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Original Issue

11 USC


En route to his office each day, USC athletic director Mike
Garrett passes by display cases containing his 1965 Heisman
Trophy and the Heismans won by three other Trojans tailbacks:
O.J. Simpson ('68), Charles White ('79) and Marcus Allen ('81).
Four Heismans, eight national football titles and an unmatched
28 Rose Bowl appearances certainly qualify Tailback U as a top
jock school. Yet Garrett wants more. "I will not be happy unless
we win a national title in half of our 20 sports; that's the
standard," says Garrett, who saw Southern Cal win five NCAA
championships in its 10 sports when he was a freshman in 1962-63.

The Trojans have a remarkable sports heritage. They have won
more national team titles (76 men's and 14 women's) than any
other school except crosstown rival UCLA. No college has
produced more men's individual NCAA champions (271) or Olympians
(302, including at least one gold medalist at every Summer Games
since 1912), or a more fearsome pitcher-slugger combination
(Randy Johnson of the Seattle Mariners and Mark McGwire of the
Oakland A's). Six former USC players have gone on to coach in
the NBA, a total surpassed only by Illinois's seven.

But Southern Cal doesn't take its sports too seriously. The
intramural program offers everything from inner-tube water polo
to a 1970s'-TV-inspired Superstars competition (events include a
100-yard dash, a 50-meter swim and an obstacle course). Near the
beginning of the academic year, a dive-in movie such as Jaws is
shown on a huge screen at the swimming center to encourage
intramural participation; students watch while lounging in inner
tubes. In addition, USC offers 40 sports clubs and is just 10
miles from the Pacific. Indoor types flock to the $10.5 million
Lyon University Center, which in the words of Don Ludwig,
director of intramural recreation, "is wall-to-wall bodies from
3 to 8 p.m."

Still, anytime the entire undergraduate population is referred
to in the playbook--in the sweep plays dubbed student body right
and student body left--you know football is the main event. The
fervor extends even to the student newspaper, the Daily Trojan,
which last fall won the annual Blood Bowl flag-football battle
against UCLA's Daily Bruin.

No college team can count among its former players a more famous
symbol of ruggedness than John Wayne, who under his given name,
Marion Morrison, played tackle for Southern Cal for two seasons
(1925 and '26), cutting his career short after injuring a
shoulder while--of all things--surfing. Nor can any team claim a
greater sideline distraction than the song girls (page 84),
whose cardinal-and-gold pom-poms and white sweaters are athletic
fixtures. If you're in the Los Angeles Coliseum on a football
Saturday, you'll see not only the song girls but also Traveler
IV, the Trojans' horse mascot. Tens of thousands of fans around
you will be waving the V-for-victory hand signal as the
270-plus-member marching band continually blares the intro to
the fight song Conquest. If you ignore the balmy sunshine, you
might just get chills down your spine.