25. O.J. Simpson (RB, USC, 1967-68)
Rushing yards: 3,124 | Yards per carry: 5 | Touchdowns: 33
It is difficult to remember a time when Simpson wasn’t a pariah, when he was celebrated for a stunning combination of size (6-2, 205) and moves and durability. Simpson averaged 31 carries and 156 rushing yards per game. He won the 1968 Heisman Trophy. Simpson scored 33 touchdowns, none more exciting or dramatic than the 64-yarder in the fourth quarter against No. 1 UCLA to lead the No. 4 Trojans to a 21-20 victory. That not only propelled USC past its archrival, it sent the Trojans to the 1967 national championship.
40. Marcus Allen (RB, USC, 1978-81)
Rushing yards: 4,682 | Yards per carry: 5.2 | Rushing TDs: 45
The most difficult accomplishment of Allen’s Trojan career may have been winning the starting tailback job. He showed enough promise to make head coach John Robinson move another running back named Ronnie Lott to defense. As a sophomore in 1979, Allen played fullback, opening holes for Charles White as he won the Heisman. Robinson never hid his offensive strategy: give the ball to a bell-cow back, put him behind a physical offensive line, and voila. As a senior in 1981, Allen reaped the benefits. Robinson gave him the ball 403 times — more than 36 carries per game — and Allen gained nearly 6 yards per rush. He beat Herschel Walker for a Heisman. Enough said.
58. Ronnie Lott (DB, USC, 1977-80)
Tackles: 250 | Interceptions: 14 | Fumble recoveries: 10
The Trojans recruited Lott and 1981 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Allen to play safety or running back. USC coach John Robinson thought Lott was the better tackler, so he ended up in the Trojans’ secondary, where he became one of the most feared hitters in the sport’s history. As a sophomore in 1978, Lott helped the Trojans go 12-1 and win a share of a national title. USC went 11-0-1 and was ranked No. 2 the next season. Lott was a unanimous All-American in 1980 and later won four Super Bowl championships with the San Francisco 49ers. The Lott IMPACT Trophy is given to the sport’s impact defensive player each season.
61. Reggie Bush (RB, USC, 2005)
Rushing yards: 3,169 | Receiving yards: 1,301 | All-purpose yards 6,617
Few players in history left indelible marks during — and after — their college careers the way Bush did. He won the 2005 Heisman Trophy in a landslide, only to voluntarily give it back five years later after the Trojans were placed on NCAA probation following allegations that Bush and his family received hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts from two marketing agents while he played for the Trojans. USC won 34 straight games and two national titles during Bush’s sensational three-year career. In 2005, he ran for 1,740 yards, scored 19 touchdowns and helped the Trojans reach the national championship game.
96. Charles White (RB, USC, 1976-79)
Rushing yards: 5,598 | Rushing TDs: 46 | All-purpose yards: 6,545
USC coach John Robinson once called White “the most competitive athlete I’ve ever seen.” White’s mental fortitude was on display in his final college game, the 1980 Rose Bowl, in which he carried the ball 39 times for 247 yards — while battling the flu — in a 17-16 victory over Ohio State. White accounted for 70 of USC’s 80 yards on the game-winning drive, including a 1-yard touchdown run with 90 seconds to play. He won the 1979 Heisman Trophy after leading the country in rushing with 1,803 yards and 18 touchdowns. He ran for 100 or more yards in 31 games. USC went 42-6-1 and won three Rose Bowls during his career.
99. Anthony Munoz (OT, USC, 1976-79)
The 6-foot-6 Munoz, such a talented athlete that he pitched on the Trojan baseball team, opened holes for two future Heisman winners, Charles White and Marcus Allen. Yet Munoz might have been the greatest what-if on one of the great what-if teams in college football history. Munoz suffered a left knee injury in the 1979 season-opening 21-7 victory over Texas Tech and needed surgery. He missed the remainder of the regular season; surely he would have made a difference in the 21-21 tie with Stanford that prevented USC from sharing No. 1 with Alabama for a second straight season. In fewer than four months, however, Munoz, through sheer will and arduous rehab, returned to the field for the Rose Bowl. In that game, White rushed for 247 yards and, late in the game, the winning touchdown in USC’s 17-16 defeat of Ohio State.
105. Junior Seau (LB, USC, 1988-89)
Tackles: 107 | Tackles for loss: 33
Because of academic restrictions, Seau played only two seasons for the Trojans, but he left an indelible mark. In 1989, he had 19 sacks and 27 tackles for loss and was named a unanimous All-American and the Pac-10 defensive player of the year. The Trojans went 19-4-1, won back-to-back conference titles and played in two Rose Bowls in his two seasons. After bypassing his senior season, Seau was the fifth pick of the 1990 NFL draft and played 20 seasons as a pro.
111. Mike Garrett (RB, USC, 1963-65)
Rushing yards: 3,221 | Touchdowns: 30 | Return yards: 1,198
If USC is truly “Tailback U.,” Garrett launched the tradition by winning the school’s first Heisman Trophy in 1965. Four other Trojans tailbacks would follow his path. (Reggie Bush later gave his back.) As a senior, Garrett led the country with 1,440 rushing yards with 17 touchdowns (two on punt returns). His career rushing total of 3,221 yards in three seasons broke a 15-year-old NCAA record. He also had 36 receptions, 43 punt returns, 30 kickoff returns, and threw six passes. In 1993, he was named USC’s athletic director, a position he held until 2010.
144. Tony Boselli (T, USC, 1991-94)
The rebuilding of USC football in the early 1990s just might have begun with the signing of Boselli, who didn’t sign with his home-state, national-champion Colorado Buffaloes in order to go to USC. At 6-8, 305 pounds, Boselli rapidly remade the prototype of the ideal offensive tackle. Boselli made All-Pac-10 as a freshman, when the Trojans went 3-8. By his junior year, USC won a share of the conference championship. Boselli made All-American twice, capping his career by being named MVP of a team that won the Cotton Bowl.
12. John McKay, 127-40-8
A once-proud program had struggled for most of the post-war era. And then John McKay arrived at USC, the perfect guy for the moment. He had good looks, an unflappable demeanor and a terrific sense of humor. The Trojans held the attention of the Southland even as the Dodgers, the Rams and the Lakers rose to the top of pro sports. McKay’s Trojans dominated opponents. Big, agile linemen cleared the way for fleet running backs, year after year after year. USC won four national titles and nine Pac-8 titles under McKay. Eleven of his players are in the College Football Hall of Fame.
33. John Robinson, 132-77-4
USC (1976-82 and 1993-97; 104-35-4) and UNLV (1999-2004; 28-42)
Robinson’s first stint at USC was so good the Trojans hired him a second time, after he spent nine seasons in the NFL. Robinson’s USC teams won five conference titles and a share of the 1978 national championship. His teams went 8-1 in bowl games, including a sparkling 4-0 in the Rose Bowl. He coached two Heisman Trophy winners: running backs Charles White (1979) and Marcus Allen (1981).
37. Pete Carroll, 83-18
Carroll wasn’t USC’s first choice to replace Paul Hackett in December 2000 — and he wasn’t a popular one, either. He had been fired by two NFL teams and hadn’t coached in college since 1983. But Carroll ended up being the right choice, as he directed the Trojans to at least a share of back-to-back national titles in 2003 and ’04, seven consecutive top-five finishes and six victories in BCS bowl games. Under his watch, the Trojans were ranked No. 1 in the AP poll for 33 consecutive weeks. USC won 97 games under Carroll, but 14 were later vacated by the NCAA.
80. Howard Jones, 194-64-21
Syracuse (1908; 6-3-1), Yale (1909 and 1913; 15-2-3), Ohio State (1910; 6-1-3), Iowa (1916-23; 42-17-1), Duke (1924; 4-5) and USC (1925-40; 121-36-13)
Jones coached one of Yale’s greatest teams in 1909 (10-0), and he led Iowa to 20 consecutive wins (1920-23), but he had his greatest success at USC. Jones’ Trojans had three undefeated seasons and went 5-0 in Rose Bowls. He and his good friend Knute Rockne started the USC-Notre Dame rivalry, the longest annual intersectional rivalry in the game.
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