We will never take your money here.”
The strength of USC in my life seemed to dissipate in the l990’s, known as USC’s dark ages. It is almost as if O.J.’s arrest in l994, whom was my friend and hero, cursed the decade. The 90’s started with the great shootout ending in a 45-42 Trojan win over the Bruins, due to two spectacular catches by freshman Dave Morton. The rest of the decade is highlighted by not much more than the Rose Bowl win over Northwestern in l996 and the ending of long and painful streaks. Qb Brad Otton and end Keyshawn Johnson starred in the Rose Bowl. Otton and Chad Morton gallantly led Trojans in l996 to a 27-20 overtime win ending Notre Dame’s 13 game winning streak over the Trojans. The UCLA winning streak stretched to 8 highlighted by Bruins upset of 1995 Pac ten winners and the 4th quarter comeback by Bruins in l996 who were down by 17 and won 48-41 in overtime. The latter would not have happened if Otton did not get hurt. Speaking from Florida, John McKay said they ought to focus on winning that game. In l999, the Trojans did just that as reserve tight end switched back to QB hit Kareem Kelly with a TD pass ending UCLA’s domination seemingly forever with a 17-7 win.
I took some time off from law in 2000. Showtime had decided to make a movie about Synanon. I was hired to consult on the project. It was never made. I also handled a sex-case against a drug rehabilitation counselor.
Then it was suddenly all back—a new coach was hired, Pete Carroll. I was one of those against the choice. I wanted USC to hire some top program offensive coordinator but when Carroll snatched Norman Chow I saw USC may have gotten the best of both worlds.
In 2001 I became excited again about my Trojans. USC started 1-4 but I knew the dark ages were over. The team had a swagger. A half-back was playing linebacker and freshman were all over. Yet no one had beaten USC. The Trojans were in every game to the wire. The enthusiasm was there. Trojan football was back. And the Thundering Heard knew it and had returned in the form of an elite cheering section.
My mother passed in November of 2001. It brought me back to a close relationship with my brother Lewis. We were cheered up by 27-0 romp over UCLA where USC’s young defense held the Bruins to around 100 yards total offense. In 2002 my brother Lewis’s lymphoma returned after a 15 year hiatus. We went to the Auburn game, our first together in 20 years. We cheered as Carson Palmer brought back a Heisman, it had not happened since 1981. We hugged after the Orange Bowl romp over Iowa, confirming without a doubt USC was again a power. In the off season my brother spent a lot of time on-line and would e-mail several times a day or talk on the phone. The return of the Trojans brought out once again the passion we shared growing up.
I started sports writing, again, this time for WeAreSC, although sometimes my critical nature was not appreciated by all. Eventually the owner banned me in 2010 for challenging opinions of his staff. Some old timers recognized me. One, Kurt Fertig, asked if I was the “Wolf” who wrote for the Daily Trojan in the 60’s. Like I did with my brother, Kurt said when he was in high school he used to wait for his brother to come home with the Daily Trojan so he could read me.
Vanity Fair spent a lot of money researching and speaking with me to do the Synanon story. I was more excited about this than the movie project. But it was delayed and finally shelved for lack of magazine space after 9-11. Even the local legal paper, Daily Journal, wrote a story on my career never ran it citing fear of retribution by cults. California Lawyer Magazine spoke to me once, but not twice.
I wrote an opinon in Los Angeles Times suggesting John Walker Lindh was like a lot of kids in the 60’s looking for a new religion but finding the wrong Guru. I suggested the response against him was far too strong.
I got a call in 2002, however, that was a pleasant surprise. It was from Claude Zachary of the USC archives. He wanted to know if I would donate my cult and therapy cases and files to the USC archives. I was honored and joked it was OK as long as in return my ashes were spread along Coliseum, Bovard field and at the base of Tommy Trojan. Primarily, it seemed USC wanted the Synanon files. That was ironic. When the Foundation closed in l991 it placed its own files at UCLA for researchers. But it was watered down. Records of violence were removed. I had all that plus tapes of the leaders guidance into the “Holy War,” violence and robbing the charity assets. One dunce–Rod Janzen had already wrote a totally inaccurate book on Synanon by relying on the UCLA papers (Rise and Fall of Synanon). I liked the idea of USC having the Synanon documents that told the real story while the Bruins possessed a snow job by Synanon.
Zachary and I lunched at USC in 2003. I asked him how did he know so much about my cases? Was he an archive specialist in Cults? Therapies? Sociology? Religions? He looked at me and said, “No, I handle USC history archieves.” What I asked, did Synanon, Center for Feeling Therapy and Gottuso have in common with USC history?
“Nothing,” he replied and paused. “You do.”
Then it hit me. While I was watching USC, it had been watching me. I was an alumni. I had made proud that what I loved so dearly. It had all gone circular. USC had made me whatever it was I was. And now I was home. I cried.
2003 was a time of both agony and the ecstasy. The United States invaded another country killing civilians. Under Bush (“you’re either with us or against us”) the country was becoming too polarized like a cult. I went into a depression, fearing reprisals if I spoke my mind and reliving the time I spent before the Synanon attack. TV was bringing it all to us live, 24 hours. Our brave soldiers fighting the “enemy.” Big Brother had reached us although 19 years late. An Arizona all pro d-back was a hero for giving up football and joining during the Iraq adventures, only to be killed by friendly fire. My fear had become true and worse a country in fear was buying into attack the enemies mindset, the very psychology I fought all these years.
Fortunately there was ecstasy to help overcome the pain. In 2003 my brother and I watched the resurgence go forward. Fearing it might be his last opportunity I spent $2,000 for fifty-yard line tickets for the UCLA game taking my son (his first game) and my brother’s wife, too. As I had been, my son was awed by the pageantry. He was also awed by Reggie Bush, Mike Willams and Matt Leinart.
When USC beat OSU and was No.1 in both polls we were all excited of playing in the big game. But that night Washington scored two late touchdowns to upset the Cougars, a trend that seemed to have a domino effect dooming teams USC had played to defeat in season final games, ending with Hawaii losing to Boise State. Thus, computers, on so-called “strength” of schedule, voted USC out of Sugar Bowl title game by barest of margins and clearest of unfairness.
But Pete Carroll rallied our hearts by saying “So what?” All this meant was USC would play for the AP title against a strong Michigan team. So in January I huddled at my brother’s house, he was too ill to go, and we watched in ecstasy as USC did something Lewis and I didn’t know we would see again in our life time. As youngsters NC titles seemed like something that happened ever year or so. Now after 25 years once again we celebrated that vision of USC on top of the world. Two weeks later Lewis went into the hospital for a bone marrow transplant. He never returned.
So depleted were the Trojans at wide receiver I grimaced every time in 2004 Troy was called No. 1. But then Dwayne Jarrett developed. And he was not only “like Mike” he was better. Then Steve Smith returned. My son’s second game was seeing the goal line stand vs the Bears, the real title game that year. From start to finish, NO.1.
Before the season was over I became ill. Still USC was finally in Big Show. And though I was frightened of Oklahoma I had to go to Miami to see it. And as an added treat I spent the night before at Jim Brown’s condo and the former football great said USC was going to win.
Of course after the Sooner’s first score I thought it was crazy to have spent $5,000.00 on the trip and tickets. But then I saw something on the USC bench in front of me. The defense was on the bench and Sean Cody was going down the line speaking to each and hitting them on the shoulder pads. While I couldn’t hear what he was saying it was obvious. “Don’t quit. We can stop them. We will win.” And win they did. It was the all time performance of any USC football team, 55-19. In the post game celebration I got the crowd to cheer “3-Peete.” I flew home, but I hardly needed an airplane. My house would soon become full of USC memorabilia. I wrote a game story for WeAreSC magazine.
Surprisingly, the off season was another shock. After Bill Walsh, legendary coach of San Francisco 49ers, called USC coaching staff the best in “all” of football and that the Trojans could put on a tackling demonstration for the pros, the coaches left. Most hurtful was loss of Norman Chow. It all didn’t seem right with a historic 3-Peete on the line and that Leinart had chosen to comeback. Also Lofa Tatupa left, Manny Wright failed grades and Eric Wright found his own form of ecstasy. Wright would have become USC’s best ever d-back. No freshman had ever displayed such complete skills.
I spent the off season mostly ill on a couch re-watching 2004 games and proud that the majority of America had come out of its 9-11 polarization and was questioning if not denouncing the Iraq war. Bush’s popularity sank to its deserved position. Free speech had returned. As it did with Watergate, the press dug out the truth, freed the people, and once again proved the value of free speech.
In 2005, chemotherapy caused me to develop Red Blood Cell Aplaisa. I do not make red blood cells any more and am transfusion dependent. From this eventually I will die. Iron deposits from transfusions have affected my heart. As to the Trojans I did not expect them to make it to the Big Show again. Chow was gone and the defense was too thin to meet Oregon, ASU, Cal and ND on the road. The Trojans exploded from the gate but the Chow offense was missing. Long ball was not going to work every game. But then Matt changed it. Carroll worked his 2001 magic on the defense. It seemed as each player went down the defense got stronger. Freshmen were making plays. After Notre Dame (Lineart to Jarrett on 4th and eight), Fresno St and the Bruin blowout, I became a “true believer” for the first time in my life. USC would devour Texas. This was team Hollywood, a team of destiny.
What I truly thought on Jan 4, 2006 as I arrived at the Rose Bowl was that I was going to some village in Mexico where it was claimed the Virgin Mary had been seen. Only instead of drinking from some pool I would become well in the 3-Peete celebration.
The first half was so frustrating. I thought USC should have kicked the field goal up 7-0 rather than going for it and that USC should have led by 21 at the half. Did Reggie really pitch out? Where have you gone Norman Chow?
The second half, however, was like any other USC game when the Trojans were down. They came out firing and Lendale White, my favorite player, seemed to be taking over. Finally, Jarrett touchdown. 5 minutes left. Ecstasy. Everyone knew Vince Young would try to win it himself. All the defense had to do was contain him. Then the agony began. All the plays that each could have ended it. The fumble that was not. The interception that should have been. The DE charging Young. The late hit. Not punting, not having Bush on the field on 4th and two and not putting ball in Leinart’s hands on that play. And I forgot to bring my red glasses.
It was the first time my son ever saw USC lose and the biggest loss in USC’s history, perhaps also its biggest give away. My “3-Peete” cheer in the Orange Bowl had been in vain. The walk and ride home was the real Longest Yard.
In March of 2006 I hit a milestone that passed unnoticed, away from public view. But in all likelihood I became the first lawyer qualified to testify in court to explain brainwashing, how it is applied, what are its effects and to explain common characteristics of so called dangerous cults (what I call totalistic movements) and its leaders.
It seemed the pain from RB would never end. I knew in those finals moments I wanted that game more than anything in my life. The Synanon movie not being made did not matter. Nor Vanity Fair article. Just give me this win.
And then the third bad off season in a row started. Bob Lienart what were you doing putting young kids in a $3,600 apartment? Isn’t this early spending that violates the amateur spirit as well as poor parenting?
Then there was Bush’s step-dad doing business with a lot of people resembling the Tony Soprano family. How could this be missed? Say it ain’t so, Reggie.
I could feel The NCAA’s mouth starting to water. It could now punish lots of innocent hard working kids when instead it should be pushing for laws that criminalizes those who take actions for profit that knowingly jeopardize college eligibility, whether it be parents, agents or the players. Punishing a school and/or team for what an agent does or done by a parent so greedy he cannot wait a year and even wants the commission too makes no sense. But the NCAA did what it was expected to do. From Ecstasy to Agony.
I soon realized there was a greater loss. A bigger agony than Texas. College football was not the same anymore. Money had done to it what it had done to college basketball. Agents ignored NCAA rules and made deals between themselves if a player switched rather than destroy the Golden Goose. College careers were as long as one’s status in the next draft. Players were raising crime statistics. The media encouraged the blending of Hollywood and athletes, finally Hollywood honoring athletes with – ESPY awards as if they were all one and the same. All they really share is money and women chasing the money. Will a Matt Leinart ever again date a sweet woman athlete?
In 2006 agony struck. After 3 great games came 13-9 and loss of a national championship. And the Bruins did it. 2007 was a similar disappointment. Injuries, abroken passing hand and Ripley’s-Believe-It-Or-Not Stanford kept USC from its rightful title. USC could be 5 in a row going on 6 NC. This would be Woodenequse. But then the ectasy. The mighty Trojans were the first to ever post 7 straight 11 win seasons. And I reunited my friendship with an old college chum from the 60’s, Terrell Ray, now a USC coach.
And Pete Carroll moved on. Pat Haden and J.K. McKay have returned. Sanctions will end. And though I may not be there to see it that sea of Cardinal and Gold will return to the Coliseum regardless of the NFL or Bush’s step-dad. College football will go on forever. We love it.
For me it almost stopped recently. I was introduced recently to Jenni Alpert, daughter of my deceased cousin, who had been given up for adoption. A singer, she came to see me and when no one answered the doorbell she found a way in and discovered me on the floor unconscious. She dialed 911. I remember when jolted from the darkness that the voices seemed so far away. Cries about coming back and who needs me were not having much success. Then it got quiet and finally a much wiser voice said, “Paul it is almost fall.”